Day 2 of the Kentucky Downs meet features another 11 race card with three stakes that have combined purses of $2 million dollars. The two-year-olds take the stage each competing for $500k with the in the Aristocrat Juvenile FIllies Stakes that goes as Race 9 and the boys in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile to close out the card. The Labor Day feature is the G3-WinStar Mint Million Stakes for older horses going a mile on the undulating turf course.
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- Race 1: 4-7-2-8
- Race 2: 7-6-8-2
- Race 3: 9-10-6-12
- Race 4: 10-6-3-4
- Race 5: 1-10-4-11
- Race 6: 6-5-7-8
- Race 7: 11-10-12-6
- Race 8: 2-6-5-4
- Race 9: 2-6-7-10
- Race 10: 6-4-9-11
- Race 11: 4-9-6-3
Kentucky Downs Race 2: Stride (#7)
A rare two-year-old allowance race gets carded as race 2 at Kentucky Downs on Monday and a competitive field of 8 is lined up. The favorite is formidable in Heaven Street (#6) coming off a stakes placing at Woodbine last time out after setting a fast pace. His maiden score going two turns at Indiana was an impressive effort, but with four starts already under his belt I feel as if others in this field may have more upside so I’d be wary of taking too short a price on a runner like him. Stolen Base (#8) is the logical alternative for a top turf trainer in Mike Maker, but he’ll be bet off dirt figures and human connections so I decided to go in a different direction. Stride (#7) will be my top pick coming off a workmanlike maiden score in an off-the-turf race at Colonial. While there was nothing special about that figure, I do think that race provided some stamina to set him up for this one mile test over a turf course that can be grueling. He was intended for turf all along for Arnaud Delacour and could take a step forward second time out and win at a price.
Kentucky Downs Race 9: Turnerloose (#2)
Brad Cox holds all the cards in the first of the two juvenile stakes and could very well run one-two in this spot. Yin Yang (#6) went wire-to-wire at Ellis last time and showed some determination to hold off a more experienced rival in the lane. However, he set a slow pace that day and might not be anywhere near the front early in this race. He also might get a bit over-bet with folks thinking Joel Rosario can keep up that torrid pace at this meet after his big day yesterday. I prefer Brad Cox’s other runner in Turnerloose (#2). Nyquist is off to a hot start as a young sire and I think this runner can take that step forward second-time out in a move that a lot of her rivals have already exhausted. That includes Stepper (#7) who was very impressive in her last start at Ellis and sports a fantastic Claiborne Farm pedigree, but I think her most recent performance simply flatters the form of the top pick that much more due to how easily Turnerloose repelled her in the stretch in their common race.
Kentucky Downs Race 10: Pixelate (#6)
The race formerly known as the Tourist Mile features a bolstered purse this year and a name change to the WinStar Mint Million Stakes. However, despite the facelift there are quite a few familiar names that show up in this spot. The first is the race’s defending champion Flavius (#11) for the potent Chad Brown operation. It’s a feather in his cap that he’s proven over this course, but I think he’ll be too short a price to back on the win end coming off that perfect trip score in the Lure last time out. Flavien Prat was aboard that day and got him right to the front and set a moderate pace en route to victory, but now Flavius shows up with what can only be noted as a negative rider change and pace dynamics that will be less favorable. That is in part due to the presence of his main rival Somelikeithotbrown (#9) who is known for wheeling and dealing on the front end and it appears he’ll be able to do just that in here. I’m worried about taking a small number on a horse that hasn’t shown an affinity for the Kentucky Downs configuration, but to me he certainly is the horse to beat. I prefer a pair of runners coming out of a good rendition of the Buckland Stakes at Colonial Downs last time out. Kentucky Ghost (#4) got bet down to 5-2 and ran well to just miss in this try. He actually had trouble entering the clubhouse turn and got shuffled back to nearly last entering the stretch, neither of which are noted in the short comment line. He’s been improving with each start this year and has proven form over this course at a distance probably too far for him from last year, but I’m put off by just how poorly the Vikki Oliver barn performed on opening day. My top pick is Pixelate (#6) who was the beaten favorite in the aforementioned Colonial stakes race, but I think he ran better than it suggests. He made a wide and early bid around the far turn in a race where it turned out the last move was the best move and he got sawed off in the stretch by the tiring frontrunner. He’s a runner that’s hinted at this kind of ability throughout his career and I love the rider switch to Joel Rosario who took down five races on opening day.
Kentucky Downs Race 11: Play Action Pass (#4)
The closing race on Monday is no traditional “get-out” race as it is a rich stakes for two-year-old juveniles going a mile on the turf. Mike Maker holds a strong hand with Kiss the Sky (#3) and Fan the Fire (#6) with the former being the morning line favorite. He ran well to score in a Saratoga maiden race but I actually prefer the trainer’s other entrant. Although he’s still a maiden, I think he can take a step forward getting to the grass as the dam earned her fastest speed figure over the lawn and Hard Spun has proven to be as versatile a sire as they come. The other major player is Tiz the Bomb (#9) who scratched out of an easier spot at Colonial last week to run here. He was jaw-dropping in his maiden score at Ellis and while that effort came over the dirt, his dam was a good turf runner for Richard Mandella out west. However, I decided to get a bit more creative with my top pick and that’s Play Action Pass (#4). With big names like Maker, McPeek, Asmussen, and Casse entered in this race, I think this colt for Robert Medina might get lost in the shuffle. He ran really well last time to take down a salty maiden event at Ellis Park where the third and fourth place finishers both came back to win at Kentucky Downs on opening day. This highlights just how well the Ellis form has translated to Kentucky Downs so far. His pedigree makes him a half sibling to a G2 winner on turf in Laura’s Light and I like that he’s shown the propensity to pass horse in a race that should feature a fast pace.