A few of my best friends in the game (regardless of whether or not they want to publicly identify as such!) are rolling into town today. Joe and Natalie Nevills, as well as fellow Saratogian alumnus/DRF employee Nicole Russo, have arrived in upstate New York, and it is only fitting that I provide valuable conversational insight should you run into them.
Joe likes Big Red Spring water and will welcome long baths in the backyard’s pavilion. Natalie is a proud Lucha Underground enthusiast, especially when one tries to explain the intricacies involved in the program. Nicole, meanwhile, has been dragged to Saratoga kicking and screaming. Don’t be fooled by the ear-to-ear smile and her defying gravity by floating around the property without touching the ground!
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Nothing like running 2-3 behind a 23-1 shot that forgets to stop. We dropped $24.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the sixth, and I hope we get the 4-1 morning line price on my top selection. That’s #6 DIVA’S REVENGE, who’s bred up and down for turf and has worked strongly for Linda Rice ahead of her second career start. I’ll put $15 on her to win, and I’ll play $2 exactas keying her above and below #4 CURRENCY CHAOS and #5 BEYONDELLE, both of whom could shake up the exotics at a price.
TOTAL WAGERED: $23
Monday’s Results: 1 for 10
Meet Results (to date): 30 for 108
Best Bet: Hard Study, Race 4
Longshot: Dynatail, Race 9
My Won Love
#4 BUSTIN HEARTS: Has not run a bad race since going to Jeremiah Englehart’s barn last spring. She’s got plenty of tactical speed, and the presence of top rider Luis Saez means she could be well-meant; #2 SATIN SHEETS: Has won two in a row and makes her first start for trainer Gary Gullo. It’s tough to improve horses off of Steve Asmussen, but Gullo is very solid off the claim, and this one merits respect; #6 MY WON LOVE: Was second at this level going longer downstate in her first start since April. She’s obviously a contender if she channels the form she showed at Aqueduct this past winter, but that’s a much different surface than the one she’ll get here.
San Juan Diego
BAKER ENTRY: I prefer #1 READY TO ESCAPE, who’s been gelded since his last start and gets Joel Rosario. Having said that, #1A LIGHT THE POSSE ran a solid second in his debut and could improve with the addition of Lasix; #3 SAN JUAN DIEGO: Ran the best race of his career two back and might have bounced last time out. A return to form could make him a contender; #4 ROYAL HEIST: Seems like the main speed in here and could get brave on the front end. His last-out effort was uninspiring, but he could make an easy lead in this spot.
#1A FRONTIER MARKET: Could be approaching “now or never” status after three straight seconds at short offs. Having said that, this doesn’t seem like a banner field for the level, and he may appreciate the two-turn route of ground; #3 HIZEEM: Was second in his debut downstate and stretches out at second asking. He fits in here, and he’d benefit from an early speed duel; #4 HIERARCHY: Ran on well to be fourth in his debut for a trainer whose horses often need a race or two to get going. That day’s winner has since come back to win again. DIRT SELECTIONS: BUSINESS CYCLE, DARK N CLOUDY, CHANTRY FLATS.
You’re to Blame
#1 HARD STUDY: Is one of the top dirt stayers in the country and will likely be an odds-on favorite to repeat in the Birdstone. He won this race fairly easily last year and exits a solid third-place finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn; #3 YOU’RE TO BLAME: Has plenty of experience against stakes company and tries a marathon distance for the first time. He runs like a plodder, which could work to his benefit; #2 CARLINO: Has chased my top two selections earlier this season and was fifth in the Brooklyn. He does his best running late and could clunk up for a piece of it.
Non Finisce Mai
#8 LOOSE: Has won five of her last seven starts and has not finished out of the top two in nearly a year. It’s fair to wonder if she’ll regress following the claim away from Rudy Rodriguez, but Brad Cox is on a roll right now and could have this one ready to run; #7 DARING PROSPECT: Is another that was claimed away from Rodriguez last time out. She’ll likely show plenty of early speed in her first start for Tom Morley; #2 NON FINISCE MAI: Ran the best race of her career here last summer, when she dusted similar opposition at this route. Gullo knows how to bring horses back off of long layoffs, and we may get a price.
#6 DIVA’S REVENGE: Is bred to love the grass and has worked well locally of late for turf sprint extraordinaire Linda Rice. She showed speed in her debut against better horses, and that day’s clear winner repeated at next asking; #4 CURRENCY CHAOS: May have run the best race of her career last time out when second at this level going six furlongs. She’s got some zip and could appreciate the slight cutback in distance; #9 COTTONWOOD FALLS: Merits respect because of her connections, but there are red flags here. She’s been working exclusively on dirt at Monmouth, and she debuts for a $40,000 tag after being purchased for $190,000 last March. DIRT SELECTIONS: DIVA’S REVENGE, JORDY’S READY, SOUPER ECHO.
#5 SENTRY: Gets a tepid top pick in a race that could go many different directions. Unlike many other contenders in here, though, this one has some tactical speed and owns a win going a two-turn route of ground; #4 HONEY DONT: Broke through last time out in his first start for a tag, and perhaps the class relief woke him up. He earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure that day, and it also helps that he ran well here last summer; #6 SHORTLIST: Merits a look given that he never seemed comfortable last time out. I think that race is easy to throw out, and before that, he chased talented stayer Focus Group going much longer than he wants to run. Between the back class and the likely price, he needs to be on my tickets.
#2 DREAM PAULINE: Was bred to be a good one and debuted with a bang at Aqueduct, where the daughter of Tapit and Dream Rush spurted well clear late. She hasn’t run since, but the workouts hint that she’s stepped forward considerably; #4 MIZZEN MAX: Has never finished outside the top two in six lifetime starts. She has a lot of early zip, and a wet track certainly wouldn’t hurt her chances given her perfect record over such surfaces; #7 CRITIQUE: Hasn’t been seen in the afternoon since last fall’s Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont, where she faltered as one of the betting favorites. Before that, though, she ran well at Saratoga twice, including in a runaway maiden win late in the meet.
#5 ONTHEMOONAGAIN: Emerged as one of the better 3-year-old fillies in France last year, when she placed in a pair of graded events. She adds Lasix in her American debut for Chad Brown and looms very large; #6 DYNATAIL: Has not won in a while, but certainly seems like the lone horse in this field with any early speed. She won last year’s Penn Oaks in a similar sort of race, and that was with today’s rider aboard; #1 DANCELAND: Will likely come flying late, as she did when winning a swiftly-run race here last year. There’s plenty of talent here, but the race shape doesn’t favor closers, and that’s cause for concern.
DUBB ENTRY: I prefer #1A SPECIAL TRIP, who exits a race against much better competition and has been competitive going two turns in the past. #1 MUCHACHA UNO, however, does figure to run on late in her first start for this trainer; #9 MAMBO DANCER: Was fourth as the 8/5 favorite in her debut at Gulfstream Park. It’s not easy to debut going two turns, as she tried to do, so there are plenty of reasons to give her another shot; #6 SUPERCOMMITTEE: Set the pace in an off-the-turf event in June at Belmont Park. Jose Ortiz signs on, and while I’m not sure she wants this two-turn route, early speed can be powerful on the inner turf.