Sara Street (#5) is clearly the horse to beat, but I still have some doubts about how far she really wants to go. She ran very well going today’s 1 1/8 miles distance over this very surface last April in the Gazelle, but that race remains an outlier in the careers of a few horses. She faded in the slop in her only other start around two turns, and her pedigree does not exactly inspire confidence that more distance really suits her. Her return effort last time was solid enough, as she did well to hold off a well-meant Danny Gargan runner. Yet the 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure that she earned for that effort doesn’t exactly give her any kind of edge over this field. She will have to improve in her second start off the layoff and may have to do so over another sloppy track. One significant factor that will benefit her is the overall lack of speed in this field. The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead and she figures to either go directly to the front or share the lead with a horse like Total Control. I’m definitely using her, but I get the sense that she may be an underlay.
A few mares in this field exit the Thirty Eight Go Stakes at Laurel, which was run around one turn. Total Control finished ahead of FOREVER LIESL (#7) that day, but I strongly prefer the latter runner in today’s race. Whereas total Control had a good stalking trip, Forever Liesl had to rally from behind and was completely cut off when attempting to slice through traffic in deep stretch. This Michelle Nevin trainee is one of the few horses in this field who has proven that she is at her best around two turns. In three starts between August and November of 2018, she ran a trio of 113 TimeformUS Speed Figures, two of which were accomplished at today’s 9-furlong distance. If she merely repeats her runner-up performance in the Turnback the Alarm, I believe she’ll be a handful for favored Sara Street.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 2,4,5
Trifecta: 7 with 2,5 with 1,2,3,4,5