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A CLOSER LOOK at Belmont races on 9/21
Seems to have shown more speed than ever before in her last two starts, and that is always a good sign; the drop back down in class to maiden claiming ranks helps her cause, and given her sire line, she might appreciate getting back to the main track; still, prefer others until she shows more finish.
Takes a significant drop in class from maiden allowance to maiden claiming ranks after failing to make much of an impact against steeper; she was well regarded in her last race but beat just a few, and there is a chance she had an excuse for not doing more as she returns today with first Lasix.
Highest earner in the field has more racing experience than most of these and that seasoning should benefit her at the demanding distance of a one-turn mile; seems to fit well at this level, and although she must overcome a two month layoff this afternoon, note she has run well fresh in the past; win candidate.
Difficult to support runner who has been beaten in double digits in all three of her career starts, but perhaps the drop to maiden claiming ranks will help her cause; also suspect she will appreciate getting back to the main track, site of her best races on form; still, looking for more from her later.
Another who has been beaten in double digits in each of her career starts; perhaps, however, she can start to turn things around this afternoon; last work suggests she is sharp, and she should benefit from the drop in class and the move to the main track, as dirt suits her sire line; can move forward.
4yo facing younger has shown good speed in her last two starts, but has been unable to the seal the deal in the later stages; in her defense, last out she might have been compromised by a turf course that had some give to it; returns to dirt, and gets more ground to work with on it than in the past.
Stepped up in class to test her skills on the lawn last out and she ran a respectable race, managing to split the field; she might have even had an excuse for not doing more in that race as she returns this afternoon with first Lasix; seems to fit well against these, and notice she also adds blinkers; can do.
With a total of 10 career starts to her name, she has more racing experience than most of these and that should help her at this afternoon's demanding distance; last out seems like a throwout race, and were she to run back to her two races before, she figures to be right there; would be no surprise.
Don't Tell Nina
4yo facing younger stepped up in class to try the lawn last out and she managed to split the field; she has been given some time to regroup from that race, and shows a sharp five furlong work for her comeback; was closest at this level in the past, and also was closest when ridden by Davis; can share.
Ran a promising fourth in his debut, then threw in a clunker so to speak in his turf debut last out; barn changes things up this afternoon with the return to the main track and the addition of blinkers, moves that should help his cause; would appear to be a threat should he have a flashback to his bow.
By a stakes-placed winner who rates above average as a debut sire; dam has one winner from two foals to race, Sly Dancer, a winner of 5 races and $92k; must get a demanding distance at first asking, but shows some forward works for her career bow; one to preview in the paddock.
Her desire to win was starting to come into question before her most recent run, but she cleared maiden hurdle with room to spare, and perhaps now that's she's tasted victory she'll turn the corner in the win category; she's usually in the hunt at the finish, so she has to be respected for her consistency if nothing else.
Just missed when last seen testing the waters at Finger Lakes, and she'll return to New York to face tougher today; 1 - 22 lifetime mark doesn't exactly make her a strong candidate for the win end, and her entrymate will draw more support.
Failed to really get anything going in two starts at Saratoga, and note that she wore front wraps in both of those starts off a better than 4 month layoff; tough to take.
Lacks early speed, but the pace in here should be honest, so perhaps a solid late bid can land her a share; nevertheless, others appear to have more to offer at this point.
Winlocs Grama Rose
First start vs. winners wasn't a memorable event, but Captain Lebo made it pretty tough on everyone in that race; she's not at the top of the list, but she's not at the bottom either.
Iwinski charge can be competitive in here on a top effort, but she really didn't look very good in her most recent start; perhaps she simply needed the race off the extended layoff, and she'll show more here for barn that was at full strength upstate.
Rainbows and Roses
Switches back to dirt after a number of turf tries, and she's run well at today's distance in the past; she hasn't shown much speed in her dirt starts, but perhaps the presence of Bailey will make the difference.
Must Be Me
Rolled to open length win vs. maidens three starts back over this surface before a couple of solid tries vs. winners; she sat out the Spa meet, and appears to be working well coming into this, so can't eliminate entirely from consideration.
Makes first start beyond 6-furlongs today, and she's tough to have confidence in off her last the Meadowlands returning from a 5 month absence; looking elsewhere.
She was treated badly by Captain Lebo when last seen, and she's really yet to prove much of a threat for the top spot in six starts vs. winners; however, she has strong connections on her side in Hennig, and Velazquez, so she merits respect off that alone.
Lived up to her odds-on status in her most recent effort, and appears to be capable of making it two in a row if she can build off that effort; she breaks from extreme outside post, but she owns enough speed to maneuver her way into position before entering the turn; serious contender.
