Alameda County Fair Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: 6/15/19

I’ll be on-site for the first two Saturdays of the meet at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, and I’m really excited about what’s ahead. I’ve gotten to know plenty of good people on the Northern California fair circuit, and it’s going to be a blast to be there doing the things I genuinely love to do.

I’ll be tweeting out videos and analysis during those cards, and I’ll also be assisting with a few other cool things the track is doing. Additionally, I’ll also be posting analysis of these Saturday cards here. I’m looking forward to the first Saturday card of fair season, and I think there are opportunities to score.

Enough talk; on with the show!

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #1

R1: 4
R2: 1,2,5
R3: 2,4
R4: 2,4

12 Bets, $6

I’m starting off with an economical look at the early Pick Four, which features three different breeds across the sequence.

We kick things off with a mule race, and I’ve singled #4 FAST PATSY B. She loves Pleasanton, and while she hasn’t won since this meet last year, her best effort almost certainly beats these. I’m hoping the recent near-misses drive the price up a bit, especially since morning line favorite #1 DASHING JACK is just 1-for-14 over this surface.

Arabians take center stage in the second, and my top pick is the second-longest shot on the morning line. That’s #5 MURPHY MHF A, who adds Lasix in her first start on this surface. She’s been running at Delaware and Sam Houston against much better horses, and she took a step forward last time out. I’m using likely favorites #1 WMA FANTOM A and #2 AURUM REX A, but the bigger price is my key horse.

I’m two-deep in each of the last two legs. In the third, I’ll try to beat #3 BRILLIANT RICHIE, who hasn’t shown anything on dirt and may be beatable because of that. I prefer #2 THISONESFORJAMES, who won here last year, and #4 RED CLEM, who has won three of five starts since going to the barn of Steve Sherman.

Finally, the fourth race is a maiden claiming event, and I think the two likely favorites are going to be tough. #2 MIND TRICK has run well on dirt in the past, while #4 PAITASKA has shown plenty of early speed and could be formidable if he’s left alone on the front end.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: ALL
R7: 1,2
R8: 3
R9: 1,2,4,7

48 Bets, $24

Unlike the early sequence, I think the late sequence requires a deeper dive and deeper pockets. I’ve assembled a $24 ticket, and my single is a horse I’m really excited to bet.

The sixth is a very tough race to handicap. I can make cases for all six horses, many of whom haven’t run on dirt before and could easily just need a change in surface. Because of the short field (and because I’m not in love with the likely favorites), I have to buy the race, and in doing so, I’m hoping for a price to shake things up.

In the seventh, I’m focusing on the two inside horses. #1 GIMME SPACE may wind up being the lone closer in a race full of early speed, while #2 OUR MANEKI CAT has shown early zip and could take another step forward in his third career start. There isn’t much in the way of proven form signed on here, so I’ll settle for going two-deep and hoping that’s enough.

The eighth race is where I’ll take a stand, and I’m hoping to get the 4-1 morning line odds on #3 BIG BUZZ. His lone win came on dirt at Santa Anita, and while he’s bred to be a strong turf horse (he’s a full brother to Grade 3 winner Big Score, who has also placed in a Grade 1), there’s a chance he may have been a dirt horse all along. There’s plenty of pace signed on, and I really like him in this spot.

I’m going four-deep to finish things off. The finale is a maiden claimer, and I’m taking a stand against #5 LU CAT. He’s improved since going to Golden Gate, but his two dirt starts were far from impressive. I’ll try to beat him here, and if we do that, this ticket’s payoff potential increases significantly.

2019 Belmont Stakes: Full-Card Analysis, Selections, and Tickets

Saturday is Belmont Stakes Day, and the folks at NYRA have come up with one of the best days of racing on the planet. The eight Grade 1 races boast a bunch of strong wagering opportunities (especially later in the card), and the day is headlined by the third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

I’ll get to that first, because I know that’s what a lot of people want to read about. #9 WAR OF WILL and #10 TACITUS will almost certainly be the two favorites in some order, and for good reason. War of Will’s lone losses on dirt have come because of troubled trips, while Tacitus didn’t disgrace himself when third in the Kentucky Derby and is bred to handle this 12-furlong distance.

