Sunday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Vive La Liberty’s form is stronger than it appears

Aqueduct | Race 9 | Post Time 4:20 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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Horses to Watch episode highlighting Vive La Liberty’s last trip

Investment Grade (#9) figures to go favored in this finale, but she’s not exactly the kind of horse that’s easy to trust at a short price. She’s taking a significant drop in class while going out for a new barn, and is also trying dirt for the first time. She showed some speed racing at Del Mar for Peter Eurton last year, contesting the pace in her debut, before steadying out of position in the first quarter mile of her last race. She should be quick enough to get in front of these early, but she has to show she can handle this surface. For what it’s worth, the dam won on dirt, so it’s not as if this pedigree is all turf. George Weaver is also 1 for 5 ($1.30 ROI) off a trainer switch with maiden special weight to maiden claiming dropdowns. I’ll use this horse defensively, but there are other options at better prices.

I could see making a case for other turf to dirt switches, such as Willow Grove (#7) or Stella Mars (#3). The former is perhaps the most interesting of those switching surfaces given that she has a more dirt-oriented pedigree. Yet I was leaning in a different direction.

VIVE LA LIBERTY (#2) looks inferior to this field at first glance, but it’s worth taking a closer look at her effort two back. She got pushed off the course in the opening strides, as the rival to her outside veered in sharply, carrying her into the gap. She basically lost 15 or more lengths of position right out of the gate, and there’s an argument that she could have been right there with a fair trip given the run she made to pass half the field. They tried a ridiculous spot against stakes company last time which further dirties up her for. Yet she arguably has already won well enough to win a race like this based on the evidence two back, and I think she could get somewhat overlooked here.

THE PLAY

Win/Place: 2

Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,7,8,9

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