Sire has hit at about a 9% clip with firsters in a 31 runner study according to DRF stats; 6 of 8 of dam's foals to race won; none won at 2; dam was only 2 for 39 as a racer; never thrilled when debuters show up for a tag at first asking but trainer spots his horses very well; live rider helps.
Academy Award has hit at about a 6% clip with firsters in a 89 runner study according to DRF stats; 6 of 8 of dam's foals to race won; 3 won as juveniles; dam herself won the Ruthless at the Big A, 3 other races and banked $138k; would expect runner to improve with more furlongs.
Fire Dancer has hit at about a 3% clip with firsters in a 31 runner study according to DRF stats; all 4 of dam's foals to race won; all are multiple winners, one won as a juvenile; dam was 4 for 55 in the minor leagues; may want to watch one.
Debuted vs. winners, finished okay in last after getting a race over the strip; trainer has won a ton of races this year and it's not a result of misplacing his stock; this guy must be left in the mix.
U R My Winner
You and I has hit at about a 19% clip with firsters in a 46 runner study according to DRF stats; 2 of 3 of dam's foals to race won; both are multiple winners in the minors and neither won at 2; dam retired a maiden after 4 starts; pedigree and connections make him a valid threat.
Showed good speed two back, was fried into submission last time; runner tends to get late, has lost ground in the stretch in every outing; Mott fanatics may get somewhat of a price here.
Interesting that Bailey ends up here instead of on the Mott runner; this colt seems to be finally finding his best stride; troubled last time when forced to take up, he was still well clear; should be in first flight and should give good account of himself.
Blinkers helped last time as runner flashed much more speed; place horse in last returned in maiden special company and was a well beaten third; fresh and dangerous.
Was cold as ice on board in debut, popped and stopped when on a pretty slow pace last time; works of late don't exactly get the heart pumping; this one has to step it up big time.
Never easy for young horses to handle the rail at first asking; it's just one more obstacle; moves at the Big A have been solid since debut and love the blowout right on top of race; could be the bomb in the gimmicks.
Got fried in Spa debut, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory twice; hate to see horses have the opportunity to win, like having 2 lengths at the top of the lane, and still find a way to lose; runner has speed but is not alone in that category; backers should get a brief thrill at least.
Going turf to dirt and route to sprint has worked well for this trainer over the years; he showed a flat bet profit with both moves in the mid 90s; plenty of speed to set up his kick and note runner took a bit of action in both outs; beware.
Smoke Stack Jack
Sire was a champion sprinter at 3, seems to be passing his speed on and is one of this year's leading freshman stallions; he won the Riva Ridge here in 1997; this is unraced dam's first foal to race; Jersey drills just okay; tab for later on.
5yo abandoned conditioned allowance quest at the Big A this spring, sliding to quarter tag company for the confidence builder; which led to appreciable last-to-first attempt here off the claim and on the rise to honest 40k group; yet spun her wheels against Breadknife last-out; overfueled pace maybe sets a tastier plate for lone deep closer; yet the track played strictly to speed Wed. at 7f and under; two-for-one ticket is a trifecta include; unsure for all.
Promptly assumed command after a half in Spa dash to put winning bookends on high-summer set; nice breeze 12 days ago for new connections; classic career seconditis earned mostly at this 6-panel trip; maybe has a buffer against pressure-cooker duel in that she doesn't need the lead right away; yet she'll need to find Breadknife's vacuum in the stretch to stay in exotics range; prefer 'mate for the tri slice.
Sweet Talkin Babe
Just about owned the quarter tag distaff level at Delaware; but in mid-summer repeat, they stopped coming at her once she put them away; she can count on early-middle-late pressure today; can't afford to shade :46 in local bow when Breadknife can shade :45 - and keep going; someone has to lose in five-way pace battle; would need some kind of Sweet odds before even slightly tempted.
At least she's versatile; but maybe spent a little too long with Tampa N1x types over the winter; beat just five others here in June quarter tag score, needing every step of that 6.5f heat to wear down depleted bunch; if that's her best, her best isn't quite good enough against well-matched 35k group today; was aimed for Spa spot?; one work to bridge the gap since then?; going with others.
Cut through opt claiming crew at the Shore like hot butter; if three weeks is enough downtime to forestall regression, watch out; speed dominated Wed. at 7f & under - Cherokee Girl by 8 (at 7f), Heavyweight Champ by 8 1/2 (at 6f) - both Bailey wire jobs; 5yo didn't need one off the bench this time around; more than capable of pairing up tops; yet she borders on being a need-the-lead sort; can Pahokee & Sweet Talking Babe prompt futile three-way duel?; gut check time on the fleet chalk.