A lot of people are picking chalky exactas, and I see why. With that in mind, though, there are two bigger prices I need to have on my tickets. #4 TAX was an also-ran in the Derby, but I’m throwing that race out completely. He drew a terrible post and didn’t get his preferred stalking trip over a wet track (which he’d never run on before). There’s much less early speed signed on here, and he could sit an ideal trip just off the pace. He’s bred to like this trip, being by Arch and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, and I think he could bounce back in a big way.

I’ll also need to use #8 INTREPID HEART, and similar to Tax, I think you can draw a line through the last-out effort. Intrepid Heart didn’t break well in the Grade 2 Peter Pan and was never really in the race as a result. The blinkers go on, and I think he could be the one they’re chasing early. 12-furlong races like this are often won on the front end, and it wouldn’t surprise me if John Velazquez was able to dictate friendly terms going down the backstretch.

I’ll be using all four of those horses in some form or fashion, but what about the rest of the card? Well, I’ll be breaking down each race below, as well as offering several Pick Four tickets (there are three sequences, which start in the second, eighth, and 10th races) and a Grand Slam wager near the end.

Enough talk; let’s get on with the show!

RACE #1: We start off with a puzzling race, and given the six-horse field and how chalky the rest of the early Pick Five appears, many players will likely punch the “ALL” button. #5 PRINCIPLED and #6 POTOMAC strike me as the horses to beat, and I’ll be watching the board carefully. Potomac has run two big races in a row, but was claimed last time out by Carlos Martin. Martin may not be a household name, and he may only be hitting at about 10% on the meet, but he’s a capable horseman, and anything close to the last two efforts would make this one tough to beat.

RACE #2: It’s tough to trust many of the runners with lots of experience in this turf route, as they’ve had plenty of chances to graduate. Based on Beyer Speed Figures, #4 NO MANS LAND is the horse to beat, but his history of coming close and not getting the job done doesn’t inspire confidence.

I’m using him, but my top pick is actually #9 UNCLE ARTIE, who stretches out in distance and ran a decent race two back at Keeneland beneath Joel Rosario, who rides him again here. I’m also going to throw in 12-1 shot #8 THE MORMON MAULER, who likely needed his debut and could benefit from a big jockey switch to Luis Saez.

RACE #3: This is the Easy Goer, and the morning line man thinks this is a two-horse race between #4 OUTSHINE and #6 ALWAYSMINING. I prefer the former, who ran a very good second to the possible Belmont favorite two back and lost all chance at the start of the Wood Memorial. In addition to those two, I’m also throwing in #5 MAJID, who has won three in a row since going to the Rudy Rodriguez barn and seems like the main speed.

RACE #4: This is the Grade 1 Just A Game, and it’s the first of back-to-back races with short fields and a heavy favorite I just cannot get past. In this case, it’s #4 RUSHING FALL, a three-time Grade 1 winner and the likely lone speed in this race. I don’t see any other runner in here going with her to set up for the closers, and because of that, I think she wires the field for her eighth win in nine career starts.

RACE #5: It’s disappointing to see the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps only draw a field of five, especially given that the older mare division is quite strong. However, my best bet of the day is here, and it’s a horse that, as good as she is around two turns, has always hit me as even better around one.

#2 MIDNIGHT BISOU is even-money on the morning line, and anything above that would hit me as an overlay. She won the Mother Goose for fun here last year, and all indications are that she’s even better now. I think she’ll sit a perfect stalking trip in this short field, and such a journey would likely result in a fourth consecutive victory.

RACE #6: Now a Grade 1, the Jaipur has drawn some of the top turf sprinters in the country. This includes morning line favorite #8 WORLD OF TROUBLE, but while he merits lots of respect, he’s not my top pick. I don’t think he’ll be alone on the front end here, and that could set things up for likely second choice #6 DISCO PARTNER. He loves Belmont and likely needed his 2019 debut in the Shakertown, which could slightly inflate the price we get Saturday afternoon.

RACE #7: From a betting perspective, out of all the undercard races, I’m most excited about this one. This is the Grade 1 Acorn, and it features Kentucky Oaks winner #1 SERENGETI EMPRESS. I’m against her here, as I think it’s highly unlikely she gets gifted another perfect trip (as she did last time out).

#7 GUARANA is actually the morning line favorite, and while there’s a chance she’s good enough, this is only her second career start, and her lone race came over a sloppy, sealed Keeneland track. I want the second and third-place finishers from the Grade 2 Eight Belles, #4 BELL’S THE ONE and #8 QUEEN OF BEAS. Both are closers, and in a race full of speed, a pace meltdown seems likely. They’ll both be prices, and they’ll both be featured prominently on any multi-race exotics ticket I play.

RACE #8: Like the Jaipur, the Woody Stephens is now also a Grade 1, and I think Chad Brown holds a very powerful hand. #4 COMPLEXITY makes his 2019 debut after a long layoff, but he’s been working very well, and this seven-furlong distance should hit him right between the eyes. Meanwhile, stablemate #1 HONEST MISCHIEF would benefit from a fast pace, which seems very likely. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but he’s bred to be very good, and the last-out Beyer of 97 ties for the highest in this field.

RACE #9: Many would argue that the Grade 1 Met Mile is actually the best race on the Belmont Stakes Day program, and I can’t disagree. It features several of the top older horses in training, and I believe that, if one of the logical horses wins, that horse is in the driver’s seat for Horse of the Year honors at this point in the season.

#2 MCKINZIE has been pointed to this race for months. Bob Baffert could’ve shipped him to Dubai, but he kept him stateside, and when Baffert works backwards, he doesn’t lose often. This route should be perfect for him, and I think he’s definitely the horse to beat.

In multi-race exotics, I’ll also use #3 MITOLE and #7 FIRENZE FIRE. Mitole stretches out to a mile after successfully handling seven furlongs last month, while Firenze Fire looks like a world-beater at Belmont and certainly has home-course advantage. At any rate, this is a fascinating race, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

RACE #10: The Grade 1 Manhattan is the traditional lead-up for the Belmont, and this year’s renewal features #8 BRICKS AND MORTAR, likely the best turf horse in the country. He’s won four in a row, including two Grade 1 races, and if you want to single him, it’s understandable.

I loved #9 EPICAL before he was announced as a scratch, and I’m more than a bit bitter about not getting the chance to throw him in in hopes of him getting loose on the lead. If you’re looking for an alternative to Bricks and Mortar, I’d use #3 ROBERT BRUCE, who was beaten just a length in this race last year despite a strange trip. When he’s right, he’s very good, and he may not have cared for the wet turf course he got last time out.

RACE #12: They carded two races after the Belmont, and the first of those is a tricky optional claimer going long on the grass. I’m using the two bookends, and I think the most likely winner may be a square price.

That’s #10 BIRD’S EYE VIEW, who likes this turf course and has a substantial amount of back class. He’s run up against plenty of stakes-quality opposition, and I think his tactical speed will allow him to sit a perfect trip. I’m also going to use #1 PRIORITIZE, who almost certainly needed his last start and ran third in last year’s Grade 2 Hill Prince at this route.

RACE #13: We finish with the Grade 2 Brooklyn at the marathon 12-furlong distance. Unlike the Belmont, I think there may be a bit of speed signed on here, so my top pick is #6 ROCKETRY, who has shown a rare ability to make up ground going this long. He got very good near the end of last year, and if he channels that form, I think he’ll be the one they have to hold off late.

