I got in an interesting discussion online the other day about the current 3-year-old picture and the potential for an unconventional winner of the Champion 3-Year-Old Male Eclipse Award. Long story short, if Always Dreaming wins the Travers, he likely clinches the trophy, while Cloud Computing or Tapwrit would certainly have a significant (but not insurmountable) edge if one of them won the Midsummer Derby.
However, what if a non-winner of a Triple Crown race won the Travers? That opens the door for a horse like Oscar Performance, provided he steps up and beats older horses at the Grade 1 level. Additionally, what happens if a horse like American Anthem or Coal Front wins the Allen Jerkens and follows it up with a win in either the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile? It’s a fascinating scenario, and the next domino falls in a week and a half at Saratoga.
MONDAY’S RESULTS: In short, ugh. Everything Magic lost a photo for second in the opener to a 45-1 shot, and one of the horses we keyed her with in exactas won. It was a painful way to drop $22.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race. #4 MY MR. WONDERFUL ran a big race in his debut last month, which was rained off the turf. I’ll key him in $4 exactas above and below #2 SICILIA SAL, #6 JOE’S SMOKIN GUN, and #10 TEN EYCK, as well as in $3 doubles that use #4 PADEN and #6 ROCKFORD in the sixth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Claiborne entry, Race 7
Longshot: Paden, Race 6
MUTASAAWY: Cruised home last time out when crushing maidens at Parx and seems to have taken to hurdles like a duck to water. This seems like a fairly soft spot to try winners for the first time; KREMLIN: Figures to be the main speed in here. He set the pace earlier this meet against better horses and could be dangerous if he gets loose early on; BISHOP’S CASTLE: Lost the jock last time out at Parx but has run several solid races of late, including a win two back.
SPIETH: Tries two turns for the first time in his second start off the layoff, and the pedigree indicates that this is exactly what he wants. He’s worked well and should be prominent early; POWERFUL ALLY: Was an OK third earlier in the meet in his first start off a freshening. Jose Ortiz riding back is a big plus; D’AMBROSIO: Is another stretching out to two turns with the pedigree to embrace such a route. The rider switch to Castellano is notable, but he finished behind my top pick last time out when that one probably needed the race.
MOTION ENTRY: Both HOLIDAY STAR and STREET FASHION can win this turf marathon. The former is a multiple graded stakes winner, while the latter exits a stakes race at Delaware Park; MUQTASER: Was brilliantly-ridden last time out by Joe Bravo in a win at this route. Don’t be surprised if Jersey Joe sends him again, especially in such a small field; FIRE AWAY: Loves this distance and may have needed his race earlier this month off a freshening. He was beaten less than two lengths in stakes company that day and merits respect here.
Jump for Joy
LADY CONSTANCE: Has not won in a while, but that can be said of many in here, and this filly drops way down in class in this spot. Her lone try at anywhere close to this level was a tough-luck second two back; JUMP FOR JOY: Was a runaway winner last time out at Aqueduct, but that was almost a year and a half ago. Pletcher can get horses ready to run, though, and the fact that she is ineligible to be claimed today could speak volumes about the barn’s intentions; DUBB ENTRY: I prefer EASY WAY OUT, who graduated last time out after burning money twice at Aqueduct. The rider switch is a concern, but her usual effort puts her right there.
My Mr. Wonderful
Joe’s Smokin Gun
MY MR. WONDERFUL: Ran well in his debut last month despite the race being rained off the turf. The connections should get the desired route today, and improvement is logical at second asking; TEN EYCK: Doesn’t draw a great post, but is bred up and down to be a very strong turf horse. He’s by Freud and out of a City Zip mare, and he’ll likely be a square price; JOE’S SMOKIN GUN: Was a solid second two back on turf before running in the same race my top pick exits. The connections are cold, but a repeat of the two-back effort could easily get him a piece of this. DIRT SELECTIONS: MY MR. WONDERFUL, STOLEN PISTOL, JOE’S SMOKIN GUN.
Players Group entry
PADEN: Has run well against better horses going longer, one-turn route distances and ships in for a high-percentage barn. There doesn’t appear to be much early speed signed on, so don’t be surprised if he’s forwardly-placed; ROCKFORD: Generally runs the same race every time out and was a solid second earlier this month in his first start for David Jacobson. He’s another with tactical speed, and his best puts him right there; PLAYERS GROUP ENTRY: I prefer FULL SALUTE, who comes back to the dirt after a failed experiment on turf last time out. He won at this distance two back beneath Jose Ortiz, and that pilot returns here.
CLAIBORNE ENTRY: COMMEND is clearly the horse to beat here. He exits the Grade 2 Highlander at Woodbine, which was won by world-class turf sprinter Green Mask, and this spot represents significant class relief; END PLAY: Was beaten less than a length in a strong race for the level earlier this meet. He’s run well here in the past and generally runs the same race every time out; FEAR: Has won three of his last four and merits a longshot look. The lone defeat in that stretch was in a dirt race, and turf is clearly what he wants.
MOBRIDGE: Beat a number of these rivals last time out and comes back at the level here. If there’s a concern, it’s that all three visible wins in the form were at Belmont, but note that he ran fairly well going two turns at Gulfstream earlier this year; DAMAGE CONTROL: Was beaten a length by my top pick last time out and didn’t have much pace to close into that day. If someone goes with that horse early, it could set up for this one; NO TEXTING: Was fourth in that common race, but was inexplicably rated that day after showing ample early speed in his previous six starts. Given that fact, the rider switch is no shock.
March X Press
SLY BEAUTY: Ran into runaway Schuylerville winner Dream It Is in her debut and jogged last time out. This barn is starting to turn strong efforts into wins, and this one could have plenty of talent; MARCH X PRESS: Closed like a freight train to win her debut earlier in the meet at this route. There should certainly be plenty of early speed in front of her; FAIRYLAND: Exits a Group 3 at Royal Ascot, and the blinkers come back on. If there’s a concern here, it’s the rail draw, which has not been kind in turf sprints this meet.
BORSA VENTO: Drops way down in class, and given the horrible trip, his last race is a throwout. He’s run well at this distance against better in the past, and I’ll give him another shot; IRST: Looked like a promising horse when second here last summer behind an eventual Grade 3 winner, but he hasn’t moved forward since then. The class drop should certainly help, as would a pace battle up front; BRITAIN: Has shown some zip since dropping to the maiden claiming ranks, but was a distant fourth at this level earlier in the meet. Still, he merits respect given the powerful trainer/jockey combination.