BEST BET: RACE 8, TOUR DE FORCE
Blinkers on and eye-catching recent works for last-start claim WINNING ARGUMENT. Could lead all the way from rail if he breaks alertly. First-timer QUICK GRADUATE is by sire with listed $2.5K stud fee and debuts with encouraging drills for a $12.5K maiden-claimer. QUEEZEE PROUD was a close second (nearly 6 clear of third) when dropped to this level last out, but benefited from racing on a slow pace. Suppose MODISTE also has to be though he is dropped in class off a claim.
SCATMEIFUCAN was a good 2yo grass horse but never got any better last year at 3. She was a close fourth over this course Dec. 31 in a race she might have needed following a break, and should be very competitive here racing for half that claiming tag. The 7.5 furlong distance also a plus. ILLUSIONOFREALITY won an N2L claimer over the FG lawn for this tag two back, and was disadvantaged by wide draw and ground loss when in for $30K last time. She finished eighth there but was beaten less than four lengths. LOU found the right level last time — this one — when she was second behind winner who got a huge jump on her.
GIMME YO NUMBER had trouble at the start in a race at this class level last time, then had to rally from seventh into a very slow sprint pace. She has a good record at 5.5 furlongs, probably still fits at this level even if diminished since winning at FG last meeting, and could get a much better pace setup this time. Likely never coming close to her top pre-layoff form, but signs of life last time from MISS BETTY BOO, who should be a big price again. Only once in eight short-sprint starts has DUENAY finished worse than third.
Main-track-only HARLAN PUNCH never really developed much after his third in the 2015 Delta Downs Jackpot, but he should find these $30K N2L claimers to his liking if the race is rained off grass. TIZ TOWN took a step back while wide last time, but a return to the form her showed two and three races back — and, for that matter, in most all his grass races — should suffice with this group. CORTEGE’s form is kind of all over the place, but a reasonable second-after-layoff forward move following a close fifth at this class level last time puts him in the mix.
GENTLEMAN LEN comes out of two turf sprints, is drawn inside, and probably only has Kayne’spotofgold to outrun for the early lead. Last March at FG he led all the way in a $20K N2L claimer in which You’ve Got a Friend, a better horse than most here, was second. That was a mile, but think he can find enough to stay one mile 70 if he can shake loose. 4yo INDY IDE was much improved from May through September and has more upside than anyone else in this field. Shows one work for comeback run, but there’s not always a clocker “across the lake” at Folsom. TEN TO MIDNIGHT has run well enough around two turns in the past and stretches out with good sprint form, but don’t quite trust him to follow through on it, especially using the regular finish line.
PINCH OF CAYENNE had good early speed but only ran evenly while wide in his debut, finishing sixth in sprint race won by inside speed. Worked back since, and guessing the debut run as much as anything was a prep for this two-turn try. Speaking of preps, JUS CLEVER does not have a turf pedigree and was started out last time in a turf mile. Might have been getting a race for this move to dirt. Asmussen at a price. SAVED AT SEA could well be the winner here off a very decent two-turn Delta sprint debut, but there’s a great chance that he’s bet way below fair value.
DIG CHARLIE DIG handled turf just fine in his career debut, then was third on dirt at CD in a very productive maiden sprint. Like the return to grass here, and he looks ready for something representative off the work pattern for capable layoff outfit. Guessing he’s more like 6/1 than 12 however. Would also strongly consider first-timer TRANSATLANTIC KISS for the top slot, and took the other horse on top more as a value proposition since Kiss, with those works and connections, could well get pounded in the betting. The sire is strong with turf sprinters. STEAMROLLER had nothing more than some early gas in his three NY dirt starts late last year, but he’s by Street Boss and out of a Broken Vow mare, and is a candidate for surface-switch performance boost at a price.
TOUR DE FORCE caught the eye last out when second-start maiden graduate on stretch-out from sprint and switch to turf. Connections are convinced he’s a better fit for dirt, and they only ran him on grass last time to get the route. One look at the horse and you can see why he fetched seven figures at auction. From the look of his work pattern, he continues to come forward. Will not however offer any value. CHICORY BLUE 21 races into career still was rank last out. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate being held off a walking pace. Rider change, for what it’s worth. Can do better than last. New owner-trainer Asmussen raises recent claim GRIT from $20K LA—breds to an open N1X allowance, an encouraging move.
GEE WHIZ LIL came back from a long layoff in good form, but had really lousy trips in her two turf races at this class level. Clean run and she probably breaks through now. CAJUN ENGLISH has appeal at anything close to morning-line odds. By BC Turf winner & out of a stakes-class turf mare, and she nearly won her career debut in a grass race at this level last summer. All her turf starts were solid, and she moved forward when blinkers were added. Solid work pattern for comeback run, but wonder if she might “need” first start back. LADY LORETTA fell apart when last seen Dec. 15 but has a decent chance of rebounding and should appreciate return to turf.