The Friday card features a pair of stakes races, including a sprint race for two year old fillies and a Grade 3 contest for three year old fillies on turf. Wesley Ward and Joel Rosario come in red hot after a three win Thursday. Racing gets started at 1:00 (ET) and the Late Pick-5 sequence begins at 3:40 (ET).
Best Bet: Race 6: #2 Scarlet Stripe (5-2, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 8: #8 Bubble Rock (15-1 ML)
I’ll typically be covering the Late Pick-5 sequence from this exciting meet on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Wagering Menu|
|6||2||2||4||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|7||6||6||11||PK4, PK3, DBL|
On paper, the favorites feel like they have the advantage in this maiden special weight contest for fillies and mares. Between the two shorter prices, I do prefer Scarlet Stripe (#2) making her third career start this afternoon. She tired in the final furlong after setting the pace in her debut at Churchill in August. She came back in a six furlong race where she was narrowly beaten by Your So Sillea, who just came back to win in allowance company two weeks ago on this oval. Her dam, Divine Dawn, broke her maiden on this course and was second in the Grade 3 Beaumont here. I think she can graduate this afternoon. Brad Cox sends out the morning line favorite, Sunny River (#4) for Juddmonte. She crossed the wire first at Churchill back in June, but she was disqualified that day. She has since run second in three consecutive maiden allowance races, going off as the heavy favorite each time. I’m not sure that I love the cutback in distance for her today, wheeling back less than two weeks after her most recent runner up finish. She definitely looks better than the others here and is worth covering, but I believe that Scarlet Stripe is more likely to find herself in the Winner’s Circle.
Race 7: The $200K Myrtlewood Stakes:
Two year old fillies sprint six furlongs in this stakes contest, which also starts the Late Pick-4. Much like the first leg of this sequence, I see this race as a potential chalk fest. Key of Life (#6) at 8-5 on the morning line, feels like she’s going to be very tough to beat in this race. Her sire Mo Town, commands a modest $7,500 stud fee, but she caught the eyes of several at the OBS Sales in April of 2022. She sold for $350K and turned around two months later to debut at Churchill. She was very good when crushing a field of first level allowance foes at this course and distance opening day. She scored two easy victories in a row on her way into stakes company for the first time today. I think this is her race to lose. The main danger is the Iowa invader, Somebody’s Problem (#11) for Gregory Foley. Like Key of Life, she needed to get a race under her belt before running her best races. She cruises at first asking in August at Ellis, and then came right back three weeks later to win the Prairie Meadows Debutante. I’m not sure what she beat in that race, however, two of the runners that finished behind her, came back to win when facing softer rivals. She’ll likely have to take another step forward to beat the favorite, but if she does, she will indeed become, “somebody’s problem”.
Race 8: The $300K Grade 3 Rubicon Valley View Stakes
The featured race this Friday is a Grade 3 turf route for three year old fillies going 1 mile and 1/16. I’m going to try a longshot and use Bubble Rock (#8) on top here. She was a very good turf sprinter last year, winning the Grade 3 Matron at Belmont in the fall. She ran well enough to take a swing at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf race, which was her only career two turn turf try. She had a miserable, no chance kind of trip that afternoon. Since then, she’s run a pair of solid races at two turns, finishing second in the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes on Tapeta, and finishing 3rd in the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes before going to the sidelines. She returned in the Music City Stakes last month at Kentucky Downs, where she finished a disappointing 6th place. While I would have liked to have seen her run a little better at Kentucky Downs, I can forgive that dull effort as I see that race as too short for the race she wants to run. Even though Geroux heads back to Turnerloose (#11), instead of riding the top pick, I do believe Cox and Santana will be able to get the kind of trip they want with this filly. Dolce Zel (#5) is the logical morning line favorite for Chad Brown in this race. She was last seen finishing third behind her stablemate, Haughty, in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga back in August. She was victorious in the Grade 3 Lake George in her start before that. She’ll need to prove that she can run the same kind of race outside of Saratoga Springs that she has done in her last two tries. Her spring efforts in Tampa and Kentucky were all okay. Perhaps she has grown up since because her form has been much sharper. Majestic Glory (#6) made her North American debut for Team Pletcher last month over at Aqueduct when finishing 4th, beaten only two lengths in the Grade 3 Pebbles Stakes. She was a Group 3 winner at Newmarket last summer when she was racing overseas with Andrew Balding. She hasn’t been as productive this year, however, this would be a good spot to right the ship. I’ll use California Angel (#1) on some of the deeper tickets in this race. She was very good when finishing 4th at long odds in the QEII Challenge Cup at Keeneland. She clearly loves this course, also winning the Jessamine here last season. I don’t love the rail post and I don’t live the 7-2 morning figure, but I do see her as the one that could benefit the most from a pace meltdown, if that scenario presents itself today. It is worth noting that deeper closers have been faring better on this course since her last start.
