Week three of the Colonial Downs meet begins on Thursday. If it holds together, the late pick five looks like a solid sequence as nearly every race drew double-digit betting interests.
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- Race 1: 5-2-7-1
- Race 2: 5-3-6-1
- Race 3: 8-6-5-7
- Race 4: 5-3-1-7
- Race 5: 7-4-5-3
- Race 6: 10-5-9-4
- Race 7: 1-5-11-7
- Race 8: 1-9-6-7
- Race 9: 12-4-13-2
Colonial Downs Race 3: Dustin the Diamond (#8)
While juvenile maiden claimers are not often my preferred races to bet, this race is extremely playable if the morning line holds up and Kingdom Force (#2) goes off favored. While he possesses an experience edge on this field, it’s not as if he’s shown much talent in either of his two starts finishing near the back of the pack in both of them. While his dam raced on turf, she wasn’t exactly spectacular over it so I’m not convinced the surface switch and stretchout in distance really works for this guy especially if he’s going to be a short price. In my opinion, Skellig Island (#6) should (and probably will) go favored. This guy has been doing his training up in Saratoga, but Maker likely realized he wasn’t quite talented enough to win up there, so he’s shipping him south to raid one of Colonial’s hefty purses for this level. This is a powerful ownership group, so they probably don’t care about losing him at the claim box and would gladly pick up the winners share of the purse. However, the rest of the betting public is likely to zero in on his merits, so I’ve tried to be a bit more creative with my top pick. It’s always tough to win first time out going long, but those who have run don’t look like anything special so I’ve landed on Dustin the Diamond (#8) to hopefully spring the upset at a decent number. While this barn has poor numbers with debut runners, overall Keith Desormeaux is a better trainer than the other conditioners in this spot absent Mike Maker. This guy has the turf, stamina, and precocious breeding to be successful being by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red and a half brother to Dyn O Mite who was stakes placed on the grass.
Colonial Downs Race 6: Willakia (#10)
I’m hoping the morning line for the 6th race is at least somewhat accurate and money gets spread out to a variety of contenders. That’s because I think the race includes a standout and at anything close to her morning line of 3-1, Willakia (#10) is a great bet. This filly has obviously had her share of issues that have prevented her from racing consistently, but when she’s been on the racetrack, she’s shown a ton of ability. While she doesn’t possess any semblance of early speed, she’s been able to produce eye-catching bursts around the turn in each of her last three starts. The fields she’s faced are light-years tougher than the one she faces this afternoon with the likes of G1W Marketsegmentation and stakes winners Personal Best and Regal Realm lining her past performances. With this filly’s breeding (by Tapit out of G2 winner Hillaby), Stonestreet could have easily retired her as a broodmare, but the fact they bring her back again makes me think there are bigger and better things for her on the horizon. While she’ll have to overcome an outside post and possibly a pace disadvantage, I trust Motion will have her ready to fire off the bench.
Colonial Downs Race 7: Bali Kuta (#1)
Two main contenders look like they will dominate the wagering in this starter allowance. Maybe Innana’s Quest (#5) will win right back after taking an open N1X last time out, but she was 7-1 that day and will be a fraction of that price this afternoon without possessing a significant speed figure edge on her rivals. Yankee Dollar (#11) has run the best grass numbers in this field, but I question if she’s quite at her peak form after losing at 4-5 last time out at Presque Isle which represented a distinct step back from her win over that track one race prior. My top pick Bali Kuta (#1) finished behind Yankee Dollar in her last start, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt as maybe the synthetic isn’t her preferred surface. She really took a step forward first off the claim for Keri Brion in her win two starts back when she was able to defeat Innana’s Quest albeit with a perfect trip. I see another good trip coming for her today as she drew the rail and think she’s going to be value at 2-3 times the price of the favorites. One longshot I would want to include in exotics is Lea Ro (#7). While her numbers don’t necessarily stack up with the principals of this race, her trainer Michael Campbell has had a penchant of bringing the right horses to Colonial over the years.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Beer Bali (#12)
While a total of fourteen horses are signed on to contest the nightcap, really only about half the field looks like it can contend for win honors. From that group there are a few exiting what I view as negative key races making them worth playing against. A few of these exit a July 13th race at this track, but they were so soundly defeated by Moonshining that I’m not so sure how strong a race that will end up being. Similarly, Girvinized demolished a field that contained a few of these runners in a June 30th race at Tampa. The wildcard in this race is undoubtedly Bright Moon (#13) who goes out for the high-percentage Brittany Russell barn. She hasn’t shown a lick of ability in her first three starts, but as a daughter of Malibu Moon maybe the switch to grass wakes her up. However, I want the runners coming up from Gulfstream Park and view the two of them as far and away the most likely winners. Though she’s not favored on the morning line, I believe Blue Twirlin (#4) is very likely to go off as the post-time favorite and deservedly so. She’s got plenty of early zip and goes out for Mark Casse who has been doing a good job of spotting his string here at Colonial in spots where they can win. She’ll have to prove she’s able to sprint on turf as her best efforts have come going long on that surface, but I expect the turnback to work for her. While she’s the horse to beat, I think the value will lie with playing Beer Bali (#12) on top. She may not have the flashy human connections, but the argument can be made that she ran better than Blue Twirlin in their common start last time. After she was getting a good trip stalking the pace, her jockey may have pushed the button a sixteenth too soon as she was run down late after breaking the race open. While she’s never run on grass, I don’t see an issue with the surface switch as she’s run fine on synthetic and is a half sister to turf stakes winner Susie Bee.
Top Pick: 54-13-12-7 (24%, $1.26); Featured Horses: 25-2-5-3 (8%, $0.52)