Horses of interest: Big Apple Showcase Day
Belmont Park’s Memorial Day card is dedicated to the New York-breds, and a handful strike me as “horses of interest” with potential to outperform their morning-line odds.
2ND Race: #4 Lem Me Dance (8-1) is the least experienced in this competitive entry-level allowance, and she’s also spotting nearly all of her opponents a recency edge. Yet a filly who wins first time out at Saratoga is worth an extra look, even if she hasn’t been seen since that up-in-time debut. By Freud and out of a Woodman mare, the $70,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic purchase keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle. Trainer Bruce Levine wins at just 10% off such a long layoff, but 21% coming off maiden wins. If you’re not overly enamored of her chances of going two-for-two in this spot, she could still be worth including in the exotics.
4TH Race, the Mount Vernon: #6 Flipcup (8-1) has yet to win from five turf starts, but she’s come close in the Yaddo (to morning-line favorite Fourstar Crook) and versus open company in the Via Borghese at Gulfstream this winter. Indeed, Flipcup’s back class as a dual Grade 3 winner on synthetic, in Woodbine’s Maple Leaf (G3) in 2015 as well as last year’s Arlington Matron (G3), suggests she may have more to offer in state-bred company on the lawn. The Bill Mott mare exits a sixth in a paceless allowance over a yielding course at Keeneland, where the field was, predictably, of stakes-quality. If she copes with the cutback to the one-turn mile of the Widener, Flipcup can get involved late.
7TH Race, the Mike Lee: #10 Pat on the Back (20-1) probably wouldn’t be able to contain an in-form Syndergaard or Bobby on Fleek, both of whom are eligible to put their recent Churchill disappointments behind them, but he still looks overpriced based on his accomplishments in New York-bred company. Three-for-five against state-breds, Pat on the Back broke his maiden at Saratoga last summer, captured the Aspirant at Finger Lakes, and upset the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont at 20-1. In his only other local start, the nicely-bred son of Congrats was a dead-heat second in the Bertram F. Bongard at this seven-furlong trip. Given the forecast rain, it’s significant that both of his solid Belmont efforts came on off tracks. While Pat on the Back subsequently found the Grade 3 level beyond him, he wasn’t disgraced when fourth in a salty Fair Grounds allowance. Back among his friends, and at the one-turn scenario that likely suits him best, the Ken McPeek pupil can factor at a price. I don’t know what to expect from #7 Runaway Lute (12-1) in this belated sophomore debut, but he looked awfully smart in his first two outings for Gary Contessa here, and Javier Castellano notably sticks with him.
8TH Race, the Commentator: #1 Celtic Chaos (10-1) has hit career-best form this season, implying that perhaps his 0-for-2 mark at a mile from earlier in his life shouldn’t be held against him. The late runner thrived on a hot pace to earn his first stakes victory in the six-furlong Affirmed Success last out, and this one-turn mile is not lacking in early speed either. On pedigree, Celtic Chaos ought to be just as effective over a mile. Adding to the appeal, the tandem of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Eric Cancel is winning at a 67% clip in the past 60 days, according to the Brisnet stats. #9 Governor Malibu (5-1) approaches the Commentator from the opposite direction, as a classy router who might find this a bit sharp for him, but a stiff pace would help him too.
9TH Race, the Kingston: #3 Get Jets (6-1) takes on the whole cadre of New York-bred turf veterans, and the $300,000 son of Scat Daddy might be ready to strike a blow for the younger generation. One of the leading state-bred juveniles of 2015, Get Jets didn’t find his way at three until trainer Tony Dutrow switched him to turf. He responded with a stalk-and-pounce allowance score last October, and returned with near-miss second to Juddmonte-bred Tombelaine in a May 7 allowance over this course. That was good for a 103 Brisnet Speed rating, with presumably more to come from an unexposed type, from the immediate family of Japanese Grade 1 winner A Shin Forward. Dutrow boasts a 25% strike rate in the “second off the layoff” category, and Get Jets may be good enough to pad the stat here.
Happy Memorial Day!
Get Jets photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand