Colonial Downs Analysis – July 14th, 2023 – By Michael Domabyl

Day two of the Colonial meet gets underway Friday and features a Pick 5 carryover! No one was able to string together the late pick five meaning there’s $26,406 in the kitty for those willing to take on the challenge this afternoon. It also includes the first trip to dirt course. It’s a unique track in that its 10 furlong circumference makes it the second largest dirt oval in North America behind Belmont Park. Plus, they can run my favorite race configuration, a one turn mile. We’ll have to wait for that to take place though as both the first two races are going six panels.

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  • Race 1: 4-5-2-3
  • Race 2: 3-4-5-6
  • Race 3: 2-5-3-1
  • Race 4: 9-7-2-1
  • Race 5: 5-4-7-3
  • Race 6: 6-1-7-2
  • Race 7: 7-2-3-1
  • Race 8: 6-5-3-1
  • Race 9: 9-13-6-1

Colonial Downs Race 1: Welaka (#4)

Hoping to kick the Friday card and the dirt season off at Colonial with a winner and really like the looks of Welaka (#4) in the lid-lifter. After his last three dirt efforts were all against fields full of three-year-old stakes horses., this is the first realistic spot he’s been in since breaking his maiden in an high priced event at Keeneland last fall. There are certainly no horses in here like Giant Mischief, Arabian Lion, Victory Formation, Two Eagles River, Cyclone Mischief, and Litigate who were the six horses that completed the exacta in his three subsequent dirt tries and have all since gone on to compete in graded stakes on the Derby trail. It appears Kelsey Danner has now found a soft allowance spot for this colt who is bred to be a good one by Malibu Moon out of G1 Kentucky Oaks runner-up St. John’s River. Freestanding (#5) looks to have a huge pace advantage on paper, but I can’t take a short price on him with his last effort dressed up winning a four-horse off-the-turf affair. Maybe Spitball (#6) will improve second off the layoff, but his last race was a staggerfest down the lane. The interesting longshot might be O’Connor Sunset (#2) who finally broke his maiden after spending most of his career in transit between different trainers’ barns. He’s another well-bred colt who may be finally settling into himself.

Colonial Downs Race 3: Yahmo (#2)

Plenty of guesswork going on in the third race on Friday as seven of the eight runners make their debuts in this spot. The morning line favorite is Massif (#1) and there isn’t much to go on that would make me want to latch onto this gelding at a short price. While Brittany Russell is known as a high percentage trainer, debuting juveniles on turf is not something she does often. No clues are given in the pedigree as this is the first foal from an unraced dam. King Kontie (#3) appears to be working quickly and has some turf pedigree, but this is another high percentage barn whose winners aren’t usually first time starters. I think Two Bronze Stars (#5) might get lost in the wagering a bit going first time out for Keri Brion. He too sports a fast last work and I like Jimmy Creed as a turf sprint sire. However, I ultimately sided with the statistics and went with the runner from a barn who does best with this move. Yahmo (#2) goes out for Michael Stidham who is 10/31 with a +ROI with juveniles debuting in turf sprints. I also like the pedigree on this colt. His dam won on the grass, but more importantly produced Lady Edith who is G3 placed and won the Floral Park Stakes going 6f on turf at Aqueduct last fall with a 98 Beyer. Catholic Boy is a freshman sire, but he’s by More Than Ready and already has sired one turf sprint winner from limited starters.

Colonial Downs Race 4: Anamnestic (#9)

Wicked Finn (#1) makes sense as the favorite in this spot and is drawn well on the inside. He’s in great form right now and that was a decent field he handled last time in the starter allowance at Delaware, but I’m not looking to take a short price in what looks like one of the more competitive races on the card. Part of my plays will be using Grael (#2) who gets back to turf for the first time this year and it’s hard to argue the best races of his career have come over this surface which makes a ton of sense as a son of the Australian-bred sire Astern. Royal Velvet (#7) is certainly dangerous to win right back after looking good blasting through an opening to defeat maiden rivals at Pimlico last time. This colt has talent, but I wonder if going out for an ownership syndicate like West Point and having Clement named as the trainer will cause him to plummet from that 8-1 morning line. I think he can win, but I’d be hesitant to take him at what I expect to be around half the morning line. I landed on a different three-year-old who is taking on older horses with Anamnestic (#9). While this colt has never won on turf, his two starts this year over the surface were against some pretty solid rivals. In his race two back, he finished second to Talk of the Nation while putting 4+L on the rest of the field. The winner that day has since come back with a win and a pair of second place finishes in stakes races. It was a similar story last time when he finished a close forth behind three stakes-faced runners. I think it’s only a matter of time before the Danner/Beschizza combo gets on track and I love the 46&3 bullet work this colt sports on his page.

Colonial Downs Race 7: Momentous Miss (#7)

Girvinized (#1) is likely to be a popular favorite as she goes out for the Virginia Racing Club and a well-known jockey/trainer combo of Allen/Karamanos. Her debut was a solid effort as she bossed around a field of maiden claimers, but now you’ll have to stomach a short price first time against winners. Baby Luck (#2) makes a lot of sense as an alternative cutting back in distance after tiring in the lane and ran well over this course and distance last summer against maiden special weight company. Another contender is You’re Avoiding Me (#3) who gets to the turf for the first time. It helps Outwork is a surprisingly positive turf influence and the Tomlinson barn has good numbers with first time turf horses. Though the favorites are logical, I’m getting more creative with my top pick and landed on Momentous Miss (#7). The nearly two year layoff is obviously a huge concern, but her effort over this turf course the last time she was with this trainer is lengths better than anything the others have run. The long break should make her a square enough price to play in a field where the others are solid, but no superstars.

Colonial Downs Race 9: Discreet Devil (#9)

The Friday card concludes with the most inscrutable of the day’s races. Thirteen colts and geldings are signed on to contest this turf dash to close out the P5 carryover sequence. I don’t see the appeal of taking either of the two favorites on the morning line at their respective short prices. Both Starstreet (#2) and Smiling Jack (#7) must handle a significant turnback in distance and the former must overcome a moderately negative trainer switch. There are a few prices that I want to highlight hoping to close the card out with big balloons. Kalinba (#1) comes right back on less than two weeks rest off an improved effort getting back to turf for the first time in a while. Though I am worried he’ll be able to dance with these early on after setting a moderate pace last time out. Great Call (#6) was in way over his head in his only turf start to date. He’s more realistically spotted today, has turf pedigree, and goes out for an underrated trainer in Madison Meyers. I’ll include those two, but will be focusing most of my play on Discreet Devil (#9) and Get Them Digits (#13) who also figure to decent prices. Get Them Digits finally gets back to turf after putting forth two respectable efforts over that surface in the back half of last year. His early speed is a feather in his cap and while he’ll have to work out a trip from the far outside post, jockey Horatio Karamanos knows this lawn well. However, my top pick will be Discreet Devil who also gets back to the grass after nearly a year of racing on dirt. As this guy has grown up, his speed figures have improved and now he’s getting back to the surface I think he’s bred for. His dam won on turf and her best progeny to date was a stakes-placed turf sprinter who topped out with a 91 on the Beyer scale. When last seen on turf, this guy had plenty of early zip and a replica of that would suit him well in this spot.


Meet Statistics

Top Pick: 9-1-0-0 (11%, $0.78); Featured Horses: 4-0-0-0 ($0.00)

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