RACE 5: MARTHA WASHINGTON STAKES
With the compact nature of this field and with these sophomore fillies potentially looking to establish themselves on the road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), it is worth discussing each runner this afternoon.
It is reasonable to side against #1 JOY’S ROCKET this afternoon and potentially catching her at a short price given the recent wins and earned speed figures. Those front end efforts were slightly aided by the dynamics with the track profile favoring runners forwardly placed in the Songbird Stakes at Keeneland, and backed up with a near perfect trip last month in the Letellier Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Visually she has shown some distance limitations (OptixNOTES) – something that has to be considered here as she makes her two-turn route debut, at that projected short price. Four of the six runners in this field share the E or EP RunStyle, and Joy’s Rocket will have to not only prove herself at the distance, but also do so with pace pressure.
#6 SYLVIA Q, positioned in Quad III as Square, has enough speed to the first call to keep pressure on Joy’s Rocket. As Sylvia Q takes up the outside post that does also force the hand of Martin Garcia to send with that quick run into the first turn and could be a honest pace with the 50 SpeedRate. Sylvia Q holds the distance experience edge with her maiden win at Churchill Downs back on November 28 and recent allowance at the Fair Grounds, a game effort finishing in a photo for the win. Along with the experience she holds the pair of 86 OptixFIG, a number in RANGE for this event, though also a number she will have to repeat once again and potentially improve upon in order to win.
#2 NOVEL SQUALL does project to be one of those pacesetters (EP) despite her Quad IV Standard position. This will be her first start around two-turns (Diamond on Surface/Distance – no data to Plot) and her sprint races to date sit below this afternoon.
#5 LADY LILLY has some challenges this afternoon in her own right though slightly more interesting than stablemate Joy’s Rocket, and figures to be the longer priced runner of this Asmussen pair. Lady Lilly is on the softer side when it comes to OptixFIG and will have to step up on that front. There can be some projection for her to make that move forward as she is still lightly raced and returning here after the 63 days off since the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last November. She has upside from that graded stakes race and finds here a subtle, yet significant change. Drawing the rail had her tight inside and not the most comfortable trip and will return here with an outside post. Both of her wins, the Saratoga debut and Keeneland allowance, came with a more outside draw and with an outside stalking trip. That seems to be her preference and should have that trip here sitting in Quad II. While trip could be favorable, she does have to improve overall – again, requiring that move forward to be a contender here.
#3 COACH sits in a similar Quad II spot, more favorable with her finishing ability (Square) and holds OptixFIG in RANGE this afternoon. From that perspective she is an obvious type and should get that obvious attention from the public. While tough to knock her chances here, she does not hold much upside at this point and telling that trainer Brad Cox drops her back down from the graded stakes division following her B- OptixGRADE effort in the Golden Rod last out. She had little excuse that day sitting a favorable trip, just not quite to the level of the top two finishers.
#4 WILL’S SECRET is an interesting player/contender shipping in this afternoon for Dallas Stewart and making her first start against winners. Taking the step from the maiden allowance condition to a stakes race is a test, though there is enough foundation and progression with her at this point to support her in this spot. Going back to her debut race in September at Churchill Downs, the B OptixGRADE was recorded that afternoon despite the third-place result, and just to familiarize with the grading system, a B Grade is considered a “winning” type effort for the level. She returned to make her second start in just a quick turnaround 16 days later at Keeneland. The timing was perhaps not ideal; neither was the slow start (SLOG) and wide trip that followed. She was able to improve off those first two starts with the 87 OptixFIG on Oct. 25 at Churchill Downs. This a race worth keying off of; the show finish that day was a solid effort considering the winner of that special weight race, Clairiere, went on to finish second in the Golden Rod, and suggests Will’s Secret is on a similar level to rival Coach, given that common rival and recorded OptixFIG in company. On Nov. 27 Will’s Secret improved her OptixFIG once again and overcame a wide tracking trip and put away a Brad Cox/Godolphin perfect trip filly (place) in the lane for the win. Also the show finisher, Love In The Air, came back already to record a B OptixGRADE and place finish on January 16, a race she might have won without trouble.
RACE 8: AMERICAN BEAUTY STAKES
#7 FRANK’S ROCKETTE sits as a legit contender and solid favorite this afternoon for the American Beauty Stakes. As shown on OptixPLOT below she has enough tactical speed positioned right in the center of the Plot with legit finish as a Large Square. Frank’s Rockette projects to track the Quad I runners, #6 AMY’S CHALLENGE and #9 LADY’S ISLAND, with #4 SUNNY DALE (EP RunStyle) capable to run with that pair on her best days and even #2 SHESOMAJESTIC (Quad I Surface/Distance) needing to be forwardly placed as well. In addition to being logical from a pace standpoint, Frank’s Rockette has a legit class edge coming out of the recent series of graded stakes races as well as her recent OptixFIG sitting in RANGE. This will be her first start of the season and coming back from the layoff (84 days) following a less than ideal result in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland last fall. While the effort was not competitive on the day, C OptixGRADE/85 OptixFIG, her trip was subtle and not ideal for her best run. Given the level of competition that November afternoon, her effort suggested more to the “excusable” tune and capable to rebound to her form prior to that race and looks right to get on track in this spot. She holds a place finish over this course (sloppy conditions) last season in the Purple Martin Stakes; her place finish can be upgraded as part of a contentious pace that day and picked up late by the eventual winner, Kimari.