TimeformUS Race Analysis (2024)

Picks & Plays for Saturday, June 22

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 6 - 1A/1 - 3 - 2
Race 2: 3 - 5 - 1 - 4
Race 3: 7 - 1 - 3 - 4
Race 4: 6 - 1 - 7 - 3
Race 5: 7 - 1 - 4 - 8
Race 6: 8 - 4 - 6 - 2
Race 7: 2 - 3 - 7 - 4
Race 8: 2 - 1 - 3 - 12
Race 9: 7 - 1A - 3 - 8
Race 10: 8 - 9 - 3 - 4
Race 11: 2 - 9 - 5 - 6

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 1

Chad Brown sends out an entry that figures to go off at a very short price in the opener. Factor Analysis (#1) is the half that's proven at the distance, having finished third over this trip last month. He was staying on well in a couple of one-mile events at Tampa in her first two starts, but did run a faster speed figure once stretched out to this 11-furlong distance last time. He got a pretty good trip saving ground every step of the way, but the race did feature a pretty slow pace and the top two finishers had better forward position. He's extremely logical, but you’re not going to get much of a price as a coupled entry with Vesting (#1A). This Irish-bred son of sprinter Blue Point took a little money on debut, especially considering what a competitive race that May 19 affair turned out to be. He ran pretty well considering the trip. He was reserved in behind and between horses early, and appeared to have some run in upper stretch but just lacked a clear path, altering course before flattening out. It’s an interesting decision to stretch him out to this marathon distance now, but he does have some stamina on the bottom side of his pedigree. I’m never looking to take a short price on entries, so I want to find a viable alternative. De La Cruz (#6) hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet as a half-brother to Kentucky Oaks and Alabama winner Proud Spell. Yet this gelding by turf influence Divisidero clearly prefers the grass. He took a nice step forward in his second start at Gulfstream, rallying late despite hanging on his left lead through the lane, still looking a little green. His 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest number in this field, and that’s proven to be a legitimate race. Winner Time Song came back to finish third with a 106 TimeformUS Figure in a loaded allowance race at Saratoga two weeks ago. De La Cruz was bet down to favoritism last time at Monmouth. After getting held back while keen early, he was finishing well once getting into the clear but just was left with too much to do. He runs like a horse that might appreciate some more ground, and now gets a rider upgrade to Joel Rosario.

Fair Value:
#6 DE LA CRUZ, at 7-2 or greater

RACE 4

Linda Rice’s influence is all over this race. At one point or another she’s trained 5 of the 7 horses in this field, including two who are currently in her barn. The potential favorite is Principe d’Oro (#7), who was claimed away from Linda two starts ago. He ran well when finally getting class relief two back, winning at this distance with a competitive speed figure. He didn’t fare as well when raised in class for a new barn last time, but he really lost all chance at the start. He’s a horse who wants to be forward, and he got steadied badly after the start, putting him out of position. I expect him to run better here with the turnback and switch to an outside post. Storming Chrome (#3) narrowly lost that race with a good trip, but I’m not sure the turnback necessarily benefits him as much. He’s another horse who does his best running when he’s forward, and it appears that others are naturally faster. I think both of the current Linda Rice trainees are interesting in this spot as they each make their first starts off the claim. Certified Loverboy (#1) is the more logical of the two. He primarily competed in tougher spots for Ray Handal and held his own against better rivals. He was a little disappointing when dropped in for a tag last time, but has now had some time to regroup. I don’t love that he’s drawn the rail again, something that happens to his horse with astounding frequency, but he may work out the right trip from a stalking position. My top pick is the other Linda Rice claim, Timaeus (#6). This horse once looked like a promising runner, chasing home the classy Subrogate on debut. He was off for a long time after that, returning to break his maiden against weaker for Todd Pletcher. He then faced a much weaker field of conditioned claimers last time and had to work hard just to finish second. Yet I find it interesting that Linda Rice claims this horse, and now moves him up into a protected spot. She generally does very well when she places her new claims aggressively, especially when she claims a horse with upside like this one. It’s also noteworthy that Jose Lezcano lands here rather than on the more logical of her two runners.

Fair Value:
#6 TIMAEUS, at 3-1 or greater

RACE 8

Instamatic (#1) would be the horse to beat in this first level allowance all on his own, but his price could dip even lower if entrymate Big Prankster (#1A) draws in from the AE list. Both are strong contenders in this 6-furlong affair, though I would give preference to Instamatic. This Danny Gargan trainee drew much better towards the inside as he steps up against winners for the first time. He was mildly disappointing after attracting support in all three starts last season, but just looked like a horse who had put it all together in his return from the layoff last time. Making his first start as a new gelding and with Lasix, he rallied strongly to a decisive victory. A repeat of that performance makes him dangerous. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace with multiple speeds signed on. Yet even with plenty of pace signed on, it’s hard to see anyone outrunning Heymackit’sjack (#3) to the lead if he breaks cleanly. I’m not sure exactly what to expect from this horse as he returns from layoff that has lasted over a year. Yet he’s capable of running some fast speed figures when he’s in form, and he produced one of his better races off a layoff when he returned in Jan. 2023. He’s working well for new trainer Jamie Begg, and he’s getting a rider upgrade to Flavien Prat. I still think there’s a chance for this race to come apart, which could help a horse like Jimmythetooth (#12). I can’t figure out why this horse was so far back early in that May 25 race, since he had shown better tactical speed in all of his prior starts. Perhaps he was just a little dull coming off the layoff, and he did stay on decently to pass tired rivals in a race that didn’t feature much pace. Yet if I’m considering him, I have to upgrade Kreesa (#2) at a much bigger price as he exits the same race. This 5-year-old gelding has had more chances than some others, but he’s also run some races that make him competitive at this level. Last time out in that May 25 affair, he also was outrun through the early stages behind moderate fractions in a forwardly-dominated race. Yet whereas Manny Franco was all over Jimmythetooth trying to make up ground late, Jose Gomez was barely asking Kreesa as he just coasted through the stretch. I don’t think this horse was ever hitting the board that day, but the lack of effort makes the race look worse than it was. Now he gets a rider switch to Romero Maragh, and he drew well in a race that features plenty of pace to set up his late run.

Fair Value:
#2 KREESA, at 8-1 or greater

RACE 9

It will be important to note which half of the Linda Rice entry participates here, since it’s pretty clear that Golden Degree (#1A) is the stronger of the two runners. I don’t put much stock in the 32-length victory last time since she wasn’t beating much but she did seem to improve off the claim for Rice. That 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest last-out number in this field, and I don’t mind the turnback in distance. The horse to beat is arguably Gav’s Dream Girl (#3), who took her dirt record to 2 for 2 after winning a $14k conditioned claimer by 9 lengths last time. On paper, it looks like she was always up front benefiting from a slow pace. Yet the replay reveals that she actually broke last and was at the back of the pack early before making a move at the half-mile pole to take over. She’s stepping way up in class but not catching the toughest field for this level. She also has shown good versatility in a race where the pace scenario looks murky. I considered Six Pack Senorita (#8), who has improved in recent starts for Rudy Rodriguez. However, I thought she got a perfect trip last time and still couldn’t reel in her stablemate at this level. She’s a horse who generally has some trouble finishing off her races, but I do like the outside draw. My top pick is Spiritual Lady (#7), who is a new face shipping in for Joe Sharp. I like that he’s bringing a horse to run in a protected spot rather than just bringing her here to get claimed. Her Oaklawn form is hard to get too excited about, but she has improved over her last couple of starts in Kentucky. She was meeting a deceptively tough field at this level last time at Churchill, and she held her own to finish third. She’s one of the few in this field who might actually be getting some class relief for a dangerous barn.

