It's a run for the roses. No, not that run for the roses,
that's the Kentucky Derby and it's on the first Saturday of May in non-COVID
years. Instead, we are talking the run for the Garland of Roses Stakes at
Seven fillies and mares will drag-race 6 furlongs on the Q's
main track. You want a winner? Then you better focus on the fastest ones out of
the gates. Meet to date, there have been 40 efforts at the distance and surface
with 32 leaning through the tape first labeled early speed. Nine of those to
raise the W flag never trailed, wire to wire to the winners' circle
(alliteration, a crafty rhetorical device).
Six furlongs on dirt has also been good for the favorites,
hitting at a well above average while generating a slightly negative return on
LADY NINJA (PP: 1 ML 2-1) is the morning line favorite but
she hasn't always been fast. She's been pilot or co-pilot in four of her last
10 starts, winning as a co-pilot but fading in her last two when she took the
wheel. The six-year-old mare is dropping in class and shortening from 7
furlongs to 6, which is her favorite distance by far. She's won six of nine at
today's distance and has just two wins in 16 at any other lengths.
While LADY NINJA is sometimes fast, HONEY I'M GOOD (PP: 7 ML
3-1) is always fast on her first foot. The four-year-old daughter of
SHACKLEFORD has been either first or second at the quarter pole in each of her
10 starts. In half of her races, the Steven Asmussen trainee never gave up the
lead. Her lone trip off the board was in her second start and only attempt past
6 furlongs where she faded badly at 1 mile.
HEY MAMALUKE (PP: 6 ML 20-1) has longshot speed as she's
been on the lead or within head or neck of the front in eight of her last 10
runs. However, she has a hard time maintaining her speed of late with her legs
getting heavy in four of her last five runs around the track.
BRIDLEWOOD CAT (PP: 3 ML 12-1) flashed speed early in her
career, heading to the front in her first four races, getting home first in a
pair. Then she tried the closing thing in the next two with off the board
results. Trainer Jonathan Thomas has pushed her back to the front in her last
two, but she backed up late in both. BRIDLEWOOD has been on the bench since
mid-September and has put in some good and bad works since.
Jockey John Velazquez has forwardly placed PACIFIC GALE (PP:
4 ML 10-1) in his two most recent rides on the five-year-old mare. Trainer John
Kimmel had her second out of the box in her last under Velazquez and on the
lead in a previous race with Jose Lezcano steering the ship. The pair of
upfront efforts are a departure from stalking trips in the previous eight
outings. The third time really could be the charm with her new running style as
PACIFIC GALE improved her early fractions and had more staying power in her
last race despite adding a half furlong and running in the slop.
Pit looks like as many as five of the seven in the Garland
of Roses Stakes could vie for the lead early on, but which lady gets the trophy?
We took a trip around the internet to see who some handicappers have on top.
Guaranteed Tip Sheet: SAGUARO ROW with the following
commentary, "SAGUARO ROW has two wins and a second in three at AQ and is three
and 0 at the distance. HONEY I'M GOOD is another that likes the distance with
three wins and a second in four tries. HONOR WAY has the top, last race speed
figure, concerned about a bounce as it's way above the norm. But... same race
equals same result. LADY NINJA drops in class and is coming from the other side
of the country, might need one."
Newsday's Steve Matthew: HONOR WAY with the following
commentary, "Honor Way has trained sharply since decisive score in overnight
stakes last time; keeps on giving. Honey I'm Good owns speed and fast figures
but has been sidelined since June; must take the good with the bad. Saguaro
Row, another that's returning from long layoff, loves the Big A and packs
powerful kick on "A" game; let price be your guide."
PredictEm.com: LADY NINJA
NYRA's Andy Sterling: LADY NINJA
NYRA'S Anthony Stabile: SAGUARO ROW
NYRA'S David Aragona: SAGUARO ROW
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