Keying Hard to Justify in the Edgewood Stakes

May 2nd, 2024

A full field of 14 sophomore fillies will travel 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the $600,000 Edgewood S. (G2) at Churchill Downs on Friday.

While I am often quite cautious with top juveniles coming off the layoff and making their three-year-old debuts, I do not have that fear with the Chad Brown-trained #9 Hard To Justify (2-1) in this spot. 

The $190,00 yearling purchase overcame a tough journey at first asking in July at Saratoga but still prevailed with a late rush under the line beneath Flavien Prat. The Wise Racing color bearer showed up next in the Miss Grillo (G2) at Aqueduct, and the 7-1 shot tracked the pace from the start, took a short lead in early stretch, and held all foes at bay late in a game tally. 

Hard to Justify concluded her two-year-old season with a visually impressive victory in the deep Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, and she once again outran her odds. The daughter of Justify was alert from the 12 post at a 9-1 price in that one and sat in second in the early stages, prior to taking the lead in early stretch and crossing the wire a half-length in front to cap an unbeaten juvenile campaign. And I don’t believe that her foes would have ever passed her on that day. 

The bay has not missed a morning work since returning to serious training on March 1 and will surely be fit for this race for a superb layoff conditioner. In a field with little early speed, the comebacker will sit in the second or third spot to the top of the lane with a clear run throughout, and her class will take over in the stretch. She is my best bet of the weekend, a single in all of my multi-race plays, and a key on top of the vertical gimmicks for me, as well. Flavien Prat will retain the ride atop the filly who is just scratching the surface, in my opinion. 

I’ll use a pair of fillies as key horses underneath for the vertical exotics since I don’t have a great feel for the rest of the cast. #10 Dynamic Pricing (12-1) and #11 Way To Be Marie (15-1) ran one-two in a maiden race at Aqueduct in November, and I like both of these prospects. The former has battled with graded foes in the Sunshine State in two straight, while the latter comes off of a dominant allowance triumph at Fair Grounds most recently. And I get Irad Ortiz Jr. and Florent Geroux in the irons. 

Edgewood exotics

  • $12 Exacta: 9 with 10,11 ($24)
  • $1 Trifecta: 9 with 10,11 with ALL ($24)
  • $1 Trifecta: 9 with ALL with 10,11 ($24)
  • 10-cent Superfecta: key 9 with 4,6,8,10,11,12,13 ($21)