RACE 5: WAILIN JOSIE (#5)
Violent Point is clearly the horse to beat on the basis of her last-out victory, which was her first start since being transferred to the barn of Chris Englehart. While she only beat $40k claimers, she’s not meeting the toughest N1X allowance field of New York-breds so the move up in class is marginal. That last race was dominated on the front end, but she was off the rail the entire way on a day when you wanted to be inside. She had run primarily on turf in her other recent starts, but she showed dirt ability earlier in her career and now just seems to be in strong form. I prefer her to main rival New York Rock Star. Despite her name, this NY-bred filly has only raced in the mid-Atlantic region and at Parx. While she’s improved in her recent starts, I don’t fully trust her to bring that form to this circuit for a trainer who rarely wins here. I want to go with some more familiar faces who could be better prices. A horse like Quietude deserves a look in her second start off the layoff. She didn’t run that well last time, but she had a right to need that start. I just worry she may not get much pace to close into. That’s why I made Wailin Josie my top pick. A least this mare has a bit more tactical speed and showed some signs of life when dropped in for the tag last time. Seven furlongs is too far for her, and that showed late, but she ran well to be second with a solid speed figure. This is hardly the toughest field she’s encountered at this level, and I like the rider switch to Luis Cardenas.
RACE 7: SIENA MAGIC (#1)
I suppose The Big S is the horse to beat in this competitive starter allowance affair. He has faced some superior fields in his races since returning from a layoff this summer. He ran well first off the long break at Saratoga in September and then had the misfortune of catching Nashville in an allowance race at Keeneland. He dropped in for the tag last time at Churchill, making him eligible for this race, and put forth a game effort to be second. While the pace looks fast, that race was dominated by speeds, so I’m not sure he deserves any extra credit for surviving the fractions. He’s obviously a major player, but he’s hardly a standout in this field. Horses like Jake Rocks and Beaver Creek are somewhat interesting as they cut back slightly from another race at this level on Dec. 13. Beaver Creek made a wild late rush in the last furlong that day, but he also got plenty of pace to close into. I’m not sure the pace projects to be as fast this time. That’s why I’ve landed on Siena Magic. It was apparent that his connections made a choice to rate him on Nov. 21 when he allowed eventual winner Money Ride to go on with it early. That didn’t work out so well, and I’d imagine they’ll look to get back to the more aggressive tactics that have worked for him in the past. He’s quick enough to make the front from his inside post position and he has plenty of prior speed figures that suggest he’s good enough to beat this field. Plus he figures to be a square price as he goes out for a trainer with a small barn.
RACE 8: MY ROXY GIRL (#3)
Miss Jimmy disappointed as the even-money favorite last time, but she was negatively affected by her trip, as she was 3-wide most of the way over a track that was strongly favoring rail runners. There’s an argument that she was best in that race despite losing by 3/4-length. She’s now twice finished second at this level, but she’s not facing a rival of the same quality as two back winner Letmetakethiscall. This 15-time exacta finisher is just rock solid and she figures to work out a great trip closing into a fast pace. One of her main rivals is last-out winner Ruvies in Time. If you’re wondering where that last race came from, there are a couple of factors to consider. She did ride a strong rail bias all the way, which clearly inflated her winning speed figure and margin of victory. That said, it’s not like it should have been a major shock that she won that race given her prior form. She had an excuse two back when she got shuffled back early and was negatively affected by her trip. It’s fair to be skeptical that she can match that last performance, but her overall form still gives her a strong chance. I’m trying to beat these two with My Roxy Girl. They got a little too ambitious off the claim trying the Iroquois but she responded well when put back in a realistic spot last time. A mile is probably a little far for her so she ran well within the context of the race. Now she’s turning back to a distance at which she’s been successful in the past, and she certainly has the prior speed figures that could beat this field. Furthermore, while she was on the lead last time, she typically comes from just off the pace in her sprints, so she could fall into the right trip.