School may not start in New York for another week or so, but the academic year is already in full swing here in California. Students went back to classrooms in mid-August, and I’ll use this space to send a very simple, very important message: Be nice to teachers.
Everybody’s been struggling during the pandemic, and when it comes to a topic as complex as education, there are no easy answers to questions every family faces. With that in mind, though, teachers have been calling audibles and pivoting how they do very difficult jobs for a year and a half now, and they’re not immune to the stresses and fatigue that exist in everyone’s mind, in one way or another.
I’m admittedly biased. My girlfriend’s an elementary school teacher, and I hear stories about what she’s dealing with now that kids are back in the classroom (for now, at least). This isn’t easy on anyone, and it costs nothing to be kind, especially to those who are underpaid and largely under-appreciated.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Everything was cancelled when Mubarmaj, who would’ve been a very heavy favorite in the second race, scratched out of that event.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’m looking forward to seeing #5 SILVERY RILL run back in the ninth, the P.G. Johnson. I’m a believer in the maiden race she exits, and I’ll single her to finish off the Grand Slam, which starts in the sixth. My $2 ticket reads as follows: 1,6,10 with 6,7,9 with 4,10 with 5. I’ll also have a $14 win ticket on her as well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $50.
Best Bet: Java Buzz, Race 2
Longshot: Hot Doctor, Race 10
Yes I’m Evil
#6 BLUE ATLAS: Almost certainly needed her return to the races, which came off of a layoff of nearly a year. Her last race at this level came in July of 2020, and she was clearly best that day. Improvement second off the bench is logical, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride back in the Thursday lid-lifter; #4 COWORTH PARK: Takes a suspicious drop in for a tag after racing against stakes foes at Gulfstream Park two and three starts ago. She spent a lot of time at Monmouth Park after her last-out effort, which is sometimes a red flag, and she’s a 3-year-old going up against a decent group of older horses for the level; #8 MOPOLKA: Drops back to the claiming ranks after running two competitive races against state-bred allowance foes at this stand. She won both of her last two starts against claimers, and she figures to be prominent from a very early stage.
#1 JAVA BUZZ: Didn’t break well in his unveiling at this route, but he still managed to run a very good second that day. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but he likely gained a ton of experience in his debut and would be tough to beat if he takes a logical step forward; #9 LIZA’S READY: Seems like the best-meant of the two Wesley Ward trainees entered to run in this event. This daughter of top turf influence More Than Ready sports a very fast drill on August 13th, and John Velazquez sees fit to ride; #2 SLIPSTREAM: Comes back to the turf after running a distant third in a race rained off the grass back in July. He’s bred to love the lawn, and he’s also got a pedigree that suggests he’ll get better with experience.
Red Pepper Grill
#2 ESOTICA: Capitalized on a perfect trip last time out to thrash state-bred maiden claimers earlier in the meet. On paper, this seems like a big class jump, but there isn’t a ton of speed in this event, she’s worked well downstate, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back for Mike Maker; #4 RED PEPPER GRILL: Cuts back to a sprint distance after a failed two-turn experiment last time out. Her two-back effort saw her run second at this level and route despite a wide trip, and the faster they go early, the better this closer’s chances figure to be; #7 EAST WING: Showed brief speed against higher-priced claimers last time out and returns from a brief freshening in this spot. The outside draw is certainly a plus, and if she can find the form she showed earlier this season at Tampa Bay Downs, she wouldn’t be a big surprise.
#4 ALOHA WEST: Got his nose down over optional claiming foes last time out, and he’s really never run a bad race to this point in his career. He comes in off of a string of eye-catching workouts, and he’s certainly a legitimate favorite in a fun optional claimer; #5 THREE TECHNIQUE: Was third two starts ago in the Grade 2 John Nerud downstate and exits the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt, where he couldn’t keep pace with some very fast horses. He’s shown an affinity for this seven-furlong distance, and he’s shown enough early speed to where he could be pretty close to the early pace; #2 AMERICAN POWER: Seems like the most logical early speed horse in this compact field and is another with significant back class. He won the Grade 3 Toboggan over the winter at Aqueduct, and that victory came at this seven-furlong distance.
