It’s back to the west coast for me after a week in upstate New York. It was great to come home and see some family, and it was also really cool to get a day at the track Monday. To the friends, family, and former press box colleagues that made it such a great day: Thank you. To those I missed: There’s always next year!
MONDAY’S RESULTS: I was right in my rationale of Modem being a bad morning line favorite in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have had longshot winner Show Court without hitting the “ALL” button. After scratches, I dropped $16.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race, which houses my best bet of the day. That’s #10 OUR CIRCLE OF LOVE, who figures to be very tough to beat if she can repeat either of her first two starts. I’ll play $6 exactas keying her on top of #1 FACE IT/#1A CARNIVAL LASS, #5 ANAZARA, #8 IRISH PRINCESS, and #9 SMILE MORE.
TOTAL WAGERED: $24
Monday’s Results: 5 for 10
Meet Results (to date): 29 for 98
Best Bet: Our Circle of Love, Race 5
Longshot: Soluble, Race 4
#1 SIXTY FIVE: Has yet to run a bad race over fences, and his last race on the flat was too bad to be true. It helps his cause that there should be plenty of speed for him to rate behind; #6 WHITMAN’S POETRY: Seems like the main speed in here, and he may benefit from this race being a hair shorter than most of his prior steeplechase efforts; #5 DARK GEMINI: Has yet to finish worse than third in his steeplechase career, and like my top pick, he would benefit from several horses dictating a fast early pace.
Eight Minute Ellie
#7 HEAVEN’S CREATION: Makes her first start for Bruce Brown and drops down in class after two efforts for higher claiming tags. Her form looks much better if you toss the turf races; #3 GIANT ENDING: Was an OK third last time out at this level and has a win going two turns. She could improve second off the trainer switch, and it helps that she can either sit close to the pace or rate a bit; #5 EIGHT MINUTE ELLIE: May have needed her last-out effort at Ellis Park and is another dropping in class. Her best effort could win this, but her top races have come at Gulfstream, and that form doesn’t always translate to Saratoga.
#10 BROCKMONINOFF: Gets a tepid nod in a wide-open maiden claiming event. He hasn’t run in more than 10 months, but his two races last year were very good, and George Weaver does very well with horses off of long layoffs; #2 GHOST GIANT: Was second at this level downstate in his first turf start. That was by far the best effort of his career, so regression is possible, but a repeat performance would put him right there; #9 FERRAD’S PARTY: Just missed last time out in a return to this level. His record looks much better if you draw lines through the dirt races, and Rosario remains aboard.
#9 SOLUBLE: Drops down in class after spending much of his career running against very good turf horses. He was beaten just four lengths in last year’s Grade 3 Red Smith by an eventual Grade 1 winner, and this seems like the correct level; #7 GLENNRICHMENT: Missed by a neck over yielding going when last seen, and there’s a chance he’s been a turf horse all along. He’s got some tactical speed and could get first run turning for home; #4 TRICKED UP: May have needed his last race, which doubled as his first outing since December. He’s won here before and has back races that would make him competitive. DIRT SELECTIONS: TRANSISTOR, TERRIBLE DAY, PRETENTIOUS.
Our Circle of Love
#10 OUR CIRCLE OF LOVE: Has run two very strong races and is absolutely the one to beat. She could also benefit from a wet track if the skies open up, given her pedigree (by Distorted Humor, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare); #9 SMILE MORE: Fetched $275,000 at auction and debuts for an outfit that means business when it comes to New York. The July 21st workout looks very impressive; #5 ANAZARA: Comes back to dirt after not taking to turf last time out. She ran well in her debut for Bill Mott (whose horses often need a race to get going), and this barn’s done very good work to this point in the meet.
She Will Rock (MTO)
#3 COREY SCORES: Is bred up and down for turf and has been working like a good horse ahead of her career debut. It’s tough to argue with this trainer/jockey combination, and she looms large; #8 SASSY AGNES: Has several flashy works to her credit ahead of her debut. Central Banker has gotten off to a strong start at stud, and Linda Rice does very well in turf sprints; #6 ITSAKEYPER: Didn’t do much running in her debut, but she’s bred to like turf and should improve with experience at a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: SHE WILL ROCK, MIMIC, SASSY AGNES.
Follow the Signs
New Jersey John
#12 FOLLOW THE SIGNS: Took a step forward second off the layoff last time out and won impressively here last September. He’ll need to negotiate a trip from the far outside post, but he has the speed to potentially clear going into the first turn; #2 NEW JERSEY JOHN: Has won two of four starts since being claimed in January at Tampa. He may have benefited from the trip last time out at Belmont, but Lezcano is 2 for 2 on him, and he’ll be a price while in career-best form; #3 CROSSWAYS: Returns after a smashing maiden win in his turf debut in April. I’m not sure what he beat that day, and the gap in workouts from May to July is a concern, but if he’s ready, he’ll be a major player. DIRT SELECTIONS: DOOLEY, HIGH MOON, CARTHON.
#4 COME DANCING: Returned with a big effort last week, when she smashed optional claiming foes in her first start since January. Carlos Martin’s done well with a smaller barn this meet, and I think he’s got this filly going in the right direction; #8 YOUR LOVE: Was second in her first start since November downstate. Her best race could absolutely win this, but I’m concerned with the possibility of a wet track, as I think she’s considerably better over fast going; #2 WONDERMENT: Is a two-time stakes winner making her first start since January. She may need the race, but she’d benefit from a wet track and could run well late at a big price.
Stoney Bennett (MTO)
#4 FRISKY MAGICIAN: Drops down in class after a pair of efforts against graded stakes foes. He hasn’t won in a while, but a repeat of his race two back in the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill would make him very tough; #11 BANANA THIEF: Is a pace play for me given the abundance of early speed in this field. He likes running second or third, but he’s won here before, could run well late, and has arguably the hottest trainer/jockey combination to this point in the meet; #6 UNCLE YOUDGE: Has won two in a row at Laurel Park and may be in career-best form. It’s worth noting that Lynch is slated to travel up from Maryland to ride. DIRT SELECTIONS: STONEY BENNETT, ETHAN HUNT, OSTROLENKA.
#7 SMASH WILLIAMS: Drops down in class, but is trained by Todd Pletcher and would benefit from a wet track. In this mess of a race where I’d advise you to use as many as you can afford, that’s enough to make him my top selection; #6 BRONZE AGE: Was DQ’d out of a win last time out at Prairie Meadows. He has back form that hints he’ll be tough if he fires his best shot, but he’s shown that he hates wet tracks, so follow the track condition; #13 MONEY LAUNDERING: May have needed the race last time out, since it was his first start in 10 months. He’s been gelded since that effort, and at least he’s won here before.