By Tim Holland
Trainer Alvarado wins with 17% of his maiden claimers and saddles #1 Ominous (6-1), who is a debuting son of 16% first-out sire Scat Daddy and out of a stakes-winning mare by Boundary, whose offspring win 18% of their first outings. Alvarado wins with just 7% of his first-time starters but gelding’s works include a sharp 5-furlong move in :47 4/5 six days ago. Chestnut can be near the front from the start under Zayas, who has won with two of his last 13 rides for this barn.
#4 Ashiham (9-2) makes his first start for trainer Pletcher and has not been seen since making belated progress to finish fourth in his debut in February. Tapit colt is out of Wine Princess, winner of the Falls City (G2), and his works include a solid 5-furlong move in 1:00 3/5 recently for Pletcher, who wins with 22% of runners that have not raced for 90 days or more. $800K yearling purchase can be closer to the early leaders this time under Saez, who has won with 17% of his rides for the barn in the last 60 days.
Several comeback runners show up here including #5 Global Campaign (6-1). 4-year-old has not raced since finishing third in the Jim Dandy (G2) in an even effort in July and has won three of five outings for trainer Hough, who wins with 27% of his runners that have not raced for 90 days or more. Son of Curlin posted a sharp 5-furlong work in 1:00 a week ago and can get a good trip from just off a solid pace with Landeros riding.
Maiden claimers going 6 furlongs include #3 Awesome Enough (15-1), a debuting son of 15% first-out sire Awesome of Course. Gray has been working forwardly for trainer Spatz, who wins with 17% of his first-time starters and with 16% overall in maiden claiming events. Gelding appears ready for a good effort at this low level with Panici up.
#8 Vicamente (5-2) makes her debut over 6 furlongs for trainer Thomas, who wins with 15% of his first-time starters. Daughter of 16% first-out sire Maclean’s Music cost $130K last year and has posted several good recent works. Chestnut is likely ready to win at first asking under Centeno, who won with seven of his last 12 rides for this stable.
Trainer Villafranco failed to win with last 22 of his first-time starters but saddles #12 Uncle Tap (8-1), a debuting son of Tapit, who is a half-brother to Forego (G1) winner Palace. Gray was purchased for just $15K at Keeneland earlier this year and has been working well for Villafranco, who wins with 17% of runners overall in maiden claiming events. Wide post and barn’s lack of success with newcomers may lead to some value with Tyler Baze up.
A likely lively early tempo could help closers here, such as #10 Wilbo (8-1), who has a record of 14-3-3-2 on this oval. Son of Candy Ride flattened out to finish fourth in his latest, but was a stakes winner at Churchill at this distance last year for trainer Hartman, who wins with 19% of his runners in allowance events. Chestnut can be closing with Elliott retaining the mount.
Runners from the Asmussen barn have been going well here lately and #9 Bye Bye J (4-1) comes off a win in a minor stakes over the track and distance in February. 4-year-old has now won three of four starts on this oval and Asmussen wins with 20% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days and with 22% that won last time out. Filly can be in good position from the start under Santana, who has won with 21% of his rides for the barn in the last two months.
Another entrant for Asmussen, #8 Mia Mischief (9-2) finished second in this event 12 months ago and rallied from off the pace to win her latest over the track and distance last month. Asmussen wins with 18% of his runners in non-graded stakes and daughter of Into Mischief has a record of 5-3-2-0 on this oval. Bay should find a solid early pace to stalk with Santana retaining the mount.
#6 Aztec Empire (5-1) made an early bid for the lead before tiring to finish third as the favorite over the track and distance on a sloppy surface in his latest three weeks ago. Son of Tapit is a half-brother to eight winners and has hit the board in two of three starts for trainer Moquett, who wins with 24% of runners that were beaten as the favorite last time out. Chestnut may be more patiently handled while getting a rider switch back to Talamo.