I’ll also use several of the other logicals, as #1 MARCONI, #2 CAMPAIGN, and #7 YOU’RE TO BLAME are all contenders in good form. This wound up a very intriguing betting race, and your guess is as good as mine with regard to which horse winds up favored.

MULTI-RACE EXOTIC TICKETS

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #2

R2: 4,8,9
R3: 4,5,6
R4: 4
R5: 2

9 Bets, $4.50

Either play it for cheap action early in the card, or punch it a few times to increase the potential payoff. I’m not sure how much this’ll pay, but I’ve at least left some room to beat a favorite or two early to squeeze whatever value I can out of the sequence.

$1 Grand Slam: Race #7

R7: 2,4,7,8
R8: 1,4,9
R9: 2
R10: 8

12 Bets, $12

I enjoy playing the Grand Slam at NYRA tracks when the payoff leg features a very heavy favorite. If you keep a chalk or two out of the money along the way, it’s essentially an enhanced-odds win bet (provided you get multiple tickets going, which is essential). That’s what I’m going for here, and hopefully I can get some value out of Bricks and Mortar in the Manhattan.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: 1,4
R9: 2,3,7
R10: 3,8
R11: 4,8,9,10

48 Bets, $24

I like this sequence a lot. There are no singles in some big fields, and there’s room for some prices to shake things up. With how big the pool’s going to be, I had to take a swing here, and I’m happy with this $24 ticket that could pay stacks if Tax gets home.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #10

R10: 3,8
R11: 4,8,9,10
R12: 1,10
R13: 1,2,6,7

64 Bets, $32

The last two races of the card may get lost in the shuffle, but they’re good betting races that don’t have clearly-defined favorites. This makes the final Pick Four of the day a very attractive sequence, one where I’ve got plenty of coverage for a reasonable amount of money.

Country House, Maximum Security, the Kentucky Derby, and the Question Nobody’s Asking

“What is a foul that merits disqualification?”

Like everyone else, I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around what happened Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs. It’s something we’ve never seen before: The winner of the Kentucky Derby was disqualified for interference during the running of the race.

As the social media age dictates, reaction to the decision has been mixed and loud, and it’s not expected to quiet down anytime soon. Many people I like and respect voiced support for the unanimous decision that disqualified Maximum Security and elevated Country House to the top spot. Many people I like and respect also thought it was a terrible, awful, no-good, very-bad call that disgraced the biggest race of the year.

My opinion is that the DQ was warranted. We can go on and on about this, but while Maximum Security didn’t bother Country House, his drifting nearly caused War of Will to clip heels, and Long Range Toddy was sandwiched as a result. Maybe neither horse was winning, and maybe Country House was never getting by, but I don’t think any of that matters.

However, I’m writing this not to take one side or the other, but to put forth an alternate hypothesis. With all due respect to the writers, handicappers, and pundits that have voiced their opinions…I don’t think it matters what any of us think of the decision.

Why? Because there’s a bigger elephant in the room nobody wants to address that was front and center Saturday afternoon.

“What is a foul that merits disqualification?”

Ask that question to officials in Kentucky, New York, Florida, and California, and you’re going to get four different answers. By the letter of the rules in each state, infractions that merit disqualification in one state don’t necessarily merit disqualification in another. This is even before the human element of the story comes into play (as a former TVG colleague states often, horse racing is the only sport where officials consult the athletes on whether or not to call a penalty).

If you bend or break the rules in any other sport, you know the penalty. If you’re a basketball player and you steamroll a defender whose feet are set, you lose the ball. If you’re a catcher on a baseball team and you inch up to where the batter has no chance to hit the ball, the batter gets first base. If you’re lined up on the football field and move before the ball is snapped, your team loses five yards.

“What is a foul that merits disqualification?”

Four states.

Four different answers.

One big problem.

A national racing commission is not the answer to horse racing’s abundance of issues. There are logical questions about who would run such a commission, and what groups would or would not be represented within it (any idea being floated around about this seems to shut out bettors; consciously done or not, that’s a big problem).