Fair Value:
#7 SPIRITUAL LADY, at 5-1 or greater

RACE 10

Gala Brand (#1) is arguably the class of this field as she returns from a layoff. She showed real ability as a 2-year-old last summer, beating males to win the Grade 3 With Anticipation in her second start. She didn’t get the best trip next time in the Miss Grillo before never having a fair chance in the Breeders’ Cup, which was dominated towards the front end. Bill Mott can have one ready off a layoff, but I don’t love her running style, and I’m concerned that she may have just been a precocious 2-year-old. The horse to beat is probably Oversubscribed (#9), who seemingly has the most upside of anyone in this field. Both of her races are better than they look on paper. She had to overcome an extremely slow pace to get up to share the victory on debut. Then last time she got badly steadied past the half-mile pole before rallying to get up for second. I prefer her to Macanga (#4), who defeated her that day. Macanga possesses dangerous early speed, but she got to control up front last time and there is supposed to be a little more early pressure in this spot. Vino Rouge (#3) might be getting some minor class relief after facing some tough older rivals when she came off the layoff in an allowance event. That was an oddly run affair, where a couple of speeds ran off and she had to make the first move to reel them in before flattening out. She won’t need to improve much to be competitive with this group. My top pick is one of the other Chad Brown runners. Chantilly Road (#8) clearly appreciated the switch to turf two back. She lost to stablemate Grayosh that day, who is back in here, but she looked like a horse who was still figuring things out. She took another step forward in her second turf start last time, stalking the pace before taking over and gamely holding sway. She may not have run better than the runner-up, who was wide on the turns, but she was never letting that horse pass in the stretch. That’s been a decent affair, from which third-place finisher Justdeny returned to win earlier this week. She has the speed to get forward in a race that may not feature a particularly fast pace. I like the rider switch to Joel Rosario, and she could fly under the radar as the least accomplished of this Brown trio.

Fair Value:
#8 CHANTILLY ROAD, at 5-1 or greater


Picks & Plays for Friday, June 21

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 1 - 2 - 5 - 4
Race 2: 9 - 8 - 7 - 5
Race 3: 6 - 4 - 1 - 5
Race 4: 6 - 5 - 2 - 1A
Race 5: 5 - 6 - 7 - 3
Race 6: 3 - 8 - 7 - 4
Race 7: 4 - 2 - 3 - 8
Race 8: 2 - 7 - 5 - 4
Race 9: 9 - 11 - 3 - 1

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 1

I don’t have a major knock against Save Time (#2) as the obvious favorite, but she does figure to be an extremely short price with Irad Ortiz taking over the reins. She’s been steadily improving over the course of her three prior starts, and she clearly appreciated the stretch-out to a mile in her last couple of outings. However, she takes a long time to wind up her late run, and never looked like she was getting there last time until she finally kicked in through the last eighth of a mile. Perhaps that grinding style will translate well to 9 furlongs. She adds blinkers, which is actually a pretty good move for the Brown barn. I prefer her to stablemate Rising Inflation (#5), who wasn’t meeting much of a field on debut where none of those fillies were any match for winner Life Talk. She got in a prep on turf last time and now goes back to the dirt, but needs to improve. The best thing I can say about her is that her early speed makes her dangerous in a paceless affair. I want to take a shot against these favorites with Autumn’s Turn (#1). She’s had more chances than the rest, but her form starts to look a little more encouraging when you take it apart. She ran deceptively well in that April 7 race behind Save Time. Whereas that rival was saving ground over a rail-biased surface, Autumn’s Turn was wide every step of the way and still never threw in the towel. I don’t care about her turf race, and then last time she was facing a better field of winners on dirt at Monmouth. She was dismissed at a huge price, but stayed on well for second behind a superior winner. She’s handled two turns, and should relish getting back out to this 9-furlong distance.

Fair Value:
#1 AUTUMN'S TURN, at 3-1 or greater

RACE 4

I wasn't thrilled with either half of this Michael Dubb entry, of which only Mystic Night (#1A) remains. He was a vet scratch in April and now returns from a layoff. It’s not a good sign that he’s been unable to make it back to the races off a win back in March, and now he’s dropping slightly in class. Bourbon Calling (#5) seems a little more trustworthy as drops back down to a more realistic level second off the claim for Linda Rice. He’s regained his consistency lately and ran respectably against a tougher field last time. I also don’t want to dismiss Blake B. (#2), who should play out as the main speed from the inside under Romero Maragh. He got involved in a fast pace that fell apart in the same race Bourbon Calling exits, and may be capable of better here. My top pick is Skylander (#6). This horse has plenty of back class from not so long ago, having won a starter allowance race in September of last year over this course and distance. His form tailed off for the previous barn, especially after he was entered in some unrealistic spots. He dropped all the way down to the $12,500 claiming level last time and failed to get the job done as the favorite. Yet now he’s been claimed by Orlando Noda, and he might be capable of getting back on track moving into a new barn.

Fair Value:
#6 SKYLANDER, at 4-1 or greater

RACE 6

It’s pretty obvious that Danzigwiththestars (#7) is the horse to beat based on the company he’s been keeping through his recent starts. He’s entered for the optional claiming price of $45k this time, but he won this corresponding New York-bred allowance condition all the way back in 2022. Since then he’s competed exclusively against open company in the allowance ranks, actually winning one of those races last fall in his first start off the trainer switch to Rick Dutrow. He returned from a layoff last time in a pretty tough spot, stepping up against open N2X foes, and he just wasn’t good enough. Yet he was also done no favors by the trip he got, since he was parked outside in the 3 to 4-path throughout. Now he’s getting realistic class relief as he drops back down. He’s a deserving favorite, but you will likely have to swallow a pretty short price with Irad Ortiz retaining the mount. A few of his main rivals exit a race at this level from May 24, but I don’t really want anyone from that spot. It was a merry-go-round affair won by the early leader, so I’m not inclined to take Born Dancer (#9) or Bar Fourteen (#4), who were just tracking that moderate pace. Sell Something (#2) has an excuse for his poor finish, since he was extremely wide around the turns, but it’s not as if his prior form points him out as a serious contender here. The lone 3-year-old in this field is Cable Ready (#8), who cause a major upset to win his turf debut at 19-1 two starts ago. His connections got a little too ambitious trying the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge off that score, but he was hardly disgraced checking in fourth after stalking the pace. He has to run a little better than either of those performances to get the job done here, but he does still have more upside than most in here, and he’s getting a rider upgrade to Dylan Davis. My top pick is Rough Draft (#3), who returns to New York after spending the winter in Florida. He raced competitively at this level when in the barn of David Duggan last season before changing hands a few times. He didn’t run well for Brittany Russell when she had him for a brief period earlier this year, but he took a big step forward off the claim for Fernando Abreu two back. He got a good trip in that race, but still was game to beat a classy horse in Border Town. He wasn’t as effective at the same level last time, but I think that can be attributed to his trip. He just got an awkward ride, moving up into a precarious spot on the backstretch before getting shuffled back, and then getting caught in more traffic before steadying at the quarter pole. He’s now had some time off and returns in this appropriate spot.

Fair Value:
#3 ROUGH DRAFT, at 7-2 or greater

RACE 7

Fabulous Fox (#2) didn't earn much of a speed figure on debut, but it was a pretty good effort. That October maiden event featured a very slow pace where the winner was prominent throughout. This filly got off a step slowly and found herself at the back of the pack early. She encountered some traffic around the far turn and into the lane before rallying nicely for third. She subsequently switched to the dirt, where she at least showed improved early speed and actually ran well two back. She’s now getting back on what might be her preferred surface, but she does figure to take money here with Irad Ortiz aboard. Cerretta (#3) has plenty of turf form that makes her competitive here, but she’s just had so many chances. She has been wide in both starts since returning from a layoff and now draws inside, but she’s still not the most reliable win candidate. My top pick is first time starter Better Be Smart (#4). She ran pretty well on debut in the slop, racing in some traffic before staying on for third. She failed to show improvement on a fast track next time, and then regressed after showing speed going a mile. Street Sense is a 10% turf sprint sire, and the unraced dam's only other foal to race has never tried turf. Yet looking deeper, the dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 turf winner General Quarters as well as A Shin Top, a Group 2 winner on turf in Japan. I also think it’s interesting that she ran her best dirt race over a sloppy, sealed track. She’s going to be a big price and wouldn’t have to improve too much on her dirt form to be competitive here.

Fair Value:
#4 BETTER BE SMART, at 6-1 or greater

RACE 9

I’m never looking to take an extremely short price on horses like Nostalgic One (#11), who has plenty of speed figures that make her faster than this field. He’s faced far better company in almost all of his recent starts, and is probably just getting the class relief he needs. However, I’m not sure how good this horse actually is. Many of those superior speed figures were earned by just running along at one pace, carried along by the quality of his competition. The only time he got seriously involved in a race was going 1 1/2 miles at Kentucky Downs two back. He might just get the job done due to the quality of this field, but I wanted to find at least one interesting alternative. Pappou’s Laugh (#9) is a horse that I had tabbed earlier this winter as one that I wanted to see on turf. His damside pedigree is all turf influence, as his dam was proficient on the surface, and he’s a half-brother to turf stakes winner Get Jets. It’s mildly concerning that Carlos Martin ran him for a $20k tag two back rather than just sitting on him until turf season, so I wonder about his overall ability. That said, he has the early speed to get forward in here, and he could take this group a long way up front if he handles the surface.

