This optional claimer came up unusually tough for the N2X condition, and Chad Brown has a couple of strong contenders. Both #2 Love and Thunder and #9 Flighty Lady have run well enough to make them competitive here, but have also been a little disappointing during their U.S. campaigns. The former settled for second when she should have won on more than a few occasions last year, but she was pretty impressive winning over this course in October. She projects to get a good trip and is dangerous off the bench. I slightly prefer her to Flighty Lady, who wasn’t beating a particularly good field at Aqueduct last April. She subsequently failed to step forward, though she might not have appreciated a yielding turf course at Saratoga last summer.
An intriguing new face in this affair is #5 King’s Harlequin, who makes her U.S. debut for Christophe Clement. As a 2-year-old, she defeated subsequent Group 1 winner Sealiway, as well as G3 winner Harajuku. She was very game in the G3 Prix de la Grotte two back, as she got passed in mid-stretch but re-rallied to almost come back for the victory. Christophe Clement, who is 5 for 33 (15%, $1.20 ROI) with foreign shippers off 180+ day layoffs over the past 5 years.
My top pick is #10 NEW YORK GIRL. She showed excellent form when she first appeared in this country, just missing to some classy foes like Micheline and Blowout in Grade 2 races. However, she put in an inexplicably poor effort in the Just a Game and hasn’t hit the board since then. Though her form may not be quite as poor as it looks. She did have a serious spot of trouble in that Aug. 1 allowance race at Saratoga before going to the bench. Then last time she just got too far back in a race that was dominated on the front end, but was finishing best of all. I think she lands in a good spot and could go off at a square price.
WIN: #10 New York Girl, at 7-2 or greater