Week number 4 kicks off at Colonial Downs on Monday as we near the halfway point of the 21-day meet. Yet another stakes races serves as the feature on the Monday program with VA-Restricted fillies and mares going long on the grass in the Van Clief Stakes named for former Virginia Racing Commission Chairman D.G. Van Clief.
Follow me on Twitter: @michaeldomabyl
- Race 1: 2-5-7-1
- Race 2: 5-4-6-2
- Race 3: 7-4-5-1
- Race 4: 4-10-8-6
- Race 5: 7-9-10-11
- Race 6: 7-6-9-1
- Race 7: 7-8-4-6
- Race 8: 6-7-8-5
- Race 9: 3-12-1-13
Colonial Downs Race 3: Tea in China (#7)
Race 3 is a starter allowance that features a distinct lack of pace. It’s tempting to side with one of the two runners that figure to be forwardly placed in Moanas Power (#3) and Sacred Sunday (#4). The former is a runner I’m willing to play against given that the seemingly improved effort last out over turf came at 94-1 and the inflated speed figure is really due to the nature of turf racing with bunched up fields. The latter I believe is much more dangerous getting to the turf for the first time and stepping up for her first try against winners. She dueled the race favorite into submission in her debut win and has plenty of turf breeding to handle the surface switch. However, this is a step up in class and she would need to step forward in the speed figure department off the dirt race to handle this field. Therefore, I’m going with the logical alternative in Tea in China (#7) Contrary to some of her main rivals, she is actually dropping in class and has always done her best running over this circuit. Any of her last three performances put her squarely in the mix, especially the race two back where she overcame some traffic troubles, and she figures to be a square price.
Colonial Downs Race 4: Algodonal (#4)
Similar to the race prior to it, this N1Y features little to no early speed. Going one mile over the inner turf with that kind of race set up gives a significant early advantage to the projected front runners. Both of the two shortest prices on the morning line might be compromised due to this scenario. Jumpstartmyheart (#6) and Instinctive (#10) undoubtedly come out of the best races, but the former has a complete dearth of early speed and the latter will have to deal with a disadvantageous outside post. A middle-priced runner who is not without a chance is Princess Killmain (#8) who stretched out for a barn that has done very well this year with limited starters. She has races from last summer that would make her one of if not the outright favorite, but her latest three efforts leave something to be desired. For that reason I’ve landed squarely on Algodonal (#4) as the day’s best bet. This mare showed some talent last summer in tougher spots around the mid-Atlantic. Between then and now, she has had the awe-striking misfortune of having her races taken off the turf six consecutive times. While not ideal for her connections as the mare was unable to perform well over that surface, it certainly dirties up her form and will help inflate her odds for today’s affair. Plus, when she finally got back to the grass last time, she had an awful go of it getting steadied at the start and then completely taken out of the race at the three-eighths pole. I actually like that she comes off a sprint try as that will allow her to be more forwardly placed this time out in a pace-less route race for a high-percentage barn.
Colonial Downs Race 5: Dreamin of Seville (#7)
This full field of twelve N2L claimers is an intriguing betting race because all but one entrant is exiting a race at this current Colonial Downs meet. Four runners come out of the meet’s opening race and there is no doubt in my mind that Cark (#9) ran the best race that day despite finishing a well-back seventh. He took significant play at the windows and was sent off at 8-5, but had a nightmarish trip throughout. He got off slow and then when it appeared he was about to make a strong bid around the turn, he got completely shut off and had to check back 4-5 lengths. He did well to re-rally down the lane and make the margin of defeat respectable in a race that was dominated on the front end by longer priced horses. However, I think the other major common race was a stronger overall field, so I’m not trying to go against the morning line favorite Dreamin of Seville (#7). Sarah Nagle’s barn has been red hot this meet and the run put forth from this gelding back on the opening Tuesday of the meet was no exception. They went super quick up front and he made a strong bid to the lead approaching the quarter pole that might have been timed out a tad too soon. After moving into that hot pace, he understandably got leg weary late before being run down by a closer from the clouds. He’ll get another chance at it here going the same flat mile and will be able to get first run on the deep closers like Cark and Hypnotist (#10) who pose the main threat to his chances at victory.
Colonial Downs Race 6: Crack the Safe (#7)
While it is normally very difficult to step up and win first time against winners, I’m willing to take that bet with a runner in this N2L turf sprint. Crack the Safe (#7) projects to get a similar trip as he did in his maiden score when he wired a field over five furlongs on the Pimlico lawn. He set quick fractions that day as the runners who were second and third with him early on ended up backing up to finish 10th and 9th respectively. The third place finisher that day came back to take his own maiden claiming race after not being able to run down the top pick despite a setup. There doesn’t look to be nearly as much early speed signed on to this race and Kevin Gomez can get this runner either positioned stalking right outside the speed or on the lead entirely. His figure from his debut puts him right in the mix with the shorter prices on the morning line and he goes out for a barn that does well with its grass entrants. Bold Trek (#6) and Shelly Island (#9) both exit a race at this level that arguably featured a tougher field than what is assembled here. Of those two I prefer the former who ran a better race last out and has the stronger back figures sprinting on the grass. However, both of these runners would be compromised if the pace doesn’t develop on the front end.