RACE 1: REIGN OF LOVE (#1)
Likely favorite #2 Personal Best may win here at a short price, but I was a little disappointed with her last effort at Keeneland. She was bet down to 7:5 that day following a deceptively promising debut at Gulfstream, in which she was out of position early before closing into a slow pace and galloping out strongly. It was encouraging to see her display improved tactical speed in that second outing, but she stalked an extremely slow pace and failed to kick for home despite getting the jump on the closers. Perhaps this added ground will help her move forward again, as she is out of Grade 1 Flower Bowl winner War Flag. #4 Myriskyaffair could also attract support after finishing second in a different Keeneland maiden event last time. However, I thought she hung in the late stages after having dead aim at the leader in the stretch. She has a bit less upside than her main rival and lacks that one’s early speed. I’m going in a different direction with #1 Reign of Love. This daughter of American Pharoah just looked like a filly who needed a race on debut. She’s a massive, rangy animal with a big stride on her, and those types just aren’t well suited to Gulfstream’s tight turns and hard ground. She finished up well that day and gives the impression of one who should relish this stretch-out to 10 furlongs. Her dam won the G3 Matchmaker going 1 1/8 miles on turf. This filly is also a half-sister to G2 Mother Goose winner Unchained Melody and 1 7/8 miles stakes winner Noble Pursuit, so the pedigree is there.
RACE 4: ABUSE OF POWER (#1)
Morning line favorite #4 Gal in a Rush hasn’t yet crossed the wire first, having been elevated to her maiden win via DQ even though she wasn’t part of the incident. She clearly improved on the turnback to sprints last year, just missing in the Matron when coming with a strong late rush. She made a similar run from well back in the Stewart Manor but again ran out of ground. She wouldn’t need to improve much on those juvenile speed figures as she returns for her 3-year-old debut. Clement is a mediocre 15 for 77 (19%, $1.36 ROI) off 120-240 day layoffs in turf sprints over 5 years. She figures to get a decent pace setup here, but I didn’t love her at the expected short price. Clement’s other runner #6 Anador is a little more appealing to me. Clement tries to switch things up as he turns her back to the shortest distance she’s ever attempted. This French-bred displayed a nice turn of foot in her U.S. debut going a mile, but she did seem to get leg-weary in the late stages as she barely hung on to that victory. Since then she’s just lacked some late punch going two turns. She arguably ran her best race in France over 7 furlongs when third behind subsequent G3 winner Rosacea. I preferred them to fellow 3-year-old #2 Poppy Flower, who seemed to tail off for Wesley Ward last year and now goes out for a new barn. Yet I wanted to go in a different direction with an older rival. #1 Abuse of Power showed promise as a turf sprinter early in her career for Chad Brown. She hasn’t been quite as successful since the purchase and trainer switch to Philip Antonacci. However, she did run her best race for the barn over this course and distance in late 2021, earning a competitive 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She failed to hit the board in Florida this winter, but one of those starts came on synth, and she just couldn’t get two turns last time, especially after setting a very fast pace. The 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure she received puts her in the mix, and she figures to appreciate the turnback in distance for connections that rarely take too much money.
RACE 6: GIRAMONTE (#8)
Two of the main players in this starter allowance turf sprint are drawn in the far outside post positions. #11 Cousin Andrew and #12 King Moonracer finished less than a length apart in two consecutive races at this level last fall. Cousin Andrew finished ahead of his rival on Oct. 23 when benefiting from a wicked pace up front. Yet King Moonracer then turned the tables on him on Nov. 20, crossing the wire just a neck ahead of his rival after Cousin Andrew encountered stretch traffic. Though both make sense here for barns that are both solid if unspectacular off layoffs. However, Cousin Andrew in particular does his best running from off the pace, so they could require some help up front. #6 Immortalization could be sent to the lead as he steps up off his maiden win at Aqueduct. However, he was beating a much weaker field that day, and I’m skeptical that he can replicate that form against a tougher field. I’m instead going in a different direction with #8 Giramonte. It took this gelding a while to break his maiden last year, but he ran well in most of his turf sprint efforts since getting claimed by Leah Gyarmati over the summer. He actually finished ahead of King Moonracer on Aug. 14 just prior to getting his diploma. He only made one start against winners on grass last fall and it was a total disaster. He broke a step slowly and was in trouble right from the start, as he got very rank racing in traffic, fighting his rider severely for the first three furlongs before calling it quits. He’s obviously better than that, and I think he can rebound coming off the layoff