RACE 5: FREE ENTERPRISE (#1)
Likely favorite #3 Boldish has simply faced tougher company in recent starts at the N2X allowance level. While he was no match for Untreated two back, that one returned to earn a 121 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Grade 3 Excelsior two starts later. Then last time Boldish was simply outrun every step of the way in the slop. Winner Milton the Monster came back to finish third in the Stymie, and others from that Jan. 17 affair improved their speed figures in subsequent starts. The drop makes sense for a horse who has already paid dividends on his $40k claim. However, he got some great trips during his win streak late last year and may be somewhat overrated off those efforts. An enigma in this field is #4 Auburn Hills. He looks to get back on track off the claim for Michelle Giangiulio. This gelding was in great form for a few months last year, as he earned strong speed figures against allowance company in late summer. However, it’s been a steady decline since then. He did face much tougher company in his two most recent starts at the allowance level, but he failed to wake up when dropped in for a tag last time. He’s drawn well outside his two main pace rivals, but needs to wake up. My top pick is #1 Free Enterprise. Added distance is the major question for this 7-year-old, who has held his form reasonably well since getting claimed away from Chad Brown last year. He returned from the layoff with a decent performance last time, staying on mildly against a strong field for the level. Runner-up Mr Phil returned to win his next start against tougher. Now he stretches out for Pat Reynolds, who is 7 for 30 (23%, $3.33 ROI) first off the claim at NYRA over the past 5 years. This son of Curling has handled 7 furlongs without issue, and his lone prior attempt at a mile came against much tougher. I think he’s pretty interesting as the potential controlling speed form the inside.
RACE 7: UNBRIDLED BOMBER (#1)
#3 Electability is clearly the one to beat as he tries winners for the first time following a fast maiden victory on the Gotham undercard last month. The final time of his maiden race was just 0.31 seconds slower than the Gotham and he accordingly got a 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance. A number like that needs some validation, so it was a good sign that fourth-place finisher Cathedral Beach returned to win his next start, improving his speed figure by 11 points. This horse really seemed to wake up as a new gelding last time, showing improved early speed in his first try over dirt. He’s obviously a deserving favorite, but he could be a very short price as he goes out for the hot Chad Brown barn. I think there are only a few viable alternatives. I’m somewhat against #7 Good Skate, who could be the second choice after reeling off two straight victories. I think he’s been beating weaker competition. #2 Eagle In Love is a little more appealing as he attempts to get back on track following a puzzling non-effort at Laurel last time. This horse actually defeated the same rival, Long Term, as Electability in his career debut and did so by a larger margin. Yet it’s hard to explain his lack of interest last time, so he needs to rebound. My top pick is #1 Unbridled Bomber. I’ve admittedly been a fan of this horse since his 2-year-old season, as he seemed to be developing steadily as he gained experience. I thought he ran well to break his maiden in November, albeit while getting a great trip. Yet he validated that performance in the Jerome, closing well over a speed-favoring track despite having to alter course in upper stretch. He failed to show up in the Withers last time, but he got the wrong trip that day. You wanted to avoid the rail at all costs on Feb. 5, and his rider stuck him right down on the inside path for much of his trip. Now he’s cutting back to a mile and adding Lasix for the first time. There’s also supposed to be some pace for him to close into with plenty of speed drawn to the outside.
RACE 8: A BIT O’IRISH SASS (#3)
#6 Khali Magic makes plenty of sense as she tries to break through at this N2X level in her third attempt. She checked in third two back, and was second last time, so a win seems well within the realm of possibility on this occasion. She also appears to be in the best form of her career, having responded well to the stretch-out in distance in her recent starts. Her recent speed figures in the low 100s on the TimeformUS scale are slightly higher than those of her main rivals. I prefer her to some others who could attract support, such as #5 Pay Grade. This filly has shown promise at different points in her career, but she was extremely disappointing in her final start of 2021, fading badly as the 3-5 favorite. Now she returns from a layoff, but Clement runners sometimes need a start off lengthy breaks. She also does her best running on the front end she figures to have some company on the lead with other speed in this field. I’d rather try to beat the favorite with #3 A Bit O’Irish Sass. This filly got a good prep under her belt last time when sprinting at this level in her first start back off a 6-month layoff. She only managed to finish eighth, but she subtly ran better than that result would indicate. She launched a mild bid on the far turn and only lost momentum when she encountered traffic in upper stretch. She’s much better going route distances, and she’d be a major player here if she could get back to the form that saw her win the New York Oaks last year.