10/16/2015 12:17PM

Fornatale: Trezza searches for value in Athenia Stakes


Anthony Trezza is new to the handicapping-contest world but not new to contests: He’s been playing high-level fantasy sports for two decades. Last weekend, he won a contest on NHCQualify.com, and this week I wrote a profile on him. In today’s blog, he walks us through his thoughts, from a contest perspective, on the ninth race at Belmont on Saturday, the Grade 3 Athenia. Take it away, Anthony!

#1 Stellar Path (8-1): Trainer Christophe Clement brings this 4-year-old filly back to New York after a few decent efforts at Woodbine and Monmouth. Her best effort since coming to the States may have been a few back in the Grade 3 Eatontown against a very competitive field. She picks up Joel Rosario for this race. All of her wins have been on a softer surface, and her sweet spot may be at a shorter distance. She should be sitting midpack, but not expecting much more than a possible piece of the exotics.

#2 Speed Seeker (20-1): Elvis Trujillo will have this filly gunning for the lead, and she should be the early pacesetter. Her last race was a game effort, but that was at Laurel on a soaked track against inferior competition. She may provide some thrills for three-quarters of the race, but I’m not looking for this one to upset.

#3 A Little Bit Sassy (12-1): Michael Matz has this steadily improving 4-year-old filly poised for a big win, and this could be the day. Jersey Joe Bravo jumps back on after she displayed some talent in back-to-back stakes races at Saratoga and Kentucky Downs. She should be laying in midpack and might be in the mix. At 12-1, I am mildly interested.

#4 Wiener Valkyrie (15-1): Ed Walker brings this 3-year-old over from England sporting just one win in 10 tries. That victory came last November. Cold Cornelio Velasquez gets the mount. If this horse beats me, so be it. Out.

#5 Keri Belle (30-1): Manny Franco jumps aboard this 5-year-old mare. She cuts back to 1 1/16 miles off a decent effort at Saratoga in allowance company. This is her first stakes try, and the race would have to melt down totally for this girl to take home a piece of the pie.

#6 Granny Mc’s Kitten (10-1): For contest purposes, this is one I will consider. Chad Brown gets Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride, and Granny has all four of her wins at this distance. She should be sitting in a perfect stalking position, and Ortiz should have this girl ready to pounce. She’s definitely worth a hard look in contest play because of the connections and odds.

#7 Rusty Slipper (12-1): One of two Graham Motion horses entered, and this one is the better of the two. This 5-year-old is coming off a game effort, winning a stakes race at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 19. John Velazquez should have her sitting right off the lead, waiting for Speed Seeker to quit, and with another game effort, she could score at 12-1. My longshot and another likely contest play, depending on where I am and the final prices.

#8 Joy (50-1): The other Motion horse. Chris DeCarlo rides this 5-year-old mare, who has seen better days. Based on past performances, I just can’t see her winning in this spot.

#9 Tango Time (10-1): She’s making only the seventh start of her career and her third in the States. This filly should get a little play at the windows, mainly because of Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano, so I expect the odds to be nearer to 6-1 at post. She might have a shot, but she just does not look good enough for me in contest play as a horse making her first stakes bid off two average efforts in allowance company. I think there will be better value elsewhere.

#10 Coffee Clique (7-2): Luis Saez replaces Franco and should have this gal forwardly placed. Her last two efforts at Belmont and Saratoga were disappointing at best, but she has enough to be in the mix at the end for cash play. For contest play, I am looking elsewhere.

#11Baffle Me (20-1): Paco Lopez grabs the mount for Mark Hennig. This stakes-tested 6-year-old would have to have a major effort to get a share. Pass.

#12 Faufiler (4-1): The unknown in the race. The 4-year-old ships in from Ireland and has some decent speed figures. Most contest players would pass on this horse because of the question marks, but this is where I draw my attention, especially if the odds drift up. A potential value play, but odds need to slide higher for me.

#13 Lady Lada (3-1): Draws post No. 13, which should not bother her that much, given her deep-stretch-running style. She might be the best conditioned and tested filly in the race and will be favored by post time. She is definitely the horse to beat in this wide-open field.

Summary: Since this will be the middle leg of the NHCQualify.com and DFRQualify.com contests, this will be a crucial race. After five races, there should be some bunching up near the top of the leaderboard. Since there is no clear-cut favorite in this deep field, I will be digging for some value. There is no question that Lady Lara and Coffee Clique will be charging late from deep in the pack, but I am looking for a much more tactical repeat effort from Rusty Slipper at 12-1 to bring home the bacon. Granny Mc’s Kitten also is on the contest radar. For cash play, consider mixing in Lady Lara and Faufiler.