RACE 10 – APPLE BLOSSOM HANDICAP:
The saying “pace makes the race” is in play here as the pace expects to be both honest and contested for the Apple Blossom (G1), the feature race for distaff runners. The presence of #11 SERENGETI EMPRESS in the race, and from an outside post, indicates she will use her early speed to clear and do what she does best on the lead. While those tactics are likely to be in play, she does not expect to make an easy uncontested lead in this full field and will likely have to contend with that pace challenge.
#4 COME DANCING will make her 2020 debut here and in a curious spot given the distance. While she has the OptixFIG (speed figures) and class to compete at this level, she will have to deal with the two-turn distance and given all those factors expects to be forwardly placed and with enough early speed to keep the pace a faster one. Contention does not end with those two with others in the field such as #10 COOKIE DOUGH coming out of Gulfstream Park and perfect-trip win in the slop in the Royal Delta (G3); and #3 AWE EMMA on the quick turnaround following the solid allowance win less than two weeks ago. Their tactical speed and post positions expect to be forwardly placed and is shown as such on OptixPLOT below.
Trip will be tricky for #1 OLLIE’S CANDY from the rail and how she will be ridden from that post and what tactics will be used by Rosario in what could be an off-track by post time. Similar concerns in terms of trip for #9 HOROLOGIST – one that also prefers to race forwardly placed, however is positioned in Quad IV here: problematic. That is similar for #12 GO GOOGLE YOURSELF; however, she can be handier and has shown the ability to adjust her run style as needed. Trip will be key for her given the race shape and post position; while not out of the mix, some value will be necessary to compensate.
#6 STREET BAND has upside coming out of the Azeri (G2) last month making her second start of the meet. She was coming into the race off a “better than looked” BTL effort in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3), where she was forced to chase wide early and made a middle move finishing in a blanket at the wire. In the Azeri she was forced into a trip by Doyle, asked to race closer to the pace than her ideal type of trip. With that in mind she looks to find a more favorable race shape for her running style to get back to positioned well on OptixPLOT tracking as a Square from Quad II.
#5 POINT OF HONOR, a quality black-type filly, looks well spotted here shipping in for George Weaver and making her second start of the season this afternoon. Freshened for 2020 she made her seasonal debut last month at Tampa Bay Downs in a sprint event and overall ran a good race (B OptixGRADE) all things considered. Despite being favored in that event (race won by a perfect-trip sprinting type filly) she ran a solid race to finish second and should get a lot out of that start. She seems to prefer a route of ground, the two turns compared to the one-turn last out. Given she came back at that shorter distance that race could help put some tactical speed into her something she lacked last year. With that said and the pace outlined above, she has a favorable “stalk and pounce” running style that should fit with these race dynamics.
#14 CE CE, a legit filly since her debut, has come back this season the right way for McCarthy. After the Acorn (G1) last summer, she took the rest of the year off and returned to dominate a field of allowance runners at Santa Anita back in February. She was all class (B+ OptixGRADE) stepping up both in distance to her first start around two turns and back to the graded stakes level winning the Beholder Mile (G1) last month. Her class there gives her a look in this race; however, she will find a much larger field this afternoon and the challenge of a far outside post. A wide trip seems more than likely. In addition to the post, she has legit early speed, and with that first turn somewhat fast approaching, looks to lose ground finding early position. While tough to knock in terms of OptixFIG, class and current form, trip seems to be a different hurdle all together.