Can’t begin to describe how competitive all the races have been at this meeting, especially the stakes. Take today’s Grade 1 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs. Many questions to answer. We’ll try to sort this out by looking at five strong contenders, half the field:

From the rail, out: Maryfield (8-1), Pussycat Doll (7-2), Boca Grande (8-1), Baroness Thatcher (8-1) and Barilla, the 3-1 early line choice.

Barilla will be an exotics use but a toss in the straight pool. While she dominated the G2 Honorable Miss at six furlongs, she has no proven form at today’s distance and meets a much saltier group. She likely will be tested early and her wide draw may not give the positional edge it usually does at this trip.

Pussycat Doll, seemingly like all Bob Baffert-trained horses, hated the Polytrack. Hell, she didn’t handle Cushion Track either. Can she rebound on the dirt? Sure, but she might have been tailing off from a tough spring campaign. She’s a tough read in that respect and, at expected short odds, why bother?

Three-year-olds have a solid record in this race, primarily those coming out of the G1 Test. The first of these is Baroness Thatcher who showed much improved early speed in her Spa return and just missed place in a very sharp effort behind filly sprint divisional leading Dream Rush. As a testament to her class, she was also second in the G1 Las Virgennes. She’s held her form, if her recent half-mile work is any measure, and retains Garrett Gomez.

Boca Grande came from another county to finished second in the Test. Shug McGaughey always points for this meet and his three-year-olds tend to peak in racing’s second season. Horses tend to hold their form if they show a preference for this track and clearly she has. Boca Grande has worked twice since the Test, indicating her energy level is good. As a three-year-old, she’s dropping five pounds to a more reasonable 115. We normally disdain deep closers but the race shapes demands an off the pace runner here. And the price should be fair.

Taking Boca Grande at early line odds of 8-1 or greater, and keying her second and third with the other listed contenders in trifectas.

Running Totals: (89) 38-19-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]