Fair Value:
#9 PAPPOU'S LAUGH, at 5-1 or greater


Picks & Plays for Thursday, June 20

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 4 - 7 - 1 - 6
Race 2: 7 - 2 - 3 - 5
Race 3: 3 - 6 - 5 - 4
Race 4: 8 - 9 - 1 - 6
Race 5: 1 - 2 - 6
Race 6: 2 - 6 - 10 - 11
Race 7: 11 - 9 - 1 - 6
Race 8: 1 - 7 - 2 - 6
Race 9: 11 - 8 - 9 - 3

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 4

Each of the 3-year-olds in this maiden event will be trying a 3-turn marathon trip for the first time. Ms Sedona (#6) is arguably the horse to beat off her runner-up finish going 1 3/16 miles at Keeneland back in April. However, we’ve gotten mixed signals regarding the quality of the race she exits. The winner came back to run well, finishing second in the Grade 2 Wonder Again. Yet some other runbacks from the race have been disappointing. She’s obviously a contender, but I believe others will offer better value. I have similar feelings about the entry, led by Justdeny (#1). She ran on well for third at this level last time and, like Ms Sedona, is another daughter of Justify with a European dam’s side pedigree. However, she’s unlikely to offer value as part of an entry. I think there are a couple of interesting alternatives at bigger prices to the outside. Jitterbug (#9) is yet another daughter of Justify in this field, and she really looks like one that wants to run all day. She certainly seemed to handle the distance on dirt last time and she has enough turf pedigree to handle this surface. Her lack of early speed is a concern, but she figures to be staying on at the end. My top pick is Just Maryann (#8). I think this filly is a pretty intriguing new face as she makes her first start for Rick Dutrow, who does well off trainer switches like this, going 4 for 14 (29%, $3.87 ROI) with such runners on turf. She had been steadily improving at Gulfstream over the winter, responding well when they took the blinkers off last time. She went wide early, but was finishing with some interest late after getting shuffled back on the far turn. That’s been a strong race for the level, as almost everyone has run back to improve their speed figures, some quite significantly. This filly also has the pedigree to relish a marathon distance, being a full-sister to Family Way, who won the Grade 3 Orchid over 1 1/2 miles.

Fair Value:
#8 JUST MARYANN, at 6-1 or greater

RACE 6

Only one horse in this entire field raced in a turf sprint in its most recent start, that being morning line favorite Linarite (#10). She is arguably the horse to beat based on her overall body of work, having hit the board in several turf sprints last season before getting the winter off. Following a prep on dirt, she got back on track facing New York-breds over this course and distance last time. Reserved at the back of the pack early, she made a nice late rally into third while navigating some traffic. Her deep-closing style makes her a little tough to trust at a short price, but I do expect her to run well against a field of rivals that all have something to prove. Four fillies in this field are trying grass for the first time, and two others have only made one prior start over the surface. Among those lacking turf experience, I’m most intrigued by First Class Cat (#6). It seems like there might have been some intention behind Linda Rice claiming this filly in May and switching her right over to grass. She’s by West Coast, who has actually had some success as a turf sire, his progeny winning 12% of their turf starts. The dam was strictly a turf horse, making all 11 starts on the surface, winning 3 times. None of her foals have yet won on the grass, but this filly is the best one she’s thrown. Rice doesn’t have great statistics with this move, but this seems like the right kind of spot to try something new. Another horse who may appreciate the switch to gras is Pebble Lane (#11). Upstart’s progeny have won 11% of their turf sprint starts, and the dam has produced 3 turf winners. The problem is that she hasn’t raced in over a year and is stuck in the far outside post position. My top pick is switching back to turf after having previously tried it. Quiescent (#2) put in a couple of decent efforts on grass last season, running well of a layoff in her turf debut last April. After a couple of disappointments, she then got some class relief on Aug. 23 at Saratoga and ran better than the result might suggest, dueling through some quick fractions. She went to the sidelines after that and produced more of the same when she returned on dirt this past winter. However, she made her first start off the claim for Orlando Noda last time, and looked like a different horse for the new barn. In a race rained off the turf, she encountered a legitimate dirt rival in Shop Lifting, who had finished just a head behind champion Just F Y I on debut. Yet Quiescent shot to the lead and never gave that heavy favorite a chance, earning a towering 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Now she has to repeat it on grass, but I actually like her getting back to this surface based on her prior form. She’s one of the best gate horses on the circuit, which should allow her to make the front and stay out of trouble from this rail draw.

Fair Value:
#2 QUIESCENT, at 3-1 or greater

RACE 7

This state-bred maiden claimer is a pretty competitive affair for a lower level race. Shehanah (#1) has faced much better rivals in both prior starts at the maiden special weight level and now drops in for a tag for the first time. She was glued to the rail on debut, not having any major trouble but just staying on at one pace. Horacio De Paz is 8 for 22 (36%, $2.81 ROI) with maiden special weight to maiden claiming dropdowns on dirt over 5 years. She’s definitely a contender, but she’s also pretty obvious. You could say a lot of the same things about Neigh Jude (#9), who was facing much better company on debut last year at Saratoga, where she got taken out of position early and passed some tired rivals late. She then wanted no part of turf racing before getting the class relief she needed last time. She only finished third at this level, but I didn’t think she got the most comfortable trip, altering course on the backstretch before getting glued to the inside path in the lane. She gets a rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz, but that may also hurt the price. In searching for a more interesting alternative, I was intrigued by Princess Becca (#11). The jury is still out regarding this horse’s overall ability, but I do think she had some excuses in the debut effort. Linda Rice typically doesn’t have her firsters cranked up to win first time out, and this filly looked pretty green. She broke slowly and then was climbing down the backstretch at the tail of the field. She wasn’t really being asked, taken in hand on the turn, before just coasting home. Now she returns in the barn of Michelle Giangiulio for her second start. She shows some improved workouts coming into this race, and I suspect she possesses more speed than she showed on debut.

Fair Value:
#11 PRINCESS BECCA, at 6-1 or greater

RACE 9

If each of these horses runs back to their most recent start, Gem Mint Ten (#8) will beat this field. He earned a career-best 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure off the layoff, giving superior rival Be of Courage all he could handle through the late stages while crossing the wire nearly 5 lengths clear of the rest. The form was flattered when Be of Courage returned to finish second in a tougher spot, improving his speed figure by 7 points. Clearly that was a big effort from Gem Mint Ten. However, he was 10-1 that day, and now he could go favored with that form exposed, especially given the rider upgrade to Flavien Prat. And it’s not as if Dylan Davis could have ridden this horse any better last time. I think he’s the horse to beat, but he will have to deal with pace pressure from main rival Laurel Valley (#6). That Maker trainee exits a May 3 race where he lost as the favorite, sharing the lead while racing off the rail throughout. It was a decent performance, but now he’s catching a tougher field, and I still have a feeling this gelding may be better over longer distances. I’d rather some others from that race. Sonic Speed (#9) also was never inside, racing 2 to 3-wide throughout. That was also his return from a layoff, and he might have upside with a start under his belt. My top pick is Shinsun (#11), who was really never given a chance in that May 3 affair. He got to save some ground on the first turn, but then made an early move down the backstretch up into a tight spot between horses. The leaders then ran away from him as they quickened the pace around the far turn. Asked for run, he quickened in upper stretch but then found himself in traffic, stuck behind horses for the entire stretch drive before steadying late. Now he lands in a spot that may feature a little more pace, and he should be tighter second off the layoff. He does still have to get a little faster overall, but the presence of Katie Davis should ensure a decent price.

Fair Value:
#11 SHINSUN, at 8-1 or greater


Picks & Plays for Sunday, June 16

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 1 - 2 - 6 - 7
Race 2: 7 - 9 - 4 - 6
Race 3: 5 - 1 - 8 - 6
Race 4: 2 - 4 - 5 - 3
Race 5: 8 - 7 - 1 - 3
Race 6: 6 - 4 - 8 - 5
Race 7: 8 - 6 - 5 - 3
Race 8: 6 - 4 - 2 - 9
Race 9: 9 - 4 - 3 - 5

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 1

She’s Awesome (#6) could go favored here as she seeks her fourth victory in a row. She had been so consistent for Linda Rice, so it was a little surprising that she improved considerably last time in that 11-length score. The 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the fastest number she’s ever earned by a wide margin. She did achieve that performance over a muddy track, which she clearly enjoys, so the effort may have been enhanced. Now she has to hold that form off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez while also moving up in class. I thought she might be vulnerable in this spot. I’m Buzzy (#2) is making the opposite class move, dropping out of tougher optional claiming races. She had her own winning streak going earlier this season before trying better foes in those last few starts. She closed well for third last time without posing a serious threat, and may be more effective dropping back down into this spot. However, she can be pace dependent, and it’s unclear how much speed will develop here. My top pick Shesalittle Edgy (#1) needs things to go better up front than they did in her last couple of starts. She got involved in fast paces that came apart each time, chasing a run-off leader two back before dueling through the opening furlongs last time. That day Fancy Azteca (#7) was drawn inside of her, and Irad seemed intent on hustling that rival to the lead. Now that she’s drawn outside, I wonder if Irad will be content to stalk, which could put Shesalittle Edgy in a position to control up front. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that she will be clearly leading in a situation favoring the frontrunner.

