RACE 3: DAYDREAMING BOY (#2)
This Jimmy Winkfield may have only drawn a field of 5 runners, but it’s a pretty competitive affair, as all of them have a chance. Drew’s Gold (#4) could go favored as he seeks to extend his unbeaten streak to 3 for 3. He returned from an 8-month layoff last time at Laurel to put in a pretty impressive performance. He broke very slowly, much like he did on debut last year. Yet he quickly recovered to race keenly down the backstretch, nearly running up on horses’ heels as he fought his rider’s restraint. He ultimately ranged up outside and put that field away. Yet now he’s moving up to face a tougher bunch and returning on just two weeks rest. I’m a little skeptical that he can overcome his gate issues in such a short time, but he obviously has talent. Clubhouse (#5) has taken a while to come around for trainer Todd Pletcher, and was beaten by today’s rival Kool Kathmandu (#3) when they met on December 16. Yet Clubhouse seemingly didn’t care for the sloppy track that day. He subsequently broke through with an impressive performance last time, but he did get a perfect trip stalking a slow pace. I think he’s dangerous, but doubt he offers much value. My top pick is the Parx shipper Daydreaming Boy (#2). He’s actually been keeping some good company in Pennsylvania. The horse who beat him two back is undefeated, and Daydreaming Boy was contesting a fast pace that day. Then last time he met some pretty talented rivals in the Parx Juvenile and was hardly disgraced settling for fourth over a sloppy track. I think he has the speed to get forward in this small field, and he may fly under the radar for connections that don’t start many horses on this circuit.
RACE 8: MACALLAN (#7)
The only major knock I have against likely favorite Patient Capital (#5) is that he’s just not quite getting the job done despite running well in all of his recent starts. He’s tried this level twice in a row and has settled for second each time despite getting favorable trips. Those recent TimeformUS Speed Figures of 112 and 110 do make him the horse to beat, and he should sit another good trip given a general lack of pace in this affair. I just didn’t want to default to him given the expected short price. The Calumet entry is led by Anejo (#1), who does generally seem to run his best races on this circuit. He probably found the 1 3/16 miles to be a bit too far for him last time, as he didn’t quite finish off that race after making an early move to lead at the quarter pole. I like the turnback, but he could be an underlay as part of a coupled entry. My top pick is Macallan (#7). This Todd Pletcher trainee is a little light on speed figures compared to the aforementioned pair, but I think he has upside in his 4-year-old debut. He ran well to break his maiden exactly one year ago on Sam F. Davis day 2022 at Tampa. He subsequently tried winners twice and didn’t get ideal trips either time. He just seemed to get lost towards the back of the pack in the slop at Keeneland two back. Then last time he was taken too far off a slow pace by Florent Geroux, who seemed to misjudge that pace situation. Todd Pletcher is 5 for 12 (42%, $2.93 ROI) off 180+ day layoffs in dirt routes at Aqueduct over the past 5 years.
RACE 9: JUNGFRAU (#3)
Withers headliner Arctic Arrogance (#1) really hasn’t run a bad race in his career. He possessed the speed to win going 6 furlongs on debut but also had the stamina to stay 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen last year. That runner-up finish to Dubyuhnell is his claim to fame, but he did get a very favorable trip, setting a moderate pace. Linda Rice has said that he may have been a little short for the Jerome next time, but he was still supposed to win that race after getting another good setup. He now adds blinkers, but figures to have plenty of company up front if the intention is to go forward. He’s obviously the horse to beat, but I’m not looking to swallow another short price. His main rival appears to be Hit Show (#4). This colt generated some buzz on debut at Keeneland last year when overcoming some mild traffic to burst clear of the field in the stretch. That race didn’t earn much of a speed figure, but he’s steadily been improving since then. I really liked the way he finished off that allowance race last time at Oaklawn despite the short stretch. His dam won the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan, so he’s supposed to get the added distance, and there’s plenty of pace to set up his late run. Yet I prefer another colt with upside. Jungfrau (#3) is another who hasn’t yet run a fast speed figure, but he’s given hints that he may be better than his record indicates. He stayed on well in his sprint debut, suggesting longer would be better. He tried this demanding 9-furlong trip in just his second start and didn’t get the best ride. He was tentatively handled early, had to alter course on the backstretch, and then got pushed inside late. He took a step forward last time at Gulfstream despite failing to cross the wire first, legitimately put up via disqualification after getting pushed out in upper stretch. Bill Mott is 10 for 39 (26%, $2.22 ROI) with 3-year-olds off maiden wins in dirt routes over 5 years. The one big price that I would use, primarily underneath, is Ninetyprcentmaddie (#6). He has some thing sto prove on the stretch-out, but trainer Butch Reid is an amazing 5 for 9 (56%, $12.90 ROI) with horses trying a route for the first time dirt stakes over 5 years.