Aqueduct – Fifth Race (1:48 ET)
4-Equitize (GB) (5-1)
Graduated at first asking at Tampa Bay Downs last March despite appearing green and racing wide most of the way, eventually drawing clear by more than two lengths without lifting a finger. He makes his first start since and is confidently raised into graded stakes company by trainer Chad Brown while attracting Irad Ortiz, Jr., so it appears the son of Kingman is fit and ready and obviously highly regarded by his connections. Unbeaten Integration (evens) will receive the bulk of the play, but it will be surprising if this British-bred colt doesn’t outrun his odds, so at 5-1 on the morning line we’ll try him in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics.
Churchill Downs - Seventh Race (4:01 ET)
12–Hope Mission (8-1)
This pick may be nothing more than an educated guess, but at 8-1 on the morning line this well-bred filly may be worth a gamble. By Medaglia d’Oro out of European stakes winner Arabian Hope and from the immediate family of likely champion Arcangelo, the Brendan Walsh-trained juvenile has done enough in the morning to be fit and ready and shows a noteworthy :47.4 gate breeze last June at Churchill Downs (fourth fastest of 44) in a previous work pattern. In a wide open affair in which the known element doesn’t inspire, a first timer could easily win it and this filly seems as good as any and better than most.
Del Mar - Eighth Race (3:58 PT)
6-Big City Lights (5/2)
Although he has failed to handle The Chosen Vron in each of his last three starts including a runner-up effort in this race last year, the son of Mr. Big may be able to turn the tables in this year’s edition of the Cary Grant Stakes. Making his first start since early January and breezing like a better type this time around, the Richard Mandella-trained colt won his debut as a 2-year-old by more than 12 lengths, so we know he can fire fresh, and with speed figures that make him extremely dangerous we’re expecting a major effort off the bench from this lightly raced four year old. With basically just the favorite to worry about, ‘Lights offers reasonable value at 5/2 on the morning line and is worth an aggressive play in the win pool and in rolling exotic play.