The Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose will be run for the 60th time on Saturday. It sits right in the middle of New York’s rich stakes program for three-year-old fillies, bridging the gap between the Acorn and the prestigious stakes to be run at Saratoga. Despite the fact that the most accomplished three-year-old fillies—Songbird, Cathryn Sophia, and Carina Mia—have skipped this race, we’re still left with an intriguing field of runners, at least four of which are right on the precipice of breaking through at this top level.
Mo d’Amour, Lewis Bay, and Rachel’s Valentina are all exiting the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, while Off the Tracks enters this race off her best-ever performance in the Acorn. Throw in the undefeated Lightstream and we have ourselves a nice little race.
The Pace Projector is not predicting a situation that favors any particular running style, but it does clearly show the two Todd Pletcher fillies as being the fastest early. Rachel’s Valentina (#6) is predicted to be on the lead, with stablemate Off the Tracks (#2) in close attendance. The others are primarily stalking types, but we wonder if Linda Mimi (#1) might show more speed than predicted from the rail after breaking her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion last time.
Let’s go through the field.
#1, Linda Mimi (30/1): She surprised a decent field of maidens last time, successfully handling the stretch-out in distance while pulling away from the well-regarded Girl Talk to win by open lengths. Obviously, this is a huge step up in class, especially considering that even her winning speed figure last time is some 15 points slower than what the top contenders have been running. We prefer others.
#2, Off the Tracks (3/1): This daughter of Curlin showed a ton of promise as a two-year-old, easily taking her first two starts while behaving like the type of filly that would stretch out in distance. She got her three-year-old campaign off to a solid start with an easy sprint victory, but then she disappointed in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Perhaps it was the two turns that did her in, but she also may not have cared for the sloppy track that day. She certainly bounced back with a vengeance, finishing a closing second in the Grade 1 Acorn last time. Not only did she turn the tables on Go Maggie Go that day, but she also ran down Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia. She finished up as if the extra sixteenth of a mile should be no problem, and the 114 speed figure she earned is tied for the best last-out number in the field. She’s a major player.
#3, Mom’s On Strike (20/1): She lost the Black Eyed Susan by only three lengths, but that race was not on par with the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn in terms of quality. She’s going to have to do a lot better here, and we don’t see the evidence that she’s quite up to the task.
#4, Mo d’Amour (12/1): This filly was the surprise of the Kentucky Oaks, staying on well to be a strong fifth, just three-quarters of a length out of second place. Her prior efforts and speed figures did not indicate that such a performance was forthcoming, and we received few clues as to whether she’s holding her form in the subsequent failed turf experiment. She’s an honest filly and the price should be fair, but she’s already been beaten by Lewis Bay three times—and quite soundly both times they met in New York. We understand why some might feel as if she’d offer value in this race, but we can’t shake the feeling that she’s simply the weakest of Todd Pletcher’s trio.
#5, Lewis Bay (2/1): All things considered, she ran well in the Kentucky Oaks. There was a brief moment coming to the top of the stretch where it appeared that she might have a shot to win it, but she couldn’t match the quick move of Cathryn Sophia. She’s run some of her best races in New York and shouldn’t mind getting back to one turn. The Pace Projector places her near the back of the pack in the early stages, but we have to think this is going to be a pretty compact field. She’s not the most exciting filly in the race, but we don’t have any major knocks against her. She’d be a fair price at around 3/1 or higher, but we’re not sure that we’ll get that.
#6, Rachel’s Valentina (9/5):
This popular filly is an enigma. She appeared to be coming into the Kentucky Oaks in great form and was bet down to 5/2 favoritism in a very competitive race. She secured good early position from her wide draw and had every chance, but just could not get the distance and faded through the stretch. She clearly regressed off her strong return in the Ashland, in which she battled back to beat Cathryn Sophia after getting passed by that one in midstretch. That effort, along with her decent runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, suggests that she should handle this distance. We just don’t know what to expect and are not inclined to take a short price on her. She’d be interesting at a bit of a price, but we’re going to stay away from her if the public throws its support behind her again.
#7, Lightstream (5/1):
This is the most interesting horse in the race. You don’t see many three-year-old fillies running 111 speed figures in early spring, especially in the first start of their careers. The fillies that finished behind her that day returned to validate that number, and Lightstream herself came back to earn a game win in the Beaumont at Keeneland. In an unusual move, she was then switched to turf for her next start, and, despite running her slowest speed figure, she actually ran a remarkable race. She was off a couple of lengths slowly and put in a wide, sweeping move to catapult to the lead past midstretch. This filly is extremely talented and is deserving of this step up in class. While she’s been ridden as a closer in her sprint races, she’s not that slow early and should be within striking distance of the leaders throughout. If she can transfer her strong turn of foot going shorter to this route distance, we think she has a great chance to pull off the minor upset. We doubt we’ll get the generous morning line price, but anything around 7/2 would be very fair.
Lightstream (#7) is our top pick over Off the Tracks (#2). Lewis Bay (#5) and Rachel’s Valentina (#6) will also be on our tickets, but we’ll primarily use them underneath.
Win: #7, Lightstream, at odds of 3/1 or higher
Exacta Box: 2,7
7 with 2,5,6 with 2,4,5,6
2 with 7 with 4,5,6