Chad Brown holds a very strong hand in this Athenia, since all three of his entrants have strong chances to win. New Money Honey (#3) is probably the horse to beat off her runner-up effort in the Canadian last time. The early pace of that race was pretty honest, and she did well to hang on for second in a race that otherwise fell apart late. She certainly ran better than stablemate Inflexibility (#6), who had every chance to go by her in the stretch and could not make up any serious ground.
I also prefer her to Rymska (#1), who has been highly regarded throughout her time in the U.S., but badly disappointed in her August return at Saratoga. Looking back on Rymska’s 3-year-old campaign, while she had been visually impressive in a number of races, the fields that she beat were relatively weak in retrospect. She’s also been hindered by layoffs throughout her career and it’s unclear if she has taken the necessary steps forward to compete against a field of this caliber. I’ll use her defensively, but I’m starting to think she may be overrated.
Indian Blessing (#4) is another European import that should not be ignored. She actually ran deceptively well in her U.S. debut when closing into a slow pace in the Ballston Spa and she followed that up with another encouraging effort in the First Lady. That race also featured a slow pace that held together up front, and she did well to close from last. The main concern with her is that she usually breaks slowly and another moderate pace could work against her.
The horse that I want to bet at what figures to be a square price is PAS DE SOUCIS (#7). I know she looks inferior to some of today’s rivals at first glance, but she’s actually been steadily improving for Jorge Abreu. She got too rank in the early stages of her return on May 24 and she came back with a very strong effort to be third in the Perfect Sting after making a wide, premature move on the far turn. I won’t hold her De La Rose against her, since Uni and Precieuse are just superior fillies. Then last time she never was given a fair chance in the Ladies Turf Stakes at Kentucky Downs. Flavien Prat just always seemed to have her in the wrong spot, as she got shuffled back early and was stuck in traffic in upper stretch. She possesses the tactical speed to sit a good trip and I think she can spring the upset.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,2,3,4
Trifecta: 7 with 3,4 with 1,2,3,4,6,9