RACE 1: BOLD LOOKER (#6)
#5 Sidekick will attract plenty of support for Shug McGaughey as he stretches out around two turns for the first time. He looked like one that would appreciate added ground when closing in his sprint debut, and he did take a step forward going a mile last time. However, he also got a pretty good trip and was one-paced through the lane while riding the rail. The upset winner of that race does have real ability, and the speed figure came up strong. I won’t be surprised when he wins at a short price, but I’m intrigued by some others. #2 Golden Alchemist debuted in a salty maiden event at Belmont last month and put in a good effort to get up for second behind talented debut winner Saint Tapit. This son of Nyquist looks like one that shouldn’t mind some extra distance, and Chad Brown is wasting no time getting him all the way out to 9 furlongs. He seems perfectly logical and I slightly prefer him to Sidekick. My top pick at a bigger price is #6 Bold Looker. This horse debuted going two turns as a two-year-old and ran like one who needed the experience. He was a bit sluggish early and was trying to make up ground while racing through traffic, a bit green in behind horses. He was off for a long time after that, but I liked the way he was finishing in his sprint return last time out. This lumbering son of Arrogate feels like one that is much better suited to two turns, so I’m expecting him to step forward as he stretches out.
RACE 4: BLAME IT ON MARY (#4)
#10 Tis a Pity could possibly go favored in this spot as she moves back up to the New York-bred allowance level. I actually thought she put in one of her better efforts to win last time over U Should B Dancing, who has been in career form. However, now she has to turnback to 5 1/2 furlongs, and she arguably found this distance to be a little short for her when she tried it last summer. I think the distance will prove perfect for her main rival #4 Blame It On Mary. Though this filly is just 1 for 16 during her career, she’s made just 4 turf starts and they’ve been some of her best efforts. She nearly got the job done in the final race on Belmont Stakes day when just unable to hold off a resurgent Palace Gossip in the last furlong. A repeat of that effort will make her awfully tough here, and she strikes me as one that will appreciate the slight cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs given her propensity to fade late in her races longer. She has plenty of speed and is drawn well outside of some main pace rivals. The other horse that I want to use at a much bigger price is #1 Patria. This filly possesses speed from the rail and could find herself on the front end early. While she’s never earned a competitive speed figure racing on dirt, she does have some turf in her pedigree. Sire Bustin Stones gets a strong 15% turf sprint winners, and the dam is a half-sister to some runners who had success on grass.
RACE 7: BE BETTER (#8)
I’m a little skeptical of #7 Creative Minister as the likely favorite in this Curlin. He’ll be awfully tough for this field to handle if he runs back to his third-place finish in the Preakness. And I suppose one can forgive his Belmont since he doesn’t necessarily have to be a 12-furlong animal. Yet they asked an awful lot of this horse in a short period of time during the Triple Crown season, and I wonder if it’s taken a toll on him. He’s looked a little dull in his recent workouts, actually having to be asked a bit more than today’s uncoupled stablemate Wolfe Country in a couple of their recent drills. I want to look elsewhere at a short price. Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher both have entered some promising prospects. #9 Artorius has a stellar pedigree, by Arrogate out of top sprinter Paulassilverlining. He ran well to win a strong maiden event at Belmont Park last time, but I’m a little skeptical of him stretching out further in distance. I think this spot is a great fit for #8 Be Better. This son of Uncle Mo showed some hints of ability closing behind Jack Christopher in his sprint debut last summer. He needed plenty of time off after that, but he’s returned in strong form at Monmouth this season. He overcame a slow pace to break his maiden two back, and took a big step forward to beat a solid allowance field last time, drawing off impressively at the end. He gives the impression that more ground will suit him and Luis Saez should be a good fit for a horse that can take a while to hit top gear. The other runner I would use is #1 Western River, who will obviously have no problems handling the distance, exiting a 1 1/2 mile allowance win last time. I worry about a lack of pace, but he’s moving in the right direction.