BEST BET: RACE 6, VARIANT PERCEPTION
Aggressive tactics didn’t work with LITTLE SCHMO tiring after cutting the pace at this level last time, but he was still eligible to have needed that race after failing to get much running done in that first start off the long layoff; threat this time, if he can get back to the from he was in prior to hitting the sidelines. CANI FORM had no excuses last time after taking over to a clear lead in the stretch, though he was run down by a back-classer who came right back to win again; projects for another nice trip in this spot. Haven’t been a fan of the races that HARD HITTER has been competing in since starting back earlier this year, but he was setting a solid pace two starts back before tiring, and he is a threat to improve while adding blinkers off the Rudy claim.
ODE TO THE HUNT has been a frustrating horse to follow, but he did run well in both starts upstate off the layoff, and this class relief is likely what he needs more than anything else; should have some pace to run at, just needs a trip into it. RAPPEL also dropping for the first time after failing to deliver on some early promise; tough post, but he is supposed to factor here with his typical race. ONE OF A KIND has been even on turf so far, though most of those races came early on in his career; threat to improve quickly as he makes first start on grass since being claimed by Maker, and he is well drawn inside.
CAUSE FOR SURPRISE took the early initiative when dropped in class last time, and he looked home free late before weakening and just getting nailed at the end; can revert to stalking tactics in this spot as he goes off the claim for top connections. GIANT IN THE MOON LITE is an infrequent winner looking for his first win in over two years, but he tends to fire every time and there is pace in this race to set him up; good effort keeping after the talented Mr. Buff before once again falling short last time. BRIMSTONE up off the claim after getting wired by a fast horse on a class drop last month, but he has the back races to handle the rise; best races have come when he can be part of the pace, but he is effective from stalking range.
MORE THAN A SAINT a More Than Ready half to two-time turf sprint winner, and debut winner, Saratoga Dreamer debuting for a trainer who has put up some strong numbers with 2yo first-time starters on turf (past five years: 12 for 38, 32%, $3.51 ROI); taking him in absence of any compelling turf form from the experienced horses. Questionable whether COLLECTIVE EFFORT can transfer his form to turf, but he is a bit unlucky to still be a maiden considering how well he has run in his main tracks starts; dam was a dirt sprinter, but her career never really got off the ground, but she has dropped a turf sprint winner already, and the second dam here, The Rodeo Express, was a fourtime turf winner sprinting on grass. PAGANINI from a female family that was all dirt, but he is a Freud and he debuts for a trainer who is underrated, especially with his turf sprinters.
Well-bred TROPHY ASSET put in a determined late run to close down a loose leader in his career debut at Belmont, and he was clearly best at the end of that race at a short price; hasn’t found the toughest 1x field in the world as he takes the next logical step. CLUTCH CARGO got the right trip and did his best with it while no match for repeat winner Red Knight (now 3 for 3 on grass) off the short layoff last month; still looking for first win since his truf debut at the end of last year, but he has been facing tougher at this level recently, and he appears to be a horse who can benefit from the addition of blinkers her will be getting here. MASCARELLO was sitting on a win in the restricted claiming ranks all summer, and he delivered in blowout score with a new top figure last time; steps back up at the right time.
VARIANT PERCEPTION finished behind his stablemate ALLURED as they made their respective career debuts at Saratoga back in August, but he appeared to be a 2yo who could really benefit from the experience while racing a bit green from in between horses in the stretch of that race; was given a little more time than his mate following that race, and the added furlong of this contest can benefit this horse. ALLURED chased that quick front-running winner when taking 2nd ahead of VARIANT PERCEPTION upstate, and he had no chance with the impressive Montauk in his second start; horse to beat on the way in. VINO ROSSO bred to go long as a Curlin colt from the family of Belmont Stakes runner-up Commissioner, but he appears to be training well up to his debut for Pletcher.
TOUGHEST ‘OMBRE may be an unlikely winner of this race, which actually came up pretty tough for the level, but he can go with these horses with his best race, and he is exiting a pair of races where he ran well with no real chance to win; would like to see him get forward in this race, which does not contain much pace. SOUPER TAPIT faded to last in his turf debut last month, but he was only defeated by a couple of lengths vs. stakes rivals, and he was rank early in that race, which was his first start back from a long layoff; better spot for the second attempt, and he appears to have plenty of ability. CLASSIC COVEY taking on tougher now after going back-to-back in first two starts as a 3yo, including a strong late run to close that field down late time; this race is tougher, and he may not have much pace to run at, but he appears to have some potential for a top trainer.
MESSI can afford no mistakes from post 12 in the Red Smith, but feel like I have to give him one more chance following a couple of very difficult and unlucky trips two and three starts back, and it’s easy to toss that last one where he was sent along to the lead over a boggy course; his time may have passed, but I’ll stick with him for one more run at a price. CALL PROVISION also stuck toward the outside, but he has really improved with distance and he steps back up at the right time following a strong last-to-first win over this distance last month in a race where he was the only one closing ground. GET JETS tried to stretch it out again after successfully getting nine furlongs last time, and out finishing CALL PROVISION in the process; handy running style is key for 4yo who has made no mistakes on turf to this point.
PIMM’S CUP didn’t run particularly well in his final three starts prior to the layoff, but he is the kind of newer face I want in this field, and he does have a race that will make him competitive here in the form of that 53 Beyer effort in his first start at this level, which also came off a layoff. MY DAD FLOYD looks like the one to beat as he makes his second start for the tag, despite being defeated as the favorite first time around; would like to see him get a more aggressive ride this time. GIANT ROCKS now 0-12 after just missing at this level last time; earned a couple of dirt figures that stand out in this field as a 2yo, and he will be hard on this field if managing to get back to that level as he makes his third start off the layoff.