Sunday’s card featured a no-win situation. The seventh race was rightfully ruled a no-contest after a bizarre sequence of events. Pick Four players were briefly left to wonder what was going on until the New York Racing Association made an official announcement that all tickets would be refunded.
Much like with the “make a race an ‘all’” Pick Five situation in the first week of the meet, NYRA made the correct call, albeit a bit later than most handicappers would’ve preferred. In both instances, I wouldn’t have minded a delay of the next race while the matter in question was fully sorted out. Waiting 10 or 15 minutes wouldn’t have hurt anyone, and it would’ve given bettors opportunities to re-evaluate sequences and bet accordingly.
These two instances are freak occurrences, though, and I won’t judge anyone for being thrown off by them. Hopefully, we can return to some semblance of normalcy over the last three-quarters of the meet.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Key of Life was one of several top picks of mine that scratched. As a result, all of my action was called off.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I cannot get past #2 DISARMED in the third, and I’ll wager in hopes of extracting some value. In addition to a $20 win bet on that runner, I’ll single him to finish off $5 doubles that start in the second with #4 DAILY BRIEFING and #6 BIG TONY’S GIRL. If we can beat the even-money chalk in the first leg, those doubles may pay pretty well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30.
Best Bet: Disarmed, Race 3
Longshot: Alice Kramden, Race 6
#1 ANCIENT TIMES: Has proven tough when left alone on the lead, both over fences and on the flat. This is his first steeplechase start against winners, but his early speed should be an asset, and I think he can wire this bunch; #8 WELSHMAN: Was perhaps wheeled back a bit quickly after his maiden-breaking score in April. However, Hall of Fame horseman Jack Fisher has rested him up for this one, and I expect him to be prominent from an early stage; #3 BEE MAJOR: Was pulled up last time out but prevailed two back. In his flat racing days, he definitely preferred firmer surfaces, and perhaps the soft going had something to do with his last-out clunker.
Big Tony’s Girl
#4 DAILY BRIEFING: Has a record that looks very solid if you solely focus on her dirt sprints. She was third last time in a race where she was probably a bit too far back early on. I expect her to be up closer here, and her usual effort would give her a big chance; #6 BIG TONY’S GIRL: Cuts back from seven furlongs to six and may benefit from drier going in this spot. Her lone start over a fast track this season was also her lone win of the year, and she bested my top pick two back downstate; #1 KNOT ANYMORE: Is an even-money favorite and may simply be too much in her first start for a tag, but I have my doubts. It’s not like she was running against world-beaters at Charles Town, and her races at Laurel, while OK, were a cut below her efforts over the West Virginia bullring. At her likely price, I’ll try to beat her.
#2 DISARMED: Hammered for $165,000 at auction last summer and has trained forwardly ahead of his debut. The recent four-furlong gate drill was a real head-turner, and there’s plenty of class in his pedigree, as dam Saravati is kin to multiple Grade 1 heroine You; #5 NOBLE HUNTSMAN: Is one of many debuting for barns whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. However, his dam won her debut sprinting on turf and is a half-sister to stakes-winner Carameaway, so this son of Noble Mission has a right to be a runner; #3 GENERAL BANKER: Is a full sibling to a four-time winner and is bred up and down to be a sharp turf sprinter. The lack of precocity from this barn is a red flag, but he boasts a few solid drills and figures to be a big price.
#2 BELLA SOFIA: Is 2-for-2 this season and looms large in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She won last year’s Grade 1 Test over this track, and her lone career misfire came over a Del Mar surface she may not have cared for last November; #1 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Is as consistent as they come, with 19 top-three finishes in 21 lifetime outings. She hasn’t won in more than a year, but she ran my top pick to a nose in the Grade 3 Vagrancy and gets four pounds from that rival today; #4 KIMARI: Might be over the top as a 5-year-old mare, but boasts the right running style as this event’s lone closing-type. She was third in the Grade 1 Madison two back at Keeneland, a race she won in 2021, and a performance that turns back the clock would put her right there.
