It’s hard to know how the public will approach this confusing New York-bred optional claimer given the mix of 3-year-olds and older runners. I suppose the favorite could be Singular Sensation (#10) as she returns from a layoff. She ran fairly well in her two races over this surface last fall when second at this level before finishing third in a 4-horse Bay Ridge. The problem is that she got a great trip on Dec. 3 and was supposed to win that day, and then set a glacial pace in the stakes. Now she’s returning at 7 furlongs, which is probably short of her ideal distance. She was also outworked by turf filly Kilkea in a recent drill at Gulfstream, suggesting that she may need a start off the break.
Among the more lightly raced options, I’m most intrigued by Secret Love (#7) and Bank Sting (#5). The former put in a terrible performance when last seen in the Maddie May, but it feels like she might have bled in that race as she abruptly stopped on the turn and now gets Lasix for the first time. She ran well to win a stakes in the mud two back, and could get another wet track here.
Bank Sting also has upside despite being a 4-year-old. She tries to win her third consecutive start since returning from a layoff this winter. While she rode the gold rail early in that Feb. 26 affair, she finished well even when she swung wide for the drive.
I’m using both of these, but my top pick is FOREVER CHANGED (#1). This 5-year-old mare feels like one that could get lost in the shuffled in a very competitive race. At first glance it appears that her form has gone sour, but she had subtle excuses in her last two starts. She was too aggressively ridden last time before steadying back to last on the backstretch. And prior to that she was compromised by a slow pace in a race that was dominated by a front-runner. She’s getting needed class relief, and note that she won each of her last two starts at this N2X state-bred optional claiming level. I also like the rider switch to Junior Alvarado.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 5,6,7,10
Trifecta: 1 with 5,7 with 5,6,7,9,10