Best Bet: Lady Pauline, Race 2
Longshot: Homefortheweekend, Race 5
#2 ART BUFF: Gets a reluctant nod in a puzzling Friday opener. It’s tough to debut going two turns, and between the drop in class and the addition of blinkers, I think there’s potential for improvement; #5 PROMISED FAME: Tries a route distance for the first time, and she’s bred to want two turns. She also drops in class after three straight tries against maiden special weight foes; #1 SOCIAL CIRCLE: Has run evenly against $50,000 maiden claiming foes and drops further down the ladder here. She may inherit the early lead by default in what seems like a paceless race.
#9 LADY PAULINE: Has several solid three-furlong works on the docket for all-world first-out trainer Wesley Ward. John Velazquez hops aboard, and when Stonestreet names a horse after Barbara Banke’s mother, look out; #2 BAYTOWN LEGEND: Merits a long look in the exotics at a big price. He’s worked well since shipping to Keeneland, and may get overlooked given that he hails from a smaller barn; #6 MAIN SQUEEZE: Has been training over the synthetic track at Turfway for Ward. It’s unclear if she’ll take to dirt, but anything this barn sends out at this meet merits a long look.
#2 GOLDEN CURL: Missed by a half-length in her debut and adds Lasix at second asking. She’s worked well since her unveiling and figures to be tough at a short price; #4 GOTTAFLATHAVEHER: Needed her unveiling, as most McPeek trainees do, and comes in off a very sharp workout at Gulfstream. It’s logical to expect a step forward here, and the $3.60 ROI with recent second-out maidens is encouraging; #3 CLUB CAR: Is worth a look despite making her debut at a tough distance. Her dam and second dam were both stakes-winners, and while Ben Colebrook is only so-so with first-time starters, the workouts hint that this one may have talent.
Abounding Joy (MTO)
#5 ENVIRONS: Will be incredibly tough if this race stays on turf. She won a stakes race last summer in France, adds Lasix for her U.S. debut, and doesn’t seem to have caught a very strong field for the level; CALUMET ENTRY: I prefer #1 COCO CHANNEL, who has tried tough company in the past and makes her first start of 2019 here. She could sit a perfect stalking trip, and her back class may be an asset; #4 NANTUCKET RED: Won two back at Gulfstream in a career-best effort before taking a step back last time out. She’s worked well recently for Bill Mott, and a return to the January form gives her a shot. DIRT SELECTIONS: ABOUNDING JOY, OH MY, MISS ALTAMIRA.
#13 TOOTHPIC: Could be tough if he draws in off the AE list. He showed speed at Tampa, a track he didn’t seem to like, and a return to familiar stomping grounds against a shaky field could wake him up; #10 HOMEFORTHEWEEKEND: Hasn’t done much running lately, but cuts back to a sprint, and he ran fairly well going short last fall at Woodbine. Maybe that was because of the synthetic track, but I think he’ll move up returning to a shorter distance; RUIS ENTRY: #1A TRAPPER PEAK needs two scratches to run, but he hasn’t done much wrong in his career and could come running late beneath Abel Lezcano, who’s winning at a 19% clip so far this year.
Del Mar May
My Majestic Rose
#9 DEL MAR MAY: Chased the likes of Bellafina and Brill as a 2-year-old and has been working well ahead of her 2019 debut. This obviously isn’t the goal, but if she runs to her works, she figures to be tough; #5 SUGAR LOVE: Likely needed her last race off the bench, and it’s worth noting that her second career start was easily her best race. Going off of that form cycle and a recent strong work, it’s safe to assume she’ll be fully-cranked; #4 MY MAJESTIC ROSE: Came flying late to be second against similar at Fair Grounds last time out. She may want more pace than she’ll get here, but Ortiz riding back is certainly a plus.
#12 ARKLOW: Makes his 2019 debut in a loaded allowance event that drew several other stakes-quality horses. I find it difficult to believe we’ll get 5-1, as anything close to his best shot will make him a formidable foe; #3 PROJECTED: Hasn’t won since 2017, but is another dropping in class for his seasonal bow. The faster they go early on, the more he’ll like it, but it certainly seems like he enjoys settling for minor awards; #2 FIRST PREMIO: Won a stakes race by daylight two back before running into Synchrony in a Grade 3. He loves this distance and should have enough speed to establish position from his inside post.
U S Navy Cross
Get the Prize
#2 U S NAVY CROSS: Looked like a good one when storming home on debut at Belmont, but he hasn’t been seen since finishing a distant fourth in the Grade 3 Nashua. There’s a lot of speed in here, which should help given his late-running style; #9 INTREPID HEART: Ran to his $750,000 price tag in his debut win at Oaklawn and tries winners for the first time. He’s obviously talented, but he shouldn’t be alone on the lead in this spot, and while he may be eligible to improve, such a step forward may be mandatory, not optional; #8 GET THE PRIZE: Graduated in his debut, a swiftly-run six-furlong event, and stretches out to two turns. His pedigree hints this won’t be an issue, and he may have the most pure early zip in this field.
The Black Album
#2 ONTHEWAYTONEVRLAND: Hasn’t done much wrong to date, with two wins and two seconds in four starts, and cruised home in a minor stakes at Turfway. He’s shown he can go two turns, and he could sit a dream stalking trip here in the Grade 3 Transylvania; #10 HENLEY’S JOY: Hated dirt in the Grade 2 Risen Star, but returns to the grass here and is a logical favorite. He was beaten just a nose in the Grade 3 Bourbon here last fall, and he’ll be tough if he can overcome the tough outside draw; #1 THE BLACK ALBUM: Hasn’t run since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but hinted at significant talent in Europe earlier in the year and adds Lasix for this race. A return to form could make him a contender at a square price.
Fuel the Bern
#12 FAST TALKING: Came off the bench running when graduating at Gulfstream Park and tries winners for the first time. The far outside post should give Ortiz some options, and an improvement second off the layoff would make him tough; #4 FUEL THE BERN: Won two in a row late last year for fellow Pink Sheet handicapper Dan Feiss and has been working pretty well lately in New York. Danny Gargan does strong work with a fairly small barn, and it’s notable that he ships this one here; #2 CHAPS: Has been gelded since his last start and returns to dirt. His best effort was a romp in the slop last fall at Churchill, and if expected rains show up, he’ll stand to benefit at a price.