Single-digit odds hardly feel like sufficient reward given winless since '99 and at least 20 starts since; that said, 5yo has made a pest of herself by invading exactas & trifectas against the same faces; mixed record against Breadknife; but has offered some sort of gather-in-the-stragglers rally consistently all summer; 14 for 24 in the money lifetime at the 6f trip, and a better Belmont record than most; must consider for smaller part.
Guidry seized a shockingly slow half-mile in 11-1 Spa romp; stop-and-start sort went from 0 for 11 in 2000 to 4 for 8 this year while caught up in claim game; go-for-broke bid due here; but would you really label filly's speed "dangerous"?; not with Breadknife sporting the half-mile lead in 9 of her last 10; not suggesting 4yo due for regression so much as just not enough gas to shake loose today under genuine pressure; taking a stand against repeat.
Here's a hug, but love isn't the right word; not even sure "like" suits, cutting back far shorter than confidence margin; yes, 4yo came storming into the clear at the 6f mark in two of her last three return races; but she'll be far more playable stretched out to the mile or further next time; noting lack of Sept. works after useful but short Aug. a.m. pair at the Rock; this has the hallmark of comeback prep; wait one.
Definitely the wild card; showed enough heart in local late-spring N1x pair that maybe first tag restores that competitiveness; yet is stuck attacking outside another fast half-mile - and that could be what caused her to lose interest late at the Spa; does the good Aqu gate work just nine days ago hint at big rebound here?; respect connections, respect tactical speed potential behind Breadknife; merits consideration on best.
Lit up the board in her debut with a wide "sweeping" move to the lead in late stretch, surprising given that her breeding doesn't suggest turf (sire Tactical Advantage gets only 6% grass winners, according to recent DRF Simulcast Weekly stats); she benefited from a fast pace there and took full advantage, and that seems like an unlikely scenario here; plus, she'll need to work out a trip from the inside and from well off the pace; trying others.
1st foal out of an unraced dam; she was overmatched in the Spinaway and she can be forgiven for that one, but she's not particularly well bred for the grass; expect her to have some speed at this slightly longer distance but she'll be tested by a couple of fillies late that are already proven on the lawn; those fillies and others seem more likely.
She broke her maiden via a forward trip but tried closing in a longer stakes race at Monmouth, to no avail; her dam won 6 races on the green, so her ability to handle the surface is no surprise; sire not known for his turf runners (7% winners) but at least she's won on the lawn, unlike a few of these; still, not sold on her based solely on that win at Colonial.
Sire Hennessy, a terror as a 2-year-old, has won with 11% of his turf runners lately; her dam was unraced but is a half to sturdy veteran Virginia Carnival, who has had success on the weeds; this one faded in her first start against winners but makes her turf debut here; she does have some speed and will certainly be involved early, although she may have a tough time late if she's hooked on the lead early.
I Will Survive
This is her 7th start, and first try on the lawn; dam's lone career win was on the grass; this filly was up the track in the Adirondack but really had no chance there, as it turned out; her maiden win came as a result of a perfect trip behind a pretty good pace, and while she may work out a similar trip here she still has to prove she can handle the surface as well as the extra distance; some obstacles to overcome.
Dynaformer gets 14% winners on the turf, and 39% of his grass runners hit the board; this one is a half to Cozzy Corner, who just won the Just Smashing on the grass at the Meadowlands on opening day there (she was also 3rd in the Lake George at Saratoga); this one was a sharp winner over the grass in her debut, and she's been training regularly for her return; expecting her to run a big race back to what seems to be her best surface.
Her sire, Cozzene, has very good numbers with turfers (17% winners, 41% in the money); her dam won 4 races and $102k on the lawn; she came home very quickly to break her maiden at first asking, and she's another with some decent works, especially that last one on Sunday; if she runs back to her debut race she'll be very tough to beat.
Hasn't taken any money in three starts at DelPark but that didn't stop her from posting a huge upset last time, not coincidentally her first start on the grass; it should be noted, though, that she benefited from a perfect trip behind a duel between the eventual runner-up and the last-place finisher, and she was all out to beat the former despite that set-up; will be looking to run late but she may have a tough time topping this group.
Odds-on winner at Calder last time, and she tries the turf for the first time; couldn't get any better connections (who's been hotter than Frankel?), and there's some evidence in her pedigree that the turf will pose no problem; her dam is related to at least 3 grass winners, including stakes winner Marry Me Do, and her sire gets 15% winners and 44% in-the-money finishers on the lawn; looms a serious threat.
