RACE 4: DEVIL BOY (#8)
Morning line favorite #6 Ocean’s Reserve has returned in solid form this year, putting forth performances that would typically be enough to win at this level in each of his last two starts. However, he got a whiff of victory on both of those occasions and was turned away. He appeared to put his head in front, or at least get on even terms with his rivals, in deep stretch of both of those narrow losses before settling for second. He’s a deserving favorite here, he’s again facing some rivals with talent and it’s hard to completely trust him if he has to fight for it. I’m going in a different direction with #8 Devil Boy, who finished just behind the favorite on June 9. This 4-year-old colt has obvious talent, but possesses one major flaw – he can’t seem to get out of the starting gate. He’s broken slowly in all of his races, so it has to be assumed that he’ll do so again. That said, the good news is that he’s drawn an outside post position, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be shuffled back after a slow start. He does his best running from off the pace anyway, and should at least be able to travel into the race outside, clear of kickback. I thought he did well to close into a moderate pace last time, and now he’s third off a 180+ day layoff for Jeremiah Englehart, who is 8 for 32 (25%, $2.73 ROI) making that move at NYRA over the past 5 years.
RACE 7: EVAN SING (#1)
#8 Boston Tea Party figures to go favored here as he drops out of stakes company. He was simply no match for the talented Annapolis in the Manila, and he also may have not appreciated the stretch-out to a mile. Turning back to 5 1/2 furlongs should suit him based on how well he ran in his career debut. However, he clearly was a horse who was cranked up to win that day and he may have to produce a similar performance to beat this field. You also have to take a short price on a rider who hasn’t had much success so far at the meet. I’m not particularly fond of some others who could take money in this spot. #3 Ring of Fire is typically a short price in these races, but I think he’s meeting a tougher field than the one he faced last time at this level. Of those exiting N1X races on this circuit, I’m more interested in #6 Thin White Duke, who is turning back in distance. He had sprint success early in his career, and hasn’t really been finishing off his recent route attempts. My top pick is #1 Evan Sing. I really liked the visual of this 3-year-old’s debut at Fair Grounds, which has been his only turf sprint to date. He traveled well into the race and won pretty comfortably. Since then I thought he put in a good effort second time out at Churchill and then just didn’t get the distance after chasing an honest pace last time. I like the turnback for him and he possesses the tactical speed to work out a trip from the rail.
RACE 9: TIDE OF THE SEA (#8)
I’m really not against likely favorite #5 Balthus, who just seems to be putting it all together for Chad Brown. This well-bred son of Galileo returned as a new horse this season, since getting gelded and adding blinkers. He’s also responded well to the gradual stretch-out in distance over his last few starts, and was quite impressive in victory going this 11-furlong trip last time. However, he was almost 6-1 that day, and now he’ll be a fraction of that price while stepping up to face a tougher field. I don’t doubt that he’s the horse to beat, but I just didn’t feel compelled to throw more support towards him at a shorter price. I do much prefer him to the possible second choice #4 Reigning Spirit. This horse got the right trip last time the Louisville. Though he was wide for much of his trip, he stayed out of trouble in race where many others had to deal with traffic issues. He’s obviously better going longer, but I need some confirmation of that last-out improvement before backing him in a spot like this. I’m instead going in a different direction with #8 Tide of the Sea. It’s possible that this 6-year-old’s career is simply finished, as his recent form has been pretty abysmal compared to the peak of his career. Yet now he’s been claimed by Tom Morley for Flying P Stables, a combination that has had plenty of success, especially in this situation. Morley for these owners is 7 for 19 (37%, $4.57 ROI) first off the claim over the past 5 years. And that doesn’t even include 45-1 winner Dynadrive, who won off a trainer switch from Mike Maker at Belmont. Tide of the Sea didn’t actually run that badly two back, and last time, little effort was made to get him involved. Now he returns as a new gelding and could play out as the controlling speed.