This is not a particularly good race and coming up with a confident contenders was no easy task. There are a few horses that could finish in the money that I downgraded in terms of win potential.
- 6 Here’s Trance – only three lifetime starts and looks like far and away the best speed. Takes the blinkers off which may help him relax a bit and gets first Lasix, which given his fading tendency could help. The horse is 30-1 on the ML but he’ll almost certainly go off lower.
- 11 Constantine – the ML favorite for Jacobson who came out of the holiday break with a vengeance. He’s another of those horses who show up in the Jacobson barn after being cast off by another trainer, in this case Bob Baffert. He has the fastest figure, although not by a lot. He’s making a substantial drop in claiming price and would be no surprise at all.
- 4 Scully – has actually been improving and ran his best race when put on the inner. Adds blinkers today and with some improvement could be in the mix.
The scratch of the 11 leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. Wicked Irish has some big figures – from 2012 – and Peter Chin looks like he might be in a race himself – for worst trainer at AQU. In that spirit Johnny Star doesn’t look horrible, but he is trained by the current worst trainer at AQU, Leslie Hinds. Grandpa Len will pick up some action but he is 1 for 27 with a lot of seconds and thirds making him a dicey win bet but one to use in the combinations.
- 6 Brother Ralphie – showed a liking for the inner and really may only have to contend with Wicked Irish on the front end. The latter has been off for two years and could be any sort. Linda Rice has been having an unispiring meeting so far, but sprinting claimers on the dirt are her best game.
- 7 Blue Chips Only – Came off the turf to run second in the same race as Brother Ralphie. He has a nice pressing style and should be coming at the leaders in the stretch. Certainly has as good a chance of winning as any horse in the race.
11 Giant Jo – puts the blinkers on for Schettino. Faded badly in his last in the mud after leading for a half but that can be excused. Ran some good figures on the turf, and in this field if he could duplicate one he would be the winner.
- 2 Aleander – broke poorly last out but managed to close by all but the first two. Drops from MSW to this $30K claimer. Has the best lifestime figure in the field and unless the track is severely speed biased, he should be the winner.
- 1 Marble Falls – last two races were on wet surfaces where he showed speed before fading in the stretch. This six furlong trip is as short as he’s gone and that is probably to his advantage. Junior Alvarado is back riding in NY and he has had some history with the horse. A couple of good maintenance works should make this his best effort.
- 4 On the Curve and 6 Read the Mirage finished second and third last out and are really inseparable here. Read the Mirage has a bit more speed and adds blinkers today. On the Curve showed a nice pressing style and a little better closing ability. I think you can make an equal case for either of them and while I don’t think they’ll defeat Aleander, they can be factors.
RuRod scratched the 1a Treasury Devil but left Springcourt in the race. Springcourt is a useful runner and has bounced between stables his last few races. Jumps up in price, but certainly looks a lot more interesting as the remaining runner for Rodriguez.
2 Golden Itiz – best last race figure and making a drop from OC $62K. Has run well at the distance, although his record on a fast dirt is not very inspiring. Still, he should have no trouble finding the front and has pretty decent staying power.
- 1/1a Snake Pit/Treasury Devil – Snake Pit has two seconds on the inner and is one of the horses Chad Brown left in New York. Has run well on lesser circuits and has some competitive figures. Treasury Devil goes for RuRod. He’s had all his success on the turf and has some competitive figures.
- 3 Nubin Ridge – hasn’t seen a fast dirt track in months, but the versatile runner has been effective on turf and the fast dirt. Fits at this level and is appealing at 12-1 ML
- 2 Maximus Mike – only six races into his career and has already been claimed twice. Broke his maiden at second asking at a mile and an eighth after running a pretty fair race in his debut on the inner turf. Ran ok as the favorite last out in a race won by Artemus Paperboy who won yesterday. That race was a sprint and he is back at his preferred distance today. This is as low a price as he’s seen and if he is ready there is every reason to expect a first rate effort.
- 3 Face the Race – makes a big drop but already has 16 starts under his belt, most of those on the turf. Always seems to be close but hasn’t gotten to the winner’s circle this year. Maybe the drop and the switch to the inner will be what he needs.
- 10 Kodiak Kody – another that hasn’t been anywhere near this level. Has a win on a fast dirt, but hasn’t seen that track condition since April. If he runs to his best figure he has a real shot at the win.
- 3 Waco – pace presser has run consistently competitive figures. Should be the front runner and has wired a field before.
- 5 John’s Island – best last out figure. Only has four races at this distance and has a win and a second. Also has a second in three tries on the inner. Best closing kick and should be coming at Waco at the end.
- 7 Leilani’s Ticket – won his last on the inner for Contessa in a OC $40K. Good enough to keep that streak going.
- 5 Zippity Zoom – was very wide into the stretch but made up good ground at a distance that may have been a little too short. City Zip filly jumps up from MCL ranks to MSW. I think at 8-1 she’s the interesting horse.
- 8 Bossy Boots – best last race figure and with only four starts still has eligibility to improve. Looks better suited to the six furlong distance.
- 2 Stonely Heart – finished behind Bossy Boots last out and adds blinkers today. Fast work on Dec 15 and may improve enough to find the wire first.
With the scratch of Spa City Fever some of the early speed is gone, and this may benefit Irsaal. Moneyinyour Pocket also moves up a bit. Overall, I thought this was a race where you could make a case for a lot of horses.
- 10 Irsaal – coming off two mediocre races in stakes but is three for three in the money on the inner. Drops in for a price and the last time he did that he won. On a positive note, he did show some front running ability in his losing stakes efforts, and that is enough for me to have some optimism. Can’t imagine you’ll do worse than get the 3-1 ML.
- 5 Erik the Red – two wins, a second and a third in four starts on the inner. Seems to be better suited to the fast inner dirt. Only his second race back off a six month layoff and Linda Rice is 18% with these runners. More of a closing style, but it looks like there should be plenty of pace to run at.
7 Spa City Fever – one of the more experienced runners. Rarely doesn’t give a good effort. Top figure and probably the one to catch.
- 3 Cay to Pomeroy – Plenty of speed and a winner on the inner. Michelle Nevin claimed him for $12,500 in October, and he has been working steadily for her since then. Could wire the field off his best.
- 5 Island Sunset – hasn’t been out since last January but Jacobson just can’t be ignored. His figures at his best are tops here. Steady works since October for this return.
- 6 Tummel – was in with a pretty decent group of $12,500 claimers last time on the inner and ran a strong second. This is the second off the claim by Abby Adsit and she has been excellent with her claims.