GUEST COLUMN: Andrew’s Dad Comes West (Plus Andrew’s Plays of the Day: 1/22/20)

RECORD: 13-7

Editor’s note: The reason I haven’t been posting daily blogs here is because my father’s been in town and we’ve been busy. I’d been posting on Twitter up until Tuesday, when I neglected to put forth a play. As a result, I’ll have two down below…but first, allow me to show you what turned me into the writer I became.

My dad flew west Friday, and the convergence of several horrible circumstances and lots of rotten luck hit him hard. Like a Champagne does, he wrote about it on Sunday, and I’m putting his chronicle here as a guest column. If you say he’s a better writer than I am, I won’t be offended!

“In late December I found some GREAT fares on Southwest to the west coast, so I scheduled an impromptu visit to my son for the long MLK Day weekend. I paid for the outgoing leg with points and thought that was great. Little did I know…

Departure on Friday was delayed. As the Southwest rep announced it, “We are waiting for one last passenger to exit the aircraft.” She neglected to mention that the guy was exiting on a stretcher after an apparent heart attack. Then we began to board – briefly. We were once again delayed with an announcement that they could not depart until the canister of oxygen the heart attack victim used up was replaced, and they had to wait for another aircraft to arrive to grab one. God forbid the maintenance people should have spares. So then we boarded and sat on the tarmac for another half hour (paperwork… BS, I was taking it personally by this point), blowing through the departure time for my initial connecting flight in Baltimore.

Now the fun starts. I got a text from Southwest telling me they’d re-booked me on a flight through Austin which would get me to the west coast about 5 hours later than my initial itinerary laid out. When we arrived in Baltimore they coasted us into the gate right next to the gate the Austin flight was leaving from – so we had a great view of MY flight pushing back.

Another text arrived immediately, informing me I had again been re-booked on a flight through Denver. The texts were coming fast and furious now, as I was told soon after that this flight had been delayed 3 hours.

And then it was cancelled.

There were no options to get out of Baltimore Friday on Southwest at this point since most of the Midwest connect points were socked in with the storm and all existing flights were sold out to people who’d been screwed before they got to me. The last text I got said they were re-booking me through Salt Lake City: 48 hours later. I don’t think so.

Enter my son, who found me a nonstop redeye on United Airlines that left late Friday evening (from Washington) and would get me to San Francisco an hour after midnight, so off I went to Southwest baggage claim to get my suitcase (such as it was, as I was to find out 2 days later). After an hour and a half, they told me they’d given up trying to find it, and off I went on a 60 mile Lyft ride to Dulles Airport. For those keeping score at home, the Lyft (with tip) cost $94. The flight (with $39 extra for a couple more inches of leg room) was $563. So off I went on a six hour nonstop flight headed west in the middle seat surrounded by screaming children – and at this point I was about ready to join them.

While I was flying, my son was shopping. A pair of dress pants, a polo shirt, and some toiletries later, we can add another $75 or so to the extra costs of this mess. But I DID get to where I was going.

So Saturday, off we went to the FABULOUS Golden Gate Fields with an eye toward recouping some of this money – broken up by several unfruitful calls to Southwest’s Oakland Airport baggage claim. They kept telling me that the last time my bag was scanned was in Baltimore and that it would eventually catch up with me – then, my last call produced a new tidbit, that the bag was now in Salt Lake City. This meant it got there more than 24 hours before I would have, had I kept the last re-book they set up for me.

After dinner the call from Southwest came. My bag was now in Oakland. Per the poor guy who had to call me, “It has some damage.” So Sunday morning brought another airport excursion. I dealt with a very nice lady who brought my bag out of their storage room IN A TRASH BAG – and told me the damage happened in freaking BALTIMORE. This meant I was intentionally not given what was left of my bag there.


I ended up having to go through everything that was in the suitcase to identify specific damage. They gave me sort of a zip bag to move stuff into after telling me they usually replace suitcases but they didn’t have any of those (of course). Casualties were a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, some socks, and a couple of golf shirts. Surprisingly, much of my stuff survived the trip – especially since the bag looked like it had been attacked by the tiger who says “Hello, Lunch!!” in the Dr. Doolittle ad.