Fair Value:
#1 SHESALITTLE EDGY, at 3-2 or greater

RACE 3

The Big Torpedo (#1) is clearly the one to beat in this Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Series. He had run well on turf in his career debut last year, chasing home a more experienced rival after a wide trip. He then went to the dirt to contest another lucrative stakes in this series, and ran so well in defeat despite trouble that his connections had to keep him on dirt through the winter. Yet he was always meant to be a turf horse, and he finally got back on that surface last time, outrunning his odds to just miss in the Woodhaven. Now he takes advantage of his New York Stallion Series eligibility, and I don’t mind the turnback in distance. However, he isn’t catching a soft field for this kind of race. The other horse with convincing turf form is Fidelightcayut (#6), who ships in from Monmouth after running well against open company in the Jersey Derby. He was very game that day to battle back in the late stages. Yet all of his turf form has come over longer trips and it remains to be seen if he will be as effective turning back. Another horse with turf form who may get somewhat overlooked is Courtly Banker (#8). He’s still a maiden on the way into this stakes, but he ran well sprinting on synthetic in his debut, and then handled turf last time. That one-mile trip just appeared to be too far for him, but he set honest fractions and earned a competitive speed figure. My top pick is Bustin Away (#5). He’s trying turf for the first time, but I like all of this gelding’s dirt races. He won on debut at Saratoga last summer in a very gritty effort. While he’s faced weaker company in two starts at Finger Lakes since returning, he did beat a solid older rival in D’ont Lose Cruz last time. I also like this switch to turf. While there isn’t a ton of turf production on the dam’s side, his dam is by Galileo. Bustin Stones is also a highly underrated turf influence, getting 14% turf sprint winners. I think he has the quickness to be effective in this kind of spot and the Finger Lakes-based connections should ensure a fair price.

Fair Value:
#5 BUSTIN AWAY, at 5-1 or greater

RACE 5

I really liked the debut for La Salvadorena (#1) at Keeneland. She got steadied back at the start and was in traffic towards the tail end of the field. She looked hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch as the eventual winner had opened a significant margin on the rest. While La Salvadorena never got close to that one, this filly absolutely exploded with run once she got into the clear. I think she has upside out of that effort, but I’m a little puzzled by the stretch-out in distance. She ran so well sprinting on debut, so I don’t understand the impetus to go longer right away, and these types are often poor bets at short prices. Another second time starter who ran well on debut is Just So Pretty (#7), who set the pace on May 18 before tiring in the late stages. She might have just needed that start, and Danny Gargan tends to do much better with this second time starters. I think she’s a player here, and she doesn’t figure to be that short a price. Fade to Grey (#3)is an intriguing first time starter for Todd Pletcher. This filly has turf pedigree, and she’s been working up a storm over the Belmont training track. My top pick is Dancing Dean (#8), who returns from a layoff for Bill Mott. I had pegged her as a horse that needed to get on turf following her debut last summer, and she did improve with the switch to grass in the fall. She just caught a very tough field for the level, won by future stakes winner Waskesiu. She finished far behind that superior stablemate, but she was finishing well in the late stages, clearly handling the new surface. She’s been off for a while, but she appears to be training well for her return and she might catch some pace in this field with a few potential speeds signed on.

Fair Value:
#8 DANCING DEAN, at 5-1 or greater

RACE 6

Beauys (#7) finished ahead of Daunt (#4) when they met on May 2, but he was beneficiary of a very favorable pace setup. He subsequently didn’t run as well next time at Churchill, and he figures to get overbet here with Irad Ortiz getting aboard. Out of that race, I much prefer Daunt, who dueled on the front end with the now scratched Mondego through some pretty swift early fractions for that demanding distance. Both were coming off layoffs, and the pace just proved too much for them to handle as they faded late. I like Daunt’s overall form a bit better, and his tactical speed should serve him better in this spot, which now features a lack of early pace. Dripping Gold (#8) is an intriguing new face as he returns to this circuit after a couple of Kentucky starts. He ran a decent race off the layoff at Churchill Downs last time, never looking like a threat but just picking up pieces late. He’s another with a right to move forward second off a layoff, and he doesn't have to come from as far back as he did last time. My top pick is a horse returning from a layoff. English Conqueror (#6) is an interesting horse given that he seems to run best in the United States even though he’s based at Woodbine. He shipped to the states last spring and ran a couple of strong races in Kentucky, including a second behind stakes winner The Grey Wizard followed up by a Grade 3 placing. He then came back to the U.S. to just miss at Saratoga with a very game effort last summer. His form tailed off a bit late last year, but he was trying some tough spots. Now he returns for a trainer who can win off layoffs, and it’s doubtful they’re shipping all the way to Aqueduct just to get a race into him.

Fair Value:
#6 ENGLISH CONQUEROR, at 4-1 or greater

RACE 8

Chad Brown has a couple of contenders in this maiden affair. Latte Lizzie (#9) has obviously had her chances, but she’s run well in all of her prior starts. She’s had some layoffs recently, but should be dangerous here if she improves at all on her turf form from last year. Brown’s other runner is the first time starter Pay the Bills (#4), who was purchased overseas. These types are usually dangerous, and she’s obviously bred to be a good one being by Wootton Bassett, even though there isn’t much dam’s side pedigree. Strife (#2) hasn’t yet tried turf, but she ran well when rained onto the synthetic course at Gulfstream on debut. This well-bred daughter of War Front is out of a half-sister to multiple turf stakes winner Chocolate Ride. She made a strong bid for the lead at the quarter pole last time before getting run down late. Christophe Clement just doesn’t have great statistics with second time starters, but this filly is otherwise logical. My top pick is Goodnight My Angel (#6), another second time starter who returns from a layoff for Todd Pletcher. She was a little chilly on the board when she debuted at Saratoga last summer, especially going out for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, and she ran like a filly who probably needed the race. She got briefly held up in traffic at the quarter pole and then was a little green shifting in through the stretch. That was a pretty tough field, from which winner Memorialize and fifth-place Buchu subsequently won stakes on turf. She now returns as a 3-year-old, and I think she has a right to move forward after having some time to mature.

Fair Value:
#6 GOODNIGHT MY ANGEL, at 6-1 or greater

RACE 9

The entry figures to attract support in this first-level allowance, but I can’t say that I’m thrilled with either half. Betterdaysrcoming (#1) was a mediocre handicap runner in Europe last year, and didn’t take that much money when he came off the layoff for Christophe Clement last time. He got a pretty good trip overall, saving ground, and couldn’t reel in a couple of horses that had already had plenty of chances at the level. Perhaps entrymate Ramblin’ Wreck (#1A) will pull in even more support, since he has been the workmate of Belmont Stakes winner Dornoch. He ran well in some New York-bred stakes last season, but his form tailed off towards the end of the season. He’s now had some time to regroup and returns for a trainer who does well off layoffs. I preferred individual betting interests. One to consider is Battle of Normandy (#5), who ran some nice races against tougher stakes foes last summer. He obviously deserves a pass for his return from the layoff on dirt, which he just doesn’t handle. Yet I do wonder if he might ultimately prefer a little more ground than this. Former McGaughey trainee Operation Torch (#3) just missed at this level last time in his first start off the layoff and trainer switch to Todd Pletcher. I didn’t see him have a major excuse in that spot, but he did at least get back to his better form while also getting over some quirks that bothered him earlier in his career. I view him as the horse to beat, but I don’t think he’s going to be some kind of enticing price. Royal Spirit (#4) got a strange ride in that May 18 race, taken to the back of the pack to rail the field and running on belatedly. That felt like it might have just been a prep off the layoff, and then he came back in 9 days stretching out to 11 furlongs. They reversed the tactics that day, sending him to the front before he tired in the last furlong behind a runaway winner. I think he’s got a better performance in him, but it’s not like he’s ever been the most trustworthy win candidate. My top pick is another also-ran from that May 27 race. Samburu (#9) finished only one position ahead of that rival checking in a non-threatening fifth that day. However, I really didn’t care for the ride he got from Tyler Gaffalione. Breaking from an outside post position, he settled 2-wide around the first turn but then Tyler allowed him to progress without cover outside, getting hung out in the 3-path on the clubhouse turn and then going 4-wide around the far turn. You can’t lose that much ground in a two-turn race. Prior to that, I thought he was finding his form for Mike Maker. Getting Irad Ortiz is a double-edged sword, since he’s likely to get a better trip but it’s also going to hurt the price. I still think he fits this race well and won’t be that short given the plethora of options in this wide open affair.

