Stakes action returns to Colonial Downs on Saturday with two competitive turf sprints smack dab in the middle of the card. There’s a lot of action going on across the country today, but I hope horseplayers can find a few moments in between to enjoy the great racing Colonial Downs has to offer.
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- Race 1: 4-6-2-1
- Race 2: 6-1-3-5
- Race 3: 4-5-1-6
- Race 4: 6-8-3-5
- Race 5: 11-7-12-5
- Race 6: 6-2-7-9
- Race 7: 8-6-3-5
- Race 8: 7-6-4-5
- Race 9: 3-10-4-9
Colonial Downs Race 2: Cainudothetwist (#6)
I’m not enthralled with the morning like favorite in this spot as Elusive (#5) has a name that has become indicative of how victories have proven to come by for him. The 0/12 5YO gelding has been a consistent sort when running on turf, but always seems to find a few better than him. Dr. Hyde (#3) tries turf for the first time while also dropping in for a tag. His synthetic form is good enough to compete, but I don’t need a short price on a horse trying a new surface. Look Sharp (#1) also will have his first spin over the turf course this afternoon, but he’ll at least be a more appetizing price and could be given a clear early lead coming out of sprint races. However, I made my top pick one that might get lost in the wagering as her form is overshadowed by many a poor steeplechase effort. Cainudothetwist (#6) has run more than a dozen times in the past 24 months, but only four of those came in flat races. She nearly broke her maiden over this course and distance back in ’21. She ran twice over the flat last summer at Colonial with one being a competitive effort and the other being a spot that was way too tough. Her last flat effort at Laurel was a weirdly run race where the pace got very fast and the whole field was staggering home, so I’m willing to draw a line through that. She gets a huge rider upgrade to Toledo and if she still has her form from last summer, she’s as likely a winner as the shorter prices on the morning line.
Colonial Downs Race 6: Yes I Am Free (#6)
This is a very contentious renewal of the Van Clief Stakes and a reasonable case can be made for just about any one of the ten runners. That includes defending champion Front Run The Fed (#2) who is arguably in better form heading into the race this year. After taking the Van Clief last July, he was consistently placed in the wrong races before returning to reasonable sprint spots this year. His connections were rewarded with that decision leading to a gutsy win against a solid field at Keeneland two back. The Jaipur proved to be a bit above his head and now returns to the right level. I’ve always been a fan of Gear Jockey (#7) and it’s put up or shut up time for him as he gets a late start to his six-year-old campaign. I think the 5.5f at Colonial Downs will suit this gelding as he’s always bounced around between elongated turf sprints and turf dashes. However, I’m going with Yes I Am Free (#6) as my top pick hoping he can be the proverbial “speed of the speed.” This gelding has never been in better form and has won three of his past four turf sprints in the wire-to-wire manner I’m hoping he employs today with the only loss coming at the hands of uber-talented Big Invasion. I also like that he’s coming from a barn in Laura Cazares that has been stabled here the whole meet and doesn’t have to deal with shipping in.
Colonial Downs Race 7: Boomin’ Belle (#8)
Plenty of guesswork to be done in this 7th race as only two members of the field have a prior start. Of them, the shorter price on the morning line is My Sweetheart Dani (#5) who has at least showed a modicum of life in her starts to date and now drops to the appropriate level. I just have a tough time taking a short price on a runner who has been such long odds in her other lifetime tries. My top pick is the other runner in this race with previous experience and that’s Boomin’ Belle (#8). She hasn’t shown much at all in her two lifetime starts, but she at least took some money on the tote and now gets a subtle drop in class. The biggest thing she has going for her though is the surface switch being by noted turf runner Get Stormy out of a dam who also won over this surface. Mark Casse excels with this move posting a record of 15/83 (18%, $2.74 ROI) with juveniles switching from dirt to turf over the last five years. Many of the first time starters come from outfits with poor or non-existent numbers debuting juveniles. That’s not the case for Atmidnight (#6) who is a respectable favorite going out for connections that like to win here, but its been obvious so far that the Stidham barn has been quite cold to start the meet. Although this filly in particular has some positive attributes being by a good turf sprint sire in Kantharos and kin to the precocious Kid Azteca.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Holey Moley (#3)
A maiden special weight event limited to VA restricted company closes out the card and the second week of racing. Occasional Moon (#9) is likely to take a ton of money off his decent speed figures, but most of those came on dirt I didn’t like what I saw from him in his only start on grass. Of the short priced horses I prefer King Covee (#4) who ran well on debut for a barn that is known to be on the patient side. The problem is he was 24-1 last time and now you’ll have to stomach a very short price. Kicks Like Tucker (#10) is a very interesting first-time starter for Graham Motion. It obviously wasn’t the original plan to be debuting this colt so late in his three-year-old season after paying 150k for him as a yearling, but this isn’t the toughest group overall. Even though Motion sent out a debut runner on Thursday that did everything but win, his numbers with this specific move are horrendous. Over the last five years, Motion is 1/56 (2%, $0.30 ROI) with older debut runners going a route of ground on grass. If it weren’t for that stat, he’d be my top pick, but instead I landed on Holey Moley (#3). Conversely, Arnaud Delacour has fantastic numbers with second career starters in turf maiden races with a record of 20/73 (27%, $2.36 ROI) over the last five years. His debut was a good chance to gain experience as he was given no shot to win with the aggressively wide journey around the first turn. Although he debuted in a maiden claiming race, the connections were able to waive the tag as a Maryland-bred and even though this is maiden special weight company the VA restriction makes it a lateral move.
Top Pick: 45-12-8-4 (27%, $1.42); Featured Horses: 20-2-4-2 (10%, $0.60)