So… a $175 travel voucher, refund of the points I paid for the trip with, refunded Early Bird boarding charges, and a check for $200 (they originally didn’t have any of those, either) later, I’m back in Concord…for now… the baggage lady at Oakland encouraged me keep bothering them… and after receiving ANOTHER text TODAY re-booking me for January 29, I am NOT in a forgiving mood.

The saga continues.”

– – – – –

WEDNESDAY’S PLAYS: Because I didn’t have anything Tuesday, I’m putting forth two plays for Wednesday. In SEC action, Alabama, a team that’s won three of its last four (including a victory over Auburn), goes to Vanderbilt, a squad that’s winless in conference play. The nine-point spread hits me as too small, and I think the Crimson Tide covers it with ease. Additionally, in small-college hoops, Navy travels to Boston University, and both teams can score. Because of that, I’m taking the over on the total, which is at 127.5 as of this writing.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/27/19)



Over the past few years, I’ve wondered aloud why the Curlin Stakes is carded for the same week as the Jim Dandy. Every year, without fail, an ungraded, $100,000 race takes one or two horses that may have been contenders in Saratoga’s main prep for the Travers. Simply put, it doesn’t make any sense to me.

Here’s the idea I seem to pitch annually: Move the Curlin to Travers Day. I’d rather lose a few 30-1 shots from that race than lose 8-1 shots from the Jim Dandy. This would give the Curlin a similar purpose to that of the Easy Goer, which is run on the Belmont Stakes undercard. It would be a far better fit on the calendar in that spot, and I sincerely hope rational logic prevails sooner rather than later.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Doubles were rendered null and void when the second race was moved from turf to dirt.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ve never been a real believer in this year’s bunch of American turf horses (aside from Bricks and Mortar). With that in mind, I’ll put some money behind Chilean invader #3 YA PRIMO in race 10, the Grade 2 Bowling Green. I’ll put $10 on him to win and place, and I’ll also play $5 doubles singling him that start in the ninth (the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt) with #1 MITOLE and #4 FIRENZE FIRE.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Grandview entry, Race 4
LONGSHOT: Ya Primo, Race 10


Teachable Moment
Wild Weekend
Blacktop Legend

#3 TEACHABLE MOMENT: Takes a big drop for formidable connections in just his second start of the season. A return to his 2018 form would almost certainly be good enough to beat these; #8 WILD WEEKEND: Debuts for Joe Sharp and sports several solid works ahead of his unveiling. This barn has had success with firsters in maiden claimers, and he may be a square price; #6 BLACKTOP LEGEND: Cuts back in distance after tiring a bit going a mile downstate. His lone turf sprint to date was OK, and Rosario riding back is a plus.


Rapido Gatta
Doll Collection

#1 RAPIDO GATTA: Raced very wide when third last time out at Belmont. The rail draw, while not ideal, should ensure she covers less ground, and she seems to have enough early zip to establish position; #3 DOLL COLLECTION: Regally-bred daughter of Tapit and star sprinter Groupie Doll cuts back in distance after finishing second going a mile at Churchill. The blinkers seem to have helped, and she may be on the improve; #7 QUASAR: Comes back to dirt after a failed experiment on turf last time out and also adds blinkers. Her races two and three back were fine, and the recent clunker could mean a solid price.


Flying P entry (MTO)
Mission Command

#5 MISSION COMMAND: Clearly prefers the grass and relished a return to the lawn last month at Belmont. That race came at this level, and while this came up as a pretty salty race for the level, his best would make him a contender at a price; #8 SPECTROLITE: Drops in class for this event and certainly seems like the main speed in here. His lone start at this route was a win in a 2017 starter allowance, and he’s hit the board in 11 of 13 career outings; #6 SCOUT’S HONOR: Found himself on the lead last time out, and that’s not his game. The 10-year-old veteran is best when stalking the pace, and he may get that trip here.


Grandview entry

GRANDVIEW ENTRY: Both #1 SHOPLIFTED and #1A SOVIET can win this, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the two colts ran 1-2. I prefer the former, who fetched $800,000 earlier this year at auction and boasts a very strong gate drill on July 14th; #5 KOWALSKI: Ran pretty well when third in his debut, and this barn doesn’t usually have firsters ready to roll. His pedigree says he’ll get better with more experience; #7 COMPLEXIFIER: Will likely be a big price, as this barn’s horses usually need a race or two to get going. However, his workouts are sharp, and I think he has a big shot to outrun his odds.


