Fire Key (#6) is obviously the horse to beat in this License Fee. Racing for Joseph Catanese in Florida this winter, she put forth respectable efforts while keeping pretty tough company. It was fairly ambitious for her connections to stretch her out in distance and take on the likes of Precieuse, Valedictorian, and Proctor’s Ledge. Despite those obstacles, this mare was hardly disgraced in her defeats. She actually ran extremely well last time, as she overcame a poor start and a slow pace to nearly get into the trifecta. Now she’s turning back to six furlongs, where she has finished in the exacta in 9 of 10 starts. However, this race won’t just be handed to her despite her apparent class edge.
There are a few worthy rivals drawn right alongside of her in the starting gate. Broadway Run (#5) showed real promise while trying a few stakes events last year and she will be formidable here if she returns as an improved 4-year-old. I’m certainly using her, but my top selection is Fire Key’s old nemesis Fear No Evil.
I’ve always been a fan of this Tom Albertrani mare, and she finally put it all together late last season. FEAR NO EVIL (#7) ran very well behind Fire Key in the Sensible Lady at Laurel, a race that she might have won had the winner not gotten the jump on her. She was again somewhat unlucky to lose to Fire Key in the Floral Park over a yielding ground at Belmont. Fear No Evil was forced to move too soon that day into a moderate pace, whereas Fire Key got a perfect trip, making the last move over the demanding course. Fear No Evil’s form since then is not nearly as encouraging as that of the favorite, but she has had excuses. She was racing on dirt two back and she’s never performed that well going five furlongs at Gulfstream. I like the stretch-out and return to Belmont as she’s reunited with Joe Bravo.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 4,5,6
Trifecta: 7 with 5,6 with 3,4,5,6