RACE 1: JABBERWOCK (#6)
#1 Lakota Spirit was beaten by a pretty good one in her debut, as winner Favor came back to defeat allowance foes before finishing third in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. This filly was bet down to 2-5 favoritism for her second start but was unable to hold off a closing longshot after chasing an honest early pace. The horse she chased down, Missy Greer, returned to win her next start with an improved speed figure, validating the performance. Now returns from a brief freshening but has been training right along. She has the tactical speed to be in front early, and looks like a deserving favorite. Shug McGaughey has entered an uncoupled pair of fillies that look like the most obvious threats. #4 Aunt Naughty is a 4-year-old who has been slowly coming along. She participated in a live maiden event sprinting two back, but I wasn’t thrilled with her last race at Gulfstream. I prefer #5 First to Act, who stretches out in her second start. She ran into a good one in her career debut, as heavy favorite Equal Pay just galloped to an easy victory and looks bound for better things. This daughter of Curlin will probably appreciate more ground, and Shug McGaughey is 8 for 28 (29%, $2.68 ROI) with maiden second time starters going from sprints to dirt routes over the past 5 years. They’re all logical, but the horse who intrigues me most from a value standpoint is #6 Jabberwock. This filly showed very little in her career debut, finishing a distant fourth while not earning much of a speed figure. However, she was very wide on the turn that day, and never looked comfortable in the slop. I suspect she’s one that needs race into form, as a large-framed filly who appears to carry some weight. She’s bred to be decent as a half-sister to allowance type No Salt and stakes-placed Shawdyshawdyshawdy. Abreu is 4 for 8 (50%, $3.82 ROI) with maiden second time starters in dirt routes over 5 years. She gets Lasix here, and shows a series of significantly improved workout times for this second attempt.
RACE 3: SECRET LOVE (#2)
Two 4-year-old fillies figure to vie for favoritism in this 6-furlong allowance affair. #6 Guardian Moon has only been seen sparingly since launching her career in the summer of 2020 at Saratoga. She was highly-regarded that day and delivered right out of the box. She didn’t resurface for 8 months after that, but picked up right where she left off here last April with an impressive allowance victory over this course and distance. This NY-bred stepped out into open company off yet another layoff last time at Gulfstream, but was simply outfooted every step of the way. If she’s still the same horse we saw last year, she’ll be awfully tough to beat. Main rival #3 Stony Point was bet down to favoritism and did not disappoint in her debut at Tampa last month. She showed good early speed from the inside, and came under some pressure on the turn before easily pulling clear in the lane. She was much the best that day, but the waters now get deeper. Shug McGaughey is 0 for 8 with last-out debut winners making their second career starts on turf over the past 5 years, and most short prices with just one hitting the board. She figures to take plenty of money and may need to improve. I’m going in a different direction with first time turfer #2 Secret Love. She tries open company after running through her NY-bred allowance conditions on the dirt. After missing the second half of 2021, she’s returned in good form this winter. She needed her first start back off the layoff, but looked like her old self last time, rallying strongly to victory. Turf is a question mark, but she has the pedigree for it. She’s by 17% turf sire Not This Time and is a half-sister to one minor turf winner. The dam is also a full-sister to multiple turf stakes winner Key to Power. I’ve always gotten the impression that she might like the switch to grass and she figures to be a square price given the presence of the two favorites.
RACE 6: COLORMEPAZZI (#1)
#2 Extreme is the horse to beat in this spot given his set of recent speed figures, which are just a little higher than his rivals. He’s had four tries at this level since the claim and has only managed to pick up a couple of minor awards. However, his last two races came going a mile, which is probably on the long side for him. I like the turnback for him, and he figures to get a good trip close to the pace. I’m not totally convinced if he’s a short price, but I do think he’s a contender. #3 Bezos is the enigma in this spot. Once highly regarded by the Bob Baffert barn, he never really panned out in the afternoons. He was one of many expensive claims made by Linda Rice at the Churchill Downs meet last fall, most of which have no fared well since then. However, I do think it’s a good sign that Linda is running back in a protected spot rather than risking him for a tag again. He’s always been a good work horse, so it’s no surprise to see him return with some fast drills showing. I think he’s intriguing, but would need a square price. A few of these exit a March 18 race at this level, and the one I want from that affair is #1 Colormepazzi. This horse completely missed the break, rearing up as the gates opened, which left him at the back of the pack early. He actually ran reasonably well after that, making up some ground on the far turn before flattening out late. He finished behind a couple of today’s rivals, including #7 Jake Rocks, but I think he had a tougher trip than that foe. Colormepazzi did benefit from a rail trip riding a bias on Jan. 22, but he has other fast races in his form. He also is a quirky horse that seems to do his best running when he’s drawn inside, which is the case today.