Control Group (MTO)
Keep Quiet

#7 EMARAATY: Makes his first start in more than a year after coming over from Europe, where he ran against some of the best horses on the continent. His running lines are dotted with names like Expert Eye, U S Navy Flag, and Mendelssohn, and if he’s ready, he likely wins; #9 KEEP QUIET: Loves Saratoga and has run well in all four of his starts this season. This will be his first start for the Steve Asmussen barn, and he should be running well late; #2 FRONTIER MARKET: Won two in a row late last year before heading to the sidelines and merits respect for the Brown barn. If his stablemate isn’t 100%, he has a big shot.


More Mischief
Makin’ Out

#9 MORE MISCHIEF: Was second in her return to the races back in May and flashed talent as a 2-year-old. Her recent local drills look strong, and she may be able to rate off of what figures to be a fast early pace; #1 MAKIN’ OUT: Romped here last year, but hasn’t been seen in the afternoon since September. She’s worked well of late and may be ready to run; #5 FLASHPACKINBARBIE: Waltzed home by more than eight lengths in her debut at Aqueduct and earned a strong 77 Beyer Speed Figure. She’s been freshened up since then and may be ready to take a step forward at second asking.


Economic Policy
Blanket of Roses
Are You Kitten Me

#5 ECONOMIC POLICY: Fetched $210,000 at auction in 2017 and is a half-brother to two winners. He’s bred to love two turns on turf and gets my nod in a tricky 2-year-old race; #2 BLANKET OF ROSES: Completes a strong 1-2 punch for Chad Brown and is another that should like this journey. His dam is a full sister to Grade 3 winner Derby Kitten, and the presence of Javier Castellano doesn’t hurt; #6 ARE YOU KITTEN ME: Isn’t necessarily bred to be precocious, but he’s been working well for a very capable outfit and attracts Jose Ortiz. He’s cross-entered in a race at Ellis Park, but if he runs here, I think he’s a contender.


Fortune’s Fool

#5 FORTUNE’S FOOL: Dueled through fast fractions last time out before being reeled in by a talented 3-year-old, and this seems like a weaker spot. Castellano rides back, and a repeat effort should be enough to get the job done; #4 CHATEAU: Reeled off three wins in a row not long ago and figures to be on or near the lead early on. He’d likely prefer a wet track, but his fast-track form is still fine; #9 OVERDELIVER: Has a record that looks far better if you toss the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. He cuts back in distance and draws favorably here, but this seems a hair shorter than he wants to go.


Firenze Fire
Imperial Hint

#1 MITOLE: May be the best older male in training right now and looms large in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt. The rail draw isn’t ideal, and there’s other early speed signed on, but anything close to his best would make him a formidable foe; #4 FIRENZE FIRE: Was fifth behind Mitole in the Grade 1 Met Mile, but shortens up and may get plenty of pace to run at. That convergence of factors may make him a contender at a square price; #3 IMPERIAL HINT: Looks to defend his title in this race, but may have lost a step from his 2018 form. He makes his first start since a third-place finish in Dubai here, and he’ll need to have his running shoes on.


Ya Primo
Channel Maker

#3 YA PRIMO: Makes his American debut for Chad Brown after establishing himself as one of the top horses in his native Chile. This doesn’t seem like a strong race for the level, and foreign invaders getting Lasix for the first time often take big steps forward; #5 CHANNEL MAKER: Ran fourth behind Bricks and Mortar, America’s top older male on turf, in the Grade 1 Manhattan and returns to defend his title in the Bowling Green. He likes this turf course, and there may be enough pace signed on to set up for him; #1 ARKLOW: Is a consistent sort that generally runs the same race every time out. He was a neck behind Channel Maker in the Man o’ War and is another that would benefit from a fast pace.


War of Will
Global Campaign

#6 WAR OF WILL: Ran like a tired horse in the Belmont, which was his sixth race in less than five months. He’s been freshened up for this event and could sit an ideal stalking trip, which would allow him to channel the form he showed winning the Preakness; #5 TACITUS: Was a good second in the Belmont and has won at this distance and two-turn route configuration before. He may want more early speed, and this isn’t the goal, but if he’s ready to run, he’ll be tough; #4 GLOBAL CAMPAIGN: Wired the field in the Grade 2 Peter Pan, which included eventual Belmont winner Sir Winston. He’s certainly got talent; the question is, does he want two turns?