Fair Value:
#9 SAMBURU, at 9-2 or greater


Picks & Plays for Saturday, June 15

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 4 - 2 - 6 - 3
Race 2: 4 - 1 - 7 - 2
Race 3: 11 - 3 - 5 - 6
Race 4: 4 - 5 - 3 - 6
Race 5: 6 - 5 - 7 - 3
Race 6: 4 - 9 - 2 - 1
Race 7: 5 - 1A/1 - 8 - 9
Race 8: 2 - 11 - 10 - 5
Race 9: 3 - 4 - 1/1A - 9
Race 10: 5 - 7 - 8 - 9
Race 11: 7 - 2 - 3 - 11

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 2

Dark Devil (#5) and Mr. Papagiorgio (#7) both figure to take money after finishing second and third in a $75k maiden claimer in May. The former possesses dangerous early speed, though I’m not sure that I love him stretching back out to a mile. The distance may benefit Mr. Papagiorgio, who has always looked like a horse that wants to go this far. However, he is coming back on just 8 days’ rest after competing in a much tougher maiden special weight last week at Saratoga. Both Remember the Chief (#1) and True Connection (#2) were well beaten when they tried a tougher maiden special weight won by the impressive firster Unmatched Wisdom. True Connection came back to disappoint at Parx and is looking to rebound, but Remember the Chief might be worth another shot in here as he drops into a more realistic spot. They only paid $10k for this son of Army Mule, so this is probably the class level where he belongs. He switches to Carlos Martin and adds blinkers. My top pick is Get It to Matthew (#4), who returns from a layoff for his second career start. He was facing tougher on debut where he set the pace before fading. Winner Reasoned Analysis came back to win the Bay Shore off that performance. Get It to Matthew also spent the majority of his trip hugging the rail on a day when the inside probably wasn’t the place to be. Now he adds blinkers for his second start and gets some logical class relief.

Fair Value:
#4 GET IT TO MATTHEW, at 7-2 or greater

RACE 4

Military Road (#5) has run well in all four prior starts, earning triple-digit TimeformUS Speed Figures each time. The only knock against him is that he remains a maiden. He has caught some tough rivals along the way, such as the hyped Conquest Warrior on debut and impressive debut winner Unmatched Wisdom last time out. He seemed to handle two turns fairly well at Gulfstream two back, but he did get overhauled that day and now he’s asked to negotiate a more demanding 9 furlongs. He’s obviously a contender, but I’m not keen to swallow another short price on a horse who has already burned so much money. Bill Mott sends out the two obvious alternatives to this favorite. Reynolds Channel (#3) ran the fastest speed figure in this field when earning a 112 TimeformUS Figure two back at Keeneland. However, he did hang in the late stages that day after appearing to have the race won at the top of the stretch. He regressed last time with the addition of blinkers, getting far too rank in the early stages, so I’m a little concerned that the new equipment doesn’t come off this time. I much prefer his Mott stablemate Timeout (#4). This son of Curlin seems tailor made for this distance. He has been running on belatedly in both prior one-turn starts, holding his own against stiff competition in some loaded maiden races. He chased impressive maiden winner Discreet Mischief on debut, and then closed for third in a loaded maiden event at the end of the Derby day card at Churchill. He has since been working in blinkers, and will race with them here, trying to get him a little more engaged early. He has the stride length and cadence of a horse that wants to run all day, and he has been training like he may be ready for a step forward.

Fair Value:
#4 TIMEOUT, at 3-2 or greater

RACE 6

Likely favorite Unit Economics (#2) was unlucky on debut when getting off to a poor start and veering out at the quarter pole. He did close strongly in a race that didn’t feature much early pace, but just ran out of ground. However, he has now been bet heavily in two starts since then, just missing on both occasions. He lost a heartbreaker last time when making up a ton of ground in the stretch before losing by a nose. I find it strange that Chad Brown now adds blinkers off that effort for a horse who already has shown a tendency to get a little keen early in his races. If he finally breaks better, he could get forward position, but that’s no guarantee in this field. He’s the one to beat, but I don’t see much value here. I much prefer him to the other Chad Brown runner Kick a Buck (#3), who didn’t run very well at a short price last time and is now stepping up against a tougher field. I am more interested in another lightly raced runner. Final Edition (#9) debuted sprinting on the grass for Wesley Ward, but ran like a horse that shouldn’t have any trouble handling some added ground. He actually broke well but was reined in to rate and then seemed to lose position around the far turn while traveling a bit awkwardly. He appeared hopelessly beaten in upper stretch, but then really kicked in through the last furlong to just miss. He’s stretching out, which isn’t a strong move for Ward. Yet he’s bred to go longer, being out of a half-sister to a graded stakes winner over a mile. A few other contenders exit the May 19 race at this level. Among the horses who hit the board, Then (#1) might have run the best race, making a wide, early move around the far turn and flattening out. However, all of the horses involved in the finish benefited from a pretty fast early pace. Cuando (#4) was the horse who carving out those fractions, and he ran a lot better than his 6th-place result might suggest. The early TimeformUS Pace Figures for that race were in the low 150s, indicative of an extremely unfavorable pace for frontrunners. Cuando was aggressive in the early stages that day but still held on well until getting swallowed up at the eighth pole, finishing well ahead of his early pace rivals. Now the connections take the blinkers off, which should help settle him down through the opening stages of this race. I also like the slight cutback in distance to a mile as he now lands in a spot that appears to feature less early speed. This horse is bred for turf, and I think he has the potential to fare much better in this second start over grass.

Fair Value:
#4 CUANDO, at 4-1 or greater

RACE 8

There is little doubt that Marco T. (#10) is the most likely winner of this race. She beat open company to break her maiden two back, and then was simply overmatched against a tougher field in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly last time. She’s getting significant class relief as she makes just the second start of her career against New York-bred company. While she is a deserving favorite, I think there are a couple of horses at bigger prices that merit consideration. The one who is more of a reach in this spot is Capital Gal (#11). It’s been a long time since this mare has been on turf, but she ran some of her best career races on grass back in 2022. Those starts all came over longer distances, but she’s since improved on the turnback in distance, running one of her best dirt speed figures last time out at Finger Lakes. I think she’s interesting trying a turf sprint for the first time, especially switching into the barn of Ray Handal. My top pick is Mim (#2). This filly has run a lot better than the results suggest in her last couple of turf starts. She ran off on the front end two back, setting unreasonable fractions for the distance before paying the price late. She actually held on pretty well for fifth that day, and her 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure makes her competitive here. She wasn’t as successful last time, but nothing went right for her. She hopped at the start, was last early, and then got extremely rank under Jose Gomez. He couldn’t control her into the clubhouse turn, as she ran up around the field to contest the pace while going 4-wide. That was an impossible trip and she understandably faded to last. Now she’s finally cutting back in distance, having proven that she’s a better sprinter. Trevor McCarthy figures to save ground from this post, and I’m hoping she won’t get as keen in this faster paced affair. I think she’s going to outrun her odds.

