There is some excellent racing today around the country. Let’s take a look at a few spots.
Gulfstream Race 7 (Tropical Park Oaks-1) – They split the Tropical Park Oaks into two divisions, and this one seems to be the weaker of the two. The horse to beat is #9 Westit (4-1), who makes her third US start. She faced older horses two-back at Belmont and the winner, Off Limits, returned to win the G1 Matriarch at Del Mar. Then last time, she caught a quirky late-fall, yielding turf course at Churchill. She should improve getting back on firm turf against the weakest field she’s met in the US. Still, this is the weaker of the two divisions, leading us to want to take a shot with #5 Momentiempo (15-1), a half to G1 winning Time and Motion for Jimmy Toner. We liked her last time when she broke her maiden and she ran well that day. Momentiempo was shuffled back on the far turn and in behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch before flying home to just get up. That was her first start in 11 months so she should improve. Plus, her only other turf start was on a very tiring yielding course she didn’t like.
Gulfstream Race 9 (Tropical Park Oaks-2) – This second division of the Tropical Park Oaks came up tougher and if Momentiempo were in here, she’d have a much tougher time. #10 Speighgal (5-1) comes in off a very impressive n1x win at Aqueduct last month and is definitely the horse to beat. #2 Taperge (4-1) comes in off two close losses to Rymska, the likely horse to beat in the G1 American Oaks today at Santa Anita. The up-and-coming horse, however, and the one who will be the best price, is #3 Ghostly Presence (6-1). Roger Attfield as started four horses at Gulfstream so far with two wins and a third. This horse has improved since adding blinkers and last time on grass, just missed to the talented Inflexibility.
Gulfstream Race 10 (Via Borghese) – We want to try #1 Daring Duchess (10-1) in here. There’s not a ton of speed and Daring Duchess should benefit from either setting or being close to that pace. Last time, she had some trouble in the first furlong and was farther back then normal, then made a big wide move up to the lead before fading. You can safely toss that race. Her two previous races were just against much tougher runners in Kitten’s Roar and Dona Bruja. Plus she could benefit from the shorter distance after running in 12-furlong races most of the year. As for the others, #9 Beauly (4-1) drops out of the G1 Flower Bowl where she didn’t disgrace herself, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths. Two-back, she had no chance in the very slow-paced Kentucky Downs race behind Miss Temple City and Zipessa. #3 Galileo’s Song (3-1) and #4 Texting (10-1) come out of the same two races for Chad Brown and there shouldn’t be that big of a price disparity between the two runners. We do prefer Galileo’s Song but Texting has had some issues the last two starts – being unable to get clear outside last time and missing the break two back.
[Aqueduct on Friday featured a strong inside bias, probably due to the freezing temperatures, which continue today, so be sure to check the earlier races on the card, as neither of our two Aqueduct plays would benefit from a strong inside track.]
Aqueduct Race 7 – #3 Cerretalto (7-2) moves up after a win last time for trainer Jim Bond. He should get a good trip close to the pace and Bond is on fire at this meet, winning with 10 of his 32 starters.
Aqueduct Race 8 (Damon Runyan) – #3 Honor Up (12-1) is also entered in the Jerome Monday but let’s hope he goes here. Honor Up has really improved since stretching out to a route of ground including an 11 length win last time, albeit against a very weak field. He faced #8 Audible (7-2) two-back and made the first off the pace move before getting run down late. We’d rather bet Honor Up at a much bigger price. #6 Empire Line (3-1) might go favored off an excellent win on debut (in beating two next-out winners) but has to stretch from six furlongs to a mile and deal with other potential speed.
Santa Anita Race 7 (G1 American Oaks) – #8 Rymska (5-2) is the horse to beat and has run very well in both of her return races. #9 New Money Honey (7-2) ran poorly last time in the QE II but note that she also ran poorly in her other start at Keeneland. Still, she is a little on the slow side and figures to be overbet. We want to take a shot with #6 Beau Recall (6-1). She spent the spring being wired by Sircat Sally. She also ran better than it appears in the Belmont Oaks when shuffled back around the turn before closing well late. Last time out in the QE II, she had early trouble and was well back early in a race totally dominated on the front end. She has a forward move in her and will be a fair price.
Laurel Race 9 (Dave’s Friend) – This race features what should be a strong pace and some talented inside runners in #1 Recruiting Ready (4-1) and #2 El Areeb (15-1). That’s likely a bad morning line on El Areeb – he will be shorter. There is one horse, however, that is a huge price that we think has a big shot: #8 Awesome Banner (20-1). He had trouble loading last time and then was carried wide and eased up on at Penn National. Hopefully we can just toss that one. His two-back race was the Bold Ruler in which he was embroiled in a supersonic pace that fell apart. Here, he figures to get a good trip stalking on the outside, which is preferred at Laurel.