RACE 4: COMMAND POINT (#3)
If this race stays on turf, Chad Brown will hold the keys to this affair, as he sends out the favorite in the main body of the field, Princess Blakely (#10), as well as Control Function (#13), who would be a stronger favorite if able to draw in off the also eligible list. The latter filly ran respectably against a much tougher open N1X field last time and will be tough for this group to handle with a repeat of that performance. However, she did get a perfect trip that day, and she’d be mired in an outside post position even if she did get in here. I still prefer her to Princess Blakely, who just stayed on at one pace in her lone turf start back in July. I question her overall ability, but she does seem good enough to compete at this level. However, I do see one viable alternative to this Brown pair. Command Point (#3) was running races last year for George Weaver that would put her on par with Control Function. It appears that she’s regressed since returning from a layoff for Rob Atras this year, but I think she’s run better than it appears in both recent outings. She was compromised by a slow pace in her return two back, and last time she got a poor trip through the final three furlongs, as she encountered significant traffic while attempting to launch a rally, shuffled back and shut off at multiple points. She’s better than that and can rebound here if some pace develops.
RACE 6: UNCLE GEORGE (#4)
This starter allowance affair is not just the most competitive race on the card – it’s one of the most wide open races that I’ve handicapped all year in New York. There’s no clear favorite signed on, and you can make a case for each of the runners in the main body of the field. Ultimately I wanted to shy away from the likely shorter prices like Digital Future (#5), Napa Spirit (#7), and Mister Chairman (#10). They all have the credentials to be competitive here, but you’re supposed to do some price shopping in a race like this. Note that Sheriff Bianco will scratch, which allows King Moonracer (#13) to draw in off the AE list. While the wide post position is not ideal for this George Weaver trainee, I like the slight stretch-out in distance for him, since he’s had more success over these longer sprint distances at Belmont and Aqueduct. He was compromised by a poor start and traffic last time in a race dominated up front, and I think he’s capable of better here. Fast N Fearious (#2) has the speed to get in front of this field early, but the switch back to turf does seem a little curious. He showed such marked improvement on dirt last time and was entered back on that surface two weeks ago before scratching. I don’t mind turf for him, but I’m curious to see if he can maintain his form. My top pick is Uncle George (#4). This horse was a bit of a disappointment when racing for the Christophe Clement barn, but he did have to endure his fair share of bad luck, some of which was of his own making. He tends to break slowly, so he needs some paces to develop up front. I thought he closed pretty well last time going a distance that is too short for him. The slight stretch-out figures to help, and there does appear to be plenty of speed in this field. Furthermore, William Morey is 4 for 11 (36%, $3.73 ROI) first off the claim on turf over 5 years, with 9 of this 11 hitting the board.
RACE 7: BATTLE SCARS (#3)
I’m not particularly interested in either favorite in this New York-bred N1X allowance. Citizen K (#6) has improved on the stretch-out in distance lately, but his form is exposed at this point. He got a good trip last time stalking a moderate pace and just couldn’t fend off the late challenge of the superior Catch That Party. Now he’s picking up Irad Ortiz and figures to be a much shorter price than he’s been in recent starts. Marinara Sauced (#12) also seems likely to take money for the Chad Brown barn. This runner got pretty lucky to win his debut in a race that collapsed, and I haven’t been thrilled with any of his subsequent starts. He did make up some ground in a stakes last time, but he saved ground early in the race at a time when you wanted to be inside, and there wasn’t much of quality behind him. I want to go in a different direction with Battle Scars (#3). I thought this 4-year-old ran a winning race when he returned from the layoff last time despite finish fourth. He was 3-wide early and forced to rally widest of all on the far turn and through the stretch during a time when the rail was the place to be on the inner turf course. He figures to improve with that effort under his belt, and now he’s drawn a much better post position. He ran pretty well over this course last year, and his return race suggests he may have improved since then. The other horse that I want to use is first time turfer Street Tsar (#1), who appears to be the controlling speed from the rail. Distance is a question mark, but he’s supposed to appreciate turf, by Street Boss out of a dam who has produced a turf winner. I can forgive his last race where he engaged in a 4-way duel before fading, especially since he should be able to shake loose up front this time.