RACE 5: VANZZY (#8)
In a race as wide open as this, it’s difficult to say how the public will approach it. I suppose a couple of horses stepping up in class out of allowance races will attract some money. Lukewarm morning line favorite Basquiat was somewhat unlucky to lose his turf debut at Saratoga after getting a wide trip in a race dominated on the front end. Some may have been initially disappointed in his loss at even-money last time, but that effort looks more encouraging in retrospect, as winner Ever Dangerous returned to upset the Bryan Station at 74-1. This colt the tactical speed to be prominent throughout and isn’t meeting the toughest field for a stakes. Unlike Basquiat, who is winless on turf, Price Talk has never crossed the finish line behind another horse. While he was disqualified out of his debut victory, he actually improved after that, easily being maiden and allowance company with vastly improved speed figures. This is a significant step up in class, but he’s done everything right so far, and he has the tactical speed and turn of foot to work out a decent trip even if the pace is slow. I’ll use both of these promising runners, but I’m intrigued by some others at slightly better prices. City Man has yet to win on turf, but he’s run well in all 3 starts on this surface. He was arguably best in the Transylvania this summer, just missing after a wide trip. He then ran into a better horse when Venezuelan Hug outfinished him at Saratoga. He appears to be coming into this race is strong form. My top pick is Vanzzy, who should be the most generous price of those I’m considering. It appeared that bigger targets were on the horizon after he impressively won the Jersey Derby over the summer. However, he was unfortunate to catch a pair of boggy turf courses – going that he just doesn’t handle – in his next two starts. And I would also be forgiving of his last effort in Canada, as he was facing a pretty strong group of older horses over synthetic. You can obviously make some excuses for him, so it’s reasonable to expect him to rebound as long as the turf is on the firmer side of the spectrum. Plus, his stalking running style should play well in this spot.
RACE 8: ICE PRINCESS (#3)
I have no major knocks against Miss Marissa, who is probably the horse to beat as she seeks her fourth consecutive victory. I had some doubts after her surprising victory at Saratoga, but she validated that effort with an excellent performance to upset the highly regarded Bonny South in the Black Eye Susan. A repeat of either of those efforts makes her a win candidate here. The only problem is that you got $42 to win on her two back and $22 last time, and now she’s going to be one of the favorites. I’m still using her, and I certainly prefer her to a couple of others who could attract support in here. Mrs. Danvers and Thankful finished a head apart when they met in a N1X allowance on Sep. 27 at Belmont. Thankful got the better of her rival that day, but Mrs. Danvers had the tougher trip, stymied in traffic in upper stretch. Mrs. Danvers did return with a victory, but she had to work pretty hard to do so over an inferior rival while wearing blinkers for the first time. I’m concerned about Mrs. Danvers stretching out, given how headstrong she gets in her races, and I’m dubious about Thankful’s ability to step up in class. I’m actually more afraid of Gale, who comes off a smashing 13-length victory at Laurel. She gets a major class test here, but she’s bred to handle the distance and seemed to relish the dirt last time. She’s definitely on my tickets, but I wanted to get a little more creative with my top pick. Ice Princess obviously has to run faster to contend with these fillies, but I think she has a right to do so. She was progressing nicely over the winter here last year before they took a shot in a tough edition of the Fantasy. It took her a long time to get back to the races after that, but I was encouraged by her return in the Fleet Indian. She had to eat dirt sitting on the rail the whole way, but closed willingly once she found a seam in the stretch. She’s always given the impression that she wants two turns and I expect her to step forward second off the layoff.
RACE 9: MISS TEHERAN (#10)
Tapit Today is clearly the horse to beat as she drops slightly in class out of her win in the Grade 3 Athenia last time. She got a 3-wide uncovered trip that day, but it all worked out since the pace was slow and she was able to get the jump on a few of her main rivals. This 5-year-old mare has been steadily improving for a while now, and she’s likely to beat this field if she merely repeats that last performance. However, she will have to work out a trip from the outside post position in this 12-horse field on the inner turf, which is no small feat. She’s a deserving favorite, but I’m open to the possibility of an upset given the wide draw. However, I would not try to beat her with Myhartblongstodady, who also figures to take money. This filly is undefeated in 2020 and hasn’t lost a race since 2018, but she’s been incredibly fortunate in her recent starts. She’s enjoyed uncontested early leads in paceless races, and it seems highly improbable that she’ll get that kind of trip here. In my opinion, the right strategy in this race is to play against her. The most logical alternative to the favorite is Feel Glorious. This Clement-trained filly finished behind Tapit Today last time, but she was hindered by the slow pace of that race. She’s actually been in solid form all year but rarely gets the respect she deserves. I think she’s going to run well getting back to Aqueduct. She’s a significant part of my play, but my top pick is actually Chad Brown’s other horse Miss Teheran. This 4-year-old filly made one start in this country off a 21-month layoff, and just missed against an inferior field at Monmouth. Yet she encountered some traffic trouble, having to alter course multiple times in the lane before getting free. Third-place finisher Orglandes returned out of that last race to win impressively at Belmont in her next start. Miss Teheran showed some promise in France as a 2-year-old and I’m convinced we haven’t yet seen the best she has to offer in this country.