RACE 4: JOEY LOOSE LIPS (#3)
Outasite (#7) will beat this field if he runs back to his best form for trainer Brad Cox. However, a lot of time has passed since he last raced, and it’s been nearly two years since he broke his maiden at Oaklawn in early 2021. There are clearly some major issues with this horse that have kept him off the track, but it does seem like a good sign that he isn’t being dropped in for a tag immediately in his return from the layoff. There is a trainer switch to Horacio De Paz, who has decent numbers with this move and he appears to have landed in a reasonable spot. I won’t be surprised when he runs well, but I can’t take a short price on him. My best alternative is Joey Loose Lips (#3). He’s coming off a victory at the $25k conditioned claiming level that might be even stronger than it appears. He was hard ridden to get to the front that day, and opened up on the field through the turn while laying down some fast fractions over a tiring surface. The race completely fell apart behind him, yet he kept going en route to a comfortable victory. Horses who pressed his pace have since come back to run improved speed figures in their subsequent starts. He’s been claimed by Rudy Rodriguez, who confidently moves him up in class to this starter allowance level. That last race was his first start with blinkers, and he did show improved speed, though it doesn’t appear that he needs the lead. I think he’s very dangerous if he maintains his current form. I would also use Win for Gold (#1), who wheels back on short rest for Linda Rice after making an early move to take control of a race last week. Hatch (#6) also makes some sense as a threat from off the pace after proving that sprinting on dirt is his true calling last time.
RACE 5: JOEY THE FISH (#1)
The favorites in this New York-bred maiden event don’t do much for me. I suppose Miss Fashionista (#4) will be a short price just because she took money on debut. She did run like a horse who may have needed experience, but that’s often not a good sign for a Todd Pletcher trainee. He doesn’t have particularly strong statistics with second time starters stretching out, and I’m somewhat against her. Kara Para (#5) is perhaps a little more trustworthy, since she at least ran well on dirt in her second career start. The distance is a bit of a question mark, but she makes enough sense to use. George Weaver has entered a pair of runners in here, of which Sweetest Princess (#6) is likely to be the much shorter price. She has been steadily improving with each start on grass, running particularly well last time when closing wide over a course that was favoring inside paths. However, now she’s switching to dirt as turf season nears its end. I have some doubts about her ability to transfer her form, but she does appear to be the most talented horse in this field. Yet I’m most interested in George Weaver’s other entrant. At first glance, it doesn’t look like Joey the Fish (#1) has done much running, finishing far back each time, and only achieving her best result against maiden claimers. However, she has given indications that more distance might be her friend, the turf race notwithstanding. She finished with good interest in both dirt races after lagging well behind, and actually galloped out in front of the whole field on Sep. 25. George Weaver is 17 for 69 (25%, $2.07 ROI) with maidens going from dirt to turf over the past 5 years. She isn’t catching the toughest group for the level and may finally have landed in a race where her ability to stay on at one pace could be an asset.
RACE 6: RHOMBIQUE (#4)
I imagine that Personal Best (#5) will be a strong favorite in this N1X allowance affair. She doesn’t have any speed figure edge over this field, but she just has the look of a horse that still has upside in a field where we’ve already seen what many of the more experienced options have to offer. She also has Irad Ortiz on her back, which could negatively impact her price. While Personal Best did handle an extended distance in breaking her maiden two back, I wasn’t thrilled with her most recent effort at Keeneland. She got a pretty good trip that day in her first start against winners, yet didn’t produce the necessary kick while beaten by a seemingly inferior foe. She can win, but I don’t need a short price on her. A few horses in this field exit a similar race at this level from Oct. 23. Ensemble (#1) seemingly ran the best race that day behind the winner, as she closed well into a slow pace to be second, earning a career-best 105 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She seems like a reasonable candidate to improve with added ground, but she was 17-1 last time and will now be much shorter odds here. The horse that I’m most interested in from that Oct. 23 affair is Rhombique (#4). She checked in sixth, but was only 1 1/2 lengths behind Ensemble after getting in tight quarters and having to alter course in upper stretch. I thought she ran exceptionally well two back in a much tougher race at this level. Winner Salimah came back to win a stakes, and Rhombique did well to get up for fourth after a very wide trip. According to Trakus, she covered an astounding 82 more feet than the winner. There are some subtle signs that she is really improving in the second half of this season. I admit it’s hard to bet this rider, but he did work out a perfect trip for her when she broke her maiden, and the price will be more than fair.