RACE 5: COMMAND POINT (#12)
The short prices in this $30k conditioned claimer didn’t do much for me. Princess Blakely (#3) makes some sense after finishing third at a similar level in Saratoga, but she’s been out of action for a few months and hasn’t ever run a speed figure that makes her particularly formidable against this crew. I’m more intrigued by Diva Ready (#8) from that same race. Some will dismiss her based on her lone poor effort since then, but she got the wrong trip, racing 2-wide during a time when the rail bias on the inner turf at Saratoga was most pronounced. She was also going out for Rudy Rodriguez while his horses just weren’t performing up to par at Saratoga. She’s since been claimed by new connections and could be ready to rebound. However, I want to go in a different direction with another horse looking to get back on track. Command Point (#12) 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 able to work out a trip from this outside post position.
RACE 6: FOUNDER (#5)
This optional claimer is one of the most wide open races of the day, as you can make valid cases for almost every runner in the field. Among the short prices, I don’t want Nabokov (#6), who was opportunistic last time when taking advantage of a fast pace to win on the turnback. I’m still not convinced that added distance helps him, and this is a big step up in class. The other two likely short prices are a bit more convincing. Kinetic Sky (#8) was always going to be a stretch to get the 1 3/16 miles last time in that off the turf affair, but he actually ran quite well to only miss by a nose after going wide on the turns. This turnback in distance should suit him, and I view him as the horse to beat. I would also use War Stopper (#3), who won at this level in an off the turf race last time out, though his solid recent form has come over sloppy tracks. Bill Mott has entered a pair of contenders in this race who both sport interesting profiles. Will Sing for Wine (#2)ran poorly behind War Stopper last time, but he had a right to need that race in his return from a lengthy layoff. He should appreciate getting back on a fast track and will be a factor if he can bounce back to any of his prior efforts. Yet the Mott horse that most intrigues me is Founder (#5). I’ve never been much of a fan of this horse racing on the turf, even though that’s where he’s spent the majority of his recent races. He just lacks the acceleration or turn of foot necessary to be successful in turf races. While he was considered a disappointment on the dirt after winning his debut so impressively as a 2-year-old, I actually think he ran well in a few starts after that. That third-place finish behind Mandaloun and Twilight Blue looks a lot better in retrospect, and his second-place to Wolfie’s Dynaghost in his last dirt start over a year ago was one of the best efforts of his career. I’m not sure that he’s going to get that much pace in here, but I do think he’s finally back in a spot where he can be successful.
RACE 9: SIGNATOR (#3)
I’m not trying to beat likely favorite Signator (#3) in this Nashua. I’ve become a big fan of this horse based on the visual of his first couple of starts. He closed relentlessly in his 6-furlong debut despite racing in some traffic on the turn, hitting his best stride just as they crossed the wire before galloping out with enthusiasm. He then loved the stretch-out to a mile last time, overcoming a slow pace and angling inside of rivals before again finishing strongly through the stretch. He hasn’t yet run a particularly fast speed figure, but I get the sense that we haven’t nearly seen the best he has to offer yet. He doesn’t necessarily have to win this race to advance to the Remsen, where his true strengths are likely to be revealed, but he does seem ready to take this next step forward even going the one-turn mile. Looking beyond this start, he feels like a horse who could have a major say in some Derby preps next season, as a son of Tapit with a stamina-oriented female family. It’s still early, but I’m excited about this colt. That’s not say that this is an easy spot for him. Full Moon Madness (#1) seemed to be much more professional with the blinkers added last time, and finished up like a horse that may be ready for this stretch-out in distance. Champions Dream (#4) also showed potential on debut, but that race he won at Saratoga is looking a little weaker in retrospect. He may not have cared for the slop in the Champagne, but will have to produce a better performance to defeat the two aforementioned colts.