After a torrential downpour forced the cancellation of the final four races on Saturday afternoon, it also caused the movement of the Sunday card to Monday. Fortunately, the card remains intact, but there will be quite a few jockey changes that will be present due to the delay.
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- Race 1: 3-10-1-9
- Race 2: 9-2-10-1/1A
- Race 3: 5-6-3-1
- Race 4: 3-10-12-6
- Race 5: 3-11-10-1
- Race 6: 5-10-11-9
- Race 7: 12-11-4-6
- Race 8: 8-6-10-7
- Race 9: 2-7-11-12
- Race 10: 6-13-4-12
- Race 11: 1-10-11-3
Kentucky Downs Race 9: Beechnut Trophy (#2)
The horse to beat in the Dueling Grounds Oaks is certainly New Year’s Eve (#7) who goes out for top Kentucky Downs connections in Tyler Gaffalione and Brendan Walsh. She’s the most accomplished runner in the field having taken down the G2-Edgewood Stakes on Derby weekend earlier this year and running well behind With The Moonlight in a race without much pace last time out in the Saratoga Oaks. While she can win, I’m expecting her to be bet down off the 3-1 morning line and there are some other options in this competitive spot. Skims (GB) (#12) returns on short rest after racing just 11 days ago up at Saratoga where she was the beaten favorite in the Riskaverse Stakes. However, she didn’t get any chance to run through the lane that day and deserves another chance. However, it will be tough to navigate a trip from the outside post and I’m not sure the extended distance works in favor of this daughter of Frankel. I’m way against Turnerloose (#10) even though she owns an impressive win over this course last year. I was disappointed with her return at Ellis last time losing a blanket finish as a heavy favorite and note that Florent Geroux opts to stay in NY rather than come down for this big purse. If I was to take a horse with good Kentucky Downs juvenile form it would actually be the popular California Angel (#11) who figures to be a much bigger price and should get some pace to run at. However, my top pick is Beechnut Trophy (#2) who I believe each of her last three races are better than they look on paper. She had significant trouble at the start of her allowance win three-back before unleashing a furious rally down the inside to get up. In the Sanibel Island, she was shuffled back to nearly last around the far turn and still rallied well to just miss and last time in the Edgewood, the eventual winner got the jump on her while she was looking for running room in the lane. She returns off a bit of a freshening and this jockey/trainer have already paired up to win twice at this meet at nice prices.
Kentucky Downs Race 10: Double Clutch (#6)
Ready to Purrform (#12) is likely to go favored in the Dueling Grounds Derby off his facile win in the G2-Hall of Fame Stakes up at Saratoga last time out. That form was franked by the fact that runner-up Wit returned to take a stakes at Saratoga last week and he goes out for top connections in Brad Cox and Joel Rosario. However, he got away with moderate fractions alone on the front end last time going a sharp mile and the situation is different today as he’ll have to work out a trip from the outside in a bulky field. He can win, but I won’t be able to bet him at his expected price. I’ve narrowed in on three alternatives to hope to upset. The first two are both less likely to win, but will be solid prices. Kitodan (#4) notched a stakes win earlier this year at Churchill when winning at a huge price, however it’s his good 5th place finish against salty older horses that makes me think he can contend here. This may actually represent a drop in class and he seems like one that can gallop along at this extended distance. Another one who I think the distance will work for is Western River (#13). Although he’s mired in an outside post, he’s bred to go all day as a full brother to Belmont Stakes winner Creator. This colt even has his own 12 furlong win to his name albeit over dirt. That allowance win at Churchill produced a fast time and if he can translate that to the grass (a surface where he missed by a nose to the favorite in his 2yo season), he can be dangerous at a price. However, my top pick and who I believe to be the most likely winner is Double Clutch (#6). I think he can turn the tables on the favorite by getting out to a more galloping configuration and getting a more fairly run race in front of him. I thought his race in the Manila Stakes two back was lightyears better than what Ready to Purrform put forth and am hoping that’s more indicative of their talents moving forward.
Kentucky Downs Race 10: Hold My Crown (#1)
The finale on the card is a rich maiden special weight for juveniles and it features some debut runners from some potent barns. Brad Cox sends out Beyond Doubt (#3) who is a filly by Arrogate that’s a half-sister to GSW Prime Attraction as well as a Todd Pletcher trained runner that goes earlier on the card named Six Minus. It remains to be seen what Arrogate will be as a turf influence with his couple of crops, but this does tend to be more of a dirt pedigree. Chad Brown sends out Beat the Estimates (#11) for top client Klaravich Stables and while she’s kin to plenty of turf winners, none of them were exactly superstars. However, these connections must always be respected, and Tyler Gaffalione knows his way around this circuit. Play the Music (#10) went for $300k at the OBS Sales where they work over a Tapeta surface, and she worked an eye-catching 10 flat. That is likely the reason she sold for nearly 40x her sire Mo Town’s stud fee. It’s also noteworthy that Joel Rosario opts to ride this one. However, my top selection is a filly that has gained some experience before trying this stamina-testing seven furlong contest. Hold My Crown (#1) took money in her debut being bet down to 6-1, but ran like a filly that needed the racing experience. She broke fine, but was outsprinted in the 5.5f dash, but put forth a solid move around the turn and through the lane to get back into the mix. Her dam was a winner routing on turf and she’s sure to be a betable price doing out for relatively unknown trainer William Walden in a race with so many high profile barns.
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