Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 11 furlongs on turf
If PRIVATE CLIENT (#1) runs back to either of her first two starts, I believe she’s going to be tough to hold off here. In her debut, she got going a little too late, but was really rolling through the final three furlongs, making a wide move off the turn before flying through the stretch. She was no match for the talented Try Your Luck, but still ran very well within the context of the race. She then did well to weave her way through traffic at Pimlico two back while facing a tougher field than the one she meets today. I’m not sure what happened at Delaware last time, but that can be a tricky turf course for some horses to handle. I don’t think Tom Proctor would be running her at Saratoga if he expected another effort like that, so I’m willing to throw it out. She’s bred to handle this distance, as a half-sister to millionaire marathon turfer Keertana, and I believe she can pull off the minor upset.
Chad Brown is always dangerous in these spots and his entrant, Warranty (#4), has to be included in your wagers. However, the price is going to be fairly short and I don’t think she has much of an edge over this field. Another runner to consider is My Kinda Devil (#7), who ran well in her debut for Christophe Clement despite racing a bit greenly.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 4,7
Race 5: Claiming $14,000 at 9 furlongs
There are plenty of runners in this race that I find hard to trust at relatively short prices, including a bunch of class droppers. Of those taking the plunge in claiming price, the one that I find to be most appealing is I’MBETTERTHANGOOD (#7). He’s already made one start at Saratoga during this meet when facing a tougher starter allowance field. It appeared as if he might be one of the speeds that day, but an awkward start had him racing out of position for much of the event. All things considered, he actually finished up decently to be fourth while no match for the classy winner Flash Trading. This drop in class makes sense for a horse that had been keeping cheaper company previously. Furthermore, Ian Wilkes gets an 84 trainer rating with runners moving from allowance to claiming company. If he can get away cleanly today, he should be able to take a forward position stalking the projected leader Humboldt N Frost.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,2,3,10
Race 8: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 7 furlongs
If you draw a line through all of THREE ALARM FIRE’s (#8) Gulfstream Park races, his lifetime record actually looks pretty solid. It appeared that he might have been tailing off down in Florida this past winter, but he’s been better than ever since returning to New York this summer. He was a solid third behind eventual Whitney runner-up Comfort two back, and then turned in a game performance last time, just succumbing to the closers late after setting an energetic early pace. I love this turnback to seven furlongs for a horse that has more early speed than the Pace Projector is suggesting. (That algorithm is taking into account his Florida races, where he didn’t show any speed, early or late.) His 122 speed figure from last time is the highest last-out number in the race, and I expect another good performance here as he returns to the site of his maiden win, which also came at today’s distance.
His chief rival is Wake Up in Malibu (#6), who has been in awesome form for Charlton Baker. He ran some fast interior fractions last time while on his way to a 118 speed figure victory, which was flattered by runner-up Royal Posse’s win in the Alydar on Sunday. The turnback to seven furlongs suits him well, but he may not be much of a price. I could also use the David Jacobson-trained entry, as well as Scarly Charly (#7), who has steadily been rounding into form after a string of subpar performances.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,6,7
Race 9: The Birdstone at 14 furlongs
He’s not going to be much of a price, but I’m not trying to beat one of my favorite old warriors, TURCO BRAVO (#5). Experience at these marathon distances is so important, and he’s one of the only runners in this field to have consistently handled distances of 11 furlongs and beyond. In fact, he was a good second in this very race last year, so you know he’ll have no trouble seeing out the trip. Javier Castellano rides him perfectly, and I think he’s in great position to pick up another stakes win today. I strongly prefer him to Kid Cruz (#3), who was not able to reproduce his best form at a mile and a half in the Brooklyn, and remains a question mark at distances beyond 10 furlongs. Given bigger prices, we’ll try to get one of the David Jacobson-trained runners into the mix. Indycott (#6) has tactical speed that could make him dangerous on the front end, while Lideris (#4), who has run well in marathon races at times, may need this stretch-out in distance to wake up.
Trifecta: 5 with 4,6 with ALL
Trifecta: 5 with 1,2,3 with 4,6