RACE 1: UNCLE MARTY (#2)
Bourbon Chase (#3) took all the money on debut, getting hammered down to 4-5. He got a pretty good trip stalking a moderate pace, but was unable to see it out, shortening stride late as the winner flew by with a late rush. That horse, Starquist, appears to have some talent, and came back to finish a solid third in the Sleepy Hollow. That said, horses that get bet as heavily as Bourbon Chase are supposed to get the job done. Now he has to stretch out slightly in distance and the pedigree gives mixed signals. Among the second time starters, I’m more interested in Wanna Winna (#7). This colt actually took some money to be 7-1 on debut in what looked like a strong race for the level. He broke just a step slowly and found himself towards the back of the pack early before starting to make some progress running through kickback in upper stretch. He feels like one who should appreciate added ground based on the visual and his pedigree, out of a dam who won going a mile on dirt. Michelle Nevin just doesn’t have the strongest statistics with these types. My top pick is the more experienced Uncle Marty (#2). He obviously needed his debut start on turf, but he’s since improved in a couple of dirt outings. He nearly got the job done second time out when just missing after closing from last at the top of the stretch. He wasn’t quite as effective last time in another race that fell apart, but he did encounter some traffic in upper stretch. Uncle Marty has shown a tendency to lug in through the stretch of his races, a minor issue last time, so perhaps drawing the rail will benefit him. He feels like one that shouldn’t mind the stretch-out to 7 furlongs, and he still has upside.
RACE 6: SALIMAH (#3)
Likely favorite Eminent Victor (#5) is the most accomplished of the three fillies Chad Brown has entered in here. She narrowly lost to stablemate Dolce Zel at Saratoga three back when she was arguably best in the G3 Lake George, before then overmatched against a tougher field in the Lake Placid. Her Sands Point last time was a little disappointing, but she never had great position that day in a race dominated towards the front end. Her overall set of speed figures makes her the horse to beat, but I thought this was still a pretty competitive affair. Some may be intrigued by Brown’s recent maiden graduate Veronica Greene (#8), who interestingly is the mount of Irad Ortiz. However, she would have to improve significantly on her prior form. My top pick is another of Brown’s trio. Salimah (#3) didn’t earn much of a speed figure in her debut at Tampa, but she had shown promise that day, drawing off impressively. The trip didn’t work out for her when she returned from a layoff at Saratoga, but she took a big step forward last time, riding the rail to victory while running down a well-meant stablemate. Her 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure fits in nicely with others in here who have already faced stakes company, so she may be ready for this step up in class. I also want to use Spirit and Glory (#2), who finished just behind Eminent Victor when they faced off in the Sands Point. She had a much more eventful trip than that foe, as she was rank heading into the clubhouse turn, failing to settle properly after a slow break. She then was awkward when trying to find a path at the quarter pole, having to be jerked to the inside; displayed a nice turn of foot to run up into third before flattening out. I’m a little concerned about the lack of pace for her, but she arguably matches up with any of these in terms of ability.
RACE 8: DYNADRIVE (#10)
This Artie Schiller Stakes is one of the more competitive races on the entire card. I suppose Somelikeithotbrown (#9) is the horse to beat, since his best efforts may be slightly better than what most of his rivals are capable of producing. However, he’s not the most reliable sort, and he can be fairly dependent on pace. There is other speed in here to push him early, and that proved to be his undoing in a few starts earlier this year. Among those who figures to be tracking the pace early, Sifting Sands (#1) seems most likely to sit the right trip. He drew well towards the rail and has generally been in solid form this year. While he got a great trip until upper stretch last time at Pimlico, he never was able to fully work his way into the clear in the stretch. A repeat of his Lure effort two back makes him a major player in this field. Yet I want to get a little more creative with some runners who should be rallying from off the pace. The Knickerbocker run here last month was contested during a time when the rail was the place to be, and it also featured a slow pace that made it difficult for closers to make up ground. That affected Pao Alto (#7), who raced two-wide throughout and was always out of position that day. He had shown ability in his prior start when beating Sifting Sands at Pimlico. Yet the horse who interests me most out of the Knickerbocker is Dynadrive (#10). He lacks early speed, so he was always going to be against the race flow. However, it didn’t help matters that he broke a bit slowly and then was too keen racing at the back of the pack, trying to run up on heels past the wire the first time. He ended up racing 3-wide for much of his journey and then swung widest of all into the stretch. That trip was never going to work out, and I actually didn’t think he ran that badly, all things considered. Eric Cancel has to find a way to work out a trip from this outside post position, but the horse has the ability to contend here and he’s going to be a fair price.