RACE 6: BREAKING STONES (#6)
I have very little trust in the two likely favorites in this N2L conditioned claimer. #5 A Longlongtimeago is getting significant class relief after competing against much tougher NY-bred allowance foes in his recent starts. However, his performances have gotten progressively worse since a decent return back in February. That follows a similar pattern that we saw last year when he ran well in his debut and fell apart soon after that. He’s pretty tough to trust in his current form, though this weaker competition may wake him up. #2 Vikram is equally unreliable as he returns from a 10-month layoff. He was claimed by Wesley Ward and put on the shelf for the better part of a year, which is not a great sign. Ward is also not taking advantage of the claiming waiver, leaving in for a tag. He ran a competitive speed figure when last seen, but Ward is just 5 for 34 (15%, $0.97 ROI) off 180+ day layoffs in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. I’ll try to beat this pair with #6 Breaking Stones. I won’t pretend to love this 1-for-14 gelding, but he has gradually been cycling back into better form in his recent starts. He contested an honest pace last time against favored rival Tough Tickets before fading in the last furlong. I don’t mind the turnback to 6 furlongs for him, since he ran well, nearly winning, in his lone prior start going this distance in March. Dylan Davis should be able to work out a stalking trip and he would be a square price at around 9-2.
RACE 7: FIRST TO ACT (#1)
The two most naturally talented horses in this field appear to be #6 Equal Pay and #7 Brattle House. However, it’s hard to see either one working out an ideal trip given their similar running styles. Both do their best work on the front end, and they could have some additional company up front from fellow speed #4 Sweet Surprise. Among all those speeds, I do prefer Equal Pay, who has run well in all three starts since the eventful start to career, when she tripped in midstretch on debut and then got eased second time out. She did get run down as the 1-5 favorite last time, but I actually like the stretch-out in distance for her. She’s bred to go farther, gallops strongly, but just lacks some turn of foot. Brattle House, on the other hand, had things go her way last time in a race where a few key rivals failed to show up. I need to see it again from her as she makes first start for Bill Mott. My top pick is #1 First to Act. She figures to sit a good trip sitting in behind the front-runners. She obviously has to improve and Shug McGaughey doesn’t have great statistics off maiden wins. However, I thought she ran deceptively well to break her maiden, as she was chasing 2 to 3-wide against a rail bias on April 15. I don’t think we’ve yet see the best from this daughter of Curlin and it’s not like she’s that far off the favorites from a speed figure standpoint as of now.
RACE 8: BELLA PRINCIPESSA (#9)
There’s obviously some possibility that these last two races could come off the turf given the forecast for rain throughout Sunday afternoon. However, this is a situation where my top pick would be the same on turf and dirt. #9 Bella Principessa figures to appreciate this turnback in distance regardless of surface. I thought she actually ran pretty well in her return to turf last time, as she was never inside and made an early move to take over before getting passed late in a race that was falling apart. Most of her turf performances have come over route distances, but she proved that she was an effective sprinter on dirt this winter, so she should find this 7-furlong distance on grass to be perfect for her. I like that Joel Rosario stays aboard in a race where there’s a live Clement runner signed on. And she would also be logical if this race were transferred to the main track, as she possesses plenty of dirt efforts that make her the horse to beat. On turf, I would also want to use #4 Love’s Misery, who exits the same race. She got a great trip when she won on turf two back, but she did earn a strong 105 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that effort. I don’t want to be too hard on her for her loss last time, as 1 1/16 miles is probably too far for her and she was contesting a pretty strong pace that came apart. The turnback should suit her and there isn’t that much speed signed on in this field. The wagering entity that I’m against is the Steve Klesaris entry. Both #1 Winter Princess and #1A Miss Delicious have speed figures that point them out as contenders, but neither one has effectively sprinted on turf and they figure to take money, as entries often do. #2 Tis a Pity looks like the other favorite, and I’m not wildly against her. She did briefly get held up in traffic before launching her rally last time. However, that was a weaker field and now she’s again a short price in a much more competitive affair.