By Tim Holland
Competitive maiden special weight on turf opens today’s card and #6 Absam (6-1) will get blinkers added off a closing fourth-place finish over a mile in his debut in early February. Son of good turf sire Hard Spun is a half-brother to one winner on grass and has worked well since his first outing for trainer Brown who wins with a solid 27% of his second-time starters. 3-year-old figures to be closer to the early leaders with the equipment change.
Trainer Nicks wins with a good 17% of his first-time starters and saddles #7 Khattaf (9-2), a debuting son of 20% first-out sire Khozan who is out of a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-placed runner Nonios. Works include a sharp 5-furlong move in :47 3/5 from the gate late last month for Nicks who has won with 16% of his starters at this meet. Bay appears ready to win at first asking from a good post with Zayas taking the mount.
#7 Silver Ratio (4-1) was a touch disappointing when flattening out to finish third as the favorite after making some progress in his latest over 7 furlongs last month. Son of promising young sire Liam’s Map is out of a stakes-winning mare and has worked forwardly since his latest for trainer Pletcher who has won with 23% of runners this meet. Gray can be in good early position to make amends.
Turf allowance rounds out the card and trainer Graham Motion saddles two here with solid claims at attractive odds. #1 Bee Catcher (12-1) lost chances when rearing at the start when ambitiously placed in the Palm Beach (G3) in his latest last month. Improving son of English Channel is out of a winning mare by Kitten’s Joy and has worked well since. #12 Kid Mercury (15-1) has not been seen since finishing fourth on a sloppy main track at Keeneland in October. Son of Lemon Drop Kid is out of a stakes-placed mare by Unbridled’s Song and has won one of three starts on turf for Motion who wins with 19% of runners that have not raced for 90 days or more. Gray drew a wide post but has shown some tactical speed and gets Velazquez to ride.
Maiden claimers race at a mile and #10 Hungry N Scrappy (7-2) gets blinkers added off a closing fifth-place finish in her debut at this distance from which race the first and third-place finishers both won next time out. Daughter of good young sire Bayern cost $130K as a yearling and trainer Cox wins with 26% of his second-time starters. Filly may be closer to the early pace with Talamo retaining the mount.
Trainer Fawkes wins with a high 20% of his newcomers and saddles #4 Dyess (6-1), a debuting son of 10% first-out sire Super Saver who is out of a stakes-placed mare by Unbridled’s Song whose offspring win 13% of their first outings. $370K yearling purchase has posted a string of good works in advance of his debut for Fawkes who has won with 23% of his starters this meet. Bay appears ready to win at first asking with Borel in the irons.
Maiden claimers travel 1 1/16 miles here and #9 Thuya (6-1) debuts for trainer Thomas who wins with 15% of his first-time starters. Daughter of 16% turf sire Animal Kingdom is a half-sister to four winners including Lucky Lindy, whose two wins on grass include a victory in the Hawthorne Derby (G3). Chestnut has been working forwardly for Thomas who has won with 29% of his runners this meet and who wins with 27% on turf. Filly appears ready to win at first asking with Centeno taking the mount.
A nice field of maiden fillies on turf includes #7 Flying the Colors (5-1) who comes off an extended layoff having not been seen when unplaced as the favorite at Aqueduct nearly 16 months ago in her second outing. Trainer Motion wins with 19% of his runners that have not raced for 90 days or more and daughter of excellent turf sire War Front is out of a half-sister to several good runners, including Yesterday, winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1). 4-year-old has been working steadily and can be near the front early with Speith up.