RACE 4: NONNA MADELINE (#4)
Golden Award is obviously the most likely winner of this Summer Colony – if she finishes the race. And given her recent record in that department, it’s a big ‘if.’ She’s been eased in two of her last four starts, and those performances have left trainer Bill Mott scratching his head. She appears to travel well early in her races and then just refuses to keep trying, essentially pulling herself up. Adding to the mystery is that she ran quite well in both starts in between those two non-efforts, winning the Turnback the Alarm and finishing a good second over a wet track she might not like in the Royal Delta. I won’t be surprised if she wins this race, but she’s hard to trust as the favorite. Todd Pletcher has entered a trio of fillies against her, and I think two of them are viable win candidates. Bellera is the more obvious fit for this race, having finishing third going this distance in the Delaware Handicap in her most recent start. Yet I didn’t think she had any major excuse not to be second that day, as she got a perfect trip setting a slow pace and just couldn’t quicken with her rivals at the quarter pole. She had run a few decent races as a 3-year-old last year, but I’m not thrilled with her recent form. I prefer Nonna Madeline, who will attempt the 1 1/8 miles distance for the first time. I would have been skeptical about her going this far when she was a younger horse, but she appears to have matured into a capable dirt router. She couldn’t reel in the fleet-footed Letruska in her last two starts, but nevertheless earned solid speed figures both times while finishing well clear of the rest of her competition. She figures to get a good trip stalking a moderate pace and I just think she’s coming into this in the best form.
RACE 6: CONTROL GROUP (#5)
I Love Jaxson is the stronger half of the Drawing Away entry, and gets significant class relief after facing some tough open company fields in his last couple of starts. He was in raging form last winter, but he’s been a little dull since returning from the layoff this summer. That said, even the speed figures he earned in those recent losses make him a formidable presence in this race. He can get the distance and has the tactical speed to sit closer to the pace than he has in recent starts. I’m not against him, but there are others to consider at slightly better prices. Doups Point has found this N2X allowance condition to be a challenge, as he’s failed to finish better than third in 5 attempts at this level. He looked ready to ascend to some tougher spots last summer, but his form has tailed off a little since then. You can make some valid excuses for his recent losses, but I worry that he’s going to get overbet here as he goes out for the hottest barn on the grounds. My top pick is Control Group. Like many in this field, he’s seen better days, having won New York-bred stakes in his heyday. It appeared that he had gone completely off form earlier this year, even when racing for Jason Servis, but Rudy Rodriguez got him back on track last time. He was allowed to set a moderate pace, but nevertheless displayed improved early speed before romping to an easy victory. That effort came against cheaper, but he still earned a competitive speed figure. Now makes his first start off the claim for Orlando Noda, whose runners have been outperforming expectations at this meet. I believe he can get in front of these and take them all the way going his favorite 9-furlong distance.
RACE 10: CAINUDOTHETWIST (#1)
This might seem like a wide open race at first glance, but I strongly prefer the likely favorite Cainudothetwist. I thought this filly put in a very encouraging effort to be second in her career debut at this level at Belmont. She got caught behind a slow pace and was forced to make a 4-wide run around the second turn, which is a significant disadvantage on the inner turf course. I liked the way she finished that day, and her trainer Archibald Kingsley, a jump specialist, can send out some live runners on the flat. I think it’s a good sign that he toyed with the idea of running her against maiden special weight company during the second week of the meet before ultimately opting for this spot instead. She just needs a little pace to close into and I think she can mow them down late. I’m particularly bullish on her chances because I’m not thrilled with any of her competitors. Women Not Easy may take money off her published trouble line last time, but I thought any traffic she encountered was inconsequential. Plink Freud has the speed figures to win at this level, but I don’t think she wants to go this far and she’s squandered opportunities to win in the past. Furthermore, she’ll attract money merely due to the presence of Irad Ortiz. The most interesting alternative to Cainudothetwist might be Adorable Maya, who only got one chance on turf late last year but has some pedigree to handle this surface. I’ll use her in exotics with the favorite.