Race 5: Maiden Claiming $75,000 at 8 furlongs on turf
With both Chad Brown runners stuck on the also-eligible list, this race opens up to some other players. I’m interested in both of Todd Pletcher’s entrants in this race, but the one that I slightly prefer is MR. MAGIC (#10). This son of Scat Daddy just appeared to be a little green in his debut. He was squeezed back in the early going, which had him placed well off a moderate pace that held together on the front end. He did a bit of running late while ducking in through the stretch drive, but was never threatening for a major award. Todd Pletcher has fantastic numbers with horses coming off layoffs of this type (100 trainer rating) and does especially well with turf horses dropping into maiden claiming company off these layoffs. I like that they’re adding blinkers today and think this horse could be live at a square price. There does figure to be some pace in here, and I’m hoping Javier Castellano can work out a trip from this outside post position.
Exacta Key Box: 10 with 4,9,11,12
Race 6: NY-bred Allowance at 6 furlongs
Weekend Hideaway (#1) was somewhat disappointing as the favorite in the Morrissey, but has run too well in prior starts to be dismissed here. Ostrolenka (#3) proved that he can be competitive at sprint distances last time, and Drama King (#2) could never get involved due to the slow pace of the Morrissey (color-coded in blue). All three horses exiting that race deserve respect in this spot, but I want to go in a different direction.
AWESOME GENT (#4) burst onto the scene this winter with three impressive victories at Aqueduct. While he’s disappointed since then, you could make the argument that circumstances have had something to do with his poor showings. He doesn’t care for wet tracks; he was overmatched in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, and the New York Derby was too far for him. I like the addition of blinkers for a horse that can appear to be unfocused at times. I believe he can be competitive with this field if he shows up with one of his better efforts.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,2,3
Race 7: Allowance Optional Claiming at 8 furlongs on turf
This race features the first two horses across the line in last fall’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. However, winner Chiropractor (#3) has been off form in his subsequent starts and March (#10) has not raced since. Macagone (#7) is a threat to wire the field after being done in by a fast pace (color-coded in red) in the Kingston, but I wonder how much pressure he can withstand from other potential speeds like English Minister and Fredericksburg.
While I respect March, who is likely to take the most money of the Chad Brown duo, I’m more interested in his other horse, NIGHT PROWLER (#4). This one is also coming off a layoff, but Chad Brown does fine with horses in these situations (100 trainer rating). He had his three-year-old season cut short, but actually ran quite well in the Penn Mile after a wide trip. If he can work out a ground-saving trip under Javier Castellano, I think he can get in the mix at a decent price.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 2,3,7,10
Race 9: NY-bred Maiden Claiming $25,000 at 6.5 furlongs
If you comb through the past performances of SPLASH OF SASS (#3) and just focus on the dirt races, she actually doesn’t look that bad. She’s run speed figures that make her competitive with this group and I think she’s going to improve off her last start. She was off a step slowly when bumped at the start that day and could not make much of a late impact in a race that featured a slow pace. She gets a positive rider switch to Eric Cancel and faces what appears to be a pretty weak field, even for this level.