RACE 1: MOM’S EYE CANDY (#6)
Linda Rice holds a strong hand in this race, with the first and co-second choice on the morning line. However, I’m skeptical of both of her runners. Each one has been a vet scratch during the past month, Feathers Road on Dec. 12 and Rush to Honor on Dec. 19. That in and of itself isn’t reason to downgrade these horses, but they both have questions to answer in this spot. Feathers Road improved on turf last time and is only going back to dirt because grass season has ended. He was also entered in a sprint last month, which seemed like a more appropriate spot than this one-mile test. Rush to Honor was entered for turf on debut back in May – not an MTO – and his pedigree indicates that he probably wants that surface. That was a weak field for the level and he just picked up pieces behind a mediocre winner. Linda Rice obviously does great work with second time starters, but her barn has been cold lately. Got the Gold is the most reliable alternative after running well for a tag on Dec. 19. He’s moving up in class but fits well here. I’m going in a different direction for my top pick with Mom’s Eye Candy. This 5-year-old was picked up for $350k by these connections at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale in 2018 – a lot to pay for a son of Carpe Diem. He’s only made one start in the 3 1/2 years since then, that lone appearance coming on synth at Turfway in early 2021. He showed brief speed before tiring over a sprint distance. He looks like a pretty imposing specimen, so the added ground should work in his favor. All 7 of the dam’s other foals to race are winners, topped by Grade 1 Mother Goose winner Include Betty. Dane Kobiskie is 5 for 16 (31%, $3.72 ROI) with maidens off 180+ day layoffs in dirt routes over 5 years. He could play out as the controlling speed over a track that has been kind to that running style.
RACE 6: BLUSHABLE (#6)
Speed had a distinct advantage last week at Aqueduct following the winter break. Despite changing weather and track conditions, horses who were able to secure the front generally outran their odds last week. A similar situation will make Chloe Rose dangerous in this spot, but I question whether she’s good enough to beat this field. I know some will be encouraged by the fact that the winner of her last race, Electric Youth, returned to win again here last week while rallying. However, some others did not run well out of that race, and her overall form is a little cheaper than some of her rivals here. She also has to negotiate the one-mile distance when she seems to be better sprinting. Suspended Campaign is the horse to beat off her narrow loss at this level last time. Somehow dismissed at 11-1, she put in a strong rally from far back while just failing to catch the winner. Losing to Exotic West is no disgrace since she was a heavy favorite that day off some strong turf form. Suspended Campaign has the strongest resume coming into this, but she’s always at the mercy of pace given her propensity to break slowly. I prefer Blushable out of that Dec. 12 affair. She was getting a good trip stalking the honest pace while racing along the inside. However, she got caught behind some tiring runners coming to the quarter pole and lost momentum while waiting for room. She eventually found a clear path and was finishing well late, suggesting that she had more to give. I like the outside draw for her on this occasion, and will hope that Dylan Davis can get her into a forward position. William Morey hasn’t started that many runners at NYRA, but he’s sent out some live ones lately, and is 7 for 16 (44%, $3.33 ROI) at all circuits over the past 21 days.
RACE 8: SUNSET LOUISE (#8)
Sweet Lies and Cape Cod Causeway both figure to attract support as they switch to dirt after trying turf last time out on the Cigar Mile day undercard. Cape Cod Causeway ran the better race closing for fourth at a big price, but she has more of a turf pedigree on the dam’s side. Sweet Lies appears to have more of a license to like the dirt and she didn’t run as badly as it seems in her dirt debut sprinting. However, she has no early speed and will be compromised if the track was playing as it did last week. The runner with the best last-out dirt performance is Rcaptivating, as she picked up pieces to be second at this level on Dec. 9. Yet I didn’t think she ran any better than Know It All Audrey, who might have more upside after chasing inside through the stretch of that same race. They’re both possibilities, but I’m most intrigued by a pair of runners drawn towards the outside. The more logical of the two is Sunset Louise, who I made my top pick. This filly has had some trouble getting to the races, as she tends to act up in the lead-up to her races. While she didn’t show much in her performance on debut, she was part of a solid field for the level and got some education chasing inside the entire way. Now she adds Lasix and stretches out in distance, which is what she’s bred for. Tonalist is an excellent dirt route sire, and she’s a full-sibling to dirt route stakes winner The Reds. I’m hoping she can show a bit more speed on the stretch-out under leading rider Kendrick Carmouche. I would also use Mama Said No at a bigger price. Tony Dutrow has gotten a few Louisiana-based runners from these connections, and he got one to run pretty well at a big price in a stakes a few weeks ago. This filly is bred to run all day as a half-sister to an 11-furlong Canadian Derby winner, and may be better than her speed figures indicate.