Selections for Saturday assume a fast track and races staying on the turf. Since the selections are pre-scratches, I’ve added in horses in some races to account for any potential scratches. Selections are still in order of preference.
Race 1 6-5-1
Rick Ant continues dropping down the price ladder. His last race at a mile on the dirt was probably good enough to beat this field. Heavy Hitter looks like a horse asking for more distance. He’s gotten better with each start. Ganso drops way down from his first start. He clearly couldn’t get into the race from the outside, and didn’t particularly take to the turf. He better suited to this dirt mile. Last workout was eye-catching.
Race 2 2-4-7
Moe Man is a stout 8-1 on the ML. Contessa is decent off the long layoff and the horse has shown he can run well fresh. Usually reliable in his races. Private Tale is a versatile runner who moves to the Joe Sharp barn. Sharp is almost 30% with new arrivals and is almost as good off the short layoff. Won last time after the blinkers came off and they stay off today. I’m Steppin It Up is one of the speed burners and if he gets to relax up front he’ll be dangerous. Rockford is probably his main competition on the front end and there is always the chance they’ll fry each other.
Race 3 3-4-5
Saratoga Snacks and Empire Dreams finished 3/4 of a length apart last out. Hard to come up with a reason to expect they won’t be together in this race. Notacatbutallama is primarily a turf specialist, but is still likely faster than the remainder of the field.
Race 4 1-8-3-2
War Hero flopped last out but two back beat a slightly higher priced field. Is now under the care of Joe Sharp who is exactly that with first time runners. Attractive Ride drops slightly off the win last out. Speedy sort may have to fend off some challenges but has done that before. Love to Run has won his last three recent starts at this price level and looks strong against this group. Oltre’ Oro seems better suited for the six furlong trip and could surprise this group.
Race 5 3-7-4-1
I looked at six horses in this race and even reducing the contenders to four was a tough task. In addition to the four listed, Irish Cat and Fourth of July were of some interest. Bluegrass Rye is 15-1 on the ML but looked like a new horse when put on the turf with blinkers. Looks a lot like my longshot winner from earlier in the week, Polar Axis. Vigilante made a nice impression first time out at CD and picks up Johnny V for the ride. If he’s learned some racing lessons, he’s a real contender. Britannia’s Moat has been effective in his four starts but will have to relax better and distribute his energy more efficiently. If he can do that, he’s in the mix for the win. Sky Tower goes for Kiaran McLaughlin. He’s deadly with second start maidens and first Lasix. Have to take it on faith he will improve this horse substantially.
Race 6 2-3-7
Lucky Lurie and Love That Jazz battled each other all the way around the track last out and are hard to separate here. I’ll stick with the horses that have experience. Dr. Shane is the horse that is interesting here. He ran a good first out and flopped in the Tremont after having a little trouble at the start. His figures are close to what the top two ran, and the odds figure to be quite a bit better.
Race 7 8-11-4-1
Chunnel came close in the Dan Horn at this distance at MTH. Connections aren’t inspiring, but off his best he looks tought to beat. Police Camp improved in his second start of 2015 and went back on the shelf for six weeks. He’s run his best races fresh and if he hits a top he’s competitive here. Mangold broke his maiden at this price and immediately jumped up over his head. He’s back at a more likely level today and should make a better impression. Transcend has been reliably in the money but has trouble getting to the winner’s circle.
Race 8 2-8-10-3
Joking has three seconds in a row at BEL. He is perhaps a little more apt to finish in the money than win but his figures say he is one of the faster runners. Sioux changes to the Michelle Nevin barn for 2015. She’s strong with first time runners and showed good early speed in the Richard Small. Nevin is also good with horses returning off the long layoff. Fits well and if he’s in shape he’s a threat. Dekalb County looks strong (as usual) for Pletcher/Velasquez. The odds won’t be attractive, but his runners are usually competitive. Day of Fury will be one of the front runners but may have trouble hanging on given all the speed in the race. Certainly fits the conditions.
Race 9 8-7-1-4
Perfect Freud looked good last out in the NY Stallion and should be strong against this NW2X group. Figures are very competitive. Here’s Zealicious was a win machine last year but has been more likely to finish in the place and show spots. Still, can’t discount the past record or the strong second at this level two back. Could be the class of the field. Bileaps and Bounds was claimed last out by Sciacca and he is 24% first off the claim. Has all sorts of early speed and if they let her go unchallenged she’s shown the ability to wire a field. Hot Rendezvous is dropping down for this start and has the figures to compete.
Race 10 4-7-9-8
Splendid Gold looks better suited for the six furlong trip and has the best lifetime number. Offlee Good made a nice improvement last out and at 20-1 generates some interest. Connections are not inspiring so caution is advised. Pink Freud Live has been close in her last two and has a good four furlong work in prep for this start. Picks up top rider Castellano for the try. Jamaalaree showed big improvement when dropped to the MCL. If she comes back with that race she’s got outs.