However, there is no reason why circuits cannot come together and implement one consistent code with regard to how races are ridden by jockeys and policed by stewards. At a time when racing is under a microscope for a variety of reasons, enacting such a code in the name of consistency, transparency, and fair play could only serve to benefit racing in any number of ways.

Gamblers would know what to expect in every single situation involving an inquiry or objection. Jockeys would know what not to do on the track, and how they would be punished for breaking the rules. The general public would see an effort to protect horses and riders, at a time when many concerned with safety are holding their collective breath every time fields go postward.

If circuits don’t trust one another (and let’s be honest, if they did, race scheduling would never be an issue), let the NTRA handle it. Put such a code into the guidelines of the safety accreditation process that every establishment goes through each year. If you’re a track, and you want that accreditation, you’re going to play by these rules. If you don’t want those rules in place, that’s fine, but members of the public are going to know where you stand and draw their own conclusions.

My issue isn’t whether or not Maximum Security deserved to come down. My issue is that there was no clear, concise answer about how to attack this situation. By the count of Horse Racing Nation editor Jonathan Lintner, it took 10 times longer to decide the outcome of the inquiry than it did to run the race. If there’s a code in place that everyone has to follow, from jockeys to stewards, there’s no subjectivity to the process, we all know what’s going to happen, and everything becomes much easier.

Following the race, one steward at Churchill Downs read a statement. She did not answer questions from the media or the public, and I do not have an issue with that. Stewards should not be spokespeople, just as referees should not speak to media covering their respective sports. Leave that stuff to the suckers in marketing and public relations (hi, Ed DeRosa!).

Having said that, in the scrum of unanswered questions involving such entities as Kentucky taxpayers, to the best of my knowledge, nobody asked the one question I wanted answered.

“What is a foul that merits disqualification?”

Your guess is as good as mine.

Isn’t that a problem?

Keeneland Selections and Analysis: 4/11/19

Best Bet: Talk Veuve to Me, Race 8
Longshot: Proud as Punch, Race 9

R1

Fashion’s Touch
Miss Harry
Saints’ Girl

#5 FASHION’S TOUCH: Romped against weaker last time out and takes a significant step up in class, but seems like the main speed in the Thursday opener. If left alone on the lead, he could be tough to catch; #2 MISS HARRY: Rallied to win by a neck earlier in the meet and will look to sit an ideal stalking trip once again here. It’s a quick turnaround, but this is a logical next step; #7 SAINTS’ GIRL: Hasn’t won in a while, but improved on the drop in class last time out and could take another step forward second off the bench.

R2

My Cadet
Morning Social
Into the Breach

#7 MY CADET: Was purchased privately after his debut, where he rallied to finish fourth for a barn that rarely has first-time starters cranked up. His workouts since have been sharp, and I’m hoping (but not confident) that we get the 8-1 morning line price; #1 MORNING SOCIAL: Has run well in three prior starts and comes back to the dirt for this event. He’ll have to work out a trip from the rail, but the Beard course’s distance shouldn’t be a problem; #4 INTO THE BREACH: Comes off a long layoff for Michael Dilger and will look to shake a case of seconditis. He has some strong past Beyer Speed Figures, but it’s tough to have too much confidence in a horse with six seconds in 11 starts.

R3

Tabia
Paladar
Believeinholidays

#2 TABIA: Stretches out to two turns and has the running style, pedigree, and connections to suggest he’ll love the added distance. The faster they go early, the more he’ll like it; #3 PALADAR: Woke up in his first start for Richard Baltas, a front-running score at Santa Anita. The chance of a regression off of a career-best race does exist, but a repeat of that effort would make him tough; #6 BELIEVEINHOLIDAYS: Put it all together last time out in the slop at Fair Grounds. He generally runs the same race every time, and such an effort would likely be good enough for a piece of it here.

