At this point, we already have a couple of key alterations in this race, even before Saturday arrives. It wouldn’t be a gigantic Thoroughbred weekend without some kind of scratches and/or changes. First, Todd Pletcher reported a few days ago that his well-rested mare, Valiance #2 would not be making her 1st start of the year because of a complication. She is out. Then, Thursday at Belmont, superstar jockey Irad Ortiz was thrown off a mount, and though the subsequent x-rays were negative, he is going to be out for at least a few weeks. That will impact the some-odd 9 races he was carded for on Thursday, and all 13 on Saturday. Ortiz can make a significant impact … The last bit of news, and it is a big one, is Kenny McPeek’s star filly from last year, Swiss Skydiver #1, has contracted a fever. She is out.
That leaves 5, and what amounts to a much weaker field. Clearly, the top 2 contenders amount to Letruska #3 and Shedaresthedevil #5. This still should be a titanic matchup, despite the defections. The former was last seen at Oaklawn Park back in April when she re-rallied against Monomoy Girl, and won the Apple Blossom (G1) with a gritty performance. Fausto Gutierrez has done an amazing job bringing her along, and she is the class of the division in my estimation. Not having Ortiz aboard is a significant loss. As for the latter, she has become Brad Cox’s signature female, as Monomoy takes a rest. The filly was fab in the La Troienne (G1) back at Churchill on the Oaks undercard. This one is a frontrunner, and when she gets to the lead, everyone needs to be wary because Florent Geroux can take over the race.
As for the rest of the field, I like another runner that will be vastly underrated, and that’s Cox’s other entry. Bonny South #7 has failed in a couple of key races in the past that many thought she should have won. Still, the past is a foreign country, as the quote goes. In racing, being open brings opportunity. Still, her last race at Keeneland in the Doubledogdare (G3) was strong, even if it wasn’t a formidable field. Now, with Joel Rosario in the saddle as Geroux on the other Cox charge, she has the opportunity to be a solid overlay. When I heard her conditioner was sending the Juddmonte router up against stablemate Essential Quality in workouts at Churchill, that was a very good sign. She is a bet in my estimation, even with the other 2 faves drawing in here. Let’s use her as the “key” for our ticket!
Wagering Recommendation: $1 Trifecta Wheel, 7 w 3/5 w 3/5