RACE 2: LUCKY PERIDOT (#4)
If I could be confident that #7 Juxtapose would get back to her best races from last season, she would be an easy selection in this race. She was meeting some pretty good rivals at Woodbine last summer and fall, and she actually ran pretty well in a few of those spots on both turf and Tapeta. There’s been a trainer change since then, for the same owner, and she resurfaced at Belterra sprinting 5 furlongs last time. I didn’t love that effort, but she had a right to need a race and should appreciate more ground. It’s hard to completely trust her as she drops in for a tag now for William Morey, but she is the one to beat. I’m not thrilled with the other horse that could take money, #4 Blue Atras. She has run well fresh before, but I thought she was beating weaker company when she won here last October. She’s somewhat pace dependent and has run best against cheaper. I prefer #5 Lucky Peridot. This mare has plenty of back class, having run competitively against stakes company in California earlier in her career. She’s clearly not in that kind of form anymore, but I think she’s done well when realistically spotted. She was a visually impressive winner three back, and then had no chance against tougher in the Monroe, a race that didn’t feature much pace. I don’t want to get too caught up in her dirt race last time, but she got a poor ride that day, as she made a middle move to go from last to second at the half-mile before fading. This barn hasn’t sent too many runners to NYRA, but has done well out of town.
RACE 4: CATCH THAT PARTY (#5)
I acknowledge that both halves of this Jordan Wycoff entry can win, but I’m not thrilled with either of them. #1 Practice Squad has been in strong form since getting claimed by Joe Sharp, and he’s coming off an effort that makes him competitive here. However, he got a great trip setting a moderate pace that day in a race that was dominated by horses who stayed inside. It’s hard to see him getting as lucky this time, especially with the speedy Nicholas James in the field. #1A Ricochet also wants to be forwardly placed as he makes his first start off a trainer switch to Mike Maker. I didn’t think he had much of an excuse to lose at Monmouth last time, but he has other races that make him competitive. They’re both contenders, but entries like this are almost always underlays. I much prefer Mike Maker’s other runner #5 Catch That Party. This horse had shown ability when previously in Jeremiah Englehart’s barn last year, running competitively against New York-bred allowance company. Claimed by low-profile connections at Gulfstream, he subsequently made two starts against tougher company this winter and didn’t even run that badly when a huge price on Jan. 30. He dropped to a realistic level last time and surprised a field at 17-1, flying up the rail to win going away at the end. He was an astute claim that day by Mike Maker and Michael Dubb. That pair is 5 for 12 (42%, $2.26 ROI) first off the claim together on turf over the past 2 years. I like that he’s being moved up into a protected spot and Joel Rosario should fit this horse perfectly given the way he ran last time. The other horse that I would also want to throw into the mix is #10 Reckless Spirit. He was inside last time in that June 5 race that Practice Squad also exits. However, he got a very tentative ride and was in traffic for much of the way until getting free late.
RACE 6: TWILIGHT DREAMS (#6)
#4 Hoodooland, an expensive Medaglia d’Oro-sired half-sister to G1 La Troienne winner Salty, made her debut in a small field at Aqueduct back in April where she put in a solid effort to be second behind dominant winner Speaks for Itself. The ground she gained at the end is a little misleading, as the winner was geared down a long way out. The third-place finisher from that affair returned to win her next start, though didn’t earn much of a speed figure. Shug McGaughey is 6 for 38 (16%, $1.12 ROI) with maiden second time starters in dirt sprints over 5 years, so these types are sometimes overbet. I’m a little surprised that McGaughey keeps her sprinting rather than stretching out, and she does face some intriguing first time starters. Chad Brown has a pair of runners in here who both could attract some attention. #3 Empire Hope is a half-sister to Grade 1 Humana Distaff winner Sassy Image, and #1 Emmylou is a half-sister to G1 Spinster winner Valiance. Neither one would be a surprise, but I’m more intrigued by some firsters drawn outside. #7 Tizzy in the Sky is a little interesting even though she lacks star power in her pedigree. Ray Handal has done well with firsters over the past two years, but she sports some quick workouts for her debut and Rosario climbs aboard. My top pick is #6 Twilight Dreams, who is one of two in here for trainer Bill Mott. This homebred daughter of 12% debut sire Curlin is out of a Grade 2-placed mare who has produced 4 winners from 6 foals to race. The best of those is this one’s full sibling Curalina (13-6-3-2, $1.5 million, 105 Beyer), a two-time Grade 1 winner routing on dirt. Bill Mott is 9 for 36 (25%, $3.16 ROI) with 3YO+ female first time starters in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. She’s done all of her prep work up in Saratoga, logging a few fast workout times. That bullet 5-furlong drill on May 20 matches this barn’s G1-placed 4YO colt Nova Rags, and the recent drill on June 21 matches G2 Gazelle winner Nostalgic. This one might be a runner and could be ready to fire even though she’s bred to go farther than this.