Aunt Kat (#2) is clearly the horse to beat in this weaker of the two division of the Pumpkin Pie. She had her 3-race winning streak snapped in the Shine Again last time when she was run down by the classy Bayernness. Yet Aunt Kat got away with moderate fractions that day and was simply second-best as the odds-on choice. This time a couple of others could have something to say about the early pace of this race. This filly has been the beneficiary of some very fortunate setups when she’s earned her biggest speed figures, and doesn’t have as much margin for error as it may appear at first glance. I think there are reasons to be skeptical of this favorite at a short price.
Victim of Love (#1) returns from a brief layoff after disappointing as the favorite in the Bed O Roses this summer, when she set the pace over that sloppy course before fading late. She previously she had run some of her best races on this circuit, twice winning the Grade 3 Vagrancy and even collecting a Grade 1 placing in the 2020 edition of the Ballerina. Yet Todd Beattie is just 3 for 42 (7%, $1.70 ROI) off 90 to 180 day layoffs on dirt over the past 5 years. She’s a major player here if she’s back in top form, but there are some question marks.
My top pick is the lightly raced STARFRONT (#4). She looked like she could be something special when she made her debut here over a year ago, easily wiring a field of maidens with a strong 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She was understandably bet down to heavy favoritism off the long layoff last time and disappointed. Yet she was unable to make the lead after a slow break, and ran into a rival who put in a career-best effort. Perhaps she needed that start to shake off the rust, as it does seem like a good sign that Brown is taking a shot in a stakes off that loss. She’s been working very well out of that race, and I expect her to produce a much better effort this time.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,6
Trifecta: 4 with 1,2,6 with 1,2,3,5,6