The Great Johanna (#1) is simply the horse to beat in this New York-bred allowance affair, which is essentially another N1X despite the convoluted conditions. Her form since switching back to dirt and adding Lasix has been very strong. She was beating weaker fields two and three back, though it’s not as if she was disgraced in defeat when losing as the 4-5 favorite last time. The winner of that race has shown promise and this filly didn’t regress much on the speed figure scale. She also possesses a versatile running style, which should come in handy given the amount of speed signed on here. I’m hardly against her, but she’s going to be a short price once again and there are some others to consider.
One of her main rivals appears to be Gilda Marie (#7), who has been a little unlucky to lose both starts since returning from another layoff this winter. She was chasing a very fast pace that fell apart two back and then was resurgent last time, falling just short in another chaotic finish. Both of those performances came at 6 furlongs and now she’s being asked to stretch out on dirt for the first time. She’s actually a half-sister to Lem Me Have It, who runs in today’s sixth race and has won at a mile, so she has the pedigree to handle more ground. Yet a potential fast pace could work against her.
In race where many have already had their chances at this level, a horse like A BRIDGE TOO FAR (#6) stands out. She showed little in her turf debut at Gulfstream last year, but Mark Casse had her ready to go off the layoff last time. It seems like dirt may just be her preferred surface and her pedigree supports that notion, since she’s a half-sister to solid dirt router Sea to Sky and her dam is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Given those pedigree influences, the added distance shouldn’t be a problem. It’s also not as if she has to get much faster to take down The Great Johanna, and I believe she’s worth a shot as the likely second choice.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,7
Trifecta: 1,6 with 1,6 with 2,7,8,9