Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Fantail should appreciate return to turf sprinting

Belmont | Race 2 | Post Time 1:34 p.m. (ET) | TimeformUS PPs are now available on Go to PPs 

There’s little doubt that Secret Time (#4) is the horse to beat in this $35k conditioned claimer. She’s dropping in for a tag for the first time in her career, and has run plenty of prior efforts that would make her too tough for this field to handle. However, her recent form has been uninspiring, and her lack of early speed has to be a concern in this 6-furlong affair. 

I’m also somewhat against Crowding Out (#2), who could take money off some decent turf speed figures earned down at Gulfstream. However, I don’t like the way she’s been shutting down at the end of those 5 furlong races. That makes me concerned about her ability to handle an extra eighth this time, especially with other speed signed on.

Among those who figure to be forward, the horse that I view as most dangerous is Icy Stare Down (#6). She’s finished off the board in both turf starts, but neither effort is quite as bad as it seems. She got a strange, conservative ride when she made her turf debut last September, ridden as if she needed the race. She subsequently took much more money in her next turf attempt and ran well until mid-stretch when the one-mile distance seemed to expose her. I like her getting back to a turf sprint, and she’s first off the claim for the dangerous Linda Rice barn.

My top pick is Fantail (#3), another runner who is switching back to the turf after trying it early in her career. While she’s never won on grass, over half of those prior turf attempts have come over longer distances and she just doesn’t want to go much farther than today’s 6 furlongs. She actually ran quite well in some turf sprints in California in late 2021, including a near miss going this same distance against some much tougher rivals that she meets here. She also had some tough trips in a few of the surrounding grass starts. Now she makes her first start off the claim for Jamie Begg, who has had some success this winter. Some may be concerned about her recent dirt form, but that’s just going to drive up the price. 

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