Race 4 (7.5F Turf) 16K Claiming 4yo+
Contenders: #1, #5, #7, #8
At first glance, Beyond Smart (#1) seems like a logical play. Positive barn switch to trainer Kelly Breen, adds jockey Irad Ortiz and speed figures that make him competitive with this bunch. He’s also been on/near strong early paces in his three GP starts that may have compromised his chances. However, at scant value given his new connections, it’s too hard to overlook the negatives: 2-19 on turf, 0-6 on GP lawn, and the general unease that this 7 year old is not improving (at least enough to win this).
Creaky Cricket (#5) gets a positive switch to Luis Saez for low percentage trainer Leon Minott. That make up for the host of negatives: 0-6 on GP turf, 1-10 at distance, and doubts about his preferred running style. He’s been involved from the get-go in his last four starts to no avail. Will Saez take him off the pace today?
Is McElloy (#7) going to keep improving? His BRISnet speed ratings have progressed from 49-77-81. Last summer and fall in New York (under Rudy Rodriguez’s care) he was consistently hitting 85 before tailing off. I’m taking a stand against. He’s certainly a candidate for second or third, though.
I think Mr. Online (#8) will top this group. His back class is obvious but I like how he significantly improved March 3rd on the stretch out second back from the long layoff. I also like that trainer David Bratty gave him a 4F workout on March 17 at Gulfstream Park West. It’s a small detail but it’s reassuring to see he’s fit and healthy.
Mr. Online is the morning line and likely post time favorite. However, the money could be spread out among Beyond Smart and Creaky Cricket.
I’m optimistic that on-the-fringes long shots Picketts Corner (#2) or McFly (#4) might get up for second. They’ll need help in the form of an honest early pace but they both sport multiple wins on the GP turf.
$10 Exacta 8/2-4-5-7
$2 Trifecta 8/2-4-5-7
$4 Exacta (saver) 2-4-5-7/8
(Update: #7 scratched so I’ll substitute the #1)
Race 10 (5F Turf) 62.5K Optional Claiming 4yo+
Contenders: #5, #6, #8, #9
Big Rock (#5) could and probably should win this based on his past numbers. Positives also include: Christophe Clement (excellent at bringing turfers back off a layoff), the best turf/distance record in the field, and solid competitiveness especially at races above this level. However, after six months on the shelf he looks like a very shaky M/L favorite. If he’s not ready to go, I think he fades out of the trifecta. Struggling Rosario in the irons doesn’t help either.
I can readily see Pocket Change (#6) wiring this field if French Quarter (#4) and Focus on Me (#9) don’t challenge him early. He’s full of positives: undefeated in two impressive starts, Jason Servis trained (and excellent off the layoff), and Irad Ortiz. But there’s also a new track, new distance and a bit tougher company than he’s faced before to negotiate.
My value choice here is Sonic Boom (#8) at 10-1 M/L. He seems to prefer longer distances although his maiden win at 6F (Kentucky Downs) was solid. I’m hoping he’s versatile enough to shift down to a sprint and there’s no better time for that than the first start off a layoff. Other positives: Ian Wilkes is solid despite numbers not always showing it, patient turf specialist Julian Leparoux, and solid 5F workouts (on the turf) at Palm Meadows since late January. He was also competitive against G1 company and won a G3 last year–something no one else has come close to. And he’s a first time gelding. Does that make a horse run faster? I don’t know but if the speed falters, I think he’s a threat.
$20 Win 8
$10 Exacta 8/2-4-6-9
$2 Trifecta 8/2-4-6-9
$4 Exacta (saver) 2-4-6-9/8