Race 8: $55,000 MSW for 2-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs.
1. Discreetly Mine: Somewhat alarming that Discreet Cat’s little brother is still a maiden after two starts and he gets no favor from the rail draw today. Blinkers come off in an attempt to get him to settle early, but if he breaks slowly from this draw, he’ll be in a world of trouble. Sentimentalists will note mom won the Alabama on this day a few years back. Probable favorite is the horse to beat but thinking you might want to have a few more numbers on your ticket than just his.
2. Pinders Gap: Nice to see Ramon jump on this homebred, though 6 ½ panels might be a bit short for a son of Travers winner Deputy Commander. Albertrani is off to a tough start and it might continue here.
3. Gathering Cloud: These Tapits have come out running so as my good friend Pete Fornatale likes to say, give this guy the tote and paddock check and see if he’s live. Tagg at the controls so he might need a run, but you could also counter and say he wants to get a win for new owner Rick Porter. Not out of the realm of possibilities.
4. Super Saver: Dam is a full sister to the accomplished Accelerator and Daydreaming, so there’s some pedigree power in this corner. Colt has really picked it up in his last two morning drills and should be in the mix for top connections.
5. Double O Uno: Pricey son of Macho Uno goes for a barn that gets bet off the page more often than not. Works don’t impress and Kiaran usually likes to press the pedal a bit in the morning so I’m willing to take a stand against.
6. Ryvit: Interesting he shows up here after running relatively well going two turns on the turf. Former Mott assistant Phipps knows how to handle a good horse, so you might want to give this guy an extra look before dismissing his chances.
7. Northern Giant: D. Wayne has quietly had a solid meet, especially with Westrock’s runners, but winning first out isn’t really the m.o. any more. Based on his pedigree, let’s tab this colt for a turf route at Belmont next month.
8. Calvello: Not much form to go on and even with the blinks added, it’s tough to envision him threatening.
9. Quick Ride: Zito made some waves winning first-out a few years back, but since his debut runners have usually come up short. Thinking this guy continues that trend.
10. Flexthegoldenpipes: Going the right way for a solid barn that has already sent out one juvenile winner up here. Chased Dublin home earlier in the meet and if I’m stepping out and calling that one the Hopeful winner, then I certainly have to think this colt rates a long look for all the slots.
11. Hammering Buckeye: Barbara can be sneaky good up here and the board usually tells the story (think Galloping Grocer a few years back). If this expensive 2yo in training purchase is taking money on the board, then he’s probably going to make a solid impression.
12. Vision d’Amour: Sure didn’t get any favors with this parking lot draw, and with Mott calling the shots, you’d think he might need a race or three before showing his best.
Race 9: $53,000 allowance for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.
1. Good Prospect: They don’t make it easy, do they? Tough turf route starts with a razor sharp Rice runner that won at this distant against lesser earlier in the meet. Steps up but doesn’t meet the saltiest group of allowance runners you’ll ever see so a repeat is within grasp.
2. Hammock: State-bred has put forth a few good runs at this level but usually comes up a little short when the real running begins. Schosberg has had a nice meet, but thinking this guy is just a tad below the best in here.
3. Midnite Silver: Lightly raced and going in the right direction, though he does step up in class today. Shown a devastating turn of foot in his two wins but might get compromised by a slow pace. Mixed signals.
4. Cherokee Speed: It took eight starts to break his maiden and I’m not a fan of playing that type of horse right back when they tackle winners, so I’ll side against.
5. Xodo: Comes east for new connections after failing to make a big impression on the West Coast. If you think he might appreciate a deeper turf course instead of the painted grass in Ca., then you get a nice price on a fresh new face. Longshot appeal.
6. Yankee Empire: Ran well in a 3yo stakes two-back but then disappointed in his last, so not really sure which way he’s going right now. A return to form puts him in with a huge chance and he has worked smartly up here for the past month. Thinking he gets back on the beam today.
7. Smarten Destiny: After just a brutal run to start the meet, McPeek is heating up of late so you might not want to dismiss him too quickly. Blinkers come off today after a poor showing in his local bow, but he still might be a cut below the top contenders.
8. Rock In Bage: He takes a ton of money every time out but has yet to win in the U.S., so regardless of his performance you know he’s going to be an underlay. He’s threatened a few times and certainly looms a danger, but he’s not the type that gets the pulse racing. If you’re spreading you need to cover him, but he might be worth playing against if you’re on a budget.
9. Grassy: Certainly looks like an exciting prospect based on his two runs to start off his career. Does make his initial start against winners, but he showed in his maiden win that he’s plenty fast enough to handle the rise. Top connections for this versatile runner who clearly rates as the horse to beat.
10. Torini: Hasn’t lived up to his pedigree and he’s had more stops and starts than a New York City cab ride. Might give his backers a thrill for a bit on the front but can’t see him hanging around late.
11. Boots Ahead (AE): His best run came on a yielding course at Belmont, so if he draws in make sure you note the course condition. Lately it has been extremely hard and dry so that might put this gelding in some trouble should he start.
12. Stevil (AE): Finally got the job done against cheap claimers and would make his first start for Barbara should he draw in. Thinking he would need softer to threaten regardless.
13. Sydney Road (AE): Another that would be first off the claim, though he does have a few nice runs on his ledger. Might be worth tabbing for down the line if you spot him in a softer spot.
14. Stopbluffing (MTO): State-bred brings a 4-for43 mark to the table, so even if this race gets washed off, it’s not like he’d have this field over a barrel. Can’t see it, even if they are playing his game.
Race 10: The Grade I, $600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at 1 ¼ miles.
1. Sweet And Flawless: Enters off a career run over Arlington’s Polytrack in their Oaks, but this is a whole new ballgame today. Drew well and seems to be going in the right direction, but still, this is the historic Alabama we’re talking about.
