Kathryn the Wise (#5) is probably the horse to beat and the likely favorite, but I find her difficult to trust. She was expected to run well off the layoff last time when bet down to 1-2 favoritism and she looked like a shadow of her former self. She has reportedly trained well, so perhaps she gets back into form this time, but she’ll do it without my support.
I also respect the form of Nisha (#1), who is the half of the entry that will participate for Jeremiah Engleheart and owner James Riccio. She loves to win races, but I think she has benefitted from favorable circumstances on a number of occasions, and I don’t want to bet this filly at a similarly short price. I think this is the kind of race where you want to look outside the box.
Both of Charlton Baker’s horses are pretty interesting to me. Playinwiththeboys (#8) is more of a wild card given the layoff, but she certainly possesses the talent to compete with most of the runners in this race if she returns in top form. She ran very well against a tough group in the Critical Eye back in the spring, and I think it’s interesting that she’s entered one level above the lowest allowance condition for which she’s eligible (N1X) in this return.
I’m definitely using her, but my top pick is TIZNOW’S SMILE (#2). The biggest concern for this filly is the pace, since the Pace Projector is predicting she won’t get a favorable setup. That said, she has a strong closing kick when she gets the right trip, as she did three back when she won at 7 furlongs in fast time. She did ride a strong rail bias that day, but I thought she still ran well enough to win this race. She’s lost two races since then, but I think her recent form is somewhat better than it might seem. She got buried inside when she was trying to make a run two back in the Empire Distaff, and I thought she put forth a decent effort last time. While she was only third in a small field, but the two fillies that defeated her are both very talented. I had been of the opinion that Tiznow’s Smile had wanted to go longer, but it’s possible that this turnback may actually benefit her.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,5,6,8
Trifecta: 2,8 with 2,8 with 1,4,5,6