Shanghai Bonnie (#2) is the horse to beat as she attempts to break her maiden after losing by slim margins in her first two starts. She benefited from a speed-favoring surface in her debut at Saratoga, but she nevertheless ran quite well that day, gamely hanging onto the lead until she was bumped off stride just before the wire. It took her more than 4 months to get back to the races after that, but she returned in solid form at Laurel last time. While the winner and third-place finisher in that race were both longshots, they benefitted from a fast early pace. Shanghai Bonnie outdueled her main rival on the front end and was unlucky to lose. If she repeats either of her performances she will be a handful here, but I think she faces some significant rivals.
My top pick is FANGIRL (#1), who may be able to outsprint the favorite to the front. This filly set an extremely fast pace in her debut, evidenced by the red color-coded pace figures and her massive 140 Early Pace Rating in TimeformUS PPs. She maintained an advantage until the quarter pole, at which point she faded badly. It’s taken her nearly 4 months to get back to the races, but she appears to be working swiftly and the addition of blinkers suggests they will flaunt her speed again. Her trainer, John Terranova, has very encouraging numbers in this situation. Over the past 5 years, he is 9 for 30 (30 percent, $2.95 ROI) with maiden second-time starters in dirt sprints.
In addition to these two, I would also want to prominently use second time starter Enjoyitwhilewecan (#4). While I’m not sure that she was facing the toughest field in her debut, she did run well within the context of the race after making a middle move into contention to chase her stablemate. I would also give some consideration to Up at Dawn (#3), who has some pedigree and debuts for a barn that can win with first time starters.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,3,4,7
Trifecta: 1 with 2,4 with 2,3,4,7