by Tim Holland
#7 Im the Captain Now (3-1) drops in class to lowest level he has seen off a narrow loss when closing to finish second over 1 1/16 miles last month. Trainer Tagg has had a productive meet, winning with 24% of his runners, and son of Trappe Shot has hit the board in two of four starts on this oval. Chestnut can be tough at this level with Saez taking the mount.
Trainer Casse wins with 17% of his runners that have not raced for 90 days or more and saddles #3 First Premio (7-2), who has not been seen since finishing well when fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mille (G1) at Keeneland last October. 6-year-old has a record of 12-3-2-1 on grass and has been working forwardly for Casse, who wins with 16% of his runners on turf. Son of Pure Prize appears ready and can out-class this field with Gaffalione up.
A full field for this 6-furlong allowance includes #9 Cardamon (9-2), who has not been seen since weakening to finish third after leading early over a mile at Churchill in November. Daughter of Pioneerof the Nile is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Emollient and has been posting solid works at Payson Park for trainer Mott, who wins with 17% of runners that have not raced for 90 days or more. Filly can be forwardly placed from the start with Garcia in the saddle.
#5 Answer In (3-1) gets class relief in this allowance off a third-place finish in the Southwest (G3) at this distance here in mid-February. Gelding has posted a string of good 4-furlong works for trainer Cox, who wins with 24% of runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. Son of Dialed In has tactical speed and can be in good position from the start under Talamo, who has won with 26% of rides for Cox the past two months.
6-furlong stakes drew a competitive field, and #2 Ring Leader (6-1) cuts back in distance off a fading fifth place finish over 1 1/16 miles in the Honeybee (G3). Sent to the lead early, daughter of Paynter failed to settle while attempting to set moderate fractions. Filly appears better suited to this distance at which she won the Dixie Belle S. two back and trainer Robertson wins with 17% of runners going from a route to a sprint. Bay can be forwardly placed from the start with Talamo regaining the mount.
Trainer Hiles has a win from his last three starts with debuting runners and saddles #6 Don Vito Corleone (20-1), who hails from 16% first out sire Midshipman. Recent works include a 4-furlong move from the gate in a solid :48 for Hiles, and opting for this maiden special weight, instead of a softer spot, hints at confidence. Gelding is worth a look at likely long odds while attracting the services of Garcia.
Maidens going 7-furlongs include #4 Pythoness (8-1), who has not been seen since making belated progress while unplaced in a tough heat at Keeneland in early October. $150K purchase by promising young sire Liam’s Map is a half-sister to six winners and has been working well for trainer Campbell, who has won with 2-of-10 starters this meet. Gray can be along from off the pace under Hernandez, who won with his latest ride for this barn.
Newcomer #1 Gravitas (5-1) debuts for trainer Thomas, who wins with 14% of his first-time starters. Son of Blame is out of a mare by War Front and has been working forwardly for a 27% turf conditioner. $290K 2-year-old purchase is likely ready for a good first outing under Centeno, who has won with three of last eight rides for this stable.