#3 MUBTADAA: Drops in for a tag for the first time and hasn’t done much wrong in four starts against maiden special weight foes. He looks like the main speed in here, and that trip usually makes horses tough to catch in races run on the inner turf course; BROWN ENTRY: Both #1 DEREGULATION and #1A DEFERRED TAXES are dropping in class, and they’ll likely take significant money due in large part to their red-hot trainer. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because both runners are closers and they may not get a closer-friendly race shape; #8 ARUBA: Boasts a 345 turf Tomlinson figure, and that’s no shock given his world-class pedigree. He’s by Kitten’s Joy, out of an Anabaa mare, and finally makes it to the races for his career debut as a 4-year-old.
Ava K’s Boy
#10 ILLUMINATO: Hammered for $220,000 and draws a great outside post in his debut for red-hot trainer Brad Cox. His recent gate works jump off the page, leading rider Luis Saez sees fit to ride, and the 9/2 morning line hits me as a pretty significant overlay; #1 THE INSTITUTE: Debuts for a barn that’s quietly hit at a 20% clip this summer and one that’s shown it can have first-time starters ready to run. Sire Into Mischief throws some of the most precocious foals around, and the last two drills indicate he may be ready to run; #6 AVA K’S BOY: Is a heck of a hunch play (I’m the uncle of an Ava K.) and a second-time starter that should improve off of a decent debut. He was third in his unveiling a few weeks ago, and his pedigree suggests he’ll only get better as he gets older.
Gotta Go Mo
#7 GOTTA GO MO: Chased Caravel in a pair of stakes races two and three back and suffered a dirty beat last time out, when she was beaten a nose at this level and route a few weeks ago. She’s a consistent turf sprinter with plenty of early speed, and she hits me as the one they’ll have to catch turning for home; #6 TIPLE: Came back running off of a long layoff and was beaten less than two lengths in the same race my top pick exits. That was her first race since September, and with a pretty significant amount of early zip in the starting gate, she could be sitting on significant improvement at a price; #9 TIME LIMIT: Has taken to this route like a duck to water and will go for her third consecutive win in this spot. She stepped forward to top allowance foes last time out, but she may need another career-best effort here against a good group, and the outside post isn’t ideal.
Two Thirty Five
#4 CANDY TYCOON: Takes a drop into the claiming ranks and has been fancied enough by his barn to run in some pretty tough spots. He was fifth at this route last month behind a stakes-caliber runner in Danny California, and anything close to his best would make him a formidable favorite; #10 TWO THIRTY FIVE: Has found stakes company too tough in both of his last two outings. Most recently, he showed some speed before fading to last in a $100,000 stakes race at Pimlico, but he’s shown an ability to beat runners at this level in the past, and this trainer/jockey combination merits respect; #3 AMERICAN TATTOO: Exits a third-place finish for a slightly higher tag and will likely show the way into the first turn. He chased a runaway winner last time out, but did set a solid pace and may not need to go quite as quickly early on in this spot.
Expand the Map
#5 SILVERY RILL: Exits one of my favorite 2-year-old races of the summer, one that’s already produced a next-out winner. She may have moved a bit early that day, but it’s not easy to debut going two turns and her pedigree says she’ll move forward as she gets older and gains seasoning; #9 MYSTIC EYES: Never looked like a loser in a very strong debut, where she routed a field of turf sprinters by nearly five lengths. This is a significant jump in class, and the two-turn route is a question mark, but the Pletcher/Velazquez tag team merits respect and it’s not like her pedigree says she can’t go long; #3 EXPAND THE MAP: Was a beaten odds-on favorite earlier this summer, but she’s worked well since then for Chad Brown and may very well go favored in the P.G. Johnson. She’s another that could improve at second asking, but I prefer the race my top pick exits to the one this filly comes out of.
#3 HOT DOCTOR: Goes back to a sprint distance after a failed two-turn experiment against maiden special weight foes. His races going shorter were not bad, and between the return to his preferred distance and the class drop, I’m expecting an improved effort at a bit of a price; #6 BABAGRAM: Looked to have every chance last time out at this level and route when second beaten just a length. He has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, and that should give jockey Manuel Franco plenty of options out of the gate; #7 SANDOR CLEGANE: Likely needed her return to the races off of a very long break, and he gets Lasix for the first time while returning to the lawn. He finished fourth against maiden special weight foes two back at Belmont, and he hits me as the most likely leader as the field rolls along the far turn.