Should it be the classiest filly who is much better than her season's debut suggests; the fastest filly in the race on performance figures, or the "now" filly shipping north for America's most powerful shedrow?
Boca Grande (5-2) is the early favorite as she returns to the site of her Grade 2 Demoiselle victory at nine furlongs 38 days after breaking her maiden in a prior start at today's distance. Jockey Mike Smith, committed to shift his tack to Southern California, remained in New York this week to ride a filly that was eliminated by a poor start at an unsuitably shorter distance in her first start of the year at Gulfstream Park. She's owns tactical speed and a strong late kick.
Desire To Excel is by definition the fastest filly in the race. She was legged up in a Tampa Bay two-turner in her seasonal debut, the Florida Oaks. A winner of the Astoria Stakes at 2, she was G3 placed as well, before going to the sidelines last fall. Working strongly for this, she benefits from the return to a one-turn route and picks up the prolific Jose Lezcano, a budding star.
Perfect Forest won a preliminary allowances by four impressive lengths in her South Florida finale and has worked purposefully for this for trainer Todd Pletcher. The country's leading horseman taps Ramon Dominguez for the riding assignment. As a team, they win at a 31% rate. Adding to the depth here, Winning Point is shipping up from Maryland for Eddie Gaudet. Her next loss from a fourth career start would be her first.
With some trepidation, we're taking the classy Boca Grande to win, returning to the scene of her Demoiselle score. Taking her, too, in exacta boxes with Desire To Excel and Perfect Forest, and using Boca Grande as a trifecta key, adding Winning Point to the underneath mix.
Running Totals: (5) 2-1-1 ROI: $13.20 (Totals do not reflect Friday's results).