RACE 5: RYAN’S CAT (#7)
It’s fairly obvious that Majority Partner (#5) is a likely winner of this race as he finds a softer field for this level than he met just 8 days ago. He was also stretching out to a mile that day and actually ran a pretty brave race to just miss. His recent speed figures just tower over this field and he has the positional speed to get any kind of trip in this race. I’m not really against him, but he figures to be a very short price and I think there’s one rival who figures to offer better value. There is plenty of speed signed on here, as horses like Prisoner, Trash Talker, and perhaps even layoff runner Surprise Boss could show speed. I think that could set it up for a runner coming from off the pace. Some might not immediately identify Ryan’s Cat (#7) as a late runner, but I think his connections are going to change tactics from last time now that they’re removing the blinkers. He has run well from off the pace in the past, but has struggled with consistency. I do think each of his last two efforts are better than they seem. He was outside chasing against a gold rail two back, and then last time was sent on a mission to pressure heavy favorite Today’s Flavor on the front end, and ultimately paid the price. I expect to see a different sort of trip here and he figures to be a generous price now that his form is muddled.
RACE 6: ROL AGAIN DANCER (#7)
I don’t have a big problem with Valenzan Day (#3), who looks like a logical favorite dropping in class for the dangerous Linda Rice barn. It seems like Linda is just acknowledging that she didn’t make a great claim, as he has not lived up to expectations since she paid $50k for him last December. I can excuse his poor effort in the Jerome, but it would have been nice to see him do a little more running last time, when he couldn’t even display the early speed he once possessed. He makes sense here against a softer field, but I think he faces one chief rival who is improving. Rol Again Dancer (#7) finished behind Valenzan Day two back, and then was beaten by another of today’s rivals last time. Yet I think this horse has really improved since switching into the barn of Michelle Nevin. He was an unlucky loser of that February race, as he did all the hard work on the front end, contesting a very fast pace that fell apart. He battle back when challenged in the lane, but couldn’t hold off the winner. His 92 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that effort stacks up well against even the favorite’s recent numbers. I like the slight turnback in distance, and he gets an aggressive rider on board in apprentice Jaime Torres. The other interesting horse is Linda Rice’s other runner, Larz (#8). This is where Jose Lezcano lands as this colt looks to get back on track after a couple of dispapointing efforts following his debut win. He was a pace casualty behind Rol Again Dancer last time, but may be capable of betting here as he draws the outside post.
RACE 8: EAST COAST GIRL (#4)
This Damon Runyon may not have drawn the biggest field, but it’s a fascinating race in which you can make cases for multiple contenders. I do think the horse to beat is D’ont Lose Cruz (#5). This turnback in distance just makes plenty of sense for a horse who didn’t look like he wanted any part of a mile last time. He had run well in all of his prior sprint starts, and I liked the versatility he displayed in victory two back, adapting his running style to rallying from off the pace. He’s drawn well outside and figures to work out a good trip as he’s reunited with Kendrick Carmouche. What’s Up Bro (#1) is another to consider. He appears to be in strong form right now, coming off a convincing allowance victory. The wild card in the field is Andiamo a Firenze (#3), who showed some talented as a sprinter early in his career. However, he never really stepped forward off that impressive debut at Belmont last June when he rode a good rail. I can forgive him for his last couple of outings, since he doesn’t want to go that far and rating tactics were not going to work out in those situations. I have some questions about where he stands right now, and he could attract some support based on reputation. He also should sit a good stalking trip. My top pick is the other Breen runner East Coast Girl (#4). This horse didn’t encounter the best circumstances in his first couple of starts, as he got a conservative ride on debut and then blew the start when he should have won second time out. He put it all together two back with that impressive maiden win. He was with the track that day, as the rail was good, but he came back to validate that performance last time. He battled for the lead through some solid fractions and was fighting on gamely through the lane when challenged by Toxic Gray late. That rival would certainly look formidable in here. There’s other speed in here, but I think East Coast Girl could be the quickest early.