Here are my thoughts on the races:
#8 Jack Van Berg went off form last season, heading to the sidelines after a last-place effort in early August, but the 4-year-old gelding appears to be building toward a peak performance following a neck second over the track on March 12. He registered a 92 Brisnet Speed rating, the best last-out number in this suspect field, and there isn’t much pace present. I like his chances in the third start off the layoff for Ingrid Mason.
It’s a confusing move for handicappers, but Steve Asmussen runs his horses where they win and isn’t afraid to drop straight to the claiming ranks off a maiden special weight victory. I’ll also use #2 Uncle Momo, who proved ultra-game when debuting with a front-running triumph at Fair Grounds Feb. 20. The 4-year-old gelding earned a respectable 88 Speed figure, and he’s eligible to carry his form forward in this soft non-winners of two-lifetime spot.
#3 Maryanorginger will not face an imposing group of entry-level allowance foes, and I certainly thought the filly was of graded stakes quality when watching her debut in the Astoria S. at Belmont Park last June. She will be singled today.
A $190,000 daughter of Strong Mandate, Maryanorginger had no business winning after stumbling badly out of the starting gate, and she proceeded to take plenty of kickback when advancing into contention along the rail. The bay miss displayed an outstanding turn of foot into the stretch, surging to a clear lead, and she was flattered when runner-up Perfect Alibi came to win the Spinaway (G1) a couple of starts later. Maryanorginger has been training steadily for her return, logging seven works since early February, and should be difficult to beat for Jeremiah Englehart.
Three-year-olds will square off in this 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance, and #3 General Trev will make his second start for Asmussen after posting a sharp debut maiden win on Feb. 29. I like how the gelded son of Constitution cornered that afternoon, accelerating from fifth to a clear lead on the far turn while the jockey sat like a statue in the saddle, and the runner-up turned in a commendable effort but was unlucky to face a buzzsaw.
I’m skeptical of #5 Answer In’s affinity for 2-turn distances, but he ran fast when breaking his maiden last fall and must be respected here following a third in the Southwest (G3).
9TH Race – Purple Martin S.
A fine cast of 10 sophomore fillies will contest the $100,000 Purple Martin over 6-furlongs, and I will play against prohibitive favorite Frank’s Rockette, who had everything her own way on the lead when capturing the Any Limit S. at Gulfstream last out. That won’t happen in Saturday’s speed-laden field, and she faltered at short odds in three consecutive starts last year when unable to dictate terms.
#4 Edgeway is my top pick off an eye-catching score on Feb. 29. A $275,000 daughter of Competitive Edge, the John Sadler trainee showed excellent speed from the innermost post and turned back a serious challenge nearing the top of the stretch, displaying an extra gear as she drew off impressively to a five-length decision. Edgeway received a 98 Brisnet Speed rating, which is on par with Frank’s Rockette, and she can improve to 2-for-2 in her stakes debut.
If the speed falters, #6 Lexi On The Move can prove best. She remained unbeaten with a good-looking win over entry-level allowance foes on March 8, putting away her rivals with a wide move to the lead on the far turn, and was put under wraps by David Cohen inside the sixteenth pole, scoring by a facile 2 3/4-length margin.
I will use eight of the 12 runners in the final leg of the Pick 5, and #1 White Wolf is my top pick at long odds (15-1 morning line). A $280,000 son of Fed Biz, the 4-year-old gelding recorded a sneaky fifth after missing the break in a belated career debut on March 8. He offered a good middle move before advancing into traffic, taking plenty of kickback the entire way, and never quit trying despite a tough trip. He stretches out in distance for new trainer Paul Holthus and with a better break, White Wolf is eligible to take a big step forward the second time out.
#4 Aztec Empire, #5 Wild Union, #7 Copper King, #8 Mo and Go, #9 Looking High, #11 Tiz the Journey, and #12 On d’Oro will also be included.
50-cent Pick 5 ticket
- 2,8 with 3 with 3,5 with 4,6 with 1,4,5,7,8,9,11,12 ($32)