#6 MOONEY LOVE: Makes his American debut after spending his career to date overseas. He cruised home in a minor stakes race in Germany last time out, and his prior connections ran him in a pair of Group 2 events last season. If his form made the trip with him across the Atlantic, look out; #2 FORWARDLY: Graduated last time out at Belmont and faces winners for the first time. He’s lightly-raced, so he may have further potential to improve, but the last-out second and third-place finishers have both come back to run mediocre races up here; #4 CURBSTONE: Gets back to the lawn after several starts over the main track at Churchill Downs. This race seems fairly light on early speed, and this front-runner’s best effort came going a mile and a quarter. He’ll likely be sent early on and lead them as long as he can.
#1 GAMBLING GIRL: Was 6/5 in her debut last month at Belmont and got a terrible trip. She checked hard going into the turn, got shuffled way back, was floated wide turning for home, and still ran fourth just a length behind the runner-up. A step forward and a less-eventful journey would make her formidable at second asking; #10 ALICE KRAMDEN: Hammered for $200,000 at auction last fall and gets a cushy outside post in her career debut. Her dam and second dam both won stakes races, and there are several works in this one’s tab that indicate she may have potential; #5 SILVER SKILLET: Sold for $260,000 across the street last summer and is training well ahead of her unveiling. Her dam was a stakes-winner that captured her debut, and first-call rider Joel Rosario will be aboard.
Mirth ’n Merriment
#5 MIRTH ’N MERRIMENT: Seems like the lone speed in this two-turn turf route, and those types are usually tough to bear. She topped older foes over Presque Isle’s synthetic course last time out and boasts a front-running win at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this season; #1 HATARI: Is one of two Mike Maker trainees in this field, and she gets the benefit of both a class drop and new jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. On figures, she fits, but will she get enough pace to run at?; #2 SPOOKY ROAD: May be the more forwardly-placed Maker runner, as she attracts both blinkers and aggressive gate rider Luis Saez. She goes second off the bench here and may have needed her comeback race at Belmont.
#8 O’GOTTEN GIRL: Takes a massive drop in class for aggressive connections and figures to be prominent early. A return to her mid-2021 form second off the layoff would make her tough to beat, and this is by far the weakest bunch she’s ever run against; #9 UNLOCK: Merits a look coming back to dirt after stopping badly against starter allowance foes on turf. Her effort two back, though, was sharp, and Dylan Davis sticking with this one after the clunker hits me as a good sign; #5 PREPOSTEROUS: Cuts back to this six-furlong distance and runs for a tag for the first time. This barn excels with horses going from routes to sprints, and the recent four-furlong drill here indicates she’s taken to this surface well.
Misty Veil (MTO)
#1 HIGH OPINION: Gets some class relief after winning a listed stakes race at Parx last month. She ran well here twice a season ago, including when she ran second to the talented Viadera in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa; #7 EVVIE JETS: Gets back to a two-turn route of ground, which she’s proven she loves. She won a pretty fast race for the level downstate last time out, and her lone local start was a wire-to-wire win last summer; #5 MESSIDOR: Has plenty of back class and most recently ran fourth in the Perfect Sting a few weeks ago. On figures, she more than fits, but she also has a history of finding trouble and doesn’t seem like the easiest horse to ride.
#4 COURSE RUNNER: Gets a tepid nod in a confusing Wednesday finale. Unlike several of her rivals, she has a recent race, having run fourth last month at Churchill for a barn whose first-time starters don’t usually win. She’s bred to be any kind and could take a significant step forward with experience; #11 AQUILA MOON: Showed speed first time out when fourth behind a pair of next-out winners. That was on Halloween of last year, so the layoff is a concern, but she’s trained consistently ahead of her return and draws well here; #8 DOVER DREAMS: Chased the likes of Nest and Goddess of Fire as a 2-year-old, so she has every right to improve with those fillies off competing at the highest level. She hasn’t run since September, but she gets Lasix for the first time and would be a pretty considerable overlay at anywhere close to the morning line price.