Stalked the pace and wore down the leaders very gamely to win his first start of the year and returns just 12 days later vs. similar competition; won two of five starts at Bel and several of his speed figures are good enough to be competitive in this field; is eligible to bounce after the layoff and hard race, but he is coupled with Rich Reward and they form a potent entry.
Won three of six starts and finished in the money five times this year; won his only start at this track and four of eight races at this distance; posted a very good speed figure after a brief vacation in his only local outing and is returning from a similar break today; both he and Late Carson have the speed and stamina to be in the thick of things from flagfall to finish.
Finished 4th or better in his last 10 starts and was 2nd and 4th vs. $100K claimers at Sar in his last two races; is a specialist at this distance with eight wins, 19 in-the-money finishes and earnings of over $320K in 26 starts; he is making his first start at Bel and shows no local workouts; several of his foes have posted better recent speed figures, so he would need to improve a bit to win today.
Finished 3rd and 2nd vs. N2X alw foes in his last two starts; both of his wins and six in-the-money finishes came in eight local outings, so he obviously likes this racetrack; hasn't raced in over seven weeks and will find these veteran sprinters tougher than those he faced in five starts this year; will deserve a long look if he drops back into a conditioned alw race.
Won his last two starts very gamely, one locally and one at Sar; won three of four starts at Bel, five of 10 at this distance and five of 14 lifetime; sports a top trainer-rider combo and seems to run best after a brief freshening; seems best when he stalks the leaders and closes, and their may be enough early speed in this field to make his late run effective.
Finished close behind Rich Reward in their last race at Sar and is making his first local start, while that one is proven over this surface; raced wide in his last two starts and switches to Chavez, the last rider to win with him; would need to improve to be part of the trifecta, and, with no local races or workouts, it is difficult to guess how he will handle the track.
Bought in Dixie
Showed little in his last start at Sar, but he is returning to a track where he won three of nine starts and finished in the money six times; has bounced back with big efforts after poor races in the past and will probably run much better today; he is working well locally and the pace scenario should fit his running style, but his best recent speed figures are a bit lower than the best here.
Seven-year-old is the veteran in this field and has amassed a bankroll of $634,444, much more than any of today's rivals; he is winless at Bel but has four 2nds and two 3rds in 10 starts locally; although he has beaten better in the past, he finished behind some of today's foes in recent races, and doesn't appear likely to improve enough to be a big threat today.
Put it all together in his third start in this country and third of this year, battling throughout and winning a $50K claiming race at Sar; won five races and finished in the money 11 times in his career; would need to improve a bit more to beat this tougher field, but he is bred to be a nice sprinter and certainly appears to be on the improve; chance at a price.
Stakes winner exits the best race, has won the most cash and she beat a good one in the Next Move; Pompeii returned to win a stakes at Philly and she took the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on 8/24; proven off the bench, Shug remains hot, look out.
Been in a slump since beating a group in the slop at Churchill last year; not a ton of speed in the field so would expect rider to try take advantage of this gal's :21 and change zip; she upset off the vacation last fall at Keeneland; can't toss.
Another filly that seems to respond with time between races; sat right off the lead before a pouncing win at this distance in summer; a repeat of that performance would make her very tough and that's the kind of trip that is projected; respect.
Rough year for this miss; got a slice two back but wasn't in the same zip code as the winner; was last early and stayed there in last sprint; has work cut out.
Hate to see more minor awards than wins in any kind of record; horse that ran second in 2000 finale, Irving's Baby, has won 5 stakes this year including a pair of Grade 3 events; she was third in the Personal Ensign; runner does like the distance and is in good hands; exotic potential.
Has won 2 of last 4 races off the vacation; stalking style could play well here; she could get the garden trip sitting third behind a pair of duelers; note miss had the excuse of slop the last time she was in town; could easily be enticed into using in gimmicks.
U. S. Gold
That speed is to be taken seriously - but he's running into the teeth of some heady competition here; still, you don't win 11 of 62 by accident but could it be he's better situated when facing slightly lesser either in Jersey or elsewhere? some positives, some negatives.
His effort at this level here July 7 was quite good - only got beat a length after dueling; but since then while he's run decently at this level he hasn't been a threat - finished 5 behind 'Ben last time; maybe this shorter trip helps, and maybe he didn't relish the SAR surface; note he was 3-5 when he ran well at this trip, track and level July 7; mixed feelings.