Surge Pricing
My Macho

#5 SURGE PRICING: Won his debut and was fourth against winners last time out at Belmont. He adds blinkers and takes a big drop in class back to the claiming ranks, and he looms large in the Saturday finale; #4 MY MACHO: Raced wide last time out at Laurel and is another dropping in for a tag. This is his second start off the bench, and he’s won going two turns on turf before; #12 LETTERMAN: Faded to eighth in his first start against winners last time out, but won impressively two back at Aqueduct. That was a two-turn race, and he returns to that configuration here.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 7/28/18


BANKROLL: $887.50

The monsoon that hit Saratoga Friday afternoon came at a much-needed time for yours truly. The track had turned into one that was heavily tilted to horses with early speed, and given that I submit picks about 36 hours before each day’s first post, chances are any bias that pops up will work against me. Heavy rain like that, though, tends to reset the track, and a fair track definitely benefits me given the way I handicap and submit my content.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I got washed out for the second straight day, as both of the horses I used in the second race scratched.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll have two main plays on the card. Assuming the second race stays on turf (no cinch given Friday’s weather and the overnight forecast), I’ll put $5 to win and place on #2 CALIFORNIA SWING, my top longshot of the day. Additionally, I’ll play a cold $20 double beginning in the seventh race that singles both #3 ENGAGE and #4 IMPERIAL HINT.



Friday’s Results: 3 for 9
Meet Results (to date): 19 for 68

Best Bet: Engage, Race 7
Longshot: California Swing, Race 2


Carter Cat
Party With Friends

#11 CARTER CAT: Improved at second asking and was beaten just a half-length in an off-the-turf event at Churchill Downs. He’s bred up and down for turf, and merits a long look if he draws in off the AE list; #6 PARTY WITH FRIENDS: Has several flashy works on the tab, as well as a high turf Tomlinson rating (314). He’s a full to a four-time winner, and the bottom side of his pedigree is incredibly strong; #5 HALLADAY: Is bred in the purple and goes out for Todd Pletcher, whose debut runners must always be respected. If there’s a concern here, it’s that he’s bred to go much further than 5 1/2 furlongs.


St. Louie Guy (MTO)
California Swing

#2 CALIFORNIA SWING: Could benefit from the likely race shape, one that should set things up for a closer. He was a good second at this level downstate, and he won over this turf course last season; #11 NILEATOR: Was claimed out of his last race by Eddie Kenneally, whose numbers with new acquisitions are very strong. He’ll need to work out a trip from the far outside, but his tactical speed should help; #3 WESTERN RESERVE: May be bet pretty heavily on the drop in class, but he hasn’t won in more than a year and there’s plenty of other speed signed on. On most of my tickets, I’ll try to beat him. DIRT SELECTIONS: ST. LOUIE GUY, DRIVEN BY THUNDER, NILEATOR.


Consensus Thinking
Gray Nile
Air On Fire

#5 CONSENSUS THINKING: Drops in for a tag after two solid efforts downstate. He’s been working well up here, and he looms large on the drop in class for powerhouse connections; #3 GRAY NILE: Went way too far last time out, so it’s easy to toss that race. His efforts two and three back against similar-level foes at Churchill were fine, and it helps that the two-back winner repeated at next asking; #7 AIR ON FIRE: Has been gelded since his last start, which came at Prairie Meadows against straight maidens. His best race gives him a shot, but he’s had lots of chances, and it’s tough to trust him at a fairly short price.


Fair Regis
Bowl of Kisses
Trouble for Skylar

#4 FAIR REGIS: Has run seven strong races in a row and comes in off a sharp win at Belmont at this level. Falcone has enjoyed great success with a smaller barn, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., chooses to ride this filly when he almost certainly had other options; #6 BOWL OF KISSES: Has won two in a row, including prevailing in a head-bob over my top pick last time out. There’s other early speed in here, though, so she may have to work a bit harder early on than she’s accustomed to; #2 TROUBLE FOR SKYLAR: Wants no part of turf and comes back to her preferred surface. She romped in her debut here last July, and I think she has a big shot to outrun her odds.


