Race 3: Claiming $16,000 at 6 furlongs
In a race where so many runners are either off form or just slow, BEE NOTEWORTHY (#6) stands out. This filly was ambitiously spotted when she returned from the layoff last time, facing a salty field of New York-breds. That placement suggested that she was in good form coming into that race and her performance confirmed that notion. Although she only split the field, her speed figure represented a significant improvement over her prior form. Now she’s taking a huge drop in class (note the Race Rating of her last race compared to the preliminary rating today). H. James Bond gets an encouraging 78 trainer rating with horses making their second starts off a layoff, and I like this rider switch to Jose Ortiz.
Exacta Box: 2,6
Race 4: Claiming $40,000 at 5.5 furlongs on turf
If you parse through BOW TIE AFFAIR’s (#4) past performances and highlight only his turf sprints, his form is actually pretty encouraging. He’s never run a bad race at distances of six furlongs or less on turf while earning speed figures that make him competitive against today’s field. His return from the layoff last time out was actually a much better effort than it appears. He was squeezed back at the start that day, which had him much farther off the pace than he otherwise would have been. It’s difficult to make up that much ground at this abbreviated distance, but Bow Tie Affair did quite well to nearly get up for third. There should be a contested pace this time to set up his late kick, and the price will be fair.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,3,8,11
Race 7: Claiming $40,000 at 8 furlongs on turf
They all have to beat the likely favorite, Emerald Pond (#2), who goes out for Chad Brown. She deserves some respect, but I’m not convinced that she really wants two turns or that she has that great of an edge over this field in terms of overall ability. The other horse to consider at a short price is Greywalls (#5), who is dropping out of tougher spots but may be going off form. We tend to see some unusual things happen in these one-mile turf races, and there’s a long shot in the mix that intrigues me.
REVERSIONTOTHEMEAN (#1) is coming out of a couple of tougher spots. She was badly overmatched against optional claiming company two back but actually didn’t even run that badly after a wide trip. Then last time, at Suffolk, she ran off in the early going, taking away from her finishing kick. This filly has been competitive at this level in the past and drew a great post position down towards the rail. These connections fly under the radar, but they have already connected with some big prices at this meet.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,5
Race 9: The John’s Call at 13 furlongs on turf
So few of these horses have consistently run marathon distances, so there’s a lot of guesswork to be done. That said, I do want to focus on runners that have already proven that they have the stamina to negotiate this trip. While there are a few fringe pace players in this spot, I think MY AFLEET (#7) will play out as the clear early leader, and I’m hoping that tactical edge is enough to put him over the top. I know his recent form leaves something to be desired, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet in 2016. He was too eager early in the Belmont Gold Cup and then resented rating tactics last time when facing a tough group of allowance runners. My Afleet has run some of his best races over this course in the past, and I think he’s classy enough to take them all the way.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,3,6,10
Race 10: Claiming $40,000 at 8 furlongs on turf
Once again, Chad Brown has the likely favorite, Stella Street (#4). Class droppers like this are always dangerous in these kinds of spots, but I’m not exactly excited about betting this one at a very short price. After all, she really hasn’t done much running in any of her U.S. starts, and even her connections are now conceding that she just may not be that good. She can win, but I prefer MARNESIA BIG GIRL (#10) at a more enticing price. The $40,000 claimer that she’s exiting was deeper than the field she encounters today, and I thought she ran very well within the context of the race. The pace was slow and the race was nearly wired by a long shot. Marnesia Big Girl was the only horse to make a serious impact from well back in the pack, as she was absolutely flying through the final furlong. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace this time, which should help set up her late kick.
Exacta Box: 4,10