R4

Handsome Honey
Firewater Jake
Quarky

#11 HANDSOME HONEY: Has run well in several recent turf routes at Fair Grounds and could get an ideal setup here. Many contenders in this full field want to be on or near the lead, and if this 8-1 shot can save some ground, he could come running late; #10 FIREWATER JAKE: Wired the field as a 6/5 favorite last time out and tries winners for Brad Cox, who’s gotten off to a big start this meet. He’s logical, but it’s tough to imagine him getting an easy lead from a less-than-ideal post; #15 QUARKY: Graduated in a swift time going much shorter at Tampa, but is bred to like two turns and could be coming around. He’ll need some luck to draw in, but he’s a contender if he does.

R5

Komrad
Odie
Knight Disruptor

#5 KOMRAD: Has run well since being dropped to this level and is a likely favorite here. He’s the main speed in this spot, which otherwise seems light on early zip; #6 ODIE: Takes a big drop in class after a disappointing run at Turfway Park. He was second in his debut over this track, and several of his races last year came against much better horses; #1 KNIGHT DISRUPTOR: Has not run since October, but could have enough speed to secure position along the rail. Such a trip could conceivably move him up.

R6

East Moon
Shackleford County
Weneedtotalk

#7 EAST MOON: Hasn’t run in a while, but looms large in this spot given her strong local form. Her dirt sprint races have been solid, and the steady work tab indicates she’s ready to go; #8 SHACKLEFORD COUNTY: Returns to Keeneland, which doubles as the site of her lone career win to date. She’s got some speed, and a run over her favorite track could wake her up; #1 WENEEDTOTALK: Just missed at this level at Fair Grounds last month. She figures to be going well late, but the rail draw isn’t usually ideal for a closer.

R7

Connectivity
Desert Ride
Mission From Elle

#4 CONNECTIVITY: Bounced last time out in a Grade 3, but has every right to return to her debut form. She was an impressive winner in her unveiling, and may get an ideal pace situation given the ample early speed surrounding her; #14 DESERT RIDE: Has hinted at considerable talent despite a pair of rough trips. She needs two scratches to run, but I think she’s a must-use if she gets in; #8 MISSION FROM ELLE: Much like my top pick, she won her debut impressively before faltering in a graded stakes race. Her two most recent workouts were sharp, and there’s reason to believe she can run to that form.

R8

Talk Veuve to Me
Upset Brewing
Awestruck

#1 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Was one of the better 3-year-old fillies in the country last year. She makes her 2019 debut here, and while she may need a race, she has tons of sprinting form, and a repeat of one of her runs from last year is likely more than enough; #5 UPSET BREWING: May be the lone in-form closer in this field, and if she gets a good setup, she’ll likely be going well late. I don’t know if it’s good enough to beat my top pick, but she’s a must-use in vertical exotics; #2 AWESTRUCK: Hasn’t won in a while, but takes a pretty big drop in class and likely gets a fast track for this event.

R9

Exult
Proud as Punch
Lake Nakuru

#9 EXULT: Has run second in both of his career starts, and his most recent effort came against a next-out winner. If he can transfer his Gulfstream form to the Keeneland turf course, he’ll be tough to beat; #2 PROUD AS PUNCH: Comes back to the grass after faltering as a 4/5 favorite in an off-the-turf event. He’s another that may be moving well when the field turns for home; #5 LAKE NAKURU: Has run second in all three starts and adds blinkers here. This barn is due to get going, and the presence of Joel Rosario is a plus.

Keeneland Selections and Analysis: 4/10/19

Best Bet: Keep Quiet, Race 5
Longshot: Buggy Brown, Race 8

R1

Champagne Affair
Merchants of Cool
Alec and Arthur

#7 CHAMPAGNE AFFAIR: Is one of two in here for Wesley Ward, whose record with first-time starters is one of the best in the game. Her sire, Daredevil, was a Grade 1-winning 2-year-old; #4 MERCHANTS OF COOL: Is the other Ward runner, and he’s been working consistently here. I think the race comes down to which of the barn’s runners is more ready to run; #6 ALEC AND ARTHUR: Comes in with a few solid gate works for a trainer that can get debuting runners ready to go.

