RACE 3: DOUBLE MAKER (#2)
#6 Colloquy figures to take some money again after putting in a mild late run to get up for third in his career debut. He crossed the wire 6 lengths behind today’s rival Thrill of It, but Colloquy appears to have more upside than that foe. This Christophe Clement trainee was just a little sluggish in the early going, but he finished nicely and is bred to appreciate a mile being out of the multiple stakes-winning dam Miss Valentine. #4 Thrill Of It last time earned a speed figure that makes him competitive here, but I’m skeptical that he gets better with added ground. I’m more interested in some of the other second time starters. #7 Front Porch has a right to improve after racing greenly in his debut. It’s tough to go 1 1/8 miles first time out, and this horse ran like one who would need a race. He lost contact with the leaders on the second turn but stayed on well through the stretch despite greenly altering course multiple times. He’s clearly fit enough to go the one-turn mile, but he has to show a bit more early speed. My top pick is #2 Double Maker. Though he was beaten by a double-digit margin in his debut, I actually thought he did a fair amount of running in that spot. He had to alter course coming out of the gate, and then went up to chase the pace before taking over on the far turn. He was no match for winner State Planning in the lane, but wasn’t really persevered with in the late stages, as his rider basically conceded the runner-up spot. He’s bred to get this distance and may have just needed to gain some fitness in his debut run.
RACE 4: MANDATORY (#1)
The enigma in this race is likely favorite #3 Jerry the Nipper. While he’s never faced open company before, he was running speed figures against New York-breds when last seen that would make him very competitive against this field. The problem is that we haven’t seen him in nearly 15 months. The good news is that he’s moving up in class in the return from a layoff, and Todd Pletcher has pretty solid statistics with horses like this. However, I’m reticent to take a short price on runners like this, especially in a race where there are some other viable options. #5 Full Court Press is similarly difficult to trust as he returns from a layoff. He ran very well when last seen in September at this level. However, I never like when horses put in the best efforts of their career and then go to the shelf for a long time. I’m most interested in a couple of bigger prices. One of those is #7 Chowda. He’s coming off a poor effort, but that was a tougher spot at this level. He also was racing a little too close to the worst part of the racetrack, as the rail was deadly on Feb. 5. His prior form was solid and he has the tactical speed to work out a good trip from his outside draw. My top pick is #1 Mandatory. Some may be reluctant to endorse a horse moving up out of the maiden ranks after taking 9 tries to graduate. However, he met some pretty strong rivals in those races, and has earned speed figure in his last four dirt races that put him right in line with the favorite in this spot. He finished gamely to hold off favored Rational Choice last time, and that rival returned to break his maiden nicely last week. Mandatory has the tactical speed to be prominent and the one-turn mile is a perfect distance for him.
RACE 6: BOURBON BAY (#1)
#5 Its All Relevant could go favored in this spot as he drops in class out of a tougher $40k spot into this $25k claimer. His primary appeal is his ample early speed, since there’s a distinct shortage of that in this field. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that he will be loose on the lead in a situation favoring the front-runner. That could indeed make him dangerous on the class drop. Yet I find him to be an untrustworthy short price off his last effort. He also had a pace advantage that day and could make nothing of it. He got nursed along early through slow fractions and gave up with no fight. The rivals here aren’t quite as strong as those who beat him last time, but it’s not as big a class drop as the price tags might indicate. The TimeformUS Race Rating for this race is just 1 point lower than last time. The two logical alternatives are #7 Easy Shot and #8 Dark Storm. The problem with both of them is that they possess very little early speed. Dark Strom has the better overall form, and now he’s making his first start off the claim for Rob Atras. His last race leaves something to be desired, but he’s obviously dangerous if he can get back on track. Easy Shot comes off a victory in which he got a great trip. Though he beat a solid field that day and is a win candidate right back if he repeats that effort. They’re both usable, but I actually prefer a different horse out of the race Easy Shot exits. #1 Bourbon Baychecked in fourth that day, but he didn’t get the most comfortable trip. He was unwisely sent up to contest the pace in the early going in a spot where five horses were vying for early supremacy. He eventually had to back out of that pace duel and wound up getting shuffled out of position down the backstretch and into the turn. He actually still launched a nice run to get back into contention once called upon before flattening out late. I think he showed subtle improvement off the claim for Antonio Arriaga. He also possesses more tactical speed than some other contenders, so he could get the jump on them if Its All Relevant comes back to the field.