Friday’s Curlin Stakes attracted a field of nine 3-year-olds. It’s a fun race, which is why I don’t like pointing out the benefits to changing it.
By contrast to the Curlin, Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, the local prep for the Travers, is set to attract a significantly smaller group. Even with the presence of Epicenter, Early Voting, and Zandon, Creative Minister, the 2-1 favorite for the Curlin, would take some money in the bigger event. I want big fields in big races, and the Curlin doesn’t help with that.
My solution: How about we move the Curlin to Travers Day? I’d rather lose 30-1 shots from that race than lose 8-1 shots from the Jim Dandy. Small fields aren’t what anyone wants, and this fix would maximize an important race while also keeping the Curlin on the calendar.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Disarmed had an absolutely terrible trip in the third, and it was pretty miraculous that he even salvaged a fourth-place finish. Lots of betting money went up in smoke, my $30 included.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early part of the card and take a stand against the favorite in the third race. #3 BOLDISH hits me as vulnerable, and I prefer both #5 QUICK RETURN and #6 SARATOGA PAL. I’ll use those two in $2 doubles starting in the second with #3 SOUFFLE, #6 SNOWY EVENING, and #7 SHOWEMYOURHEELS, and in $2 doubles ending in the fourth with #6 OCEAN’S RESERVE and #8 DEVIL BOY. Finally, I’ll play a $1 Pick Three starting in the second that uses all of these runners.
TOTAL WAGERED: $32.
Best Bet: Inventing, Race 1
Longshot: Lord Gatling, Race 10
Forever After All
#4 INVENTING: Tries two turns for the first time after trailing a short field in the Grade 1 Acorn. Prior to that effort, she was second against solid groups, and her pedigree says she’ll take to two turns like a duck to water in the Thursday opener; #2 FOREVER AFTER ALL: Stepped forward when second at second asking going longer at Churchill Downs. She was 40-1 that day, and we won’t get anywhere close to that price here, as that 82 Beyer Speed Figure is tied for the best last-out number in the field; #5 AUNT NAUGHTY: Gets back to two turns after a pair of one-turn mile events downstate. She’s another bred for this route, and an effort similar to her runs elsewhere on the circuit would likely get her a piece of this one.
#3 SOUFFLE: Is out of a stakes-winning turf sprinter who has already thrown Derrynane, another stakes-winning turf sprinter. She’s been working very well for Christophe Clement, and first-call rider Joel Rosario will be aboard; #6 SNOWY EVENING: Debuted with a strong second at Belmont and was nearly four lengths clear of that day’s third-place finisher. She was close to a pretty slow pace that day and may need to improve here, but her experience edge over many of these isn’t a small advantage; #7 SHOWEMYOURHEELS: Hammered for $350,000 at auction last summer and is out of a mare that won stakes races on dirt and turf. She’s worked well and should be forwardly-placed beneath aggressive gate rider Kendrick Carmouche.
#5 QUICK RETURN: Drops to the bottom first off the claim for a small barn that’s pretty strong with new acquisitions. His two local sprints last summer were pretty sharp, and these shallower waters should be to his liking; #6 SARATOGA PAL: May have needed his return off of a four-month layoff and returns to a track where he’s won twice in three tries. Perhaps he’s over the top as a 5-year-old, but anything close to his form from last summer and fall would give him a big shot; #3 BOLDISH: Returns off a six-month break and drops way down in class. Perhaps he’s just better than this bunch, but this barn struggles with horses coming off of long breaks. At his likely price, I’ll try to beat him.
#6 OCEAN’S RESERVE: Has just missed twice in a row at this level and seems like the one to beat here. He’s fairly lightly-raced and may have more room to improve here in what’s just his fifth lifetime start; #8 DEVIL BOY: Has had some gate issues but draws an outside post that could make it easier for him to break cleanly. Toss his two-back clunker off the long break, and the record of this Jeremiah Englehart trainee looks far better; #2 SINFUL DANCER: Has had a bunch of chances and may simply be a pack animal at this point, but the addition of blinkers could wake him up. George Weaver excels with this move, and he’s earned speed figures in the past that would make him competitive here.
