Day number eight of the Colonial Downs meet commences Tuesday and the battle is heating up for both the jockey and trainer titles. One third of the race days have been completed and it’s a three-way tie at the top for the rider’s title with Mychal Sanchez and Horatio Karamanos scoring two wins each yesterday to pull even with Joe Rocco Jr at six wins. On the conditioner’s side, Michael Tomlinson still holds a slim edge with 4 wins, but Michelle Lovell, Michael Stidham, and Sarah Nagle all scored with a winner yesterday to pull closer at 3 wins. Mid-Atlantic stalwart Michael Trombetta and steeplechase specialist Neil Morris also have 3 victories to their names.
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- Race 1: 2-3-5-1
- Race 2: 1-5-2-8
- Race 3: 6-1-3-2
- Race 4: 2-1-6-8
- Race 5: 2-6-3-7
- Race 6: 5-1-4-2
- Race 7: 2-3-8-6
- Race 8: 11-2-4-8
- Race 9: 11-3-8-1
Colonial Downs Race 5: Real Factor (#2)
Many will be drawn to Scanno (#3) in this spot as he takes a precipitous drop in class for new trainer Brendan Walsh who is unbeaten at the Colonial meet thus far. However, I’m taking the skeptical view of this runner as he just hasn’t seemed the same in his last three outings. Maybe the class drop will wake him up and he’s certainly in the right hands, but I don’t want to make that gamble at what will surely be much shorter than his pipedream of a 9-2 morning line. The logical alternative is the morning line favorite Strong Headed (#6) who goes out for Mary Eppler off a dominant win at Gulfstream last out. This four-year-old gelding has improved in each of his last four starts, but this will be the toughest test to date and he may not have much pace to run into. The lack of pace would really benefit my top choice and that is Real Factor (#2). He almost won last out after setting a quick early pace and looks to be alone on the front end here. He’s show adaptability in running style so if another runner wants to go on a mission on the front end, he can sit right off. I just like his tractability and don’t want anyone in here who will be too far back early.
Colonial Downs Race 6: Hollywood Hoopla (#5)
I’m interested in this race due to the presence of a morning line favorite that I have some questions about. Odramark (#7) steps up off a solid effort in a N1X at Monmouth, but does so with the $40,000 tag attached even though she is eligible to be without that designation. Her speed figures don’t make her any sort of standout and there are plenty of other interesting alternatives. Purrageous Dyna (#4) and Gogo Shoes (#1) both ship down from NYRA and that move has been productive all meet at Colonial. The former has run competitive numbers and may find this class of runner more to her liking as those NY-Bred N2X’s can come up as wars. The latter adds blinks and shortens up to 5 and 1/2 panels which might be a bit sharp for her, but she’s the one with the distinct speed figure edge on her rivals. However, I’m going to get creative and try to get Hollywood Hoopla (#5) into the winner’s circle. I’m convinced this daughter of Will Take Charge is more of a turf horse and more specifically a turf sprinter. Her best race came at this distance in a N1X at Laurel last summer. Although she was 38-1 that day, that performance was no fluke as she dueled through a quick half mile with the 2-1 co-favorite and held on late while the runner she was fighting with on the front end backed up to finish 7th. Her subsequent form is dirtied up with her only turf starts since being over a route of ground where she showed speed and faded. I’m hoping Reylu Gutierrez can be agressive from the gate and get position moving forward. Although the Ben Colebrook barn isn’t known for turf horses, the runners he’s brought over to Colonial so far have been live.
Colonial Downs Race 7: Button Boy (#2)
In a race brought back after being canceled due to last Monday’s biblical rainstorm many will default to Caveat Emptor (#8) who is exiting high-class events at Belmont, Tampa, and Gulfstream. However, I’m not sure he did too much running in any of those efforts and will have to deal with a somewhat wide draw. I’m going to take a shot with Button Boy (#2) for Ignacio “Nacho” Correas who won with a similar looking runner to close out the Opening Day card. He comes out of a strong event at Ellis where he made a menacing bid at the eventual winner around the far turn before flattening out to finish fifth. He showed improved early position last out and I like him shortening up to the flat mile this time. Perennial leading Colonial Downs jock Horacio Karamanos jumps aboard as one of three riders tied atop the jockey’s standings with six winds including one with today’s conditioner at 7-1. Since I am playing against the short price ML favorite, I’ll also mess around with Prayer Hope (#3) who is coming out of four straight 2+ mile jump races. We saw a similar form patter for 12-1 winner Vincent Van Gogo opening week. Prayer Hope’s debut over the flat at Monmouth would be good enough to win here, but it can’t go without mentioning that was almost three years ago.
Colonial Downs Race 8: Strike Me Down (#11)
A wide open allowance optional claiming turf sprint is carded as the feature race Tuesday and it draws contenders from many different directions. The depth of this field is displayed by the morning line favorite being an elevated 9-2 in this 12-horse affair, but I think it’s worth looking past the top choices on the line. One of those that has seemed to round into form is Lontano (#2) who is looking for three straight victories for Brendon Walsh. I think there’s a chance this one ends up going off favored after pairing up 85 Beyers which ties for the best last out mark with Dubini (#4). Lontano is technically stepping up in class, the N1X at Gulfstream might have been as tough a spot, although he did get a fast pace to close into. I’ll be using him, but I’m going to go in a slightly different direction and make Strike Me Down (#11) the top selection. This gray son of Tapit has done most of the work in his career routing, but his sprint races two back and in the Clocker’s Corner Stakes last year were arguably the two best performances of his career. Michelle Lovell’s barn has really heated up over the past two weeks at Colonial with three winners in the past two cards. Two of those were turf sprinters and that is a category where the Lovell barn shows a healthy flat bet profit over the past year.