On Monday, for the first time this meet, the races were washed off the turf by heavy overnight thunderstorms in Virginia. Although it did not rain much on Monday itself, the deluge was strong enough that it’s possible we don’t return to the grass until Wednesday and there’s a chance it wipes out the whole week. Therefore, I’ll put forth some picks for the dirt in case surface switches occur.
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- Race 1: 4-1-5-2; DIRT (1-5-4-3)
- Race 2: 2-1-7-4
- Race 3: 3-5-1-4; DIRT (1-3-5-4)
- Race 4: 4-6-1-5; DIRT (1-8-3-4)
- Race 5: 8-9-1-10
- Race 6: 6-4-8-7; DIRT (6-5-8-1)
- Race 7: 1-7-3-11; DIRT (5-10-2-12)
- Race 8: 2-5-4-1
- Race 9: 7-9-6-2; DIRT (2-9-12-10)
Colonial Downs Race 2: Pie Killer (#2)
If the morning line of 5-2 holds on Flowersforshantell (#3), she would become the favorite I’m most looking forward to betting against all meet. This filly won her debut impressively drawing off to win by 9 lengths, but she did so defeating 5 overmatched rivals while earning a slow figure in what was likely one of the three weakest races of the meet. I much prefer her main rival to the inside in Pie Killer (#2). While Flowersforshantell comes out of a low-profile barn, Pie Killer has top trainer Michael Stidham in her corner and a maiden win against much better competition down at the Fair Grounds. An effort anywhere near that race and she’ll be able to handle this group. I think the value comes in by getting the ML favorite out of the exacta completely and instead using Tilsa (#1) whose race two back at Parx is the only credential on anyone’s page worthy of challenging the top pick on her best day.
Colonial Downs Race 5: Musique (#8)
The juveniles take to the main track to kick off the pick five sequence and there are quite a few intriguing firsters. Michael Trombetta has one towards the rail in Horizon Moon (#1) at a generous 8-1 morning line. This daughter of Malibu Moon cost $120,000 just four months ago as a two-year-old in training and is out of a stakes winning City Zip dam so the pedigree is there for her to be quick. She’ll have to be, though, as she’s breaking from the inside post. The firster I like the most is drawn more comfortably towards the outside in Chardonnay (#9). The dam herself won over $400k as a stakes winning router and this filly is a half sister to Risk and Reward who just broke his maiden at Del Mar with a fast figure late last month. The Stidham barn is certainly capable with debut runners, but as a daughter of Candy Ride, this filly might end up wanting more ground than the 5.5 furlongs she gets today. That’s why I’ve sided with a runner with experience in this field in Musique (#8). The Ben Colebrook barn doesn’t usually crank them up to win first out of the box, but this fleet-footed filly did everything but cross the wire first in her debut. She broke well from an inside post and went head and head with a well-bred Godolphin runner in Gina before putting that one away at the sixteenth pole. She won the battle, but lost the war as a good looking debut winner Sequist came storming down the center of the track to pick up the victory. Musique gets Lasix for this second start and if she’s able to show similar early foot, but do so with an advantageous outside stalking trip, the experience edge can give her the upper hand on her rivals.
Colonial Downs Race 8: Braxton (#2)
The race favorite and many people’s multi-race exotic single will be Arabian Prince (#5) in the Tuesday feature. This Dallas Stewart trainee returns for high profile outfit West Point Thoroughbreds after flirting with the Kentucky Derby trail last winter. It’s obvious the company he was keeping is superior to the rest of this field with the likes graded stakes winners Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon, and King Fury on his page. He’s getting first-time Lasix and appears to be working well for his return and is far and away the most likely winner in the field. However, he’s going to be a very short price taking on older horses for the first time coming off a seven month break at a distance that might be well short of his preferred trip. The problem comes with finding the alternative to take him on with. I’m not enthralled with the runners coming out of the race at this level from opening day. Litigant (#4) took that field wire-to-wire that day at 56-1 out-finishing Kadri (#1). That race was a bit of an eyesore coming down the lane as runner after runner looked as if they didn’t want to get their picture taken. The cutback to six furlongs might help those runners a tad, but the shorter sprint really plays in the favor of my top pick Braxton (#2). At first glance, this runner might look rather hopeless coming off two dull efforts turf sprinting, but he’s been freshened since and he’s run some of his best lifetime races at Colonial for Karen Godsey. The fact they bring him back on the dirt is interesting as there are plenty of options at this meeting on the grass. He worked a bullet over the main track back on July 28th and has some Charles Town races from early in his career that make him a threat here if this seven-year-old gelding has one more run in him.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Zola B (#7)
The nightcap is a five furlong race for maiden claimers scheduled for the turf. If the race comes off the turf I think it runs through Peculiarity (#2) who is proven to handle the dirt and has plenty of speed from the inside. If it stays on turf, she’s not without a chance but her turf pedigree is minimal and she’ll take money off her dirt form. On the grass, Fast Fashion (#6) is a logical favorite dropping down in class a bit from maiden claimers over at Monmouth. However, this is quite a sharp turnback in distance and she’s disappointed at short odds before. Her figures and class make her a must-use in any exotics, but I’ll side against as the top pick. Tak E Lady (#9) makes some sense for either surface, but I’d prefer her on the grass. The one turf start at Penn National was over this same five furlong distance and she showed enough speed to stay close but got beat by a runner that came right back to win an N2L at Pimlico in her next start. A repeat of that effort would make her tough in here, but I’m siding with Zola B (#7) as the top choice. This runner’s debut sprinting on the grass was arguably the best effort of her career making a late move to get up for 4th. Since then she made three starts routing before getting claimed and running poorly in her next three dirt starts. She switched barns and finally got back to turf sprinting last time out at Pimlico and was bet fairly heavily at the windows to be 7-2 in a 12 horse field coming off a seven month break. She got absolutely eliminated at the break and actually did well to get back into the race by the eighth pole before flattening out late. Now with that run under her belt, a clean trip second off the bench might be all this daughter of Jimmy Creed needs to earn her maiden breaking certificate.