#1 FEARLESS: Stretched out with aplomb to win the Grade 2 Brooklyn on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard. He’s yet to finish out of the top two in five starts this season, and two of those outings were losses to top miler Speaker’s Corner; #2 LONE ROCK: Won this race a season ago and has accomplished a lot running at marathon distances. He didn’t break well in the Brooklyn and settled for third that day. Perhaps a smoother start will give him a chance to turn the tables; #4 PORTOS: Ran fourth in the Brooklyn behind my top two. He hasn’t won in a while, but he’s run reasonably well going long and someone has to run third in here.
#3 BIRTHDAY TIME: Rated in an event without much early speed last time out and should benefit from a return to a two-turn route of ground. This seems like a significantly weaker group, and the drop in class doesn’t bother me given the aggressive connections; #13 BRISKY FROLIC: Needs a few scratches to run but merits a long look if she draws in off the also-eligible list. Her races going two turns against straight maidens are fine, and the last-out race was probably far shorter than she wanted to run; #8 ROUNDABOUT: Is worth closer examination at a big price. Her two-back effort going six furlongs wasn’t bad, and John Terranova’s numbers with horses adding blinkers are very good. At a minimum, expect her to be prominent early.
Ring of Fire
Legends Can’t Die
#3 RING OF FIRE: Has three wins and two seconds from six turf sprints, and his consistency earns him a tepid nod in a wide-open event. This is his third start off of a long layoff, and Luis Saez lands here when he probably had a few options; #5 LEGENDS CAN’T DIE: Rallied to win his debut by a head downstate and tries winners for the first time. George Weaver’s firsters sometimes need a race or two to get going, but this one tipped his hand with several strong drills, so there’s clearly some talent here; #4 BUSTIN SHOUT: Has run well here in the past and figures to be prominent early. His two-back win at Aqueduct was pretty sharp, and maybe he needed his last-out effort off a bit of a break.
#4 PRICE DISCIPLINE: Broke his maiden easily two starts ago and just missed in his first try against winners. Blinkers go on for his first two-turn endeavor, and any sort of move forward would make him a formidable favorite; WINDYLEA ENTRY: I prefer #1 DANGEROUS EDGE, who’s won two in a row and has progressed significantly since being claimed by Rob Atras in April. This is a tougher group than the ones he’s beaten downstate, but further improvement isn’t out of the question; #7 MR BREADWINNER: Comes back to dirt after two failed turf tries and should love this distance. He’s by Tonalist, out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, and won his last dirt start at Aqueduct.
Kantarmaci entry (MTO)
#5 BALTHUS: Has clearly figured things out in his last two starts, both runaway wins going long on the lawn at Belmont. When Chad Brown gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there, and he could have a very, very nice prospect on his hands; #3 MUD PIE: Makes his second start off the bench here, and does so in his first try as a gelding. He was a consistent turf marathoner before the ultimate equipment change, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #6 OFFLEE NAUGHTY: Is worth consideration in vertical exotics as a longshot threat. He was an okay fourth in the Grade 3 San Luis Rey at Santa Anita, and he adds blinkers for an astute barn that doesn’t run many horses in New York.
Storm Shooter (MTO)
#11 SANDRONE: Runs for a tag for the first time and attracts Luis Saez in a confusing Thursday finale. The post position is a challenge, but there’s also a chance he’s just plain faster than these horses, and that he can clear and save ground going into the turn; #7 LORD GATLING: Makes his first start on turf and is bred to love it. He’s by Noble Mission, out of a Dubai Millennium mare, and exits a winning effort in the mud at Belmont; #2 COUSIN ANDREW: Hasn’t won in a while but has shown a closing kick that could prove helpful in a race that seems to have some early zip signed on. His two-back effort against similar foes was okay, and that day’s pilot sees fit to ride back.