There is some very good racing over the next few weeks. This weekend features two stakes-laded cards at Woodbine, an excellent Sands Point at Belmont, and a stakes-laden card at Laurel. The Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion highlight the action next week at Parx, and then Breeders Cup prep weekends take us into October.
For Saturday, we’ll try a few spot plays posted here and then come back looking at some multi-race tickets tomorrow in the morning.
Laurel, Race 6 (All Along) – #5 On Leave (2-1) is the likely favorite but this is a pretty contentious group. Three horses come out of the Violet at Monmouth but we’ll oppose them: #6 Gianna’s Dream (6-1), who set a very slow pace in there, #4 Pricedtoperfection (8-1), who pressed the moderate pace and had nothing, and #7 Light Up Our World (7-2) who has had good trips in her US races and could be overbet again. Our picks is #7 Juno (4-1), who ships in from California for Neil Drysdale. Juno has been in some faster-paced California races and meets a field that should deliver a far more moderate pace. She’s the pick.
Laurel, Race 7 (Sensible Lady Turf Dash) – #5 Ginger N Rye (8-5) and #2 Miss Ella (5-2) ran 1-2 in the Smart N Fancy at Saratoga on August 27th and come back on 20 days of rest. In that race, they both got a big pace to attack and rallied up the inside, the place to be on the Saratoga turf course late in the meet. That might make them both a little vulnerable. #6 Everything Lovely (15-1) has some races that are good enough and looks like she went off form, but two-back she was surprisingly rated from the inside and put in tight, then at Saratoga last time she tried to rally inside when the whole race collapsed outside of her. The concern is six furlongs – she’s better going five and five-and-a-half furlongs and that can be a significant difference in these turf sprints. #10 Exaggerated (10-1) is our top pick for trainer Arnaud Delacour. She’s run once since June of 2016, a race in April at Keeneland where she had no shot against Lady Aurelila coming in off a 10-month layoff. Something might have gone wrong since she’s been back on the bench for five more months, but Delacour is 5-19 with a 3.13 ROI in turf sprints on 60-200 day layoffs (DRF Formulator).
Laurel Race 8 (Laurel Turf Cup) – #7 Holiday Star (6-1) had every right to need his money allowance off a 21-month layoff at Saratoga last time and further the race featured a very slow pace that held together. He should be much tighter this time for Graham Motion and is the pick in the Turf Cup. We’ll also use #3 Canessar (4-1), who makes his US debut for Arnaud Delacour.
Laurel Race 9 (DeFrancis Dash) – #4 Whitmore (7-5) is the favorite, and deservedly so. But his best races came at Oaklawn, he was bearing out in the Maryland Sprint, was not good in the True North, and then got hurt to miss the Vanderbilt. So if he runs his best race, he’s going to win, but he’s not a good bet at 7-5. #3 Awesome Banner (7-2) ran huge in the Maryland Sprint and will take some money off his second in the Vanderbilt but rode the goldest of gold rails that day. We’ll try #2 Mr. Jordan (12-1), turning back out of the nine-furlong Iselin. Granted, this might be too short, but he crushed Loose on the Town going seven furlongs two starts back (Loose on the Town came out of that race to just miss in the Tale of the Cat at Saratoga and improve his figure 16 points).
Laurel Race 10 (Laurel Futurity) – #1 Nauti Boy (15-1) probably won’t be 15-1 but should be an inflated price, though we can toss his last two races. He ran well in his debut to win on this course with a 71 Beyer in July, beating Untamed Domain, who won his next start and was third in the With Anticipation at Saratoga. Toss the dirt race and the route race in the With Anticipation and bring Nauti Boy back to a turf sprint and he’ll be an overlay.
Woodbine Race 10 (Northern Dancer) – #8 Hawkbill (3-5) is obvious and finds a pretty soft Group 1 here but #4 Messi (4-1) might be cycling back into form. He ran huge last time in the Saratoga allowance that Holiday Star comes out of – ironically, both are trained by Graham Motion and both were severely pace compromised in there.
Woodbine Race 12 (Woodbine Mile) – #6 Deauville (5-2) is favored but we can’t take him after his hang-job in the Arlington Million. #1 World Approval (7-2) can definitely win and ran huge last time turning back to a mile. But our top pick is #10 Lancaster Bomber (9-2), a three-year old for Aidan O’Brien. He’s run poorly twice on soft turf, but in his two good-firm races, he was beaten one length by Barney Roy at Ascot and one-and-a-quarter lengths by Churchill at New Market, each of whom would probably be favored to win this race.
Belmont Race 7 – We liked #1 Toughest ‘Ombre (12-1) last time and he ran ok from a terrible post against a better field. I should say, a better field save #3 Annals of Time (4-5), making his first start since winning the Hollywood Derby. Though he’s obviously prepping for something of greater importance, he is going to be awfully tough to beat. We’ll play him over Toughest ‘Ombre and for each $4 3-1 we’ll play $1 of 1-3.
Belmont Race 8 – This is a very tough allowance race with several ways to go. Many will gravitate to #4 Faja (3-1), who won his Gulfstream debut by 8 lengths and hasn’t been seen since. Still, he “only” got a 77 Beyer (granted it was December of his 2 year old year), and obviously something went wrong. Pletcher’s Gulfstream freaks don’t always bring that form elsewhere, and combined with the tough field and the layoff, we’ll play against. There should be some pace and hopefully that helps #3 Hammerin Aamer (6-1). He ran nine furlongs at Saratoga, won a pace battle before fading late. He gets back to a one-turn race here and that should suit him well.
Belmont Race 9 (Sands Point) – I’m hoping that a moderate pace on the inner-turf course can help #9 Defiant Honor (5-1) get the nine furlongs, which admittedly might be a bit of a stretch. I thought she ran big in the Riskaverse last time, winning much easier than the margin makes it look, and her race three-back here at Belmont was good as she was part of a fast pace. In the Lake George two-back, she reportedly flipped her pallet. She’s very talented and in form for an excellent trainer in Jimmy Toner.
It’s a busy day and a great Saturday of racing. Good luck!