It took a 47-1 shot in the finale to derail us last week, so maybe we’re getting closer to cashing. It’s a tough Saturday sequence but let’s have a look. –Brian Nadeau
Race 7. $22,000 claimer for filly/mares 3-year-olds and up at 7 furlongs on the Widener turf.
1. Royal Vessel: Lightly raced filly makes her first start on turf for an ice-cold barn but does get the services of Coa. Not at the top of the list, but as you’ll find out, her 1-for-5 record will be the envy of several in here.
2. Judge’s Pride: With just one win from 26 starts, it’s tough to get too excited about her. She does have some speed to have a say early, but can’t imagine her doing much talking late.
3. Sinister Deance: Another who hates winning, as the 1-for-21 marks attests, so the search continues.
4. Justinline: Speaking of which, at 1-for-26 she has a lot to talk about with Judge’s Pride, though none of it is very good. Her numbers actually stack up with some of the main contenders, but that futile record is hard to get past so I’d use her only if you’re spreading deep.
5. Tutti Va Bene: Her lone try sprinting when she broke her maiden in the spring wasn’t bad at all. Toss the last, which was too tough and too far, and the sloppy try two-back, and you’re left staring at that nice maiden score. It is Sciacca, but she needs to be left in the hopper.
6. Ocala Judge: Her 1-for-22 record, to go with numerous tries at this level, suggest she’s in way too deep.
7. Bella Cherokee: Speedster made a nice transition to winners last time and was beaten just 2 ¼ lengths while setting an insane half-mile. If new pilot Morales can harness that speed and get a stalking trip, this miss should be right there.
8. Bella Blu: At 1-for-20 with six seconds and five thirds, she’s the epitome of a horse that just doesn’t want to win, so we’ll pass.
9. Donna’s Sandee: Like her mate next door, she’s got just one win from 29 starts and 13 minor placings, so it’s tough to endorse her on top.
10. Small Potatoes: Her form isn’t terrible, but her 1-for-37 is that and then some. Tough to like.
11. Lady Valiant: Yet to win on turf, but with just two tries (both thirds) she gets some extra credit in this field. Comes off a maiden win, and I’m not crazy about taking maidens in their first start versus winners, but it’s pretty obvious she’s not meeting Ruffian out there today. Using from way off the pace.
12. Dressed To Win: Another who is allergic to the winner’s circle, so her 1-for-21 record doesn’t entice. At least you get some solid connections and she takes the blinkers off in an effort to relax a bit.
13. A.P. Light: Her two turf tries have been decent, but her deep closing style leaves her at the mercy of the pace. Cuts back to 7 panels today and that should ensure some quicker splits, which would make her a bit interesting inside the eighth pole.
14. Flip The Coin (MTO): If this one comes off the turf, this filly would clearly be the one to beat, though you’d be looking at something like 7-5 on the win end.
Race 8. $43,000 state-bred allowance for 3-year-olds and up at 7 furlongs.
1. Close Encounter: Looked good winning his debut and only career start last summer against a solid field at the Spa. He’s been away a long time and you could venture a guess that the Saratoga meet is the main goal, but Kimmel is quite adept at getting a horse to fire fresh and there’s no one of any real danger in here, so this guy merits top billing in his return to the races.
2. Her Latest Flame: Took $25,000 sellers to get this guy to the winner’s circle and his two starts against winners have resulted in even runs. Probably needs softer to score.
3. Fiddlers Afleet: California invader returns east, back to the real stuff and back to state-breds after facing tougher out west. And those are all positive angles, much like Hushion’s 31% win rate with new acquisitions. Ran some big races in New York last summer and fall and there’s a good chance he forgets to stop today. Main rival to the rail.
4. Chernobyl’s Hero: Tough to get excited about a 2-for-34 runner who usually needs a pace meltdown to get involved. Seems up against it today.
5. Mickeythepreacher: Comes in off a tepid maiden score and he’s yet to run remotely fast enough to factor.
6. Justin P: Another who needs some quick splits and even then his 2-or-29 record isn’t very appealing.
7. Conquer The Fear: Morrison runner has traded paint with open foes at Philly Park in his last three and he’s run well without winning. There’s a hint of tactical speed here to boot, so if ‘Encounter and ‘Afleet hook up, he could be in a good spot turning for home. Not the worst price play in the world, though he’ll need to improve a few lengths.
8. Fortune Faded: Figures to be up close early, but his calling card isn’t exactly stamina in the stretch, so it’s tough to envision him doing more than popping and stopping.
9. Captain Sword: Finally caught a fast strip in his last and it resulted in probably his best lifetime run. If he can build off that and get a little pace help up front, his late rally could be effective.
