RACE 4: LIAM’S BLUE MOON (#2)
This doesn’t appear to be the strongest N1X allowance race for the level, so I want to keep an open mind about some new faces. Likely favorite Transactional (#1) can obviously win, as he faced a better field for this condition last time. However, he still put in a disappointing effort as the 5-2 second choice, not settling early in the race before failing to produce a kick in the stretch. He’s drawn well towards the rail once again, but I have some doubts about his overall quality. Even the maiden race that he won at Saratoga looks worse in retrospect. The other short prices with turf experience don’t do much for me. Al’s Rocket (#6) finished just ahead of Transactional two back, but got a great trip. Pletcher’s other horse Zain Sarinda (#10) is a wild card coming in from Europe, but he seems like one that would want to go longer than this. Chad Brown’s other entrant Golden Alchemist (#8) is a little interesting. While this transition to turf seems like a bit of a desperate move, Brown actually has solid statistics doing this with non-maidens. His pedigree isn’t overwhelmingly turf-oriented, but there are some influences in there, and he moves like a horse who should handle grass. Yet I’m going out on a limb with my top pick, who will be a much bigger price. Liam’s Blue Moon (#2) looks a little ridiculous on paper, as he was uncompetitive in his lone turf start. However, something clearly went badly awry in that debut, as he appeared to clip heels behind before getting eased. He was off for a long time after that, and came back last time in an off-the-turf race where he was entered for grass. He ran like a completely different horse, showing speed before drawing away from overmatched rivals. Now he’s switching over to turf, which is the surface he’s always been meant to prefer. His dam was a stakes winner on grass in England, and she has produced 4 turf winners, including Hidden Message, who was second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on turf. He has speed from the inside in a race that lacks a clear pace scenario, and I’ll take my chances finding out if he’s quite this good at a generous price.
RACE 6: WESTERN LANE (#1)
Chad Brown sends out the two likely favorites in this maiden event. Expand the Map (#4) has been short prices in all three of her starts to date, and she’s been a significant disappointment. They tried to cut her back in distance last time, but that was unsuccessful. She’s landing in a spot where she looks competitive, but she figures to take money with Irad Ortiz getting back aboard, and I want others. I prefer Chaberton (#2) of the two Chad Brown trainees. She took a big step forward when she got on turf for the first time back in May, stalking the pace and taking over before getting run down by a stablemate on the wire. Her tactical speed should play well from this inside draw, and this barn can certainly have one ready off the layoff. Mozay (#6) is another to consider, but she’s had her fair share of chances at this level. I’m going in a different direction. Western Lane (#1) will be a better price than all of the aforementioned contenders, and she also has a right to move forward getting back on the turf. She got slammed coming out of the starting gate two back, putting her at the back of the pack early. The race was dominated up front, so she actually did well to close for fourth up the rail. That was a sprint, but she’s not supposed to have any problem with added ground, and she showed she could handle a mile on dirt in that off the turf race last time. It’s possible that she’s just turned things around for this underrated barn, and she drew a great post position.
RACE 7: MESSIDOR (#8)
I don’t have a major problem with Fluffy Socks (#5) being the favorite as she drops in class. She’s simply faced better horses in her recent starts at the graded stakes level, and has generally run well. She gave heavily favored stablemate Technical Analysis all she could handle two back at Saratoga, and last time she was compromised by a slow pace in the Rodeo Drive. I’m not sure that this cutback to 1 1/16 miles necessarily works in her favor, but it does appear that there’s enough speed in this race to set up her late run. I prefer her to some others who could take money, such as Evvie Jets (#4) and Finest Work (#6). The former has been in excellent form as of late, but she got a great trip stalking a slow pace when she won last time, and the latter has been facing slightly weaker company. I would rather take a shot against this favorite with Messidor (#8). She was beaten by Evvie Jets last time in the Noble Damsel, but this filly had the worse trip that day. Messidor got a little too keen heading into the clubhouse turn, and then proceeded to race 3-wide. She made a nice move to reach contention in upper stretch, but couldn’t see it out late. This time she lands in a spot that appears to have more pace signed on, and she’s getting a rider switch to Joel Rosario, who will try to work out a better trip. I thought she ran very well two back at Saratoga when beating Evvie Jets, and now she’s second off the layoff.