RACE 7: SY DOG (#3)
General Ken took all the money in the Awad last time following a private purchase and trainer switch to Chad Brown. He made his new connections sweat a bit, as he was left with a couple of lengths to make up in the stretch, but he kicked strongly in the last furlong to get his nose down on the wire first. He showed a new dimension that day, rating behind horses, after getting an uncontested lead and wiring the field in his debut. He may once again be relegated to stalking tactics here with last-out leader Geno back in the field along with some other speed. He obviously has talent and is the horse to beat. I prefer him to Geno, who could face early pressure from stretch-out sprinter Trust Daddy and potentially others. Yet this may be a tougher spot than the Awad, as there are a few intriguing maiden winners in the mix. My top pick is Sy Dog. This son of low-profile sire Slumber did everything right in the debut. He lacked early speed as the leaders sped off through some quick opening splits, but he gradually reeled in the speed around the far turn and flew past them in the stretch to win going away. That was a 7-furlong affair, but he gives every indication that added ground will be his friend. His dam was a confirmed router, and Sy Dog is a full-brother to 9-furlong turf winner Jimmy P. Graham Motion is 4 for 13 (31%, $3.13 ROI) with last-out debut winners making their second starts in turf routes over 5 years. He’s the maiden winner I want most, but I would also use Maseta, who was a dominant winner against New York-breds last time out, and has already handled the distance.
RACE 9: HARAJUKU (#3)
Christophe Clement holds a strong hand in this Grade 3 Long Island, sending out a trio of entrants, all of whom have a legitimate chance to win. Among those is last year’s winner of this race, Mutamakina. She has really come back into form in the second half of this season, having been well-spotted in a couple of Woodbine stakes. She held on to win the Dance Smartly over the summer and then beat a strong field, including her stablemate La Dragontea, to take down the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor last time. Mutamakina has tactical speed but doesn’t need the lead. Dylan Davis is undefeated aboard this mare, and she has to be considered the one to beat, among the Clement trio and the rest of this field. La Dragontea did run well to be second to her stablemate last time, closing into a slow pace. However, she was racing over her preferred boggy going in the E. P. Taylor, and she’s yet to show that she’s quite as effective over a firm course. Sorrel is the wild card among Clement’s contingent. She ran on decently in her U.S. debut back in March, chasing home division leader War Like Goddess. Her European form had been trending in the right direction at the end of last year, and she would be a major player here if she could build on that form in her return. I’m going in a different direction with Harajuku. She looked like a 3-year-old filly with promise off her third-place finish in the Jockey Club Oaks two back. She did ride an advantageous rail path most of the way, but she still closed well into a slow pace behind the talented Shantisara. That rival came back to dominate the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup at Keeneland in her next start. However, Harajuku took a step backwards last time in the Sands Point, checking in last first off the trainer switch to Graham Motion. I think the turnback in distance may not have suited her, since stamina was her greatest asset when she was competing in France earlier this year. Now she stretches all the way out to 12 furlongs, which should suit her as a daughter of Deep Impact.
RACE 10: ARREST ME RED (#3)
Value Proposition could go favored here as he tries to win his third stakes in a row after taking the Red Bank and Oyster Bay over the last couple of months. However, this race is contested over 6 furlongs and he’s never raced shorter than seven-eighths in his career. He had no trouble handling that distance last time in the Oyster Bay, but he worked out a perfect trip stalking a moderate pace before drawing away from an overmatched field. This Aqueduct Turf Sprint drew a deeper cast of characters with a little more early speed in the mix, so he may find himself coming from farther off the pace this time. He can obviously win, but I strongly prefer the other short price. I think Arrest Me Red is the most likely winner, and I’m not convinced that he’ll be favored here with Value Proposition in the mix. This Wesley Ward trainee stepped up against older rivals last time in the Belmont Turf Sprint and won handily over a few of today’s rivals. He did get a perfect trip setting a slow pace, but he figures to work out a similar journey here. He’s not a sprinter who needs the lead, but he can be forwardly placed, likely sitting just off the speedy Grateful Bred. Arrest Me Red is undefeated sprinting on turf and picks up Paco Lopez, who should be a good fit for this horse. He has more upside than many in here and looks awfully tough as he seeks to make up for lost time after missing a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. There are also others to consider. Last year’s winner of this race Turned Aside is a threat now that he’s rounding back into form for Mark Casse. I don’t totally trust him given his inconsistency this year, but he’s certainly good enough on his best day. I also wouldn’t totally dismiss the likely leader Grateful Bred. This horse did not get an ideal trip when he lost at Laurel two back, but he bounced back powerfully to win on Maryland Million day last time out. He’s never tried 6 furlongs on turf, but he’s better than his form lines indicate and I think he can take these a long way on the front end.