BEST BET: RACE 2, RIDE ON FAITH
INFATUATION by a good sire and from a dam who was a quick dirt sprinter in her career; debuts for a tag for an excellent first out trainer and her most recent breeze from the gate matches up with Quick Connect, who won first out for Englehart for this same $30k tag last Sunday with a 58 Beyer. CONGRATS ELLEN debuted over a sloppy track at Parx and chased wide before tiring over a tough distance; took some money in that spot and put her experience to use for a trainer who is 24% over the past five years with second-time starters in maiden claiming races ($2.02 ROI). ASH N’ EM debuts for Rudy from a nice outside post; first foal from this unraced dam, who is a sister to Grade 1 winning 2yo Appealing Zophie, who also happens to be the dam of Belmont winner Tapwrit and Grade 2 turf horse Ride a Comet.
RIDE ON FAITH had been in good form for Nick Zito before going back to back upon arrival in NY earlier in the year, then got held up behind horses as the field raced in a tight pack two starts back; good effort last time for 2nd to an improved Truly a Moon Shot (83 Beyer). GO BIG OR GO HOME made an immediate positive impression when switched to dirt earlier this year but he couldn’t keep that momentum going through the summer; win last time was more game than anything else but he showed a willingness to fight after getting involved early. FILLET OF SOLE earned a string of competitive figures over a variety of distances before getting dusted by better horses off a short layoff at Parx most recently; back to the right level for a trainer who is always dangerous and off to a good start at the meet.
ONE RIVER PLACE has to get seven furlongs but he has shown that he fits in the claiming ranks with two wins from four starts for a tag and he is perfectly drawn outside with a versatile running style; new trainer has been solid off the claim from a limited sample (past five years, 11 for 38, 29%, $1.96 ROI). ASTERISK gave way to Gunnevera two starts back then tried a tougher spot in his first NY start and first for Rudy last month; drops significantly with the back races to be tough here. HEAVY MEDDLE has an even running style that leaves him vulnerable to better horses, as evidenced by his struggles to break through his NY-bred conditions over the past couple of years; class relief helps and he did make a premature move into a good pace three back in an underrated effort.
WAY SMART just 1 for 7 so far but she has run well in some tough spots, including that race two back at Saratoga when taking over the lead in the stretch ahead of a pair of better horses; supposed to be tough in this spot, assuming we are on the turf. ALLEY TO CALVARY underrated on the turf and right back at the right level after eventually getting through inside and just missing at a price last time; handled yielding ground two back when chasing a fast pace and just getting outfinished at the end. MILLIE’S JOURNEY didn’t handle dirt last time vs. a better field; has the pedigree for turf as she switches over for the first time (dam was a Grade 3 winner on grass) while dropping in to face claimers.
JUST RIGHT improved with racing up to his maiden win at Saratoga with a solid figure and his start in the Bongard comes with something of an excuse after getting caught up in a fast threeway contested pace; should handle the mile with a better trip. STRONG ONE debuted over a sloppy track and failed to break sharply from the gate before getting outrun; dropped for his second start and showed improved speed before rolling away from that field in the stretch with a competitive figure. RIKEN rode a good rail when breaking his maiden in a race originally scheduled for turf in his second start but he backed that race up well last time when breaking slowly before working his way into position and taking over to a clear lead at the top of the stretch, before weakening late;
moves outside after getting away last from the inside in the Sleepy Hollow.
BRATTATA has been looking for a spot for a while now but hasn’t managed to get the weather to cooperate. enters at just 1 for 9 but she has had legit excuses along the way and think she is better than she looks on paper, but she has to prove it assuming she actually gets to run again sometime soon. TOO CHARMING progressed nicely from race to race throughout the year and ran well when settling for second-best to the in-form Dark Artist in minor Monmouth stakes two starts back; kept after that pace from the outside when last seen vs. a tough field. SHALAILAH making her 3yo debut off a long layoff with a switch to Chad Brown and as a maiden on turf, but she ran well last summer when twice second-best to Happily, who would go on to win a couple for major Group 1 races over there, before coming over to endure an impossible trip as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly turf, and she was just beaten about three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last weekend.
LANGDARMA lost his best chance when steadied out to last at the start at Keeneland last month, but he actually made a game run into that race before falling short of 3rd; has more positional speed than that assuming a clean break as he goes off the claim for a good trainer. JOHN JONES dropping in for the price after just missing to a quality horse in off the turf stake last time at Laurel; had a good run of form interrupted so far this year but that last one was a step in the right direction. OUTPLAY was running races last year as a 3yo that would make him tough in a race like this, but he has clearly gone off form since easily winning his 4yo debut with a new top figure; drops off a disappointing effort on the turn back last time.
REGAL GLORY steps right up off an impressive debut win over this distance at Belmont where she always traveled strongly from off the pace, before forcing her way clear and blowing out maidens with a solid figure; well-bred filly appears to have a future based on that effort. DRAGIC has faced colts in both turf start so far and has acquitted herself well in those races; case could actually be made that she was best in each of those turf starts, as she did the hard work on the pace over a mile two back before falling to closers, and she went first into a fast pace on the cut back last time, before once again falling to runners making the last moves from the back. MONETTE was a stakes winner in France prior to arriving here and she rallied from out of it to finish a close 2nd in the Grade 3 Matron in her stateside debut; should have some pace in front of her once again.
HIGHWAY STAR back quickly after running her race but finding the Breeders’ Cup a little too much for her last weekend; 5yo has clearly lost a step this year but she remains hard on the NY-breds and figures to be too much for this group with her good race. AUNT BABE is too slow for a field like this one on paper but she is a little underrated and projects to have some pace to run into in this spot; closing sprinter will be a big price, and deservedly so. BLUEGRASS FLAG has abandoned the take-no-prisoners style that worked so well for her early in her career and hasn’t won a race since last April; turns back to sprint after contesting the pace and giving way in the Empire Distaff and switches to an aggressive rider.