It’s good to be back east for the week, and it’s even better to spend most of that time seeing family. However, there are some adjustments that must be made (some good, some bad). In return for edible pizza, I must suddenly find things to do during the morning hours. Seriously, I’ve forgotten what to do when racing doesn’t start until the early-afternoon hours (as opposed to most East Coast cards starting shortly after I wake up in California). I’ve never been the brunch type, and I didn’t bring my golf clubs with me, so that’s out, too. Any ideas for how to spend the time?
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Time Warp didn’t break in yesterday’s fifth, and while Bull Feathers outran her odds to be fifth, that doesn’t do us any good. We dropped $28.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: With my standard reminder that my action assumes all races carded for the turf stay there, I’m going to focus on the late Pick Four, which starts in the seventh. I’ll play a $0.50 ticket using the following horses: 3,9 with 2 with ALL with 2,5,6,10. If a bigger-priced horse wins the John Morrissey, this ticket could pay pretty handsomely.
TOTAL WAGERED: $32
Wednesday’s Results: 0 for 10 (OUCH!!!)
Meet Results (to date): 14 for 50
Best Bet: Secret House, Race 8
Longshot: Quick Quick Quick, Race 6
#1 IRANISTAN: Has reeled off four wins in a row (three over fences, one on the flat) and looms large for powerhouse steeplechase trainer Jonathan Sheppard. He wired a stakes field going longer, and it helps that Nagle (who could’ve ridden another contender in here) is aboard this one; #6 PERSONAL START: Is another on a hot streak, as he comes in having won three straight. Most recently, he aired by eight in a Grade 2 event, and he seems to be in career-best form; #2 MODEM: Will likely be favored, but he’s burned plenty of money since coming over from Europe. He’s run second five times, and while he can’t be left off of vertical exotics tickets, I can’t be too excited about him on top, especially given the short price and that he’s giving up to 20 pounds to the rest of the field.
#3 GRAVITATING: Takes an alarming drop to the maiden $20,000 level, but given the owner in question, that isn’t as big a red flag as it could be. His effort two back was quite solid, and he could benefit from a wet track; #4 GENERALIST: Is another dropper from a top barn, and he makes sense. He finished a few lengths behind my top pick in his debut two back, and he may have improved since then; #7 EL CUCUY: Closed for third in his debut, after which he was claimed by Michelle Nevin. The new connections have added blinkers, and he could move up at second asking.
No Need to Appeal (MTO)
Touch of Bling
#7 BLACK CANARY: Has not misfired since the 2016 Natalma and looms large should this race remain on the turf. She broke her maiden at this route of ground, and the cutback in distance should suit her; #9 TOUCH OF BLING: Didn’t break well last time out and likely lost all chance as a result. Before that, she showed speed in a stakes race, and she should be prominent early; #4 QUALITY TIME: May have found six furlongs a hair too far last time out off the layoff. Her win two back at Gulfstream Park was sharp, and she didn’t run poorly at this route last summer. DIRT SELECTIONS: NO NEED TO APPEAL, PICTURE DAY, LEZENDARY.
Mrs Vargas (MTO)
Love to Share
#9 LOVE TO SHARE: Has yet to run a poor race going long on turf and drops in for a tag after missing by less than a length at Churchill Downs. She may need some speed up front, but if she gets that scenario, she may be tough to hold off; #10 FIDUCIARY VALUES: Was fourth in her debut, which came going long downstate. Routing at first asking isn’t an easy thing to do, and between the class drop at second asking and the addition of blinkers, there’s lots to like; #3 APPRECIATE: Will be a big price, but her two-turn races are actually okay. If she channels the form she showed in Florida, she could get a piece of it and shake up the vertical exotics. DIRT SELECTIONS: MRS VARGAS, LA FEE VERTE, RAG TOP.
Top of the Page
DIODORO ENTRY: These connections have two chances here, and both horses can win. I slightly prefer #1 GOT EVEN, who has lots of early speed, ample two-turn form, and would benefit from a wet track; #4 TOP OF THE PAGE: Seems like the best closer in this event and ran a good second against similar last time out. If there’s a concern here, it’s that his best races have come at one-turn routes, and his two-turn races have left a bit to be desired; #5 BRIMSTONE: Ran too bad to be true last time out and was claimed out of that race by Rudy Rodriguez. His lone start at this distance was a win, and he’ll likely be asked to show speed early on.
Quick Quick Quick
#4 ALBEROBELLO: Has run well sprinting, and her pedigree and running style hint that she’ll stretch out successfully. There doesn’t seem to be much serious early speed in here, so she could be a threat to wire this bunch; #3 QUICK QUICK QUICK: Ran a nice race last time out when beaten just a half-length at Churchill Downs. She showed improved early zip that day, and it certainly helps that she ran well here twice a season ago; #5 INDY UNION: Gets some class relief after chasing much better in a pair of Grade 2 races. She’s 0 for 3 over wet tracks, but two of those races were won by stakes winners Caledonia Road and Red Ruby.
#3 BIG MUDDY: Fetched $850,000 at auction in 2015, and it’s safe to assume a lot’s gone wrong, because he’s just now making his debut. Having said that, he’s worked like a real runner of late, and he’s bred to be any kind on any sort of surface; #9 IONA MOBE: Did everything but win when last seen in October. He debuted with a close-up second in a swiftly-run event at Keeneland, and this barn can win with runners coming off of long layoffs; #7 LUNAR PHASE: Merits a look at a price. He showed speed in his debut, adds Lasix for a barn that’s hit at a 21% clip with second-out maidens, and retains the services of Joel Rosario.
#2 SECRET HOUSE: Was impressive in victory last time out, when he made a big middle move and had more than enough left in reserve. He’s got four top-two finishes in five 2018 starts, and he could sit an ideal trip just off the early pace; #7 MILLS: Is winless this year, but comes back to his preferred surface after a turf race that was far from bad. He was beaten less than three lengths by Patterson Cross, a stakes-caliber grass horse, and his races three and four back were both strong; #8 TERRIBLE DAY: Has been a much stronger horse since stretching out. He’s since finished in the top two in four straight starts, and he makes his first outing for new conditioner Tom Amoss.
Long Haul Bay
Gold for the King
Eye Luv Lulu
#3 LONG HAUL BAY: Gets a tepid nod in a very strong renewal of the John Morrissey. The layoff lines hint that he’s had his issues, but when he’s right, he’s very good, as evidenced by his strong second in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint behind Switzerland; #7 GOLD FOR THE KING: Ran a tremendous race last time out, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure while thrashing optional claiming foes by nearly six lengths. The question is, can he repeat such an effort? Given the quality of this field, he may have to; #5 EYE LUV LULU: Was third behind Limousine Liberal and Whitmore in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship. Those are two of the top sprinters in the east, but this isn’t as big a class drop as the condition book may have initially indicated, and he’s 0 for 4 at Saratoga.
Pletcher entry (MTO)
#6 TWO SHAKES: Is bred up and down for turf and debuts for top-notch first-out trainer Wesley Ward. She brought $310,000 at auction last year, and her recent workouts indicate she’s got potential; #5 PARADISE RETAINED: Hasn’t worked particularly fast at Monmouth, which makes the placement here very interesting. Jason Servis doesn’t ship in solely to fill the starting gate, and the pedigree gives her reason to be a runner; #10 SWEETER THAN WINE: Has been working well on the training track’s turf course for the always-formidable Todd Pletcher barn. If there’s reason for concern here, it’s the position, as she’ll have to negotiate a trip from an outside post. DIRT SELECTIONS: PLETCHER ENTRY, PARADISE RETAINED, LIORA.