This is easily the most competitive race on the card. In my opinion, you can make a legitimate case for 9 of the 11 runners entered for turf, so of course I want to look for a price.
Jason Servis sends out the two mares who are likely to go off as the first and second choices, and I’m not enamored with either one. High Jingo (#11) seems like the kind of horse who will catch the public’s attention due to her lightly-raced record and consistent success in turf sprints. However, she’s only raced once since the fall of 2017. While she won going this distance that day, she did so against a much weaker field with a favorable pace setup. Now she hasn’t been seen for another year, and she has to get the 7 furlongs against a much tougher group.
I prefer her stablemate Broken Border (#2), who seems to handle the distance. However, she’s clearly seen better days and I’m skeptical that she can get back to the winner’s circle at this level now as a 7-year-old. I want to go in some other directions.
Belle of the Spa (#12) is a filly who must be included on any serious tickets. She, too, is coming off a layoff, but she has run well in most of her turf starts and she arguably put in her best effort going this distance off a similar layoff last summer. I’m using her, but I instead want to focus on a couple of fillies going out for David Donk.
Saratoga Treasure (#7) is the one who many will favor due to her solid turf form from late last season. While she was never a serious threat in her only prior start at this level, she was running on well late that day. She’s a bit of a question mark going this 7 furlong distance, but she does have a right to step forward as a 4-year-old. I’d use her defensively, but I’m far more interested in her stablemate, who figures to get somewhat lost in the shuffle.
BERTRANDA (#8) made her first start off the claim for David Donk last time and she ran better than it seems. The rail was the place to be on May 18, but her rider made little attempt to hold his position down inside after breaking in front of the field. She gave up position, steadying and getting shuffled back, from the start all the way until the top of the stretch. She actually was running on well late but she was already out of contention by that point. Now Donk is putting her back on the turf and her overall record on the surface (7-0-0-2) does not look that encouraging. However, it’s worth digging deeper into her form to watch some of those races.
She last raced on turf in the Turf Amazon Stakes at Parx last year, so she obviously was overmatched there. Prior to that, her only other turf sprint came at this level at Belmont in early 2018, and she was hardly disgraced while going out for a low-percentage barn. All of her other turf starts were in route races. Despite the fact that she’s clearly better sprinting, she actually placed 3rd in the Christiana Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on grass at Delaware in 2017. She finish just 2 lengths behind the Grade 2-placed filly Journey Home and earned a 105 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that effort. If Bertranda can still handle this surface now as a 5-year-old, she fits very well in this spot and has a great chance to outrun her odds.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 2,7,9,10,11,12