RACE 4: WEGOTOLDYOUGOTSOLD (#2)
The entry figures to attract plenty of support, led by the stronger half Life in Shambles. This 9-year-old gelding exploded with his best effort in quite some time when he dominated a $20,000 claiming field two back, beating today’s rival Wegotoldyougotsold. He was claimed out of that race by Mertkan Kantarmaci and actually didn’t regress much at all in his first start for the new barn. Life in Shambles was disadvantaged by the slow pace last time, but still nearly got the job done despite getting put in tight quarters on the rail in the stretch. If he repeats that effort against a weaker field here, he’s going to be difficult for these to handle. Furthermore, his stablemate Reed Kan isn’t impossible either. He’s making his second start off the layoff, has solid prior form, and is predicted to be on the lead in a situation favoring the front-runner by the Pace Projector. Yet I still think this pair could be vulnerable to the aforementioned Wegotoldyougotsold. There was a time when this guy would have been considered quite formidable in a race like this. However, he disappointed as the even-money choice last April and wasn’t seen again for 9 months following that performance. He was soundly beaten by Life in Shambles last time, but Jason Servis now shows a ton of confidence in targeting this much tougher spot off the claim. Notably, Servis is 4 for 14 (29%, $2.15 ROI) first off the claim with horses moving up in claiming price by 50% or more over 5 years. Some may think it odd to see apprentice Romero Maragh named, but Servis won a few races with him in Florida last year, including with Maximum Security. Wegotoldyougotsold handles this distance and his tactical speed should play well here.
RACE 5: BEAUTIFUL KAREN (#2)
Potential favorite Beautiful Karen got completely wiped out at the start of her debut, taking the worst of an ugly incident involving a few of today’s competitors. Jose Lezcano immediately wheeled her to the outside and she quickly ran past the entire field to establish the early lead in the opening furlongs. She then held on well until the late stages in a race where many were staggering to the finish. That 64 TimeformUS Speed Figure isn’t too impressive on its own, but she deserves a substantial bonus considering the adverse circumstances. Linda Rice does fantastic work with second time starters, so this filly figures to improve. I’m not trying to beat her, though I do respect her main rival Makingcents. That 78 TimeformUS Speed Figure she achieved first time out is the highest in this field, but it should be noted that there is some doubt about the quality of that Dec. 8 affair. That said, Makingcents arguably ran a better race when she returned last month, since she was hindered by a very slow pace and actually did well to get up for third after overcoming traffic issues. She’s bred to handle this distance, but I am a little worried that this barn has been underperforming throughout the meet. The one longshot who interests me a bit is Rosey’s Invasion, who was the filly who caused all that trouble for Beautiful Karen last time. After bearing out at the start, she ran up to contest the pace, but for some reason her rider elected to take a tight hold of the reins and drag her back off the pace. The plan backfired, as he ended up getting totally shuffled out of the race. Now the blinkers are removed and she gets a rider switch, but we’re still awaiting a verdict on her overall talent level.
RACE 8: ROAMING UNION (#4)
The public is likely to gravitate towards the two lightly raced options in this intriguing optional claimer. Patagonia was ambitiously entered in the Bernardini Stakes on Saturday, but his connections opted to scratch and instead target this easier spot. He ran very well in his first start off the trainer switch to Jonathan Thomas, loving the stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles as he ran down the highly regarded Communicator. However, that race may not have been as strong as it seemed at the time. Communicator returned to finish 10th as the heavy favorite in this next start at Oaklawn, and third-place finisher Moretti also lost at 3-5 odds when he returned at Laurel recently. Patagonia has a right to continue improving, but he’s going to be a short price in here and others have already run faster races in the past. Frank’sgunisloaded is in a similar situation, as he looks to build upon his N1X win going a one-turn mile. Yet he was beating an even weaker field than Patagonia in that race and he still has to prove that he’ll be as effective going this distance. I think both of these runners will need to improve to beat the seasoned Roaming Union. Some may be deterred by his pair of off-the-board finishes in his last two starts, but he was facing significantly tougher company on both occasions. He was unfortunate to run into Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston last time and prior to that he ran deceptively well chasing a fast pace in the Queens County. Roaming Union has always been best over this 9-furlong distance, and he probably just needs a slight drop in class, which he gets here. If he returns to the form that we saw at Belmont last fall he’s going to be a serious rival for the two aforementioned 4-year-olds.