This week we move up north to Woodbine Race Course in Ontario, Canada for the G2, $175,000 Nassau Stakes. The race will be contested by 7 fillies and mares over the turf course at a distance of 1 mile.
This race sets up as a difficult betting race as a case can be made for all 7 starters. Additionally, we have some high percentage turf starters here. Catch a Glimpse is 8 for 13, Involuntary is 3 for 7, Caren is 3 for 5, Shelbysmile is 5 for 8, and Starship Jubilee is 6 for 11. Based solely on their affinities for the winner’s circle, none can be overlooked.
The pace setup of the race looks to be fast. With 7 starters in the race it is interesting to see that 4 of them like to be run on or near the lead. Early pace has been shown by the #2, Catch a Glimpse, #3, Involuntary, #4, Caren, and he #7, Starship Jubilee. The fastest recent figure among these speed horses is from the outside horse, Starship Jubilee who did her work over Gulfstream’s turf in a $25,000 optional claiming event as the 3-5 favorite. Based on the class of that field and her odds, I will look elsewhere.
The #4, Caren, ridden by Jesse Campbell showed some speed in her last race as she returned from a 5 month layoff and tried Woodbine’s all-weather surface in the 6 furlong G3 Whimsical Stakes. Her trainer, Michael DePaulo was probably looking to tighten up her speed and, while I look for her to improve in her 2nd start back, DePaulo is only hitting at a 7% clip this year, and there are too many other speedsters.
I will also not be backing is 8-5 morning line favorite Catch A Glimpse. In her last try at Keeneland she was clear a length on an easy lead all the way around only to fade badly to 8th on the wire. This was her 2nd start off of a layoff and I expected more.
Another interesting mare is the #1, Stormy Victoria. Alan Garcia will be riding for trainer Chris Clemente, who wins his graded stakes efforts at a respectable 15% clip. Stormy Victoria will NOT be one of the runners on or near the early lead as she likes to settle mid-pack. This mare will be making only her second start of the year after making her 2017 debut in a non-graded affair at Gulfstream where the pace was slowed and she was forced to move early only to battle and come up a neck short as the 8-5 favorite.
I expect Stormy Victoria to improve off of that effort, but there may be a repeat of 2016 where she ran great off of a layoff only to come up 5 lengths short in the Nassau next time out. At a morning line of 2-1, I’ll have to pass.
The price horse hat I landed on is Shelbysmile. At a 6-1 morning line there should be enough value to back this 4 yr old. Her speed figures are respectable and she is another who will be making her 2nd start of the season. Her first start this year, a perfect stalking trip win in a $70,000 allowance event at Keeneland, was the 2nd best figure of her career and I look for her to improve with a similar trip. Trainer Brendan Walsh has shown the ability to bring back winners to a repeat score 18% of the time. In the reigns will be David Moran who guided Shelbysmile to a stakes win at Woodbine last year. She is 5 for 8 lifetime on the turf and a perfect 1 for 1 here at Woodbine.
The bottom line is Shelbysmile for the win at a price.