RACE 5: PATTY H (#6)
Rossa Veloce (#3) will obviously beat this field if she runs back to the 102 Beyer and 111 TimeformUS Speed Figure that she earned in her narrow victory over Beguine two back. Yet that effort is such an outlier in her past performances, so it’s a little tough to trust her to reproduce it. She came back down to Earth last time when lost as the 6-5 favorite after setting a moderate pace in the fog. If she runs that race, or her October debut for the Rob Atras barn, she’s still a contender here but isn’t some kind of standout. I’m inclined to let her beat me at a short price. I prefer her main rival Leeloo (#5) among the short prices. This filly is stepping up to the open N2X level for the first time, but she isn’t catching the toughest field. She’s been in great form recently for David Duggan, winning 3 of her last 4 starts while ascending the class ladder. She figures to be right there with her usual solid effort. Yet I’m going for a bigger price on top. Patty H (#6) could get somewhat overlooked here off a pair of disappointing losses at the level. Yet she had legitimate excuses each time. She was severely bumped at the start two back, forcing her out of position early, and then last time she broke slowly in the fog. I don’t want to be too hard on her for either of those performance, as I know she’s capable of better. She showed that three back when she nearly held off Mosienko in a similar spot. At her best she has the tactical speed to be forward here, and I think drawing outside will help her cause.
RACE 6: SPETTRO (#1)
I’m just not thrilled with the likely favorites in this $25k conditioned claimer. I suppose Mo Rewards (#8) will be formidable if able to bounce back to his effort on Nov. 13. He did run pretty well that day after getting off to a stumbling start. However, he had absolutely nothing to offer in that 9-furlong starter race last time, coming under a ride on the backstretch before getting eased. I’m a little concerned that this turf-inclined runner just isn’t thriving during the winter. Furthermore, the Rudy Rodriguez barn has been struggling to win races lately. I’m more confident in the other likely short price, Salute to America (#2). He fits pretty well here off his performance at the level two back when beaten by next-out winner Swift Tap. He didn’t run as well last time, but he was facing a tougher field that day and was always out of position in the slop. Stretching back out to a mile should suit him. Yet I wanted to find some alternative to this pair. The horse that intrigues me most from a value standpoint is Spettro (#1). He figures to get overlooked based on his recent dirt results, but those performances aren’t nearly as bad as they might seem. He was facing a much tougher field when he sprinted in that October 6 allowance race, and had little chance to be effective after he failed to make the lead. He was again facing a better field last time at the $40k level when asked to go 9 furlongs. He actually held on pretty well to still be in contention at the quarter pole before fading late. I like him turning back to a mile and he figures to get aggressively sent to the front by the apprentice Jason Huayas. I think he’s more capable on this surface than his results indicate and I should get a square price.
RACE 7: HANDSOME CAT (#1)
Life Changer (#9) is obviously the horse to beat after hitting the board in his last three attempts at this level. He was arguably best last time when splitting horses in the lane to just miss getting past winner Reggae Music Man late. However, the form of that race wasn’t flattered when the winner came back to run poorly in his subsequent start. I also have some doubts about the quality of a few other races he exits, and I tend to think this spot is a bit deeper. He’s surely a contender, but I didn’t feel the need to default to him at a short price. Bezos (#8) arguably put forth the best last race of anyone in this field when he finished fourth in the Gravesend. He’s been steadily improving since the claim for just $16k by Chandradat Goberdhan and will be tough for this field to handle if he repeats that 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure. I don’t fully trust him, but he figures to be a fair price once again. David Jacobson has entered two in here, of which Cees Get Degrees (#2) could attract more support. Yet he made find it difficult to win this race with a speedy rival like Bezos in the field. I actually see plenty of speed signed on here, so I’m much more inclined to consider Jacobson’s other runner. Handsome Cat (#1) will benefit from any pace that develops up front. He’s not a plodder by any means, but he does have the ability to close into a quick pace, and many others in this field aren’t as comfortable using that style. I thought he might have been able to win at this level two back if Javier Castellano had been able to get him off the rail in the stretch. Then last time he never gave up when just missing the place, battling on between horses behind a dominant winner. Both of those races came over wet tracks and he may be more comfortable on fast going. David Jacobson’s horses have been running well lately, and this one should be a fair price with the apprentice named to ride.