Aurelius Maximus

#3 AURELIUS MAXIMUS: Is one of the best-bred 2-year-olds on the grounds. He’s by Pioneerof the Nile, and his dam, second dam, and third dam were all graded stakes winners. He’s a half to Grade 2 winner Chief Havoc and has been working lights-out ahead of his debut; #10 COAST: Is a well-bred first-time starter from the Todd Pletcher barn that cost $500,000 at auction earlier this year. His dam was a Grade 2 winner, and he’s a half to multiple stakes-winning sprinter Balandeen; #11 MUCHO: Was second to Whiskey Echo last month, and that one came back to run third in the Grade 3 Sanford. Bill Mott trainees sometimes need a race to get going, and he could show improvement if he draws in off the AE list.


Honorable Treasure (MTO)
Uncle Gio

#11 LUNAIRE: Gets my top pick in a race where half the field could conceivably win. This one hasn’t won in a while, but exits some pretty tough races and could get some speed to rate behind beneath Javier Castellano; #4 UNCLE GIO: Has run six solid races in a row, and has only finished worse than third once in that stretch. He cuts back to a friendlier distance, and John Velazquez keeps the mount; #9 PENALTY: Has run two solid turf races in a row and has a pedigree that suggests he wants this two-turn route. He’s a bit one-paced, but that could work to his advantage here given the added distance. DIRT SELECTIONS: HONORABLE TREASURE, CHRIS AND DAVE, DR. SHANE.


Promises Fulfilled
World of Trouble

#3 ENGAGE: Beat a number of these rivals when second in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, and he should once again be able to watch as a sizzling pace is set in front of him. He’s this race’s lone true closer, and he could come flying late; #2 PROMISES FULFILLED: Led into the stretch of the Woody Stephens before yielding and finishing third behind two closers. His one-turn races are strong, and he’s certainly got plenty of early zip; #6 WORLD OF TROUBLE: Looked like a future star when he smashed stakes foes at Tampa three back, but his last two races have been a bit of a disappointment. However, the Servis barn has been going great, so he can’t be completely dismissed.


Imperial Hint
Warrior’s Club

#4 IMPERIAL HINT: Has seven wins in his last eight starts if you toss the Grade 2 Churchill Downs (which was contested in an absolute quagmire). He’s one of the best sprinters in the country, and he’s been working very well at Parx leading up to this event; #1 SWITZERLAND: Has come to hand for Steve Asmussen, having won four in a row. His win in Maryland was sharp, but he wasn’t exactly flattered when runner-up Long Haul Bay didn’t fire earlier this week; #3 WARRIOR’S CLUB: Looks much better if you toss his races at longer than seven furlongs. He may not be as talented as the top two, but this is his preferred trip, and he’s run well at Saratoga in the past.


Hi Happy
Sadler’s Joy
Money Multiplier

#7 HI HAPPY: Seems like one of the few potential speed horses in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 2 Bowling Green. He’s one of many exiting the Grade 1 Manhattan, but unlike a few of them, he’s proven at this level given the wins two and three back; #6 SADLER’S JOY: Won last year’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer here and nearly added another such score in the Manhattan, when he was second beaten just a neck. He’s a consistent sort, but the question is, will he get enough of a pace to rate behind?; #8 MONEY MULTIPLIER: Was second behind stablemate Funtastic in the Grade 1 United Nations after winning the Grade 2 Monmouth two back. His best effort would give him a big shot, but one has to wonder if his favorite track is at the shore, not the Spa.


Vino Rosso

#1 FLAMEAWAY: Has danced a lot of dances this year and run well against high-level competition. He’s got plenty of speed, his recent workouts have been sensational, and Jose Ortiz signing on can’t be ignored; #5 VINO ROSSO: Took a brave run at Justify in the Belmont before running out of gas and settling for fourth. His Wood Memorial win three back was good, but it’s worth noting he lost to Flameaway twice at Tampa earlier this year; #2 TENFOLD: May be favored given his third-place finish in the Preakness two back. Having said that, he’s still eligible for allowance conditions, and the Preakness being contested amidst a storm of epic proportions doesn’t give me confidence that the effort in question can be repeated.


