This is one of the most difficult races on the card. I flagged no less than 8 horses with strong chances to win, and there’s very little separating those at the top. I suppose Bonita Bianca (#12) is the horse to beat off her strong 2018 dirt form for Jason Servis. I realize that she’s only contested sprints in her dirt races, but I believe that’s just a testament to how well she’s done in the new barn. In the past, this filly had no early speed and would launch relentless rallies from far back, just as she did in this race last year. The turf experiment last time out is somewhat perplexing, since this barn is not known for running in horses in spots where they seem uncompetitive. Was it just a stepping stone to this race? In any event, she’s back in the right race this time and I think she’s a major threat to win.
The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace and that could work against a number of possible contenders. Frostie Anne (#6) will be attempting to win her 7th straight race, but she’s facing a much stronger field than the ones she met at Saratoga. It’s also unlikely that she’ll be able to secure the lead with Bluegrass Flag and Frost Wise in the race, so I’m somewhat against her.
A number of 3-year-old fillies exit the Fleet Indian at Saratoga. Take Charge Aubrey (#2) may go off at the shortest price of those, but I actually prefer Split Time (#9) and English Soul (#7). Both may be more adept at today’s distance than Take Charge Aubrey and I thought they ran stronger races in the Fleet Indian.
I’m using them, but my top pick is the quickly improving 4-year-old filly TIZNOW’S SMILE (#8). This is not the kind of horse that I would typically gravitate towards, but I think her connections are wisely taking a shot in an ambitious spot while she’s in the best form of her career. Going back to her 2-year-old season, she was highly regarded, as Charlton Baker ran her against stakes company multiple times while she was still a maiden. During that period, she presented herself as a filly that would relish longer distances, and she’s certainly bred for stamina as a half-sister to route stakes winners Wildcat’s Smile and Johannesburg Smile as well as Empire Classic entrant Blugrascat’s Smile. This filly spent a long time disappointing her connections and supporters with a string of inexplicably poor performances since early 2017. For whatever reason, she’s completely turned her life around in the past few months, as she rallied impressively two back at Saratoga and then took another step forward to beat open company with an impressive late rush on Sep. 15. She did have all the best of it in those races, benefitting for a fast pace two back and riding a gold rail last time. On the other hand, she won that last race with such dominance and power, so I’m open to the possibility that she may finally be ready to stretch out and deliver on that early promise. She’s going to get a fast pace to close into and the price should be generous once again.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 7,9,12
Trifecta: 8,12 with 8,12 with 1,2,4,6,7,9