The two classiest runners in this Grade 3 Distaff are obviously Paris Lights (#4) and Lady Kate (#2). The former is a Grade 1 winner and the latter was second to the almighty Monomoy Girl in a Grade 1 event last year. However, both are returning from layoffs and turning back in distance. I’m more concerned about the cutback in trip for Paris Lights, who just doesn’t feel like a natural fit for this race. She improved going two turns last year, racing up close to moderate paces. She’s likely to get outrun in the early stages this time and it’s unclear if she possesses the quickness to outkick some of the natural sprinters in the lineup.
I’m more optimistic about Lady Kate turning back. I actually don’t mind her going 7 furlongs at all and think that’s a better distance for her than the 1 1/8 miles she tried in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last time. She didn’t run well against top-level company in her two final starts of 2020, but she had shown quality prior to that and is clearly good enough to beat this field. She’s also swift enough in the early stages to get the right kind of trip, potentially even setting the pace. Yet I still have some concerns about readiness off the layoff.
Therefore, I’ve landed on the more reliable HONOR WAY (#1). This mare doesn’t have the back class of the other two favorites, but she was in career form at the age of 6 in 2020. Following a smashing optional claiming win at Saratoga, she’s now finished in the exacta in 5 consecutive starts, and is seeking her third stakes win in a row. She was flattered when Pacific Gale, who she twice defeated in the fall, went on to win a pair of graded stakes at Gulfstream over the winter. Honor Way, now 7-years-old, loves the 7-furlong distance and usually performs her best for Jose Ortiz, who has ridden her in 5 of her last 7 victories.
Exacta: 1 with 2,3,5
Trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with 3,4,5