Love to Learn (#1) is obviously the class of this field as she exits a series of N1X allowance races at Woodbine. She faced tougher fields than the one she meets today in most of those contests, and she raced competitively on more than one occasion. The major hurdle for this filly today is the switch to dirt. She clearly improved in the barn of Sid Attard last year, but it’s unclear how much of that development can be attributed to maturity as opposed to the focus on turf and synthetic racing. Now she’s switching into the barn of Brian Lynch for her return to American dirt, and this barn does not have the strongest numbers with this move. Over the past 5 years, Lynch is just 2 for 30 (7 percent, $0.54 ROI) with horses making their first start off a trainer switch on dirt. I’m definitely using this classy filly, but there are other options to consider.
Summer Punch (#4) would be formidable if she were to repeat her most recent effort, but she’s now moving way up in class off the claim. Cool As You Like (#5) has run competitive speed figures on occasion, but she’s not totally reliable.
I’d rather take a runner that appears to be coming into this race in top form, and that’s MY VICTORIA ROSE (#2). I realize that she seems a bit slower than some of the main contenders, but I think she’s been subtly improving in recent starts. She was an easy winner when she broke her maiden two back, and I thought she ran deceptively well in her first start against winners on Dec. 13. She was attempting to follow rail-skimming eventual winner No Deal in the early stages, but ended up swinging outside at the top of the stretch before darting back to the inside at the eighth pole. Despite covering more ground than the winner, she was actually finishing fastest of all late and galloped out with vigor after the wire. I like that Junior Alvarado takes back the mount, and I get the sense that this once-promising runner is doing very well heading into this race.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,4,5
Trifecta: 2 with 1,5 with ALL