RACE 1: A BRIDGE TOO FAR (#3)
Likely favorite Doll has lost at odds of 3-5 and even-money in her two starts since returning from a layoff this fall. Obviously, it’s difficult to accept another short price on a horse like this – and she will indeed be quite short today – but it’s also hard to find solid alternatives in this field. Doll is faster than her foes and appears to have a pace advantage unless Queenofeverything suddenly regains her top form. This Servis trainee is hard to endorse from a wagering standpoint, but I can’t deny that she’s the most likely winner. It’s difficult to know what we’re going to get from that main rival Queenofeverything. At her best, she’s a serious threat to beat the chalk, but when she fails to show up the results are downright disastrous. She does have a good race / bad race pattern going, so perhaps she’s due to rebound here. While she dueled with Doll in her return last time and faded badly, it’s worth noting that she was dead on the board that day, so best to watch her tote action again. The fresh face in this lineup is A Bridge Too Far and I think she offers some intrigue in a race begging for a newcomer. She will try New York-breds for the first time after debuting on turf against open company 10 months ago at Gulfstream. She didn’t show much that day, but her pedigree gives some reasons to be optimistic about the surface switch. The dam has produced three winning foals, all of whom were best on dirt, topped by Sea to Sky (2 for 25, $167k). Furthermore, this dam is a full-sister to the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Casse’s barn has been firing in New York recently, and he won at 14-1 with a maiden making this same surface switch on Sunday.
RACE 5: NO DEAL (#9)
Malibu Mischief may beat this field if she repeats her last performance, in which she wired a slightly cheaper group going 7 furlongs. She did so over a sloppy, sealed track which she has shown a distinct distaste for in the past, so she does deserve credit for delivering that victory. However, this is subtly a much tougher spot for her and she’s since been claimed away from Jason Servis. While Rob Falcone does an excellent job off the claim in his own right, how much do we really want to trust a filly who was eased two starts back at Parx? I acknowledge that the Pace Projector is predicting that she will be in front in a situation favoring the leader this time, but I still think she’s difficult to wholeheartedly endorse at a short price. In my opinion, the logical alternative is No Deal. This filly is finally getting the class relief that she needs after failing to make an impact in several recent starts against far tougher allowance fields. She was never going to be competitive against the likes of Honor Way and Figure It Out last time, but she also wasn’t helped by having to race about 5-wide all the way around the far turn. That loss isn’t nearly as disappointing as it might appear at first glance and prior to that she was still earning speed figures that put her squarely in the mix against this bunch. Some may argue that she’s simply heading in the wrong direction, but the last time she raced this cheaply she was an easy winner. The Pace Projector indicates that she won’t be that far off the early pace this time so I’m fairly optimistic than she can rebound.
RACE 7: CHATEAU (#5)
Potential favorite Wicked Trick has been unstoppable since the transition to dirt. Though he lost his initial attempts going long, he’s now 4-for-4 in dirt sprints. He got plenty of pace to close into last time, but still came from behind over a sloppy track that was favoring speed. Yet, this is indeed a significant step up in class and I believe there are other legitimate contenders in this spot who will offer better value. Puttheglassdown has a similar running style to the favorite. He appeared destined for a perfect trip when this race was originally drawn for the Dec. 19 canceled card. While there’s slightly less speed signed on this time, the pace should still be honest so he shouldn’t be badly compromised. He wasn’t helped by getting sent down to the dead rail when second to Chateau in July, but he nevertheless got a fantastic pace setup that day. His form since then has been decent if uninspiring, and he’s going to need to run a bit faster to take down this crew. I prefer the horse that defeated him in Saratoga. Chateau posted a couple of impressive victories over this strip last winter, earning some flashy speed figures. While it might seem that his form has tailed off a bit since then, he’s actually run extremely well in each of his last two starts. He set an insanely fast pace when beating Puttheglassdown at Saratoga, running better than the neck margin of victory would indicate. Then last time he got cooked in an early duel, putting away his main pace rival before getting run down by his vastly improved stablemate Happy Farm, who has since gone on to win a stakes. This slight cutback in distance helps him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him put away Runforthemunnings and run the rest off their feet, just as he did back in July.