Ice Princess (#3) is clearly the one to beat as she returns to dirt. Trying grass made a certain amount of sense, since she does have plenty of turf pedigree. However, she didn’t show any improvement on that surface, so now she’s back in the right kind of spot. She ran well over this course and distance last year when just missing in the Fleet Indian. Yet she’s been twice beaten since then at odds-on prices at this same level, so I’m a little reluctant to take her as the obvious favorite once again. Furthermore, while the Danny Gargan barn did get two wins on Sunday, he’s also had some runners disappoint at short prices so it remains to be seen if he’s on the road back to his typical high win rates.
There are some intriguing Kentucky shippers in this race, led by Played Hard (#1A), who impressively broke her maiden going two turns last month. Yet I’m not convinced that she was beating the toughest field that day. She also had everything her own way on the front end, and here she may have to duel with Subsidiary early, though it’s possible that she’s just heading in the right direction.
My top pick is the more familiar face LOVE AND LOVE (#6). This 5-year-old mare has tried this level a few times in the past without much success. However, she appeared to get back in top form through the early spring at Aqueduct. She put in a strong effort two back on Apr. 18 when getting within two lengths of Altaf, who returned to win the Ladys Secret with a 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Love and Love was off for two months after that, and disappointed slightly in her return. However, 7 furlongs is on the short side for her. Now she’s stretching out to 1 1/8 miles, a distance over which she broke her maiden at Saratoga a couple of seasons ago. Her best effort is nearly on par with that of Ice Princess, and she won’t be favored for an underrated trainer.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,3
Trifecta: 6 with 3 with 1,2,5