There are a couple of interesting runners returning from lengthy layoffs in this New York-bred optional claiming affair. Betsy Blue (#11) and Secret Love (#3) were the top two finishers in last year’s Bouwerie. That was the last time we saw Secret Love, though Betsy Blue ran four times at this level after that victory, hitting the board without winning each time. This is Betsy Blue’s first start since September, and Linda Rice doesn’t have great stats off layoffs like this. That said, she lands in a race where the Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, so she should get a decent setup. The other drawback is that the barn has been cold at this meet and she could go favored here.
Secret Love goes out for another barn that doesn’t have particularly strong stats off layoffs such as this. That said, she ran well in most of her prior starts, throwing in just one clunker when asked to go a mile last February. Her other efforts are all good ones, and she won her career debut impressively, so perhaps she’ll do well fresh.
Yet I think there are a couple of horses coming out of a different race who merit consideration. Linda Rice’s other horse Beautiful Karen finished ahead of a few of today’s rivals in that Feb. 6 race at this level, but she got a great trip setting the pace on the best part of the track.
I prefer BYHUBBYHELLOMONEY (#5) out of that affair and she is my top pick. This filly has tried a variety of distances over the past year, but I do think she’s best as a closing sprinter. She raced in the bridle last time but had to briefly wait for room on the far turn and just had too much to do late in a race dominated by horses who were forward and inside. That was her first start with Lasix, and now Bob Dunham adds blinkers, so perhaps further improvement is forthcoming.
I also wouldn’t totally dismiss Happy Sophia (#10) from that same race. She stayed on well for fourth after a 3- to 4-wide trip, and has outrun her odds on more than one occasion over the past few months.
WIN: #5 Byhubbyhellomoney, at 3-1 or greater
UPGRADE: #10 Happy Sophia, at 12-1 or greater
USE with: #3 Secret Love, #11 Betsy Blue