RACE 5: COLLOQUIST (#2)
The two favorites in this spot figure to be Its a Wrap and Ahead of Plan, and both of them come in with some questions to answer. Its a Wrap is arguably the more trustworthy of this duo as he drops in for a tag for the first time. While he ran fairly well in his turf debut on June 5, he wasn’t able to get up to win despite getting a good trip and was legitimately disqualified for a bumping incident late. Yet his last effort cutting back to this 5 1/2 furlong distance concerns me a bit. He was obviously facing a better horse in French Reef, who looks bound for stakes, but he never really picked up his feet in the lane. Perhaps he wins this race with a similar effort, but I wasn’t thrilled about accepting a short price on him. Ahead of Plan is even more difficult to trust, as he put in an abysmal effort in his first start off the layoff earlier at this meet. That was on the dirt, but dirt seemed like it might have been his preferred surface. The fact that Chad Brown is putting him back on turf and dropping in for a tag implies desperation. I want to look elsewhere as there are a few interesting prices in this race. My top pick is longshot Colloquist. I know this horse looks improbable based on his turf results, but he’s had some subtle trips in his races. He didn’t run that badly first time out behind subsequent stakes winners Jack and Noah and Turned Aside. Then he got a poor ride on October 20 when sent to make a premature wide move on the turn. He didn’t get back to turf until last time, and he was asked to go two turns. While he faded late, I actually thought he ran pretty well in that July 26 affair, as he got steadied into the first turn and then chased an honest pace. I like the turnback for him, and he’s clearly run his best races for trainer Phil Gleaves.
RACE 6: LIFE IN SHAMBLES (#6)
Eye Luv Lulu may win this race if he’s half the horse he once was for Jason Servis. Yet as well as the Rob Atras barn seems to be doing, this is a very hard horse to trust as he drops in for a tag off the trainer switch. Eye Luv Lulu has actually been entered for Atras three times prior to this since early June and has been scratched on each of those occasions – first for $40,000, then for $32,000, and finally for $25,000. Now he’s in for a $20,000 tag. I’m even less thrilled with his stablemate Clench, another former Jason Servis runner. I’ve never been a fan of this colt and I don’t think he’s run particularly well in either start for Brad Cox. I think the right horse to take in this spot is Life in Shambles. While he is yet another ex-Jason Servis runner, at least he’s run well since leaving that barn for two different trainers. These connections claimed him in March at Aqueduct, but were forced to send him down to Gulfstream to race with the pandemic forcing racing to go on hiatus in New York. Life in Shambles put in an excellent effort to win an optional claiming race two back, defeating three next-out winners going this same 6 1/2-furlong distance. While he lost at the same level last time, he had a legitimate excuse, as the early pace was extremely slow and he was unable to catch the leaders. He figures to get more pace to close into this time, and he’s realistically placed off the trainer switch to Linda Rice.
RACE 10: UNICORN SALLY (#10)
Lucky Latkes could be the slight favorite in this spot after hitting the board in each of her two starts to date. Furthermore, she goes out for the dangerous Christophe Clement barn, which will only add to her appeal in the eyes of the general public. Yet I haven’t been too impressed with either of her efforts. She gradually made up ground in her debut but that was primarily a function of the fast pace that developed ahead of her. Then last time she against got a fast pace ahead of her and just couldn’t capitalize while one-paced through the stretch. She did get bumped in upper stretch, but that hardly affected her eventual finish. At a similar price, I strongly prefer Unicorn Sally. This filly is dropping down in class out of some tougher maiden special weight events. She could only manage to finish eighth last time, but she ran much better than that result would indicate. She stumbled at the start, placing her at the back of the pace in the early going. She was then forced to launch a wide run on the far turn and was spun out further when the field straightened away for the stretch. All things considered, I thought she put in a decent effort and would be dangerous if merely running back to the improved race that she ran two back. In my eyes she’s the horse to beat. I’d also include Courted, who was involved in those fast paces that benefited Lucky Latkes in her last two starts. It’s unwise to ignore anything from the Jorge Abreu barn right now.