One thing I know for certain in the kickoff leg of the Late Pick 4 is that I want no part of Celestial Cheetah (#7), especially if she’s going to be the favorite, which she is on the morning line. This filly was actually quite impressive in her last race, a starter allowance event on the main track which she won by 6 ¼ lengths, however I don’t like the abrupt drop in class and switch to turf at all. She’s clearly got some ability, but this is probably the wrong surface for her and she’s going to be dramatically overbet.
Instead, I think the most likely winner of this race is Crystal Coast (#3). You’d be hard-pressed to find a jockey/trainer combo better on turf than Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Carlos David, and this filly ran reasonably well two back when she broke her maiden on this surface. Crystal Coast also possesses a good amount of early speed, which is going to serve her well in this rather paceless affair, and I fully expect her to bounce back from a dull try on the main track in her latest outing.
Since I do have some concerns about Crystal Coast (primarily the strength of the field she beat to break her maiden) the other filly I’m going to use prominently is Viking Queen (#1). She didn’t run particularly well last time, but she at least held her own against a much better group. I think this filly is meeting the right field here and it wouldn’t surprise me if she proves best in this race.
Main: 1,3 Backup (priority): 2
Order of preference: 3-1-2-5
I’m not going to bang my head against a wall trying to beat Sir Ollie (#3) in this race. He’s going to be a very short price, but this horse just lost at this level to a promising runner in Irish Honor while taking a big jump forward off of his debut score at Gulfstream. The fact he’s trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who is having a terrific meet, certainly adds to my confidence in him, and he doesn’t have to improve again to handle this bunch. The price won’t be attractive, however I see no getting around him in this race.
Sir Ollie’s main competition appears to be Gatsby (#5), who can run hot and cold but on his best day may be able to threaten the favorite. Gatsby is coming off a decent try at this level going 5 ½ furlongs, and it’s possible the removal of blinkers could lead to improvement.
I also wouldn’t discount the chances of Shoo Shine (#4). His last race came more or less out of nowhere and may have been the product of an inside-favoring track on February 18, but there just aren’t many viable alternatives in this race and he’s at least run fast enough to contend.
Main: 3 Backup: 4,5
Order of preference: 3-4-5-6
There are so many different ways to go in the day’s feature, and I found it very tough to separate six fillies and mares in this spot. I suppose top billing should go to Kissing Frogs (#4), who was an impressive winner of a first-level optional claimer last out while coming off a long layoff. While she won by open lengths with a tantalizing 86 Beyer Speed Figure, in retrospect I’m not so sure how good that race was now that the runner-up came back to bomb and the third-place finisher is also suspect. Furthermore, Kissing Frogs got a very good trip in that race and grinded her way to victory without showing much of a turn of foot. She can obviously win this race, but I’d tread lightly with her.
I actually think Simplicity (#8) is a more likely winner. She does need to bounce back following a dull try in the Forever Together at Aqueduct, however her first two starts in the country were pretty good, especially two back when she finished between Traipsing and Tuned, who are borderline stakes types. If she gets back to those efforts I think she’s going to have a major say in the outcome.
It may be foolish to bet into the cold spell of trainer Eddie Kenneally, but I have to go back to Our Bay B Ruth (#5) in this spot. A little more than a year ago this mare won the Tropical Park Oaks over this turf course, and she was still running some solid races in 2020. I think she has some excuses for her last two performances since she was running without Lasix in her latest outing and got hooked in a hot pace two back, and she should really benefit from the class relief she gets here. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Irad Ortiz, Jr. is taking the call, and maybe he can finally get the normally reliable Kenneally off the duck at the meet.
Main: 4,5,8 Backup (priority): 1,2,6
Order of preference: 5-8-4-6
I wish I had something more interesting to say about the finale, but I really believe this race revolves around Fully Loaded (#6) and Tropicat (#10). There’s no doubt in my mind that these two are the most talented turf sprinters in this field, and while it may seem silly to use both at equal strength given the fact Tropicat just blew the doors off Fully Loaded at this level, I think there’s reason to believe Fully Loaded could be set for better.
Fully Loaded caught my eye earlier at the meet when he finished a close second to Fiya, one of the best turf sprinters in the country, in the Claiming Crown Canterbury. He’s been a bit of a disappointment in his next two starts, however he was running on very short rest in his last start when Tropicat got the better of him. He’s since been given ample time to recover, and his excellent tactical speed makes him the more appealing option to me, especially if he’s going to be a bigger price than Tropicat.
Main: 6,10 Backup: 1,4
Order of preference: 6-10-4-1
Most Likely Winner: Sir Ollie (Race 8)
Best Value: Katiesdreamgirl (Race 3)
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*