RACE 2: MAKE A STAND (#8)
Gravitas is the horse to beat from the front end, as he figures to use his ample early speed in an attempt to bottom out this field. While he would be tough to beat if able to reproduce his recent form, trainer Jonathan Thomas is just 1 for 28 at NYRA over the past 6 months while he’s won 6 of 26 starts at Monmouth during that time. This horse often has trouble finishing off his races and I think he could be vulnerable against this field. Mike Maker has entered a pair of runners, both of whom seem like viable contenders. Doubly Blessed had a trip last time, but it was much of his own doing, as he attempted to lug in badly during the stretch drive, as he has done in all of his starts. I prefer Me and Mr. C of the Maker runners, as he has a right to improve first off the claim for this barn. He didn’t get the right trip last time and has prior form that would make him competitive here. I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is Make a Stand, who figures to be a more generous price. Like the favorite, Make a Stand ships up from Monmouth out of some potentially weaker races. However, his efforts in those races at the Jersey Shore are better than they appear. He lost all chance at the start two back when he was badly squeezed back. Then last time, he was against off towards the rear of the field but commenced a wide, premature rally to the front on the backstretch. Mid-race moves like that are rarely successful, but this horse managed to rebreak in upper stretch to fend off his foes. He’s in excellent form right now and could fly under the radar here.
RACE 4: PETIT FILS (#5)
The merits and shortcomings of the two favorites, Rocketry and You’re to Blame, are fairly obvious at this point. The former has prior form that would crush this field, but he’s been consistently underperforming over the past two seasons. The latter’s form is more volatile, though he was also capable of running well enough to win races at this level in the past. You’re to Blame just edged out Rocketry in the latter stages of the Birdstone last time, but he was just picking up pieces after Rocketry was turned away by Moretti. Both can win at short prices, but I feel like you’re supposed to entertain some of the new faces in this lineup. The one that I found most intriguing is Petit Fils. This 5-year-old makes his first start on dirt for new connections after a failed bid to become a stakes horse on turf in this country. While he possesses a European pedigree, his sire Makfi is by solid dirt influence Dubawi and his dam is by Orpen, a son of Lure who has gotten some dirt runners in South America. Petit Fils was reportedly training well on dirt up at Saratoga, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could handle this surface. His new connections have been known to pull off some unlikely results with new acquisitions. Furthermore, trainer Chuck Lawrence is 12 for 60 (20%, $3.13 ROI) with horses going from turf to dirt routes over the past 5 years.
RACE 9: WINDFALL PROFIT (#1)
This is arguably the most wide open race on the card, as you can make a valid case for every single runner entered for turf. Eye of a Soldier and Lashara each figure to attract support after battling for second behind impressive winner Duopoly last time. Yet both got decent ground-saving trips and just couldn’t make much of an impact late. I’m using them, but I think others will offer better value. Mary’s France offers some appeal as she makes her U.S. debut for Graham Motion, who has excellent statistics in this situation. However, her overseas form doesn’t appear to be that strong and I’m concerned she could get overbet in this spot. My top pick is last-out maiden winner Windfall Profit. She’s stepping up in class after beating a weaker field last time, but it feels like this daughter of Malibu Moon has just turned a corner for Shug McGaughey. She was a dominant winner last time, traveling well throughout despite racing wide before easily drawing off in the lane under minimal encouragement. She’s trained forwardly out of that race and has the tactical speed to work out a favorable trip in this paceless affair. At a bigger price I would also use Fetching, who is an interesting claim by Mertkan Kantarmaci. She was in solid form earlier this year going shorter and has just been in the wrong spots in her last two starts. The stretch-out and lack of pace in this race could work to her advantage.