My petition to NYRA in an effort to pay out 3-out-of-4 denied, I forge on to Saturday’s $1 million guaranteed Pk4. It will have to pay half that much to get me out of the hole.
Race 9: The Grade II, $200,000 Ballston Spa for filly/mares 3&up at 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf.
1. Rutherienne: Started out her career winning everything and now she’s winding it down running third in everything. At least she did score a win in a Grade II two back, but note she had to head north to get it. Her run in the Diana was big stuff; she steadied and awaited room while the big girl Forever Together rolled home free and clear on the outside. Meets no one like that today, so respect her chances.
2. My Princess Jess: Wasn’t terrible in the Diana but never looked like a threat either. The cutback in distance might help; she’s 0-for-3 at 9 furlongs but 5-for-7 at 8.5. Certainly hasn’t ducked anyone in a solid career and with only 13 lifetime starts to her credit, you can assume she’s got some gas left in the tank as well. Not the top choice, but by no means out of this tough spot to start the sequence.
3. Closeout: Looked good winning a Grade III at CD in her last, but closer inspection says she’s done her best running over a soggy course, and that’s to be determined as of Thursday night. Deep closer also doesn’t figure to get the swift splits needed to aid her late rally, but if the rains come, you might want to look her way.
4. Dyna’s Lassie: Ran huge at Del. Park when she just missed in the Dick Memorial, and note she was involved early and often in that 1 3/8-mile spot. Should like the cutback today and there’s not a lot of early speed signed on. With several runners hailing from big time connections, there’s a good chance she gets ignored at the windows. Upset chance at a nice price.
5. Teamgeist: Didn’t run poorly in a troubled U.S. debut when sixth behind Cocoa Beach here earlier in the meet, but the waters get exceptionally deeper in this Grade II, so not expecting a win in this spot.
6. Captain’s Lover: There’s some solid tactical speed in this corner and that should come in handy. Group I-winner in her native South Africa is still looking for her first U.S. win on the sod. Enters off a romp in the off-the-turf Matchmaker at Monmouth, so at least you know she’s in good form. Mixed signals.
7. Cocoa Beach: Got the job done in the De La Rose but it wasn’t exactly the type of run she’s known for. Hey, give her credit, though, for persevering through the stretch, but beating My Baby Baby by a neck won’t really scare any of these gals off. Talented, but no one’s going to knock you if you try and beat her.
8. Salve Germania: Irish-bred will make her first U.S. start for unknown connections and she brings a sketchy 1-for-8 career record. Not expecting win number two to come here.
Race 10: The Grade I, $300,000 Ballerina for filly/mares 3&up at 7 furlongs.
1. Music Note: Kind of an odd spot for this multiple Grade I-winning router to show up in. Sure, Seventh Street won the 9-furlong Go For Wand, but does that all of a sudden mean this miss is relegated to a different job title? Tough to question the boys in blue, and a few of those Grade I’s at Belmont were around one turn, but you would think there are better spots out there to experiment in.
2. Informed Decision: They could sprinkle broken glass over the main track on Saturday morning and she’d run lights out over it. A real throwback and in the hands of a master, so there’s no reason to expect anything but a top run Saturday. That was a decent little move in 58-flat over the main Tuesday, right? Enters at the height of her powers and a perfect 5-for-5 at 7 panels, with those wins coming over a variety of track conditions. The official champ might be a few doors to the right, but the path to the winner’s circle goes directly through this filly.
3. Tar Heel Mom: Nice comeback win here 16 days ago and Hough has every right to shoot big after that romp. Versatile miss is comfortable both on and off the pace and that should open up some options depending on how the race shakes out. Probably not a win candidate but eligible to crack the exotics.
4. Indian Blessing: The wheels have come off a bit in her last two, but there have been some excuses as well. No easy task shipping to Dubai and taking on colts in a straight 6 furlongs and it’s obvious she didn’t care for the fake stuff at HP. Back to doing what she does best today and it looks like she can control the splits early. Don’t forget that the trip to Calder for the Rooney had to be aborted, so she’s had a few months to dwell on that subpar run at HP. Bonus points for the 2-for-2 local record, though no one like ‘Decision was in the gate for the Test. Barring a major return to form by Music Note, you can probably lock this race up by keying both favorites.
5. Modification: Hasn’t tested the real stuff too often but she did run third in the Grade I Humana Distaff to Informed Decision on Derby Day. That run was in the slop, and they are talking showers on Saturday, so maybe she makes her presence felt, though a win seems a bit out of reach.
6. P.S.U. Grad: Decent third here in the local prep, the Honorable Miss, but that run isn’t scaring the big girls too much. She’s been closing into some ridiculously fast sprints of late–and still not winning–so it’s tough to see how she’ll get up against this crew when the fractions don’t even figure all that hot. Outsider.
Race 11: The Grade I, $300,000 King’s Bishop for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs.
2. Munnings: Potential favorite sure didn’t get any breaks from this tricky draw. He’s got the speed to secure position, but he also runs the risk of spotting the field several lengths if he breaks a bit slow. And what if that 9-furlong run against ‘Rachel in the Haskell knocked him for a loop? He got beat up pretty good that day after running off in his two prior starts and sometimes they don’t come back quite the same. I was trying to beat him before this draw, so now it makes it seem that much more logical.
3. Capt. Candyman Can: Closed for second in the wake of Quality Road’s romp in record time in the Amsterdam and he gives every indication that 7 panels is his thing. But look a bit closer and ask yourself whom he’s ever beaten. Hello Broadway and Bee Cee Cee in the Hutcheson; Taqarub and Yano in the Bay Shore; and Cash Refund and Conchacer in the Matt Winn. You willing to head to the windows and unload on them if they were in here? Not to mention there’s a chance he regresses off that big run in the Amsterdam. Seems like it’s better to key him underneath than on top.
