RACE 1: SHADOLAMO (#3)
The Linda Rice entry figures to attract plenty of attention in this Friday opener. The stronger half appears to be #1 Charge Account, but I have some reservations about this mare. Her form since returning from the layoff this winter doesn’t seem too alarming at first glance. However, I don’t think she’s run particularly well in each of her starts this winter. She was riding a gold rail in her return on Jan. 23, and still faded badly in a race that isn’t nearly as strong as the speed figure indicates. Then last time she had little excuse to lose as the 3-2 favorite, unable to reel in the longshot leader while getting passed by closers late. I don’t like that she’s been off for two months since the claim, and Linda Rice’s go-to rider Jose Lezcano lands on the other half of this entry, #1A Foxtail. Much was made of Lezcano’s ride on Foxtail last time, and perhaps she should have won that day. Yet it doesn’t meaningfully change the fact that her overall form is inconsistent. I think there are much more appealing options. I view #4 Chaysenbryn as the horse to beat. This open $25k claimer is tougher than the conditioned race she won last time, but she earned a solid 92 TimeformUS Speed Figure, drawing off impressively late. She’s clearly relished the stretch-out to a mile in recent starts, and it was encouraging to see her display improved tactical speed last time. Yet there are additional contenders to consider at even bigger prices. My top pick is #3 Shadolamo. Her form may look somewhat inconsistent, but she’s been running against tougher fields in her last three starts. She was justifiably a longshot in her attempts at the NY-bred N2X level, and she didn’t run that badly against starter stakes foes in the Videogenic two back. The last time she tried an open $25k claimer, she was a 54-1 winner over today’s favorite Charge Account. She showed excellent speed that day, in contrast to last time when her jockey didn’t really persevere. I’m hoping she gets a more aggressive ride from Jackie Davis this time and think she’s a threat on the class drop. I would also use #5 Gringotts, who actually finished ahead of Shadolamo in that Apr. 8 optional claimer. This mare has clearly improved as of late and is hardly impossible in her current form as she also drops in class.
RACE 6: CANDY MONET (#11)
I suppose #3 Runaway Rockette will take some money in this race by default, since she does own a set of speed figures that make her a contender at this level. However, she’s turning back to a sprint distance at which she’s never been effective. Her best turf efforts have come in longer races, and she’s a filly who clearly has quite a bit of hang in her. She got a great setup two back at Gulfstream and just followed the winner home without really threatening. She doesn’t seem like the most genuine sort, and her lack of early speed is a concern as she shortens up. #10 Freedomofthepress could also take some money, but I have serious reservations about her. She did win sprinting two back, but she was pretty disappointing in her return from the layoff last time, her first start off the claim for Linda Rice. She’s a filly who has struggled to finish races in the past, and she showed that same tendency last time. #9 Half Birthday is a little more appealing just for the fact that you know she’s in good form right now. She beat a weaker field breaking her maiden at Aqueduct just 7 days ago, but she did so in pretty convincing fashion. I think it’s smart of Tom Morley and the connections to strike while the iron is hot, and she’s a contender once again coming back on short rest. Though, I prefer another for my top pick. #11 Candy Monet is getting back on her preferred surface. While she hasn’t yet won on turf, she ran the two best races of her career on this surface late last year. She just missed against a decent maiden claiming field going this distance in September before trying much tougher allowance company. She raced on dirt through the winter, but that just means that she’ll be fit for this return to grass. I also like the addition of blinkers for a filly who has been a little quirky in the past.
RACE 8: FLASHNDYNAMITE (#3)
#1 Love and Love is probably the horse to beat as she seeks to make it two in a row since returning from the layoff to launch her 6-year-old campaign. She finally broke through her N1X allowance condition off the bench last time, earning a solid 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure. However, now the waters get a bit deeper, and she’s being asked to cut back to 7 furlongs. This trip has been a bit short for her in the past, and she’s facing some rivals who are already proven at this class level. #2 Customerexperience is another who figures to attract support. I do like the slight turnback for her, since a mile is her absolute upper limit. However, I’m not sure that she really fits here from a class standpoint. She beat much weaker when she earned her top speed figure this winter on Jan. 23 and that race has proven to be of dubious quality in retrospect. Her subsequent form is merely mediocre and doesn’t exactly make her formidable here. I don’t see that much true speed in this field, so I’m going with #3 Flashndynamite. This 7-year-old doesn’t need to be in front, but I do hope that Kendrick Carmouche gives her an aggressive ride. She’s generally faced tougher company at this level, as was the case when she ran into the classy Make Mischief last time. The rail was the place to be on April 14, and this mare chased outside the entire way. She rarely takes much money due to the out of town connections. Yet her overall form on the NYRA circuit has been solid, and I think this race came up on the soft side. I also don’t mind the slight tunback in distance, since she’s been successful sprinting in the past.