RACE 8: GOOD CREDENCE (#10)
Behind the Couch is the likely favorite in this spot as she returns from a layoff for Jeremiah Englehart. She showed a lot of promise early in her career as she placed in the Bouwerie stakes immediately following her maiden victory last summer and then followed that up with a good second going a mile at this level. However, things began to go awry after that. She was pulled up during the running of the Fleet Indian at Saratoga, and then returned to lose as a heavy favorite under today’s conditions last fall at Belmont. While she still earned a respectable 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure last time, she had no answer for the winner after setting a very slow pace, which should have made her difficult to pass. She can win, but others will offer better value. I have no major knocks against her main rival Officer Hutchy, other than the fact that she’s just a little slower on speed figures than Behind the Couch. That said, Officer Hutchy last raced in February, and she has a right to achieve some higher numbers now that she’s had four months to mature, given that she’s only a 3-year-old. She was hindered by poor starts earlier in her career, but she got away alertly last time and won with authority. Six furlongs may be a bit short for her, but she’s nevertheless a major player. Yet I prefer another 3-year-old in this field. Good Credence disappointed when she returned at Gulfstream in April, but that start came against open company and she got squeezed back at the break. I’m willing to forgive her for that effort, since her juvenile form was quite strong for this level. She broke her maiden in decent time over this track and then finished a good third in the Maid of the Mist going a distance that may be too far for her. She figures to revert to a more forwardly-placed running style with a clean break this time, and I think she has room to improve in her second start off the layoff.
RACE 9: GOLDEN AWARD (#6)
The two major players in this Ogden Phipps are the pair that hit the board in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Ollie’s Candy ran a fantastic race that day as she carved out some very fast fractions from her rail draw and nearly held on to win over the very talented Ce Ce. It was arguably the best performance of this 5-year-old mare’s career, and now she has to prove that she can back it up as she returns about 8 weeks later. Yet it would be unfair to this John Sadler trainee to suggest that she needs to repeat her Apple Blossom to beat this field. She’s been in excellent form for the past year and should be right there as long as her trip works out. The trip is the major concern for her chief rival Point of Honor. In terms of raw ability, she’s the equal of Ollie’s Candy, yet she often leaves herself with too much ground to make up. That was the case last time in the Apple Blossom when she dropped more than 20 lengths off the pace in the early going. It’s remarkable that she got up for third, but she’s going to have to stay closer to the pace if she’s to be successful this time. I don’t doubt that she can do it, but she’s going to be a similar price to Ollie’s Candy and I have a bit more faith in that one. You can honestly make a case for every runner in this field, but the horse that I think has the best chance to upset the two favorites is Golden Award. This mare was on track to ascend to the Grade 1 level last year when something obviously went amiss in the Personal Ensign. Yet her performances that surround that puzzling non-effort make her a major player here. She was impressive taking the Shuvee over the very good Wow Cat at Saratoga, and then she earned a career-best 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Turnback the Alarm, a number that makes her highly competitive here. Some will be deterred by her loss in the Royal Delta earlier this year, but I believe that she just doesn’t handle a wet track. She’s going to get fast going on Saturday and she figures to workout a great stalking trip from this outside post.
RACE 10: GLORIOUSLY (#8)
Bean Counter is the horse to beat, but I’m starting to get tired of her act. She’s been short prices in most of her recent starts and she just consistently fails to get the job done. Her most recent loss is particularly difficult to excuse, as she was allowed to set a slow pace and still couldn’t hang on with that perfect trip. I acknowledge that her recent speed figures make her the horse to beat in this spot, but there are some rivals who have a right to take a step forward and get on terms with her. The most obvious alternative is Hurricane Breeze, who stepped up in her first start off the claim for Mike Maker last time, earning a respectable 98 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She got a great trip, saving ground every step of the way, but the winner got an even more advantageous setup, as she was setting that slow pace. I’m using her prominently, but I think this race is more wide open than it appears at first glance. Therefore I want to take a shot with Gloriously as she gets back on turf. This filly ran her best race in her lone turf start against maidens back on March 27. She only managed to finish third that day, but she earned a solid speed figure and was defeated by a relatively talented rival in First Wave. Since then, she stretched out in distance last time and proved that she has no problem getting a mile on the dirt, breaking her maiden in style. Putting these clues together, it would make sense that she would excel going a route distance on the turf, and she finally gets a chance to try that in this spot. She would obviously need to produce a career-best performance to defeat Bean Counter, but she’s shown some potential at different points and still has upside.