Tim has a couple of picks for the opening day at Ellis Park, and spot plays for Indiana Grand, Woodbine, and Canterbury Park.
#9 Battleofwinterfell (8-1) likely needed her latest when giving way badly after pressing the early pace on the main track over 7-furlongs at Gulfstream in May, being her first outing since early November. Daughter of Declaration of War is out of a half-sister to Storm Trooper, who won the Hollywood Turf Handicap (G1), and trainer Casse wins with 15% of his starters on turf. Filly has some tactical speed and can be in good position throughout with Geroux taking the mount.
Maidens going one mile on grass include #7 Bee House (5-1), a daughter of English Channel out of a full-sister to Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) winner Perfect Soul. Filly has not been seen since finishing fifth in an even effort at Kentucky Downs in her debut last September and has been working well for trainer Sisterson, who wins with 20% of his second time starters. Bay can be along from off the pace with Baze in the saddle.
Trainer Granitz wins with 15% of his runners that have not raced for 90+ days and saddles #9 Major Sparks (8-1), who has not been seen since making belated progress to finish sixth on the main track here in early-November. Son of Colonel John passed the post first in two of his three previous starts on turf and Granitz wins with 16% of his starters on turf. Dark bay can be along late with Ulloa retaining the mount.
#3 Cicibonne (6-1) debuts at this low level for trainer Gonzalez, who wins with 11% of his first-time starters. Filly has a good win early pedigree, being by Northern Afleet and out of a mare by Citidancer, and Gonzalez has won with three of his first 15 runners at this meet. 4-year-old has been working forwardly and can win at first asking under Boulanger, who has won with one of his last two rides for the barn.
Maidens on grass include #3 Blue Lizzy (12-1), a debuting daughter of Bluegrass Cat. 3-year-old’s recent works include a solid 5-furlong move from the gate in 1:01 last month for trainer Silva, who has won with four of his last 13 first-time starters. Filly appears ready for a good first outing with Garcia in the irons.