Let me get this off my chest: I do believe that Guarana is a very special filly and that she will take the Coaching Club American Oaks with style. But I’m avoiding the five-horse field and choosing the 2-5 early line favorite.
Looked at the Shuvee which also offered a difficult to beat favorite, Wow Cat, who more than held her own at the Grade 1 level in 2018. But, again, we’re looking at a Chad Brown early line favorite (9-5).
And so we landed on the Caress Stakes, a 5-1/2 furlong turf sprint in which we believe the Chad Brown early favorite, Significant Form (5-2) may be vulnerable. (That probably puts her right into the circle)!
But we’re opting for Fire Key (5-1), a filly turf sprinter we’ve liked since back in the day when Pat Kelly was training her. She wound up with new connections and Joe Catanese III took over the training, which didn’t work out.
However, since Jimmy Ryerson has led her over for her last two starts, not only did she improve with a win and a placing in two starts but Ryerson actually injected some speed into the now six year old mare.
And this in one hard-hitting mare, as her (29) 8-8-2 lifetime slate suggests.
While the New York-bred has made use of her newly found speed, that doesn’t mean she’s become a runoff. It’s more likely that Jose Ortiz, the best speed rider in the game, put her into her races sooner. And if not for tiring in the last few jumps, she would be 2-for-2 in this barn.
Now tactical, and given an inside draw, we expect that Ortiz will get position on the fence and either pocket-up or set the pace at a friendlier trip that the longer sprints she’s been competing in recently.
Fire Key has run well given this spacing and she handles any type of ground (thundershowers in the forecast), giving her an edge on classy, much faster Morticia (3-1), the probable post time favorite, who doesn’t handle off turf as well as she does firm footing.
So we’re taking Fire Key to win, but 3-1 is the absolute acceptable minimum.