Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Royal Dancer projects to get the right trip in Statue of Liberty

Saratoga | Race 9 | Post Time 5:39 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs | Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

I wasn’t on board Dream Central (#4) when she won two stakes in a row at odds of 39-1 and 9-1, so I don’t feel right jumping on her bandwagon now that she’ll be a fraction of those odds. She didn’t get much respect off her initial stakes win last time, but ran down a solid field and is arguably the horse to beat off that performance. Javier Castellano will take over the reins as Jose Lezcano has opted to instead pilot the morning line favorite. 

That Jorge Abreu trainee, Busy Morning (#6), is a dangerous prospect if she can handle the distance. Her breakout performance came going 6 furlongs last time, as she spurted away from an overmatched field through the stretch to win by 6 lengths. She didn’t finish nearly as well in her prior start at a mile, but that was just her debut. She’s a contender, but I’m a little concerned about stamina for this half-sister to sprinter Qian B C.

I prefer ROYAL DANCER (#3) at what I’m hoping is a better price. She is getting a rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz, which figures to attract attention, but she’s also a maiden stepping up into stakes company. I thought she ran very well in her prior stakes attempt against Dream Central, when setting an honest pace in a race where the other speeds totally collapsed. The cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs last time may have been too sharp, but I like this stretch-out to a mile given the current rail position and her inside draw. I’m hoping Irad sends her forward from the gate and tries to slow down the pace, which seems to happen often in these one-mile races on the inner.

THE PLAY

WIN: #3 Royal Dancer, at 3-1 or greater

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