RACE 5: KID CASH (#1)
I’m not particularly fond of the possible favorite, #4 Bold Victory. He was supposed to show more off the layoff last time when bet down to 1-2 favoritism against a pretty soft field. I’m not sure the turnback to 7 furlongs really works in this horse’s favor, since he’s a grinder without much early speed. I’m more afraid of shipper #8 Floki’s Flight, who makes his second start for Ned Allard. This horse wasn’t meeting the toughest field on debut, but he didn’t have the easiest journey. A phalanx of 7 horses were battling for the early lead that day, and he was closest to the rail, slightly shuffled back into the far turn. All things considered he stayed on well for second. He now gets a massive rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz and will be dangerous if able to build on that debut. My top pick is the returning #1 Kid Cash. This horse obviously ran some races that would beat this field very early in his career, finishing third behind subsequent stakes winners Weyburn and Nova Rags. Something obviously went awry over the winter of 2020-2021, as his form fell apart. He developed some gate issues, which often led to difficult trips. Yet now he’s returning from a lengthy layoff and Rudy Rodriguez has solid numbers with this move. Over the past 5 years, Rudy is 6 for 16 (38%, $2.15 ROI) off 180+ day layoffs while dropping in for a tag for the first time. Kid Cash has to break better, but he’s been freshened up and has one of the best speed riders on the circuit on his back.
RACE 8: LADY ROCKET (#2)
Morning line favorite #3 Royal Flag may be the most talented horse in this field, but I doubt this Ruffian is the ultimate goal for her. She’s just starting off her 6-year-old campaign, likely using this as a prep for a race like the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. I expect her to come running late, but a mile isn’t her ideal distance and there’s very little pace in here to set up her late run. I find it interesting that Chad Brown has also entered #4 Search Results in this race, and it may be a good sign that she’s running back on relatively short rest following a poor return effort in the Distaff Handicap. She just never traveled like herself that day, and if she’s going to bounce back this seems like a perfect spot in which to do it. A mile is her best distance and she has the perfect running style to stalk right outside the leaders. I didn’t put her on top, but do think she’s dangerous. My top selection in the Ruffian is #2 Lady Rocket. Her effort in the Grade 1 Madison off the bench was a lot better than it looks. That was a wicked early pace that completely fell apart in the late stages, as the two runners who were trailing early passed the entire field to complete the exacta. She showed that she’s capable of handling a mile in the Go For Wand last year. I don’t necessarily expect her to repeat the huge speed figure she earned at Aqueduct that day, but she has plenty of other strong races in her past performances. John Velazquez figures to send her to the front, and I think she can take them all the way.
RACE 9: FULL MOON FEVER (#1)
I’m somewhat against the horse that I made the morning line favorite in this finale. #4 Amount did win impressively last time, but did so against a weaker conditioned claiming field with a perfect trip. He’s capable of coming from off the pace, but he put forth that career-best effort last time racing on top of a moderate early pace. I don’t think he’s getting anywhere near the early lead here, since there is plenty of early speed signed on. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, and it’s hard to see anyone getting in front of the speedy #10 Nicholas James in the early going. This horse laid down a wicked opening quarter when he won his debut, which translates to an insane 138 Early Pace Rating on TimeformUS. This feels like a race that is ripe to fall apart, so I want some runners that can rally from off the pace. The most logical of those is #3 Luni Sima, who could vie for favoritism. This horse put in a big effort last time, overcoming a wide trip to just miss behind heavy favorite Electability. He earned a field-best 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance, and a repeat of that number makes him too tough for this field to handle. I think he’s dangerous, but my top pick at a bigger price is #1 Full Moon Fever. I have to give this horse one more chance after meeting a slightly tougher field at this level last time. He got a good trip, but there just wasn’t much closing happening that day. I thought he ran well enough to be competitive here in his two starts prior to that. He was an impressive winner in the slop three back, and horses have run back out of that race to flatter the form. Then two back he didn’t get the most comfortable trip, shuffled back in the early going before staying on late. He’s going to get the right pace setup, and is better than he looks.