Fair Value:
#2 MIM, at 7-1 or greater
#11 CAPITAL GAL, at 14-1 or greater

RACE 9

The main players in this optional claimer are exiting the May 11 race at this level. Belouni (#1) achieved the best result that day as he took over in mid-stretch before settling for second behind winner Runninwscissors. This horse had started out as a disappointment last year, but he’s gradually improved and gained consistency for Chad Brown this season. He’s drawn well towards the inside and makes plenty of sense, but his price figures to go even lower now that his entrymate Call Me Harry (#1A) has drawn into the field. That Rick Dutrow trainee also adds some significant pace to a race that already featured a few horses who want to attain forward early position. I slightly prefer Ocean Atlantique (#4), who finished third in that race. I was hoping he would get a more aggressive ride that day, but Luis Saez elected to rate him in the pocket. He ultimately worked out a pretty good trip, but did have to wait for room in upper stretch before getting clear too late. Now he’s making his first start off the claim for Rick Dutrow and has a right to improve. Yet there’s another horse out of that race who ran pretty well and figures to get somewhat ignored in the wagering. Magical Ways (#3) went off at a huge price trying turf for the first time and actually put in a solid effort to be sixth. He broke with the leaders but got reined in by Romero Maragh, who then got shuffled back at a few points in the race, ultimately finding himself towards the back of the pack by the time they reached the quarter pole. From there he was never fully clear through the lane, attempting to rally in traffic. He wasn’t going to win the race, but he appeared to have some run in behind horses, handling the new surface well. He has to run a little better to turn the tables on those horses this time, but he’s been in great form for Rudy Rodriguez and may still be underrated as a grass horse. After scratches, there is plenty of pace in this spot, so I wouldn't mind if Romero Maragh finds a spot in mid-pack and attempts to launch a late run.

Fair Value:
#3 MAGICAL WAYS, at 9-1 or greater

RACE 10

This Bed O Roses is wide open, as you can make cases for many horses in this field. I wanted to steer away from the likely favorites, who I don’t think are standouts. Flying Connection (#6) obviously makes some sense off her improved recent form, but she was never a serious threat to those superior rivals she chased home in either the Apple Blossom or Derby City Distaff. It remains to be seen if she’ll be as effective as a sprinter moving forward after running well on the turnback last time. Big Pond (#2) went off as the heavy favorite in the Vagrancy last time, and I didn’t think she had much of an excuse. She got pace to close into and was simply second-best to Leave No Trace (#9). The latter filly has finally gotten back on track as a sprinter and was legitimately best last time. Yet she was 8-1 that day and figures to be a shorter price this time against a tougher field. I think there are more interesting options to consider. Among the Vagrancy horses, I actually prefer Hot Fudge (#7), who lost position in the early stages last time and found herself rallying from much farther back than she usually does. This filly had been in great form through the winter, and she may be cycling back up to a better effort after a hiccup in the Distaff. There isn’t a ton of early speed signed on, and she can get forward position with a more aggressive ride this time. Shidabhuti (#8) upset the Distaff back in April, turning back to a sprint for the first time since her career debut. She has proven that she’s best as a one-turn horse, and I like her getting back to another spring here after making a decent late rally to complete the trifecta in the Ruffian. She may not be as naturally talented as some others, but she fits this spot well. My top pick is Just Katherine (#5). I like the turnback for this daughter of Justify, who put in her breakout performance in the Wilton going a one-and-a-half-turn mile at Saratoga last summer. She closed into a slow pace behind Grade 1 winner Randomized that day, and has since proven that performance was no fluke. I won’t hold her last race in the Bayakoa against her, since she got completely sawed off heading into the clubhouse turn. She’s now had some time to regroup, and figures to get pace to close into as she returns in a sprint. She broke her maiden going 7 furlongs last year, and could fly under the radar for low profile connections.

Fair Value:
#5 JUST KATHERINE, at 6-1 or greater
#7 HOT FUDGE, at 8-1 or greater

RACE 11

This state-bred allowance affair is another wide open race to close out the day. Fancypants Juliana (#2) might be the one to beat if she repeats her last race, where she contested an honest pace racing 3-wide and still held on for second. However, she was a generous 21-1 that day, and figures to be a fraction of that price here. I prefer her to a horse like Kant Call It (#6), who will get bet based on connections. She ran fine to break her maiden last time against a field of decent quality, but she probably has to improve off that performance as she faces more seasoned rivals this time. U Should B Dancing (#3) could get somewhat overlooked due to her poor recent dirt form, but she’s a turf horse and is just now getting back on the right surface. I can’t say that I loved any of her races from last season, but she’s run speed figures that put her in the mix and should be a fair price in here. My top pick is Ghostbustin (#7), who tries this surface for the first time. I pegged this filly has one that I wanted to see on turf all the way back in the middle of winter, and I’m encouraged that Bruce Levine is getting her on this surface the first time he has the chance to do so. She has shown some ability on dirt, flashing speed in all of her prior starts. Yet she strikes me as one that will really take to grass, and her pedigree backs that up. Bustin Stones is a highly underrated turf sire, getting 14% winners from his progeny’s turf sprint starts. This filly is a full-sister to Time Limit, who hit the board in all 7 turf starts, winning twice and placing in a turf sprint stakes. The TimeformUS Pace Projector suggests she possesses the speed to make the front here, and I expect her to be prominent throughout.

Fair Value:
#7 GHOSTBUSTIN, at 4-1 or greater


Picks & Plays for Friday, June 14

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 5 - 2 - 4 - 1
Race 2: 10 - 9 - 1 - 6
Race 3: 4 - 10 - 6 - 3
Race 4: 2 - 6 - 4 - 7
Race 5: 4 - 5 - 1 - 10
Race 6: 5 - 2 - 8 - 4
Race 7: 9 - 4 - 10 - 6
Race 8: 8 - 10 - 4 - 1
Race 9: 7 - 5 - 4 - 8

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 3

Koru (#1) can obviously win this race as one of the favorites going out for Chad Brown, but I wouldn’t want to take a short price on him. He ran fine in his debut at Tampa, just staying on at one pace for a minor award after getting a pretty good trip. Facing New York-bred company in his second start, I didn’t think he had much of an excuse. Had found good position in the two path, and angled out for the stretch drive like he was going to win before just stalling late. I would actually be more interested in Rabaja (#6) from that race, since he had trouble, stumbling at the start before making a belated late run. The half-brother to impressive debut winner Roagna still feels like a work in progress, but has upside in this spot at a price. However, I prefer horses coming out of that May 3 race at this level, which just felt like a stronger affair. My Life Story (#10) finished third that day and could vie for favoritism with the Brown runner as Irad Ortiz takes over this time. He got a crazy trip two back at Gulfstream, making a wide slingshot move around the far turn, getting spun out into the center of the course before flattening out late. He worked out a better journey last time and just wasn’t quite good enough. I respect him, but I’m most interested in English Castle (#4) from that same race. His debut was a 2-year-old is better than it looks, since he got cut off at the start, then was unable to find a path when angling out in upper stretch before finishing with some interest when clear. Last time he had the misfortune of drawing the far outside post in a 10-horse field, and he was relegated to a wide trip throughout. He actually did well to challenge in upper stretch before tiring. He should be fitter second off the layoff, and is drawn much better this time.

Fair Value:
#4 ENGLISH CASTLE, at 4-1 or greater

RACE 4

This $40k conditioned claimer is a tough one to handicap, since no one is particularly trustworthy. The most reliable option might be Refuah (#6), since he at least is coming into the race in good form, and you know he loves to finish second. Yet you probably have to look beyond that 1 for 24 gelding to find the winner, even if he’s a horse that you want to use in exotics. Giant’s Fire (#3) has some races that put him in the mix, but I didn’t love his loss when dropped to this level two back, and he also failed to do much with a good trip last time. He’s a horse who kept decent company but has never run particularly fast, and I don’t see much upside with him. I could say many of the same things about Two for Charging (#4), the difference being that he’s dropping in for a tag for the first time. He’s capable of beating these on his best, but it’s tough to take any kind of short price on a horse who lacks any early speed and just completely fails to show up from time to time. Showdown King (#7) might be a candidate for a rebound as he switches back to dirt. He didn’t run well on this surface first off the claim for Linda Rice, but that was a pretty tough starter allowance. He's really regressed since the claim by Linda, but she has a knack for figuring these horses out, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run better here with blinkers added. My top pick is In a Minute (#2). He has some things to prove against these older rivals, but I can at least see some progression in his form, which is more than I can say about many others in this field. He took a step forward to finish second in that March 21 starter allowance before throwing in a poor effort two back. Yet he got back on track last time, traveling well in a pocket behind the leaders before never getting fully clear in the stretch. He was never winning that race, but he might have benefited from a more aggressive ride. Now he lands in a race where he can get forward in a scenario the TimeformUS Pace Projector predicts to favor frontrunners.