10. System Restore: Not too often you see the comment “refused to break” in the liner notes, but that’s what this guy pulled last out. And it’s not like if he is in a good mood he’s any great shakes either, so let’s pass.
Race 9. The Grade III, $150,000 Jaipur for 3-year-olds and up at 6 furlongs on the Widener turf.
1. Yield Bogey: Ran his eyeballs out in the Poker to finish third in by far the best run of his career, while defeating Kip Deville in the process. That was on yielding ground, though and his runs on firm turf, which he should get in here, hasn’t been nearly as good, so I’ll pass.
2. True Quality: Reportedly will be scratched by the wagering board due to his connection with Paraneck Stable.
3. Heros Reward: Veteran brings an honorable 11-for-31 career record to the party and it’s nice to know he doesn’t need to bring his track with him to run well. Just ran a fine third to Smart Enough, who would be a heavy choice in here, so this guy merits a long look in all the slots.
4. Due Date: Chased home Chamberlain Bridge, Smart Enough and Cannonball this spring, and any of those would be tough as nails in here, so you know this guy’s form stacks up. Might need a bit of help up front but regardless, he’s in with a big shot. Upset special.
5. Silver Timber: Sure proved to be a shrewd claim in April but after dusting state-breds, he tests open waters again and that’s proved to be a shipwreck in the past. His first start for Brown was arguably a career best, so if you’re spreading he’s worth using.
6. Mohegan Sky: Any time Rice shows up in these turf sprints, you need to pay attention but this MARE seems to have lost a step as a 6-year-old this season. A factor if she can find her form of yesteryear, but until you see the proof, it’s best to play against.
7. Le Grand Cru: Figures to be loose on the lead and that’s never a bad thing when you’re only going 6 furlongs. Yet to win on turf but he’s only had two tries. Not the worst price play in the world based on his tactical advantage.
8. Premium Wine (MTO): No question he was a better runner last year, but if this gets rained off, he’s probably the horse to beat, though he’ll have to close from well out of it.
Race 10. $43,000 state-bred allowance for filly/mares 3-year-olds and up at 6 furlongs on the inner turf.
2. Hold The Cruiser: Didn’t run overly fast breaking her maiden at first asking, but it was nice to see her determination through the stretch. Tries the turf for the first time in here, but that was the intention all along so there are some positives in this corner.
3. Hookin The Goods: Tough to endorse off her recent form; seems way over her head.
4. Cugatcha: Decent fourth against winners two back and she should appreciate the return to turf. Has the right to enjoy a decent trip but is best used on the bottom of the exotics.
5. Citifiesta: Hit the green for the first time last summer when she had one win from four starts. Ran well in her last, so maybe she’s cycling back around and the return to the turf figures to help. Some longshot appeal.
6. Rosie’s Run: Mom was an all-time favorite, a precocious Linda Rice runner who still stands today as the only filly ever to win the Tremont Stakes, so it’s no surprise to see her daughter come out running as a juvenile. Well, you kind of get the same scenario today as she returns from a long layoff. Speed to spare, so she could be the early leader and her win last fall was over this very course. Two snappy works show she’s ready to roll, so she gets the call in the finale.
1. Way To Karakorum: Maker her turf debut and she does have a nice pedigree for the grass. Should be in the mix early but not sure about late.
7. Cherry Lady: Her three turf sprints aren’t that bad and it’s nice to know she owns a win over the course, but she’ll have to improve off her tepid maiden score to factor.
8. Go Go Bar: Potential favorite has run some snappy races while sprinting on the grass and would benefit if Rosie’s Run encounters some other speed up front. Toss her last on the main and it’s easy to get excited about her chances. Main rival.
9. Who Is Lady: Honest filly usually gives a good account of herself, though it’s been more than a year since she greeted the cameraman. Thinking that streak continues.
10. Private Battle: Makes her first start for Levine and first start in almost a year and both those angles have been potent for the barn. Has the speed to be in the mix early, but the barn has been cold all meet and turf runners aren’t the forte either. Mixed signals.
11. Kitty Nip: Solid run two back but that 2-for-29 record doesn’t install a lot of confidence. If the pace falls apart up front, then just maybe she can upset the apple cart.
12. Mercy’s Delight: With just one win from 27 lifetime starts, she seems to be up against it in here.
13. Top Lass (MTO): No doubt rates as a contender if she gets to play, but her main track numbers hardly separate her from her peers. One of many in with a chance if this gets rained off.
14. Western Decision (MTO): Tough to back this 1-for-22 runner, even if she catches some turfers playing her game. At least her one win came over the Belmont main.
1a. Chernobyl Princess (MTO): Big run three back, but it seems to be more of an exception than rule. A repeat of that run would work, but I’m not sure she can do it.
Brian’s $60 ticket: 5,7,11,12,13—1,3—3,4,7—6,8