RACE 2: SHAMROCK KID (#2)
Likely favorite Control Group comes in with solid form. However, he defeated a very weak field at this level two back and was somewhat disappointing as the 3-5 favorite last time. He was unable to get by early leader Horoscope while barely fending off today’s rival Shamrock Kid for second. He has now been claimed away from embattled trainer Servis, landing back in Rudy Rodriguez’s care. This 6-year-old has run well for this barn in the past and will be tough to beat if he merely maintains his recent form. He obviously makes a good deal of sense, but I would still be wary of accepting too short a price on him, especially given his recent history. I prefer the horse that finished just behind him last time, Shamrock Kid. He makes his first start off the claim for Orlando Noda, who is 2 for 20 (10%, $0.88 ROI) with that move. However, this barn has done well with new acquisitions more generally. The drop down to this level last time woke him up, as he got back into form while finishing in a photo with Control Group. He came up empty in the late stages, but he did have to go 4-wide all the way around the far turn, losing valuable ground. He figures to be formidable right back at this level if he maintains his current form and gets some pace to close into. He’s my top pick, but I would also use horses like Singapore Trader and Vincento, who both drop in class.
RACE 5: FROZEN ACCOUNT (#3)
Whichwaytomalibu chased home gate-to-wire winner Jerry the Nipper last time while never really a threat. He was perhaps carried along by the track, as Feb. 22 was a day that appeared to favor forwardly-placed runners. He is bred to be more of a sprint type, but he handled a mile well enough last time. He may have an easier time of it on the front end here, since he’s one of the few major contenders that possesses any real speed. Others do have more upside, but he’s the one to beat and the one to catch. Bed to Differ closed steadily from far back to get up for third last time, but did so with the help of a fast and contested early pace. Nevertheless, that was his first start in 3 months, so he has a right to improve second off the layoff. That 87 TimeformUS Speed Figure puts him right in line with the other major players and he arguably has more room for improvement in just his second dirt start. He just needs to show a bit more tactical speed since there doesn’t appear to be much pace signed on this time. I’m interested in some of the second-time starters, the most intriguing of which may be Frozen Account. This colt broke with the field last time and initially tried to show speed before getting steadied out of position. That caused him to become extremely green, as he lost contact with the field leaving the backstretch. He eventually regained his stride and put in a strong stretch run while never threatening the winner. Runner-up Jerry the Nipper returned to win next time out with a 100 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Frozen Account now goes out for Kelly Breen for the first time, and this barn does well off trainer switches. I would also use Liquor, who steadily made up ground while racing wide in his debut. He gets a rider upgrade for James Ferraro and is bred to relish added ground as a son of Tonalist.
RACE 8: HONOR WAY (#8)
The Pace Projector isn’t predicting a fast pace, but there is plenty of speed signed on here. Any race that features the run-off filly Forgotten Hero is likely to produce an honest early tempo, and fellow front-runners like Honey I’m Good and Jakarta should help to ensure that. Honey I’m Good is probably the horse to beat after just missing at this level last time when finishing between Bridlewood Cat and Piedi Bianchi, two of the major players in the Correction on Saturday. While she’s been effective from a stalking position on turf, she may be put in an uncomfortable position this time. Hay Field seems like a logical alternative given her stalking running style. She wasn’t quite good enough in the Broadway last time when facing the in-form Kept True, but she did hold her form reasonably well off the claim for new trainer Antonio Arriaga. She figures to be in the mix here with a similar effort, and that seems likely since she’s among the most consistent runners in the field. I’m using her prominently, but I’m intrigued by the pair that Charlton Baker has entered. Bluegrass Jamboree finished behind Hay Field last time in a somewhat disappointing effort. However, she was compromised by a slow pace, something she’s had to deal with in a number of her recent starts. She has a right to do better here if they go quickly up front, but so does her uncoupled stablemate Honor Way. This mare’s recent form appears to have tailed off, but you can make some excuses for her. She’s not a miler, so she was never going to make much of an impact last time. Prior to that she was overmatched in the Interborough. Yet her form from late 2019 actually gives her a solid chance here and she figures to appreciate this turnback to 6 furlongs. She could be the one that offers the best value.