The favorite, Powder River (#3) in this optional $80K claiming/N2X hasn’t won a race since the end of April 2021. She is very consistent, hitting the board in her last seven tries. I think others have more upside in this spot. The second choice in the wagering Moon Swag (#6) who is making her first start since last October today. Neither have figures that jump off the board, so I do see this race as being ripe for an upset. While I want to beat the favorites, there isn’t much jumping off the page elsewhere. 9-2 isn’t a huge number, but Microcap (#8) makes the most sense to me in this race. She rebounded after a disastrous outing in the Del Cap last, finishing second with similar at Churchill last month. She has been a winner on this oval in the past, clearing this condition here last year. She’ll be in for the $80K tag in a spot where I think she’s facing a softer field than what she’s seen at this level before. Princess of Cairo (#1) is the other one that I’ll be using in this race. She was entered as filler for the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster at the beginning of the meet. She never picked up her feet in that race, while facing the extremely talented Malathaat. Despite the small field that day, she pushed an aggressive pace from outside draw and was wide going into the first turn. That was ground loss she could ill-afford to lose in a race like that. She was stakes winner in the Emerald Distaff last summer and she ran well enough to be second in that race this year. She’s looking to find those top quality efforts on the side of the country. She fits with this group on her better days.
The day ends with a $140K conditional allowance that drew an overflow field of 16 runners, set to sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Wesley Ward and Joel Rosario caught fire yesterday, teaming up to win three times on the card. Ward is now within one win of Pletcher for the leading trainer at the meet and I like his chances with Outadore (#5) in the nightcap. I do feel that Ward has always felt that this talented gelding is at his best when going just a little longer than the 5 and ½ furlongs that he’s getting today. He hasn’t run this distance since winning his debut at Saratoga back in July of 2020. He started his career with four wins in his first six races, losing one on the dirt and finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on this course. After winning the Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine on Tapeta, he was away for over a year. He’s made three starts in 2022. He returned in stakes company at Presque Isle where he was second. He was off the board in an extremely contentious edition of the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine in August. Ward brought him back to the states for an allowance tilt at Kentucky Downs. He was closing well to get up for third that day, while facing another high quality group. He seemed to appreciate being back on the grass that day, and he’s starting to look like his old self again. He has more upside than most in this race and figures to be right there on the wire for a barn that knows how to win races like this at Keeneland. Totally Boss (#10) was a winner in a similar spot at Churchill three starts ago, back in May. He returned as the favorite in August at Ellis in stakes company where he was flying down the crown on the track, but came up just a bit short to get 4th in a wild finish. He was a bit flat in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs last out, as was the case with him last year. He returns to one of his favorite courses for the first time since finishing a close second in the Shakertown back in 2020. He’s never been off the board here and he figures to be in the mix again. On deeper tickets, I’ll use Mark of the Z (#6) is already a winner at this meet. He cleared the N3X condition on opening day at this distance. He’s a perfect 2-2 at Keeneland in his only two starts at 5 and ½ furlongs in his career. He is a very good turf sprinter, winning 6 of 13 starts and hitting the board 11 times overall. His form got muddied up a bit earlier this year, but there’s some dirt races sprinkled in. ET Baird has two mounts at this meet and he won with both of them. He’s back in the saddle in this contentious race today.
Pick-5, $48 Ticket:
I’ll play a caveman ticket here without a single, while also planning to back up with the All-A ticket a few times. I do think Scarlet Stripe (#2, R6) and Key of Life (#6, R7) are shorter priced horses that could be singled in tickets where you’re looking to pare down. That strategy could certainly offer more coverage than I have in the later races in the sequence, which do look to be contentious events.