Favored Wavell Avenue (#2) brings the biggest reputation to this race, having won last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She returned to action at Keeneland with an encouraging third place finish in the Grade 1 Madison behind top racemares Sheer Drama and Stopchargingmaria. However, it’s hard to paint her last start as anything but disappointing. The pace was on the moderate side and Wavelle Avenue did well to be relatively close to eventual winner Taris for the run around the far turn. However, once straightened away in the stretch, Wavell Avenue had nothing to offer, not even able to get by pace player Enchanting Lady for third. There’s no Taris this time, but she’s still going to have to do better than that to win this race.
We’re more interested in a horse coming out of Aqueduct’s Distaff Handicap. Bar of Gold (#3) was the one that finished closest to Paulassilverlining and Cavorting that day. She had already gotten a start in under her belt at Gulfstream and ran decently without threatening the top two. She found herself back in the winner’s circle last time when getting some class relief against New York-breds, but we still feel that she’s going to have to produce her best effort yet since returning from the layoff to land the top prize today.
Out of that same Distaff Handicap, we prefer BY THE MOON (#1), who has a right to step forward and is our top pick. Michelle Nevin was quite candid about the fact that she needed a race last time, and that’s exactly how this filly ran. Michelle Nevin gets an 88 trainer rating with horses making their second starts back from a layoff. Furthermore, By the Moon is getting back to Belmont Park, which is where she has run the two best races in her career. It’s a great sign to see Jose Ortiz taking the mount and By the Moon has been working steadily and strongly since her last start, apparently having been pointed to this race.
The likely speed is West Coast Chick (#4), who finished second to Paulassilverlining last time. However, there was not much behind her that day, and she probably would have been third if Stormy Sky had extricated herself from traffic sooner. She’s a threat if they leave her alone up front, but we feel that she’s a cut below the top contenders in this race.
1 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4
1 wth 2,3 with 5,6