Fair Value:
#2 IN A MINUTE, at 7-2 or greater

RACE 5

I don’t have any major knocks against the likely favorite Mauritius (#5), who just seems to fit this race very well. He just got run down at this level last time after carving out the fractions, and is projected to be the controlling speed once again. The only thing I don’t love is the slight stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles, since I think this horse has some stamina limitations. Yet his recent form obviously makes him the one to beat. St. Joe Louis (#1) has run plenty of races that make him competitive at this level, but he just never wins. He’s 1 for 18 with 8 second-place finishes in his career, and his tendency to settle for minor awards has been on display recently. In fairness to him, he might have moved too soon in a race that collapsed two back, but he did seem to give it up once he hit the front. Then last time he contested the pace and went backwards on synthetic. He might get a more patient ride with this switch to Joel Rosario, but I’m still concerned that he’s just not a winning type. I’m interested in a horse who hasn’t gotten a chance on turf in a while. Jungfrau (#4) tried this surface a couple of times as a 3-year-old, and though both resulted in off the board finishes, they’re two of the best races of his career. He showed some affinity for this surface on June 2 of 2023 when getting a tough trip, going wide around both turns after a poor start. He actually did well to challenge in mid-stretch before flattening out against a solid field. He then got off to another poor start at Churchill in the fall but was running on late behind a runaway winner. Since then he’s struggled on dirt, but he did show some signs of life last time first off the claim for Jesus Romero. This under the radar barn does a decent job, and I like the idea to get this horse back on turf. He also gets a huge rider upgrade to Jose Lezcano, and will be the right kind of price to take a shot.

Fair Value:
#4 JUNGFRAU, at 5-1 or greater

RACE 6

Horses without any prior turf form could attract serious support in this Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Series. Geopolitics (#2) may actually go favored in this spot despite coming into this race as a maiden and having no prior grass experience. She has run well in both prior starts, missing by narrow margins on each occasion. She earned a 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that last effort, which makes her one of the fastest horses in this field. She also has the best pedigree credentials to handle turf among those trying for the first time, being a half-sister to 5 turf winners, including multiple grass allowance winner Morrison. Central Banker is just an 8% turf sprint sire, according to DRF Formulator, but this filly does look like one that could handle the surface. I just wouldn’t want to take too short a price finding out. Being Betty (#4) has at least won on the turf, but she did so in a pretty slow maiden race last September that hasn’t proven to be any stronger retrospect. She has been overmatched in two subsequent starts going longer, but she didn’t run that well on either occasion. I don’t mind the cutback in distance for her, but I’m just a little concerned about her overall ability. It’s unclear that she’s really that much better than a maiden like Naughty Destiny (#8), who closed for third against maidens coming off a layoff last time and might have some upside in her second start as a 3-year-old. While Soloshot (#5) hasn’t won in two prior turf starts, she’s run much faster speed figures on this surface than Being Betty and everyone else in this field. She had been a little disappointing on dirt when Lolita Shivmangal claimed her for $32k over the winter. After another failed stakes attempt on dirt, she switched this filly over to the grass, and it’s completely turned her form around. She finished a strong second against a much better open company field than at odds of 49-1 two back. She didn’t run quite as well last time, but still put in a respectable effort against some seasoned NY-bred allowance horses. She now gets class relief dropping back in against straight 3-year-olds, and is also receiving a significant rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz. She won’t be nearly as generous a price this time, but she appears to fit this race perfectly.

Fair Value:
#5 SOLOSHOT, at 2-1 or greater

RACE 8

This starter allowance was a struggle to handicap. None of the shorter priced options are that appealing. I have a feeling that Lady Jasmine (#1) could get overbet off the private purchase and switch to Chris Englehart. She ran fine for David Donk, but it’s not like she ever had that much ability and might actually need to improve to win at this level. Picking up Joel Rosario helps her cause, but she was a little too obvious for me. Most of the other main players exit the May 9 race at this level, dominated by the superior duo of Pentagon and Elle Est Forte. Diamond Status (#10) hung on for third that day and actually ran pretty well in doing so, after running off on the lead to set some honest fractions. She’s a serious contender in here, but I am a little concerned about the further stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles, which might be pushing her stamina to the limit. Silent Melody (#6) couldn’t get by her that day with a good trip, and I don’t want to take a short price on her here, though she is obviously a contender. Anileate (#4) could never get involved after she was taken to the back of the pack last time. She possesses more early speed than that and might benefit from a more aggressive ride here. I don’t have much faith in the apprentice aboard to work out a trip, but I do think she’ll benefit from the slight stretch-out. My top pick is Miss Kristy (#8). This 4-year-old is pretty tough to trust after she was basically eased last time. Her last few races make it seem like she’s just completely lost her form, which might be the case. However, she really wasn’t asked for any run, as Junior Alvarado just gave up around the far turn after she dropped so far back early. I expect her to get a more energetic ride from Romero Maragh this time, so we should get a better read on where she fits. She was running races that make her competitive here going back to the end of turf season in 2023, and she might just be racing herself back into fitness. She’s going to be a massive price this time, and I think she’s worth one more chance given the lack of appealing options at shorter prices.

Fair Value:
#8 MISS KRISTY, at 12-1 or greater

RACE 9

I’m somewhat skeptical of two shorter prices in this finale. Bunny Honey (#12) looks appealing at first glance, as she tries New York-bred company for the first time after running well against open foes in her most recent start. However, she doesn’t come in with that great of a TimeformUS Speed Figure advantage, and she’s going to pull in plenty of support with Irad Ortiz taking over. She still has to work out a trip from this outside post, and her lack of early speed won’t do her any favors. I’m also quite skeptical of Laurana (#9), who has taken money in both prior starts and just hasn’t shown much either time. I much prefer her younger Clement-trained stablemate Miss City Girl (#4), who probably needed her debut last fall. This full-sister to millionaire turfer City Man just got shuffled back early and was running on belatedly that day. She has since worked well for this return, including a recent drill in company with stakes winner Silver Skillet. However, I think there are some interesting options to throw in at much bigger prices. My top pick is Pamplona Red (#7), who also participated in that May 4 maiden event that many of these exit. Breaking from the rail, she was reined in immediately after the start, as if Eric Cancel was intent on dragging her back to last regardless of how the break went. She got a little keen before settling. She swung out in upper stretch to make a late run but did herself no favors by trying to lug in. She’s better than that, and I think she can achieve a much better result with a more aggressive ride from Javier Castellano here. Another horse who could show more speed out of that May 4 affair is Luna Patina (#5). All things considered, she got a better trip than Pamplona Red, but she did lose some momentum when searching for room in upper stretch before diving back down inside. She did find her stride late in that race and galloped out well. I definitely prefer her as a turf horse. Now she adds blinkers, and I think we could see her show more speed, potentially building on the promise she showed in her debut. If Princess Summer (#14) somehow draws into the field from the AE list, she’s one that I would definitely want to include. She didn’t take much money on debut and was ridden like one that was just out for experience. She broke slowly and was handled conservatively, even while quickly passing horses through the stretch. She now stretches out with plenty of pedigree to do so, as a half-sister to 3 turf route winners.

Fair Value:
#7 PAMPLONA RED, at 6-1 or greater
#5 LUNA PATINA, at 12-1 or greater


Picks & Plays for Sunday, May 19

by David Aragona

View this card’s Highlight Horse and get TimeformUS PPs at Daily Racing Form.

PICKS


Race 1: 1 - 5 - 3 - 2
Race 2: 1 - 3 - 2 - 7
Race 3: 3 - 5 - 1 - 6
Race 4: 4 - 5 - 3 - 2
Race 5: 4 - 6 - 10 - 3
Race 6: 6 - 7 - 3 - 4
Race 7: 5 - 10 - 2 - 6
Race 8: 9 - 4 - 8 - 6
Race 9: 4 - 8 - 1 - 5

FAIR VALUE PLAYS

(Fair Value: These are the odds at which I could reasonably bet each of the horses listed. Wagering decisions should be based on the actual odds. The best value option will not necessarily be the top pick.)


RACE 2

Perhaps they go back to Watch Hill (#7), but I’m done with this horse. He’s had his chances at short prices and just seems to run to the level of his competition, settling for minor awards. Based on the evidence of his last race, the younger rivals have caught up to him and he just lacks the upside of the rest. He does get Lasix for the first time, but it feels like a move of desperation following a disappointing performance. I think the horse to beat is Janssen (#3), who finished second in that April 19 race that a few of these exit. This horse is piling up the runner-up results, but he was arguably best after setting a fast pace two back, and just ran into a superior rival last time. He’s the one to catch, though he might have to deal with some early speed from Waflr. I could also see Solo Rye’d (#2) getting ridden more aggressively after he was asked for some speed going shorter last time. He’s a longshot worth considering as he makes his second start off a layoff after an improved return. I have to give one more chance to Arco Augusta (#1), who was a little unlucky in that April 19 affair. He was loaded with run in behind the leaders past the half-mile pole, but was gradually shuffled back in traffic around the turn before finally getting clear too late in the stretch. Then last time he got into similar trouble, but wasn’t able to find that clear path at the quarter pole, steadying and hopping over heels before finally finding room late. He made a strong late rush to just miss. Now he’s wheeling back in 9 days, but he’s been in sharp form. He won’t be as generous a price this time, but he seems due to break through.