2. Wynning Ride: I’ll come right out and say I thought the CCAO at Belmont was an extremely weak race that just fell apart inside the eighth-pole. With that being said, this is the gal that did all the dirty work that day, so when you consider it was her first start on dirt and first at 10 panels, it wasn’t that bad. The worry today is that the best horse in the race, Careless Jewel, has as much if not more speed, and she’s drawn to this gal’s outside. That’s not a very appealing pace scenario for fans of this filly.
3. Funny Moon: Give her credit for persevering after a horrific trip in the CCAO, but also be honest and admit the early leaders were coming home like drunken sailors that day too. She’ll be one of the favorites in here but has yet to run a fast race in her life, so while she’s in with a chance, I’m willing to take a stand against a Grade I repeat.
4. Don’t Forget Gil: Got necked out in the CCAO after a rough trip of her own and she could get overlooked in the betting a bit. Seemed to get back on the beam last time after an alarming run at Pimlico, and you could even say she moves forward second-off the layoff too. Should be sitting right off what figures to be an honest pace and might get first run on the closers. If you’re intent on finding a solid filly at an appealing price, this might be your girl.
5. Careless Jewel: Take it from a guy who was at Del Park on the 18th, that was an awesome display she put on in the Delaware Oaks. And the scary thing is that was her first start on dirt after running on Polytrack at Woodbine and Keeneland. The bounce is a worry, maybe the distance too as well as the other speed to her inside, but there’s also a chance she’s just too fast to be bothered early and clears off. If you think you can beat her, then you’re hoping she gets softened early, otherwise you’re probably throwing your tickets away if she’s 2 clear turning for home. Imposing, to say the least.
6. Be Fair: How many times did I pick this gal in these Pk4 previews? And then she’s in an off-the-turfer against three turf fillies and I didn’t bother taking the 3-1. Uh huh. Anywho, regardless of the circumstances in the Lake George, that was an impressive breakthrough. The favorite came to her, put a nose in front and then this miss re-rallied and drew off. And maybe two turns is what she’s wanted to do all along? She’ll be in the mix early but don’t think she’s speed crazy, so there’s a chance she’s in the garden spot turning for home. Is she good enough? Hmmm, not sure about that, but what I do know is you’ll get a great price to find out.
7. Casanova Move: Pressed the pace in the CCAO and backed out of it late, though only beaten 1 ¼ lengths. Not a bad effort but not really the big run first-time Pletcher fans envisioned either. She’s an honest and useful filly, but it’s tough to envision someone that’s eligible for an entry-level allowance winning the Alabama.
8. Milwaukee Appeal: Another who hails from the Great White North, but she did get a dirt run at Fort Erie in her last when she was nosed out against the boys in the Prince of Wales. Those bullies necked her out in the Queens Plate too, but at least you know there’s some talent here. Capable of being close early and she certainly has plenty of furlongs under her belt. Not the worst play in the world if you’re spreading.
Race 11: $49,000 allowance for state-bred filly/mares at 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf.
4. A Word To The Wise: Enters off a win over maiden-claimers in start number 16. Wired them that day, and did it running extremely fast on the lead, but there’s enough other speed signed on to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
5. Disco Diva: Speaking of speed, this first-time turf runner has plenty to go along with a decent grass pedigree as well. She’s been running against much lesser than she meets here and thinking she’s a pace casualty while aiding the hopes of the closers.
1. Lemon Punch: Made her first start against state-breds earlier in the meet and endured a wide trip en route to finishing second. Desormeaux sticks and you would think she’ll move forward off that run as well so let’s tab her as the one to beat.
2. Seek On: Jerkens has been ice cold up here and this filly makes her second start on turf after chasing Mother Russia in a NYB stakes earlier in the meet. She didn’t run poorly that day and it’s entirely possible she improves off that initial run as well. Interesting longshot appeal.
6. Freedom Rings: Finally broke her maiden after running well in a trio of stakes starts last year. Faces winners for the first time, but let’s use that term loosely for a few of her foes today. That win here was her first start in nine months so you know she’s moving forward today. In the mix to be sure.
3. Debbie’s Fast Girl: Three-time winner has had four tries at this level but just hasn’t broken through so can’t see it happening in this tricky spot where there’s a few that seem eligible to improve several lengths.
7. Pink Tights: Was nowhere in her local bow after breaking last at 19-1 and meets a tougher crew today.
8. Mythical Yarn: The filly she was life and death to get by earlier in the meet just got blasted on Thursday, so maybe this gal isn’t as strong as we thought. Her two runs have been impressive and don’t forget the local win was her first start at two turns. Rates a look but a few others have more appeal.
9. Facetious: Sure looked special winning off by over 8 when Bond added the blinkers at Belmont. Another who makes her first start against winners, but this filly could be sitting a dream trip behind the two gals inside. Expecting a big, big run.
1a. Marula: Needed every bit of the Belmont stretch to get up in her last and now has been freshened a bit off that maiden score. Seems to have some talent but this is a solid crew she meets.
10. Defarge (MTO): Barn off to a tough start at the meet and it’s a bit odd to see this gal with solid turf form be entered for the main track. Tough to endorse on that basis.
3x. Eastern Prime (MTO): Looked good winning at Belmont but this is a much better crew, even if she gets them on her surface. In the mix if in the gate, but far from a lock.
11. Carlyn Darlyn (MTO): Miss looks up against it if she starts, though if it’s extremely sloppy she might get a piece.
2b. Vicarious (MTO): Probably horse to beat if this one gets rained off, though Jerkens is off to an extremely rough beginning to the meet.
Brian’s $60 Pk4: 1,3,4,6,10—6,9—5,6,8—1,9