Cash Out

#6 REVERSETHEDECISION: Was a fast-closing second in a stakes race at Monmouth last time out, and that day’s winner has since come back to win again. There’s speed signed on here, and this filly could finish off a big day for trainer Chad Brown; #4 FRIPPERY: Made a big middle move last time out at Delaware Park and couldn’t sustain it, settling for second in a minor stakes race. Arnaud Delacour means business when he ships here, and Joel Rosario’s presence can’t be ignored; #11 CASH OUT: Gets necessary class relief after spending much of her career in graded stakes races. She’s hit the board in two of them, and she’s another that could be moving well late in a wide-open finale.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 7/29/17



Today’s Jim Dandy is light on quantity, but not on quality. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing headline the field in today’s 10th race, and a win by either would likely make the victorious horse your favorite in next month’s Travers Stakes.

Ahead of what’s sure to be many marketing-speak versions of, “All three Triple Crown race winners are pointing to the Travers,” though, is my annual word of caution. It seems like whenever such a matchup is hyped, we get a Travers winner from out of left field. Runaway Groom topped all three major winners in 1982, Will Take Charge topped Orb and Palace Malice in 2013, and most recently, a big gray named Arrogate made Exaggerator and Creator look ordinary last summer. I’m not saying there isn’t cause to be excited, but let’s not go overboard, okay?

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Our two exacta horses ran third and fifth in the fifth race, and we dropped $20.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll get involved in the late Pick Five, which features three graded stakes races. I’ll be kind to The Pink Sheet’s copy desk and save space by not spelling out most of the names and just using numbers: 7,8,11 with 3,4,8 with 1,7 with 1 (ALWAYS DREAMING in the Jim Dandy) with 2,3,4,6. Hopefully, we can extract some value out of a heavy favorite this way.



Best Bet: Always Dreaming, Race 10
Longshot: Chirping, Race 4


Bourbon Resolution

BOURBON RESOLUTION: Finished just a half-length back in his debut, where he was outsprinted early and made a wide move. The third-place finisher from that race has since come back to win, which flatters this one; MOJOVATION: Is one of two in here for Todd Pletcher, but I’m taking a bit of a stand against him. The recent works are solid, but the five-furlong works aren’t as impressive as the four-furlong drills, and there likely won’t be betting value here, either; LIONITE: Fetched $330k at auction last September and earned a bullet for a five-furlong gate drill earlier this month. This barn hasn’t gotten off to a great start at the meet, but this colt seems talented.


Surprise Twist

HIEROGLYPHICS: Has not run a bad race since being switched to the turf and could sit a dream stalking trip in this spot. A repeat of his most recent effort downstate could win this; PAGLIACCI: Was third in the race my top pick exits and figures to be prominent early in this spot. His lone win came going a two-turn route of ground, and he may appreciate coming back to such a trip; SURPRISE TWIST: Took a step forward to win at second asking and faces winners for the first time. It’s tricky to gauge how Maryland form will translate to Saratoga, but Arnaud Delacour attracts Javier Castellano and we may get a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: PAINTER’S RAGS, PAGLIACCI, JUNKET.


Kirby’s Penny
Kentucky Dancer

KIRBY’S PENNY: May have been a dirt horse all along despite breaking her maiden here on turf last summer. She was a strong second last out in the slop, and the third-place finisher came back to win earlier in this meet; KENTUCKY DANCER: Ran a clunker last out in a turf experiment and comes back to dirt. She’s been running against weaker foes, but she also hasn’t run a bad race on fast dirt since March of 2016; AREWEHAVINGFUNYET: Steps up to starter allowance company after a win against claiming competition last out at Belmont. There’s a ton of speed signed on, and while the rail isn’t ideal, she could be picking up the pieces late.


El Dulce
Ultima D

EL DULCE: Fetched $200k at auction earlier this year and has worked well for Todd Pletcher. This race is a real head-scratcher, but offspring of Twirling Candy can usually run on turf and his dam was a stakes winner; CHIRPING: Is a longshot on the morning line, but has the pedigree to be a runner. His dam is a half to Grade 1 winners Coil and Chiropractor, and Tom Proctor found the Saratoga winner’s circle with several prices last summer; ULTIMA D: Was a good second when last seen two months ago on the synthetic track at Woodbine. She ran into a next-out stakes winner in her debut and has more of a foundation than any other horse in the field. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAME.