Fair Value:
#1 ARCO AUGUSTA, at 5-2 or greater

RACE 3

I acknowledge that Startup Mentality (#1) is a likely winner of this race, but she is going to be an awfully short price going out for popular connections, and Irad Ortiz riding lowers the odds even further. She showed a lot of promise in the first couple of starts of her career, winning impressively on debut before finishing a good third after a wide trip in the Pebbles. However, I was a little disappointed in her effort in the Tropical Park Oaks. She did have some early trouble and raced wide, but just lacked finish. Then last time she didn’t get the best ride at Tampa, but was still supposed to beat those horses once she got clear in the late stages. I just wonder if she’s really panning out, and I think there are a couple of rivals in here with upside. I also have questions about the overall turf ability of Chad Brown’s other runner Lady Beth (#6). She was so impressive winning her debut on synthetic last year, but she hasn’t really delivered on that potential since switching to turf. Her Winter Memories earned a solid speed figure, but she was supposed to win that day after getting clear up front. No Show Sammy Jo (#5) is an interesting option returning from the layoff. She ran like a horse who needed experience and fitness on debut, and she improved to win convincingly in her second start last summer. She hasn’t been seen in nearly 11 months, but she’s returning in a realistic spot. Graham Motion is 25 for 122 (20%, $2.74 ROI) off layoffs of 180 days or more in turf routes over 5 years. My top pick is Vino Rouge (#3), who also returns from a layoff, though she hasn’t been out of action for quite as long. This filly achieved her best results on dirt last year, but I thought she ran deceptively well in her lone turf start on debut. She never had great position that day, racing wide without cover for much of that affair, and still stayed on gamely for fourth against a solid field. She subsequently improved, but I think she’s more of a turf horse. She returns getting Lasix with original rider John Velazquez taking over again. The price should be fair with those two Brown runners in the mix.

Fair Value:
#3 VINO ROUGE, at 4-1 or greater

RACE 5

There really is no one to fear in this $40k maiden claimer that is lacking in turf form. I suppose Starlight Dancer (#10)will go favored since she’s a second time starter dropping in class with Irad Ortiz aboard. I can’t say that I loved her turf debut last fall even though it was solid enough to make her competitive at this level. She’s clearly a contender, but I wouldn’t want to settle for a short price.Superstarsusan (#6) only got one chance on turf last fall and didn’t get the most energetic ride from Jose Ortiz, who just dragged her to the back of the pack before launching a belated wide rally. She obviously took to turf, and should fit well at this level as she drops and gets Lasix off the layoff. My top pick is Justheart (#4), who figures to be a generous price as one of two Bruce Brown trainees in this field. She debuted against a weak bunch on dirt, but ran like a horse who just needed that experience, trying hard but lacking the fitness to see it out. Now she switches surfaces, which was probably the intention all along. Her damside pedigree isn’t overly turf-oriented, but we have seen the limited progeny of Redesdale do quite well switching to grass. She strikes me as one that can handle it, and it’s not as if she has to improve that much in a wide open affair.

Fair Value:
#4 JUSTHEART, at 7-1 or greater

RACE 7

I didn’t like either half of the Wayne Potts entry, so I’m not pleased to see them both scratch. From the race Chuck Willis is exiting, I would rather take Joking Way (#2) out of that race, since he closed a bit to get up for second and will be a much bigger price going out for a low-profile barn. The horse to beat is arguably Lost in Rome (#6) off the Rob Atras claim, but it’s not as if this barn has great numbers with this move. I feel this runner has been opportunistic when he’s been successful recently, taking advantage of favorable trips and pace scenarios. And now he figures to get overbet with Irad Ortiz aboard. Victorious Wave (#10)seems perfectly logical as he steps up off a victory. This is a tougher spot, but he has back races that gives him a chance here, and it seems like he’s rounding back into form for Chris Englehart. My top pick is Secret Rules (#5). This horse was dropped in class to get claimed at Keeneland last time by New York-based connections. He got claimed by Linda Rice, and is now back in New York, where has had success. That last performance also isn’t nearly as bad as the result might suggest. He never had good early position after getting rated from the start. He was then shuffled back on the turn and actually did some running late to get up for fourth. He should get a more aggressive ride this time with Jose Lezcano taking over. He rode him twice in the past and sent him to the lead both times. He probably can’t beat Chuck Willis to the front, but I believe he’ll be prominent throughout.

Fair Value:
#5 SECRET RULES, at 5-2 or greater

RACE 8

The expected scratch of Works for Me takes some pace out of this race, which could affect the chances of Sketch (#4). Yet this 3-year-old still has a right to do better in his second start off the layoff, and it’s not as if he has to improve that much on his return in the William Walker. He got off a step slowly and was rated at the back before launching a strong late rally in a race that was won on the front end. That 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure puts him in the mix, and he isn’t supposed to mind getting an extra half-furlong this time. I do think he’s the horse to beat, but he will need to work out a trip from off the pace.I think there are a couple of price horses to consider. Summer in Adriane (#8) ran well over this course in November, a race from which he was later awarded a maiden victory. He subsequently regressed at Fair Grounds, but he didn’t catch the ideal situations in a few of those races, since he doesn’t really want to go two turns. He cut back last time on this circuit facing older rivals in a tough allowance event. He only managed to finish fourth, but ran well considering that he got squeezed back early and was wide thereafter. He can continue his progression here. My top pick is Smokey Smokey (#9). This horse has only sprinted on turf once his career, on debut at Saratoga where he actually ran quite well. He got sent off at 26-1 and ran a big race to finish second, only losing to subsequent stakes winner Good Lord Lorrie. He stretched out after that, but didn’t seem to be quite as sharp in a pair of starts in Kentucky. From there he failed on dirt, and then moved to synthetic. He ran well to break his maiden in December, beating future stakes winner Epic Ride going this distance. He then found himself chasing extremely fast paces set by the fleet Joe Shiesty in March, and last time actually reeled that one in before getting overhauled by a closer. That has been a key race, from which multiple horses have returned to improve their speed figures. I like this Mike Maker trainee getting back to turf, and he might get somewhat overlooked off the hidden form.

Fair Value:
#9 SMOKEY SMOKEY, at 9-2 or greater

RACE 9

John the Beer Man (#3) looks pretty logical at first glance. He made an eye-catching late run to get up for fifth on debut, and then improved to just miss last time at Keeneland with a 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure. However, he did get a strong pace to close into in that Gulfstream unveiling, and last time he really had no excuse not to win after working out a perfect trip. Even though that race got a fast fig, I want to see it replicated, since that didn’t look like a stellar group on the way in. I actually think Brown’s other runner, first time starter Vesting (#1), may be more dangerous. They paid $228k for this son of Blue Point, best known in this country as the sire of BC Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Big Evs. However, there is stamina on the dam’s side, and he picks up Flavien Prat for the unveiling. Among the others with experience Coast Along (#5) makes sense off his last effort, a runner-up finish to another well-meant Brown firster. He lacks the upside of some others in this field as a 4-year-old, but he figures to be involved in the finish with his typical good effort. Storm Ready (#8) is a difficult call for me, because I’m inclined to be against a horse will get overbet based on connections, as a $1 million purchase ridden by Irad Ortiz. However, I do think this horse has significant upside out of his debut. He didn’t get the best ride that day, shuffled back past the half-mile pole before getting ridden conservatively through the stretch. He figures to move forward out of that race, and this is a pretty significant jockey upgrade. My top pick is Cuando (#4). I’ve been wanting to see this horse get a chance on turf since he began his career over the winter at Aqueduct. He ran well in most of his prior dirt starts, and he had an excuse for his only poor result when involved in a pace that fell apart two back. He moves like a horse who may take to this surface, and he certainly has the pedigree for it. He’s by 16% turf route sire Not This Time out of a dam who has produced 2 turf winners. Furthermore, even the foals who didn’t win on turf had a preference for grass and synthetic. I think this is the right spot for him, and he may be a square price given how competitive this field came up.

Fair Value:
#4 CUANDO, at 7-1 or greater


TimeformUS Race Analysis (2024)
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