Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at 6 furlongs
The reliable Askfor Forgiveness (#4) and Cashconsiderations (#5) are likely to dominate the wagering. The latter is an expensive first-time starter from the Chad Brown barn while the former comes out of a second-place finish at this level, where she was no match for the runaway winner. They’re certainly the horses to beat, but I prefer a different runner out of the race Askfor Forgiveness is exiting.
WILD WITH STYLE (#1) made her debut in that race, and was off slowly as she ducked in at the start. From there, she appeared to be racing greenly down the backstretch as her rider attempted to get her to settle behind horses. She obviously was never going to catch the winner, especially with a slow pace developing ahead of her, but she actually did a bit of running once set down in the stretch. This feels like a horse that badly needed her debut experience and should be set for a better performance second time out. It’s also encouraging to see John Velazquez take over the reins for his father-in-law, Leo O’Brien.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 4,5
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at 8.5 furlongs on turf
Llanita (#8) is the horse to beat once again, but I’m starting to get tired of her. Sure, it’s fair to point out that she was left with too much to do in the late stages last time when trying to close into a race that was wired up front, or that two back she probably could have won if she hadn’t been ridden into traffic in upper stretch. However, the excuses are starting to pile up and she’s just failing to get the job done. Most will go to Giovanna Blues (#6) as the alternative. While she lost to a good horse in On Leave, I think the winner had something left in reserve that day, and I’m not sure there was much behind her in what was otherwise a weak maiden heat. I actually prefer another horse out of Llanita’s last race.
STREET STRUT (#3), who was making her debut, actually put in a deceptively good effort while never threatening for a major award. She was off slowly and never able to get over to the inside at any point in the race. She encountered some traffic in upper stretch, and was actually finishing strongly when clear late in a race that didn’t set up for her. Provided that she breaks better this time, I have a feeling she’s going to show more speed under Joel Rosario.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 6,8
Race 7: Allowance at 5.5 furlongs on turf
Cort (#6) is the controlling speed in this race, but that was also the case last time and he was still run down by LORD OF LOVE (#4). Provided that this race stays on the turf (there is rain in the forecast again), I believe the John Hertler trainee is going to be awfully tough to hold off. Lord of Love took a few starts to get rolling this year, but he’s been better than ever through his last two starts. Two back he closed from last in a 12-horse field to get up for second behind an otherworldly performance by Asset Inflation, who came back to win, and then last time he rallied four-wide to just miss against what was probably a tougher field than the one he meets today. I could also use him with Grand Candy (#3), who may take to turf for Steve Asmussen.
Exacta: 4 with 3,6
Race 9: The Bolton Landing at 5.5 furlongs on turf
The Pace Projector is not predicting a fast pace, but something is going to have to give, since the majority of the competitors in this stakes are coming off wire-to-wire victories. Perhaps one or two will break free early and lead them all the way, but I think it’s more likely that this race sets up for a late runner. The tricky part is just figuring out which of these inexperienced two-year-olds will be able to rally from off the pace. I’m going to gamble that the filly to fill that role is CHINA GROVE (#9). This filly showed some ability through her first couple of starts on dirt. She impressively broke her maiden at Keeneland before finishing a better-than-it-appears second in the Astoria at Belmont. That day, trouble at the start put her farther back than she otherwise would have been, but she responded well with a strong late rally. I don’t know what happened next time out at Churchill, but she does get Lasix for the first time after that non-effort. She doesn’t have a ton of turf pedigree on the dam’s side, but she is by City Zip, so I think there’s enough evidence that she could handle this surface. The price should be fair.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,6,7,8