TVG Expert: Candice Hare
We look to the turf stayers in the Searching Stakes in which a competitive field of nine will be traversing a mile and a half. Heavy favorite Ickymasho had to fend off a quick early pace when winning over this distance at Keeneland last out in the G3 Bewitch, but she handled that in stride, notching what was her first victory since 2017 in the process. She doesn’t win terribly often, but at the very least she’s finished a close second to two of the best female turf stayers in the country in Santa Monica and Holy Helena, so her formlines overall read well.
More interesting at a price, perhaps, is Layla Noor. In 2017, the daughter of Midnight Lute contested the G3 Jessamine at Keeneland and ran a fantastic fourth behind Rushing Fall after closing from well off the pace. She then switched surfaces and followed up that performance with a solid third on the dirt behind Wonder Gadot in the G2 Demoiselle. Last year was a bit more of a struggle, however, with her best performance being a close third in the Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park. She’s been away for over a year, but her trainer Arnaud Delacour is one of the best in the country at bringing horses back off of extended layoffs and her consistent worktab leading into this race offers encouragement.
To round out our top three, Violent Blue is interesting second off the extended layoff. She returned at Aqueduct to finish third behind proven stakes performer Chipolata and her pedigree and form suggest this distance of 12 furlongs is perhaps her best distance. Look for her to close off from the back late.
- #7 Layla Noor
- #5 Ickymasho
- #9 Violet Blue
#7 Layla Noor
Top Pick -- #8 Point of Honor
Money Back Special -- #2 Off Topic
Top Pick -- #1 War of Will
Money Back Special -- #9 Bodexpress
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