RACE 3: CAROM (#1)
This wide open claimer pits a few known commodities at this level against some notable class droppers. While I respect the form of horses like Hieroglyphics and Outrageous Bet, I think they’re both stepping up in class despite returning for the same claiming tag. I want those dropping down in class out of some tougher optional claiming events. Journeyman might be the horse to beat as he makes his second start off the claim for the dangerous Tom Morley barn. He ran a career-best 120 TimeformUS Speed Figure over this course last time, but he got a great trip that day, just stalking along the rail before staying on at one pace. Perhaps this is just a realistic placing, but it is a little surprising that he’s dropping in class off that effort. I would also consider Conviction Trade, though his recent form is of some concern. He’s been tried over a variety of distances recently but his performances have been steadily declining. This is a better level for him but he’s not the easiest horse to trust. I’m instead going with Carom. He also comes off a poor effort, but perhaps he just didn’t care for the quirky course at Kentucky Downs last time. He obviously wasn’t traveling well that day and Florent Geroux did the right thing in just easing him through the last quarter mile. That race was run during a time when the Saffie Joseph barn was in the midst of a cold streak. Yet the barn has been heating up lately. Over the past 3 weeks, Joseph is 19 for 53 (36%, $2.74 ROI) at all circuits and is even picking up his share of winners at NYRA recently. Carom could be the controlling speed from the rail, which is always dangerous going 1 1/8 miles on the inner course.
RACE 4: HUNGRY KITTEN (#7)
Among those exiting the Waya, Orglandes and Always Shopping are the two who figure to attract the most support. I didn’t think Always Shopping had much of an excuse that day, as she was allowed to get away with glacial early fractions and still didn’t have any answer for eventual winner My Sister Nat. Orglandes ran the better race, as she had to launch a run from last and still was able to get up for second. She did just follow the winner but she might be rounding into form for Chad Brown after a stop and start beginning to the season. They’re both contenders here, but I’m interested in Hungry Kitten at a better price. This 5-year-old ran like a horse who needed a start off the layoff last time out at Saratoga. She was always outrun that day while trailing behind a very slow early pace. Her prior starts over conventional route distances have always been pretty ordinary, so I’m not concerned about that result. She comes alive when the distances stretch out to marathon distances, and she’s getting to go her preferred 12-furlong trip here. She finished a good second in this race last year, and I think she’s going to take a big step forward in her second start off the layoff for Shug McGaughey.
RACE 5: GUNTON ROE (#7)
It appears to be all about the firsters in this intriguing maiden special weight event going a mile on the dirt. Some of the top juvenile trainers on the grounds have horses in this affair and a few of them appear to be live. Beyond Best may be the one to beat for Todd Pletcher. This son of Curlin is out of a dam who was stakes-placed on turf, though there is solid dirt pedigree in this female family. This chestnut colt has been training well in the morning, staying on at the end of his drills like one who really wants route distances. The Chad Brown-trained Nabokov might also attract some support. This $775k yearling is by Uncle Mo and is a full-brother to Grade 1 placed dirt router Mopotism. He’s done the majority of his training up at Saratoga but these types often need a start for Chad Brown. I prefer the Christophe Clement pupil, Gunton Roe. This son of Gun Runner cost $300k as a yearling and is out of a dam who was stakes-placed routing on dirt. I like the recent workouts for this chestnut colt. He worked well with the experienced 3-year-old filly Brattle House back on Oct. 3 and galloped out nicely by himself. Then he was working much easier in company with the maiden Ruthenian last week at Belmont. I like the way this horse travels and Christophe Clement can certainly have them ready to fire on debut.