RACE 1: ALPHADORA (#5)
Doll has been sent off at odds of even-money or less in three consecutive starts and she’s lost each time. Of greater concern is the fact that she has led the field into upper stretch on all of those occasions before allowing rivals to pass her in the final furlong. Clearly she’s lacking some will to win these races, but she nevertheless continues to earn speed figures that are superior to most of her rivals. I suppose it stands to reason that she’s eventually going to meet a field than can’t beat her, but is today that day? I find her hard to swallow at another short price. There are a few alternatives from which to choose and the one that I prefer is Alphadora. This filly’s 2019 campaign ended on a sour note, but she showed real ability in her first several starts. She was hindered by a significant rail bias when she made her debut in February, and immediately stepped forward with two strong performances thereafter. She really should have won on March 15, but a poorly judged ride cost her the victory. She was then in over her head against the classy Newly Minted in a stakes thereafter before getting sent to the sidelines. This barn tends to fly under the radar, but they have sent out live runners on this circuit before and the bullet workout in late December is encouraging. She also gets a significant rider switch to Junior Alvarado in this return to the races.
RACE 7: OUR SUPER NOVA (#5)
Bellera has run well in every race that she’s completed, only finishing out of the exacta when she lost her rider at the start of the Turnback the Alarm two back. She bounced right back from that disappointment to take down the Grade 3 Comely last time over the promising filly Arrifana while earning a respectable 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She’s proven that she relishes this demanding 9-furlong distance and she has the tactical speed to work out another good trip. I’m using her prominently, but I fear that she may be overbet based on raw results when others have run just as fast. For instance, her uncoupled stablemate Another Broad achieved a superior 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure when she finished a strong second in that Turnback the Alarm two back, and that number seems legitimate given that the classy Golden Award won the race. Another Broad disappointed in the Go For Wand last time, but she never had a fair chance that day given the shorter distance and slow pace. She figures to rebound here at a better price. I’m using both of them, but I have to bet Our Super Nova in this spot. This New York-bred mare is stepping up to the graded stakes level again after finishing a good third in the aforementioned Go For Wand two back. Some will be turned off by her loss as the odds-on favorite going this distance in the Bay Ridge last time, but she had a legitimate excuse for that performance. I think her rider Junior Alvarado would probably like to have his ride back, as she made the decision to rein her in coming out of the gate despite the fact that she broke on top of the field. Our Super Nova ended up getting her stuck in a pocket behind the leaders and she could never get into the clear when it really mattered. I’m not convinced that this distance will be a major issue for her since she’s handled two turns in the past and was best routing for her prior trainer. She figures to get a more aggressive ride this time given the lack of pace in here.
RACE 8: BELLARMINE HALL (#3)
I don’t have a major knock against likely favorite Dawn’s Early Light, who was just in over his head at the maiden special weight level last time when beaten by the highly-regarded New York-bred Chestertown. While that wasn’t the fastest maiden event that we’ve seen, runner-up Forever Wicked did return to win and third-place finisher Wild Banker returned to finish an unlucky third next time after a poor trip. Dawn’s Early Light carved out legitimate fractions that day and he figures to be tough to run down as he drops back down to the maiden claiming level. Many will perceive his main rival to be Tapizearance, but I’m somewhat skeptical of this runner. He started out with promise over the summer at Saratoga and he carried that form into the fall at Belmont. However, his form really tailed off for Gary Contessa thereafter. Most will assume that he’ll improve under the care of Brad Cox, but I’m not thrilled with the fact that he’s stretching back out to a mile. I know that he seemingly handled it during the autumn, but I didn’t love the way he finished those races and believe he’s better going shorter. I want to go in a different direction, so I’m taking a shot with Bellarmine Hall. This gelding has only tried dirt once before in an off-the-turf race in October, and he was badly compromised by a poor start that day. Nevertheless, he earned a respectable 78 TimeformUS Speed Figure and was beaten by some rivals that would be short prices against this field. They went back to turf last time and he got a horrific trip which cost him any chance of being competitive. He’s better than those recent efforts and now he’s making his first start for the powerful Jamie Ness barn.