RACE 3: BREW PUB (#1)
I don’t trust most of the short prices in this conditioned claimer. Many will perceive Naked and Famous (#5) as the one to beat given his fast recent speed figure and pace advantage. He is the quickest of them all in the early stages. However, he has to get the 6 1/2 furlongs and do so while stepping up in class to face a much tougher field than he beat last time. That recent 97 TimeformUS Speed Figure makes him fit at this level, but he’s hardly a standout and could go off at a short price. Cousin Andrew (#6) and Joey Loose Lips (#3) have both earned similar numbers that put them in the mix, but I’m concerned about their recent form. The former looks like a slightly stronger contender, but he’s coming off a disappointing loss as the 2-5 favorite against a weaker field. I instead want to take a horse that’s dropping in class. Brew Pub (#1) has been keeping much tougher company at the New York-bred N2X optional claiming level. He’s not quite good enough to win those races, but he’s nevertheless run well on a few occasions. He finished a good second in an off the turf race last September and more recently has earned solid speed figures behind superior animals like Today’s Flavor, Who Hoo That’s Me, and Bold Journey. He’s now getting significant class relief and should mind a wet track, since he’s run some of his best races over that kind of going.
RACE 8: LUNI SIMA (#5)
A couple of recent maiden winners figure to attract support in this N1X affair. Reserve Currency (#4) could go favored off his 9-length maiden score going this distance last time. He got a great trip that day, rallying into a contested pace before sailing clear late. Yet the runner-up in that affair returns to barely get the job done as a heavy favorite in his next start, so I’m not sure if he was beating anything of quality. He also may not get the same pace setup this time, and a likely wet track is another uncertain variable. Celestial Moon (#1) ran a similar speed figure when breaking his maiden in mid-December. He did handle a wet track to get the job done in his first and only start on dirt. Yet he also beat a field of suspect quality, as those who finished directly behind him have generally come back to disappoint in subsequent starts. I’m somewhat against both of these horses in a race that I think is more wide open than it might appear at first glance. I believe the horse to beat is Patient Capital (#7). He’s lost at short prices a few times recently, but I thought he ran very well last time. The pace of that Feb. 11 affair was quick, and he had to be used quite a bit to set those fractions before succumbing to deep closers in the late stages. The pace should be more moderate this time and that figures to make him very dangerous. Majority Partner (#2) could also work out a good trip close to the pace. However, he has to break better than he has been in his recent starts. The distance is also a concern, since he’s never gone this far. Yet he has shown good stamina in his fast-paced sprint races, and his recent TimeformUS speed figures are the highest in the field. My top pick is Luni Sima (#5). He’s going to be the best price of those who I think have a good chance to win. Some may hold his last race against him when he lost ground in the late stages, but 9 furlongs was just too far for him. He’s had success going this one-turn mile in the past, and he figures to sit a great trip stalking the pace. A repeat of his second-place 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure performance two back makes him a legitimate threat, and the price will be fair. He’s also handled wet tracks before.
RACE 9: EASY TO BLESS (#5)
I have trouble taking a short price on Rossa Veloce (#1) as she steps up into stakes company. This New York-bred 5-year-old is obviously in the best form of her career right now, earning speed figures that you never would have thought she was capable of achieving prior to coming into the Rob Atras barn. That 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned for her victory over Beguine two back looked like a fluke at the time, but she came back to repeat it last time, winning decisively at the N2X level. There isn’t that much speed in here to press her early, so she’s a deserving favorite. However, she does have to come off Lasix and is drawn on the rail, so there are some reasons to be skeptical at a very short price. Prodigy Doll (#3) comes in with solid credentials from Laurel. She’s picked up minor awards in a few stakes there and has generally performed well when appropriately placed. This Correction didn’t come up nearly as tough as it could have, so she appears to be a good fit. I’m just a little concerned that she might not get the right pace setup as a confirmed closer. If I’m trying to beat this favorite, I want to do it with Easy to Bless (#5). I kept the faith with her last time when she was making her third start off the layoff. She had made middle moves to no avail in her two starts upon returning this winter, and finally put it all together last time. She didn’t even break as slowly as she had in her prior races, but stumbled a few strides out of the gate, which still put her at the back of the pack. She did well to overcome that, making a wide sweep to victory. If she can continue that progression here, I think she’s the biggest rival to Rossa Veloce, since she does have the prior speed figures to compete at this level. She rarely gets that much respect, so the price will be fair.