R2

Coworker
Moti
Market Garden

#8 COWORKER: Has shown speed against better groups, and drops back in for a tag in a race light on early speed. He figures to go to the front early, and he could be tough to catch if he gets comfortable; #1 MOTI: Was a good second at Fair Grounds in his first start on dirt, where he made a decent move before flattening out. He was wide that day, and covering less ground could help; #5 MARKET GARDEN: Drops in class for a barn that knows how to win races here. This is his first start going long on dirt, and it comes against a suspect field.

R3

Stefanie On Fleek
Tula
Catsoutofthebag

#7 STEFANIE ON FLEEK: Has improved with each start to this point and faces winners for the first time. She came home very quickly last time out at Gulfstream, and trainer Todd Pletcher is off to a great start at the meet; #1 TULA: Put it all together last time out at Tampa against a weak field. She has back form, and must be respected even on the big jump up in class; #11 CATSOUTOFTHEBAG: Draws a very tough post but seems like the main speed in this race. Early speed is often formidable at Keeneland, and she could play a big role here at a price, especially if she clears.

R4

Marie’s Mandate
Duches of Grace
Miss Hannah

#4 MARIE’S MANDATE: Debuts against what seems like a suspect group after a string of solid local workouts. Brad Cox has already won three races at the meet, and he could have this filly ready to go; #5 DUCHES OF GRACE: Merits respect off of an OK second in the mud at Oaklawn in her debut. She’s the likely favorite, and she could conceivably improve at second asking; #1 MISS HANNAH: Was one-paced in her debut at Gulfstream, but this barn’s runners tend to improve with experience.

R5

Keep Quiet
Cuestion de Tiempo
Another

#6 KEEP QUIET: Has run well in both starts this year and returns to a turf course where he won a Grade 3 in 2016. He’s won just once since then, but his best race would make him very tough; #5 CUESTION DE TIEMPO: Merits respect at a price second off the layoff. He almost certainly needed his most recent race, and a repeat of his two-back win at Arlington makes him a contender; #2 ANOTHER: Won two back at Gulfstream and finished a credible fourth at this level last time out. The faster they go early, the more he’ll like it, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride back.

R6

Trappezoid
Day Dreamer
Nottoway

#9 TRAPPEZOID: Drops to his lowest-ever claiming tag and has tons of back class. His lone race here came against eventual stakes winner Promises Fulfilled, and the outside post should be a big help; #6 DAY DREAMER: Won for fun against weaker at Fair Grounds, and has since been claimed by Eddie Kenneally. He’s facing tougher company here, though, and regression off of a career-best race wouldn’t be surprising; #3 NOTTOWAY: Takes a big drop in class in search of his first win since July. Luis Saez hops aboard for a barn that’s due to heat up.

R7

In the Lee
Dynatail
Cartabianca

#4 IN THE LEE: Makes her seasonal debut, and while this race isn’t the goal, she’s been working well ahead of this event. She’s a graded stakes-caliber mare, and anything close to her best beats these; #8 DYNATAIL: Broke a long winless drought last time out in a race here in October. She’s got plenty of tactical speed and should be prominent early; #2 CARTABIANCA: Has won five races overseas and gets Lasix for her American debut. It’s tough to say much about what she beat in France, but the workouts here are very sharp.

R8

Buggy Brown
Parade Blue
Unbridled Outlaw

#9 BUGGY BROWN: Will almost certainly not be 8-1 given his high-profile connections, but has worked very well since being claimed by Tom Amoss. He’s got plenty of speed and will likely be urged hard from the gate; #2 PARADE BLUE: Drops in for a tag after two starts at Gulfstream against better horses. His two prior starts against claimers this winter were both wins; #5 UNBRIDLED OUTLAW: Takes a big drop in class off of a failed run in a minor stakes race at Gulfstream Park. A repeat of his efforts two or three back would make him a player.