This Beldame features three Grade 1 winners, in the form of Apple Blossom winner Forever Unbridled, surprise Test winner Paola Queen, and Mother Goose winner Off the Tracks. However, it’s still hard to shake the feeling that this has come up as one of the weaker Grade 1 races run in this division. The absence of stars like Songbird, Beholder, Stellar Wind, and Cavorting is certainly felt here.
The Pace Projector is predicting that the two aforementioned three-year-old fillies, Paola Queen (#6) and Off the Tracks (#7), will show the way early as they stretch out after focusing on sprint races this summer. However, I wonder if either or both of their riders will be somewhat more conservative than this projection suggests, given concerns about stamina over this nine furlong distance. If that’s the case, the door could be left open for Penwith (#4) to take up the early lead under the ever-vigilant Javier Castellano.
Let’s go through the field:
#1, Tiger Ride (15/1): She’s actually run pretty well on dirt and put to rest any concerns about whether she could get this distance with her runner-up finish in a restricted stakes at Saratoga this summer. She deserves some credit for making the first run into a fast pace (color-coded in red) on that occasion in a race that ultimately fell apart late. However, she still lost to Rachel’s Temper and that one is hardly a serious threat to win this race. At best, she’s worth considering for the bottom rungs of trifectas and superfectas.
#2, Forever Unbridled (1/1):
The Beldame is this filly’s race to lose and it’s as simple as that. Some argue that she should have won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps back in June when she got buried down on the rail by Joel Rosario and had to wait for room before getting out into the clear too late in the stretch. I cannot make any such excuses for her last time, when she appeared poised to draw off at the top of the stretch in the Personal Ensign and just seemed to hang late before getting run down by Cavorting. That said, none of the fillies that defeated her in those races is in the starting gate today. If she produces the kind of performance that she’s capable of putting forth, she is supposed to win. However, if you’re looking for any chinks in her armor, you could point to a pace situation that is somewhat muddled. Joel Rosario got in trouble taking her too far back off the pace two back, and he must avoid making that same mistake again.
#3, Rachel’s Temper (10/1): While I respect the year that Charlton Baker has been having, I still think he’s asking a lot of this mare. This is a horse that really struggled to get through her allowance conditions and fell into an absolutely perfect setup sitting well back off a fast pace when she finally earned a stakes win last time out. She is highly unlikely to get the same scenario here, and I’ll be surprised if she’s a factor.
#4, Penwith (10/1):
What happened to this mare’s early speed? At one time, that was her greatest weapon, but it seems that her riders have made no attempt to show any early initiative in recent starts. However, I’m thinking that might change today. Javier Castellano knows how to read the past performances and I’m sure he’ll take notice that Penwith has produced some of her best results when she’s allowed to rattle long on the front end through steady fractions. If John Velazquez and Luis Saez on the two outside fillies are a little concerned about stamina going this nine-furlong distance, they may be content to let Javier take up the running from the inside. So can Penwith actually wire the field? I don’t think it’s out of the question. After all, it’s not as if her speed figures are that much slower than the top contenders’ in this race, and she figures to appreciate cutting back in distance after two straight races at a mile and a quarter. Her performance in the Royal Delta from last winter would give her a major chance here, and even her Delaware Handicap puts her in the mix despite the fact that race dynamics worked against her there. I believe it’s significant that Kiaran McLaughlin is taking a shot in this race, and she’s my long shot selection.
#5, Going for Broke (6/1): She barely beat Rachel’s Temper two back and I’m not convinced that she topped that performance despite earning a Grade 1 placing in her next start. I wonder if she’ll be overbet here because Songbird’s name shows up in her Alabama running line. That performance looks better in print than it does when watching the replay, as she got an absolutely perfect trip coming through on the rail around the far turn and still had trouble putting away the third place finisher, who was seemingly spent at the top of the stretch. I prefer others.
#6, Paola Queen (15/1): She never should have been 55/1 in the Test, but her win in that race was still a surprise. I generally love turnbacks and I have to believe that it was the shortened distance that allowed her to step up with her career-best performance last time. While she performed respectably enough in her three route attempts, she didn’t run fast enough in those races to compete against the likes of today’s older rivals. I’ll be surprised if she’s able to pull off the Grade 1 double here.
#7, Off the Tracks (5/2): There’s a lot to like about this filly, but I’m wondering if she’s a bit of a trap in this spot. Her odds are probably not going to be that much higher than those of Forever Unbridled, but I believe her older rival is a far more likely winner of this race. She obviously deserves accolades for her performance in the Test, which earned her a 123 speed figure—easily best in the field. That said, she was a turnback that day, just like Paola Queen, and she was not able to reproduce that form in the Prioress next time out. While she did earn a Grade 1 victory in the Mother Goose, she may have benefitted from a surface that was favoring inside speed on that occasion. Her lone race over a wet track was one of her worst, and there are still questions about her stamina. I’m not going to be shocked if she steps up and wins this race, but I don’t think a price around 5/2 or 3/1 would represent fair value. She’s somewhere in my play, but I prefer others on top.
While I fully acknowledge that this is Forever Unbridled’s (#2) race to lose, I have to take a shot with Penwith (#4), given the expected value. I would bet her to win at odds of 8/1 or higher.
Exacta Box: 2,4
Trifecta: 2,4 with 2,4 with ALL
Trifecta: 2,4 with 1,5,7 with 2,4