RACE 3: DREAM FLY (#3)
Morning line favorite #6 Bali Belle was supposed to have broken her maiden already. Christophe Clement has given her every chance, finding a soft spot at Delaware where she was odds-on, before she lost twice at relatively short prices in Florida this winter. She just lacks some late punch in her route races, which is probably why Clement is trying a sprint experiment now. Her pedigree isn’t exactly screaming shorter, but Clement is 10 for 26 (38%, $2.55 ROI) with maidens going from routes to sprints on turf at Belmont over 5 years. I slightly prefer her to the other runner from this barn. However, there are a couple of more intriguing runners coming off layoffs. #5 Frosted Oats took money in all three starts last year, which isn’t a big surprise considering her MyRacehorse ownership. She ran her best race second time out on grass, making the first move into a pretty honest pace before getting run down by a pair of talented Chad Brown runners. She proved that she could indeed sprint in her 2-year-old finale, which begs the natural question: Would she in fact be best as a turf sprinter? However, she has to be ready to fire off the bench, and Bill Mott is just 1 for 18 (5%, $0.18 ROI) off 180+ day layoffs in turf sprints over 5 years. My top pick is #3 Dream Fly, who also returns from a layoff. However, her trainer Wesley Ward is 24 for 84 (29%, $2.15 ROI) with the exact same set of parameters mentioned above for Mott. Dream Fly was heavily backed and disappointing in both starts early in her 2-year-old season. She obviously has to do better with the switch to grass, but this filly does have turf pedigree. She’s by 12% turf sprint sire American Pharoah out of a dam who is a half-sister to G2-winning turf sprinter Bound for Nowhere (8 for 18, $1.1 million). If she’s gotten over the gate issues she displayed as a youngster, we should see an improved performance here.
RACE 7: GIRAMONTE (#5)
#3 Cousin Andrew is arguably the horse to beat as he wheels back in just 8 days and switches back to turf. However, this horse was once an effective dirt performer and his lack of effort here last week has to be of some concern. He did show minor improvement switching to turf at the end of last season, but he benefited from fast paces in both of those races. It’s unclear how the pace of this affair will play out, but I didn’t feel particularly drawn to this gelding at a short price. Wesley Ward is always dangerous in turf sprints, and his #6 Blame the Booze has to be considered a player. He started out his career on dirt, but he proved he could handle grass last August at Ellis Park. The turnback should work for him, and Ward has great stats off layoffs. #2 Ginnsu Warrior is also mildly intriguing on the turnback after trying a tougher field routing on turf last time. He’s a stout, robustly built gelding who may appreciate this shorter trip. Yet my top pick is #5 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.
RACE 8: ROSSA VELOCE (#7)
This N2X allowance optional claimer features the East Coast debut of Grade 1 placed #5 Forest Caraway. This well-bred daughter of Bodemeister is a half-sister to popular NY-breds Holiday Disguise and Midnight Disguise. She began her career in California with Peter Miller, finishing second to the once highly regarded Princess Noor in the Del Mar Debutante. She looked like she had really taken a step forward when she returned from a layoff last August. However, she wasn’t able to back up that impressive return, losing her next two starts at short prices. Now she returns for Todd Pletcher with Miller on hiatus from training. Pletcher is 12 for 44 (27%, $1.43 ROI) first off a trainer switch in dirt sprints over 5 years. However, the barn is off to a slow start at this meet and she figures to take plenty of money. They all could have #3 Fouette to catch. It’s interesting to see this filly transferred to Linda Rice, who once had great success with Lady Sheila Stable, campaigning champion La Verdad among others. Yet she hasn’t sent out a runner for this owner in over a year. Fouette began her career with Steve Asmussen and showed some precocity. She’s always had trouble sustaining her speed, but looks pretty loose on the front end here, which makes her dangerous. I’m trying to beat both of these fillies with #7 Rossa Veloce. She already won at this level two back when racing for the $62,500 tag, so she’s still eligible to compete for the allowance condition. This NY-bred filly wasn’t beating much that day, but she did run better than it appears last time, chasing wide against a rail bias. She’s produced a string of solid efforts despite being ridden by low-profile riders for the better part of the last year. Now she’s getting a significant upgrade to Kendrick Carmouche while also making her first start off the claim for William Morey. The barn doesn’t have great stats with that move, but has sent out two live runners so far at this meet.