RACE 3: FREUDIAN FATE (#4)
Kid d’Oro may go favored here after making a fairly successful return to the races last month. He was no match for the impressive winner Quickflash, who will be strongly favored to win an allowance race on Saturday, but he stayed on well for second after working out a very good trip. If he improves second off the layoff, he’ll be a strong win candidate this time. However, I prefer a different horse out of that Feb. 2 affair. Freudian Fate did not have the smoothest journey that day, as he was bumped hard coming out of the gate, losing about a length of position at the start. From there, Manny Franco tried to get him to settle in behind runners, but he fought that restraint, attempting to run up into his customary stalking position despite the fact that they were moving quickly up front. He ultimately advanced into the race gradually, but did so while racing in traffic and dealing with a ton of kickback. All things considered, I thought he did well to get up for third. If he reverts to the form that we saw out of him when he got better trips two and three back, I think he’s the most likely winner of this race. I could also use Hot Brown, who may play out as the main speed here. However, it’s hard to make an excuse for his dull effort last time when he didn’t show his usual early speed and never got involved. His got his career off to a promising start, but he hasn’t built upon those early efforts. Though, he does appear to be working well for his return from the brief layoff, so I’ll throw him into the mix.
RACE 5: DEEP SPACE (#7)
Amos was no match for the superior Alphadora when making her first start for new trainer Mike Miceli last time, but she still ran a decent speed figure. Her two dirt efforts prior to this trainer switch had been fairly disappointing, as she seemed more comfortable on turf recently. Yet she has shown dirt ability before, and it could be that she’s just finally catching the right field. You’re forced to take a pretty short price on a horse who may not be at the top of her game, but she’s obviously the one to beat. There are two intriguing alternatives. One of those is first time starter Spin Your Partner. Her dam was successful on all surfaces, but was clearly best on turf, winning the Grade 3 Pucker Up and finishing fourth in the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup, and her only foal to race thus far is Grade 3-placed turfer Conquest Hardcandy. She wouldn’t have to be much to compete here, but her pedigree definitely leans towards grass. I prefer Kentucky shipper Deep Space, even though this $750,000 yearling purchase for Juddmonte has been a massive disappointment so far. Following her discouraging off-the-turf debut, Juddmonte didn’t even see fit to hold onto this daughter of Curlin as a broodmare, letting her go for just $42,000 at the Keeneland November sale. She made her first start for the new connections on synthetic at Turfway, and stayed on evenly after a slow start, galloping out with more interest than she showed during the race. She has always been bred to go longer, so perhaps this stretch-out is just what she needs. Her trainer hasn’t had much success in New York, but it’s a good sign that Junior Alvarado takes the mount, and she figures to be a square price.
RACE 8: LEGIT (#6)
This intriguing optional claimer features a fascinating, if somewhat random, conglomeration of once promising runners. That group is led by Identity Politics, the runner-up in the 2018 Grade 1 Malibu. This 5-year-old has struggled with inconsistency ever since that career-best performance, only entering the winner’s circle once last year. Yet his last effort suggests that he may be getting things back on track, as he closed strongly into a moderate pace to get up for second behind the classy Joevia. I’ll use him prominently, and would also throw in that race’s third-place finisher Mr. Dougie Fresh if he starts here. (Both he and Sicilia Mike have been cross-entered in Saturday’s Tom Fool.) Any time you see the speedy Chateau in the entries, the pace needs to be discussed. This Jason Servis trainee is a quasi-quarter horse – perhaps the fastest runner on the grounds over a half-mile. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace. Yet pace competition is not the issue for a run-off like Chateau. Rather, the distance will be his greatest hurdle, since 6 1/2 furlongs should test his stamina. Given his presence, I would prefer to look for a late runner. The aforementioned closers are definitely valid options, but I’m most intrigued by the returning Legit. This 5-year-old hasn’t been seen in nearly 22 months, and his connections have selected a pretty ambitious spot in which to return. However, this son of Curlin did show a great deal of ability back in 2018, impressively winning a pair of route starts. Those efforts and his pedigree both suggest that he will ultimately want to go farther than this. Yet he figures to get a great pace setup here and Todd Pletcher has outstanding statistics in this situation. Over the past 5 years, he is 6 for 9 (67%, $5.26 ROI) off layoffs of one year or more with horses going from routes to sprints on dirt.