4. Not For Silver: Looked good running off with the Grade II Carry Back at Calder, but of the quartet of 6-furlong graded stakes there that day, that one was the slowest. He does have a nice style for 7 furlongs and you know they always cook early in this race, but he’s going to have to run open lengths faster than ever before to greet the cameraman.
1. Vineyard Haven: He’s alive! Juvenile hero has made it back from the exile to Dubai and resurfaces in a pretty daunting spot for a horse that’s essentially been idle since last October (those that watched his run in the Guineas know what I mean). Not denying his talent, but to think he can win this kind of race off so much inactivity is asking way too much. Jerome Mile at Belmont, anyone?
1a. Everyday Heroes: Coupled with ‘Vineyard and he did run decent behind Munnings in the Woody Stephens, though he was also beaten over 5 lengths. Seems like he might be a pace casualty when you consider he’s got some serious zip and 7 furlongs isn’t his gig. Passing.
5. Despite The Odds: They’re taking a big shot in here based on the fact that he’s never run at 7 furlongs and his claim to fame was winning an off the turf renewal of the Hill Prince. He’s got speed, but not enough to keep up with these cats, so maybe he gets run off his feet and is able to sit a stalking trip. Still, rounding out the tri seems like his ceiling.
6. Prince Joshua: He was 6 lengths behind Not For Silver in the Carry Back and that guy’s not a major player here, so tough to envision this colt factoring. Might add some fuel to the fire early, but not expecting he’s around at the finish.
7. Flat Bold: Go back and watch his Jim Dandy; Dominguez had a ton of horse for about a mile and then he just came up empty. Well, that was two turns and 9 furlongs and he gets a completely different scenario today. Plenty of speed signed on to set him up and he looked great winning a one-turn allowance at Belmont two-back. You’ll even get these high profile connections at a nice mutuel to boot, so let’s lean this way for the upset.
8. Big Drama: Huge fan of this guy as he’s talented and versatile and runs his race every time. Drew beautifully in here and can basically get any trip he wants. They tried the two-turn thing in the Preakness and WV Derby and while he didn’t run poorly in either spot, you know all along this elongated one-turn sprint is what he wants to do. Viewing him as the one to beat.
Race 12: The Grade I, $1 million Travers for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles.
1. Hold Me Back: Takes a shot at the big pot and you can’t really blame the connections as there are some questions surrounding the big boys. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine he can make a dent in a spot like this when his dirt runs leave him several lengths behind even the fringe players in here. Deserving longshot.
2. Charitable Man: Kind of ran in spots in the Jim Dandy and he never once gave the impression he was a winner. And that was at 9 furlongs, so how will he handle tougher company going 10? The one good thing is that you might finally get a price on him, but you better make sure because he’s still looking for his first two-turn win.
3. Warrior’s Reward: Shocked to see him make the point in the Jim Dandy, but there’s no worry about that happening here with Quality Road signed on. He’s essentially the Midwest’s version of Charitable Man, meaning for all the attention he gets in these big races, he’s never really done too much to justify it. Actually, he’s never even won a stakes race, so you really need to tread lightly. The good news is that he’s bred for this trip and Wilkes knows how to get a horse to peak for the big one. Again, like Charitable Man, he’ll be the biggest price of his life if you’re looking this way.
4. Quality Road: Let’s be honest here, folks, this is clearly the most talented horse in the race and the best 3yo in the country. Well, male 3-year-old that is. His run in the Amsterdam, where he ran 6 ½ furlongs in under 1:14 (do we actually know the correct time?) will be talked about until they tear this place down. However, he’s being asked to win a 10-furlong race off just that one 6 ½-furlong prep. That’s not easy, especially when you consider this distance might be stretching his rubber band mighty thin. If they let him walk early, it’s improbable to think he’ll come back to the field, but it’s likely he’ll have Our Edge draped to his flank for the first 4 furlongs and then Kensei for the next few. So at about 6-5, off of just one 6 ½-furlong prep, with the Jim Dandy winner eyeing him the entire way over a trip that might be a bit beyond his best, I’ll make him beat me and recognize the superstar that he is if he pulls it off.
5. Our Edge: Though it’s tough to see him winning this race, you can argue that he’s the most important entrant because he has the speed to keep Quality Road honest early. If you rooting for one of the closers, then this guy is your best friend as he probably will try to keep Quality Road company early before backing out around the far turn.
6. Summer Bird: Lost in all the Rachel Alexandra hoopla in the Haskell was the fact that this Belmont winner broke through with a career-best run that day after being completely taken out of his preferred running style and pressing that all-world filly from the inside. He held well to be second in a race he needed, over a speed-favoring track he might not have cared for all, at a distance that was short of his best. Well, today everyone’s lining up to play his 10-furlong game and you know darn well he’s going to let them entertain themselves early before he makes that big run late. Son of Birdstone gets the call to join dad and pull off the impressive Belmont-Travers double.
7. Kensei: Deserving winner of the Jim Dandy enters on the top of his game and he just keeps passing every test they put in front of him. Drew well today and it will allow Prado to keep an eye on Quality Road and follow that rival’s move. His talent is undeniable and don’t forget, his connections passed with the big girl so he could have his chance to shine–you can’t get a better endorsement of how he’s doing than that. But the gut tells me that he’ll come up wanting in furlong number 10.
Brian’s $24 main ticket Pk4: 1,2,3,4,6,7***2,4***7,8***6