Coal Front
Mo Cash

COAL FRONT: Has done nothing wrong in two starts against older, more-experienced competition. He makes his graded stakes debut today, and continued progression would make him very difficult to beat; MO CASH: Has done quite well in Florida and was most recently a close second in the Grade 3 Carry Back. He’s got plenty of early zip and will likely make the lead; EXCITATIONS: Gets the one-turn route he likely wants in this spot. Any speed duel would likely work in his favor, as he should be running well late.


Call Provision
Maker entry

CALL PROVISION: Probably needed his 2017 debut, which was won by a horse competing in today’s Grade 2 Bowling Green. He’s won at this distance before, and you could argue his best race was his allowance win here last summer; MAKER ENTRY: I prefer ST. LOUIE, who won at this distance last out at Belmont and likely wants as much ground as possible. The far outside post for that one is discouraging, but we may get a price; TATHQEEF: Returned to turf with aplomb in his last-out victory. Among the horses he chased going long in Europe last year was eventual Group 1 winner Hawkbill, so there’s back class here. DIRT SELECTIONS: WAR STROLL, ALTAR BOY, TATHQEEF.


Just Got Out (MTO)
Ack Naughty
Mom’s On Strike

ACK NAUGHTY: Likes to run second, but did so in a stakes race last time out in a race she may have needed. She has four top-two finishes in five starts on this turf course, and she’s a logical favorite; MOM’S ON STRIKE: Turned heads in her turf debut, which came in the Pebbles back in October. She hasn’t raced since, but Joe Sharp can get horses ready off long layoffs, and a repeat of that effort could win this; AWESOME SONG: Has been snake-bitten of late, losing three straight photo finishes. The outside draw isn’t perfect, but she could be the controlling speed under Castellano. DIRT SELECTIONS: JUST GOT OUT, MOM’S ON STRIKE, CRIMSON FROST.


A.P. Indian
El Deal
Limousine Liberal

A.P. INDIAN: Was the best sprinter on the grounds here a season ago, and he’ll look to defend his Vanderbilt title. He loves this track, and he could sit just off what figures to be a contested early pace; EL DEAL: Has quarter horse-type early speed and comes north after a dominant win in a minor stakes at Monmouth. Jorge Navarro’s barn is one of the hottest in the country, but this is a major class test; LIMOUSINE LIBERAL: Has won three in a row at Churchill Downs, and shippers from there have done quite well to this point in the meet. He may want a hair longer, but he’s another who would be helped by a scorching pace early on.


Bigger Picture
Frank Conversation

BIGGER PICTURE: Certainly reaped the benefits of a solid pace when winning the Grade 1 United Nations earlier this month. He has, however, shown flexibility in his running style, and he won at this route last summer; ASCEND: Pulled off a shocker on Belmont Day when winning the Grade 1 Man o’ War over several rivals that also show up here. The added furlong is a question mark, though, and we likely won’t get any value here; FRANK CONVERSATION: Was a good second in a Grade 2 at Santa Anita when last seen in May. He’s got a running style that indicates he wants this trip, and this barn has shipped cross-country to win major races here before.


Always Dreaming
Cloud Computing

ALWAYS DREAMING: Dropped anchor in the Preakness, but I think you can draw a line through that race. Pletcher very rarely runs horses back that quickly, and a return to this one’s Derby-winning form would almost certainly mean a win here; CLOUD COMPUTING: Was very sharp in winning the Preakness, but he had lots going his way that day, between the pace and my top pick’s bounce off his Derby win. He may need to be more forwardly-placed today; PAVEL: Debuted with a smashing win at Santa Anita earlier this month. Going from that race to tackling divisional heavyweights is a tall order, but it sure seems like there’s potential here.


Durable Goods
Wake Island
Fashion Week

DURABLE GOODS: Was sharp in her debut, and that effort wins plenty of races at that level. Improvement is logical at second asking, and two turns shouldn’t be a problem; WAKE ISLAND: Could easily complete a Chad Brown exacta in the finale. She hasn’t run since November, but her turf races from last season were solid and her worktab is strong ahead of her 2017 debut; FASHION WEEK: Hasn’t turned many heads in two dirt tries, but there’s a lot of turf in her pedigree. Her dam was a Grade 1-placed mare on the lawn, and Velazquez staying aboard for Shug is a plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: WAKE ISLAND, FASHION WEEK, MAGICAL SKY.