Race 4: Claiming $20,000 at 9 furlongs
Class droppers Banner Bill (#1) and A.P. Cino (#6) are the two runners likely to attract the most support. I’m not necessarily against either one, but I prefer SINISTRA (#3), who is also dropping out of tougher races and figures to go off at a more attractive price. While his last race over this track was disappointing, it must be noted that he got a terrible trip that day, racing four-wide around both turns after breaking from the outside post position. He was also facing a pretty salty group of New York-breds that day and should appreciate the slightly softer company that he encounters here. Furthermore, there isn’t much early speed signed on this time, and the Pace Projector is predicting that he’ll be placed on or near the lead in a situation favoring the frontrunners.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,6
Race 6: Claiming $25,000 at 9 furlongs
La Inesperada (#5) is going to go off as a strong favorite in this race, but I don’t fully trust her. She’s a filly that really came to life racing over the inner track during the winter at Aqueduct, but hasn’t quite had that same spark since. She’s run some of her best races when she’s been able to control the pace up front, but that’s unlikely to happen today with the speedy Dark Rain in the mix. Instead, I prefer PRAIRIE STONE (#3). She’s run plenty of races that make her competitive against this field, and I’m willing to forgive her most recent start at Parx, in which she was a disappointing fifth. She may have needed that race in her first start back from the layoff, and horses were just generally having trouble making up ground there. She figures to appreciate this slight drop in class. Steve Klesaris gets a 100 trainer rating when he rides Jose Ortiz and a 94 rating with horses moving from allowance to claiming company.
Exacta Box: 3,5
Race 7: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at 7 furlongs
There are many ways to go in this race. I’m inclined to take a stand against obvious short prices like Cats Landing (#2) and Blarney Stones (#6), both of whom have had their chances at this level. Sky Chaparral (#9) ran well last time out after a wide trip. I thought he was interesting that day at nearly 40/1, and he’s going to be a fraction of that price here. The runner that I find most intriguing this time around is second-time starter PLAYTHATFUNNYMUSIC (#7). While his debut came on turf, he appears to have enough dirt pedigree to handle this surface and has trained forwardly over the main track in the mornings. Most importantly, he’s getting a huge rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz after having some trouble under Jackie Davis in his debut.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 2,5,6,9
Race 9: The NY Stallion Series at 8 furlongs on turf
The only thing I’m sure about in this race is that I don’t want to settle for a short price. The list of runners that have legitimate chances to win this race is pretty long. Therefore, I’m reluctant to settle for fillies like Frosty Margarita (#6) and Louisville First (#9), who are going to be among the favorites despite the fact that they still have as many questions to answer as any of their competitors. I’m instead going to take a shot with a filly that is guaranteed to be a big price. LADY LUCKY (#4) has yet to run fast enough to win this race, but she also has not had a fair trip in either of her starts as a three-year-old. Two back, she was allowed to drop too far off the pace in a race that mostly held together on the front end. Then last time, she had little chance to close into a very slow pace (color-coded in blue) and was not helped by her rider’s decision to make a five-wide move on the far turn. Today, the Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which should set up her late run. She handled this distance as a two-year-old and I believe she can get into the mix at a generous price.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 5,6,8,9,10
Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at 5.5 furlongs on turf
He’s not going to be that big of a price, but I’m not trying to beat VIRGA (#8) in the finale. I strongly prefer the runners coming out of the race won by Commend over those exiting the maiden heat won by Fournette. Commend came back to nearly win a stakes off that impressive maiden score, and Virga showed a lot of gameness battling him to the wire in his first start back from the layoff. George Weaver is always dangerous in these situations, getting a 97 trainer rating with sprinters at Saratoga, and a 74 trainer rating with runners making their second starts back from a layoff (compared to a 59 first off the layoff).
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,4,10