Buckle Down Ben
OK, so he didn't turn into a Triple Crown horse like we thought he might after his good fall campaign; however, he seems back on the right track now, particularly as he's gotten away from the big boys; good effort at this level last time against a horse who's going to be tough in Sunday's Super Derby; distance certainly suits and he's got some versatility; huge threat.
Hmmm - figure he needed that June 24 run after being gone so many months, then he didn't like turf July 21 then came through with a nice N2X win routing at SAR over the likes of Hadrian's Wall; considering that seemed to mark a breakthrough why then no race in almost 6 weeks? at least showed more speed last time but he's 0 for 3 here; iffy.
That's one long layoff to overcome; spent most of his time vs. winners running on turf, though when he cleared the N1X level it came routing on dirt; still not really sure where he fits vs. winners, and that coupled with the long layoff make him seem awfully risky here.
Showed enough promise at 2 to be favored in the Nashua; things didn't quite pan out, but he seems to have gotten his act together of late, showing a lot of guts winning here last time over Volponi, who was something of a wiseguy horse in the Travers after a huge allowance win; this distance certainly suits and he has speed; very playable.
Never bad to have Bailey/Mott in your corner, and he just got done drilling Dayton Flyer Aug. 25, and was flattered when that guy came right back to win; of course, it was also going 7fs at SAR - 2 of his 3 career wins have come at SAR; at least the other came here, and came going a mile, so he certainly can handle it; maybe more importantly is that blinkers may well have helped him break through; major player.
Dash 'n Dance
Bailey took the call, blinks went on, and while this guy was 3rd he still got beat 10+ lengths, so he was never really in the hunt; yet to really threaten in 3 tries at this level, and today Bailey sticks with main man Mott and Peak Dancer; at least his N2X win came at this trip, but his off the pace style may not be what you want over this track; dicey.
Slight freshening and a trip to Jersey did the tick as he cleared the N2X level; still, he hadn't been competitive vs. N2X foes on this circuit so can 2 months and Jersey win give him enough oomph to make him competitive vs. N3X foes on this circuit? shaky.
Lord of Ewhurst
Was soundly defeated in debut, and will need to turn it around in a hurry while experiencing breaking from the rail for the first-time; Stoklosa has had good success with young/lightly raced horses in the past, and the switch to Migliore for this can be viewed as a positive sign.
New York-bred has been testing the company in New Jersey, but will return home today to tackle straight state-bred rivals; he's tired badly in both of his starts, but like to see connections reach out for Davis.
Was sent to post at better than 30-1 for unveiling, and failed to do anything to prove bettors wrong as he only managed to beat one horse home; must do more.
Enters this off a couple of starts on turf, and it's tough to make a case for this one based on poor dirt form to this point; prefer others.
Colt has done most of his racing at Penn National, and his lone NY start was a rather dull effort; he's yet to make a start on dirt with Lasix, so perhaps that is a slight reason to be optimistic.
He's yet to finish within 13 lengths of the winner in five starts, so it's tough to make a positive case for him; barn has been known to jump at a price, but would be a bit of a surprise here.
Jelly Roll Rock
Took his share of support in career bow, and he didn't disgrace himself while encountering his share of trouble that day; Velazquez takes the return call, so wouldn't be shocked to see a much better effort with a smoother trip for solid outfit.
Hot rider appears to be in a with a better than average shot to keep things rolling here, but this colt has had a few chances, and won't find himself close-up to a pace as slow as he saw in his last; nevertheless, he's a legitimate contender.
Sonny The Sailor
Ran into a good looking New York-bred in Aspirin in lifetime debut, and has every reason to move forward with that experience behind him; he'll need to get away to a more alert beginning today, but must be considered.
Been facing some cheap foes at Monmouth, but his last race was a small step in the right direction; nevertheless, he's been sent off at long odds in all three of his starts, and still has a lot to prove.
Makes career start number thirteen seeking victory number one, and will need to see a swift early pace to be in with any kind of shot; a late run for a minor award appears to be the ceiling.
Last two starts have been on turf, and his only two starts on dirt are tough on the eyes; perhaps he's just put it together recently, and will handle the switch back to dirt, but prefer to see him run a good one over dirt first.
Needs someone to withdraw their name from the main body of the race to get in, and will be faced with a tough outside post; another in here who has had his chances, so prefer to look in another direction.
Will need to see a few scratches to find his way into the action, and although he'll be returning off a long layoff, like to see Velazquez show interest here; works for return have been steady, and both of his starts with Lasix have been O.K.
Stands three deep on the Also Eligible list, and like O'Dassuny to his inside, this colt will be returning from a March layoff; shows light work activity at Philly Park for this, so prefer to give him a start.