Racing returns to Kentucky Downs on Thursday as we surge past the halfway point in the seven-day turf festival. Ten races including a half million dollar stakes for juveniles are on tap.
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- Race 1: 6-1-5-10
- Race 2: 7-4-5-1
- Race 3: 6-8-7-4
- Race 4: 5-10-4-1
- Race 5: 7-3-10-14
- Race 6: 9-10-2-7
- Race 7: 5-6-7-11
- Race 8: 7-5-2-11
- Race 9: 2-8-4-1
- Race 10: 12-5-10-1
Kentucky Downs Race 3: Panama (GB) (#6)
The horse to beat in this rare N1X for two-year-olds is undoubtedly Stud Lovin (#8) who checks almost all the boxes you want to see in a favorite. He hails from the leading barn in Mike Maker, attracts Irad Ortiz Jr for today’s task and won his debut impressively earning a fast figure in the process. However, that debut came on the dirt at Ellis and now he needs to stretch his speed an extra furlong and do so over a new surface. While Nyquist has proven to be a serviceable turf influence, the bottom side of his pedigree is all dirt, so I don’t want to take a short price hoping he repeats his debut. Many will default to likely second choice Smoke Lightning (#7) who gets a rider upgrade to Tyler Gaffalione, but he’ll be less than a tenth of the price he was finishing second in a stakes at Woodbine last time and that race didn’t exactly come up fast. To beat this favorite, I think we need a bit of an outsider, so I landed on Panama (GB) (#6). He defeated twelve rivals in his maiden score at Windsor back in May and shapes as the one who’ll appreciate the stamina-testing 6.5f despite being by sprint sire Havana Grey. This barn hasn’t had too much experience with foreign shippers, but did campaign two of them to graded stakes success in Gift List and La Signare.
Kentucky Downs Race 6: Buttons (#9)
It’s an odd condition for this restricted allowance event for juveniles as the entrants needed to have been offered at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale to be eligible for this event. Note that the morning line favorite Grand Oak (Ire) (#8) will scratch out of this event as she ran on Tuesday at Colonial. That leaves Scarpia (#2) as the horse to beat and a formidable one at that. She dueled through fast fractions in her debut at Saratoga with her rival pacesetter finishing dead last at 3-5. Ward is an unbelievable 5/11 (45%, $3.91 ROI) with 2YO taking Blinkers Off @ Kentucky Downs, but I always have trouble backing Union Rags progeny over turf with this course in particular one they seem to struggle over. The alternative I landed on is Buttons (#9) who goes out off a trainer change to the Joe Sharp barn. I was impressed with her debut where she ran down a loose pacesetter and today’s rival Happy Gal (#7) and did so while leveling off past the wire like the extra furlong will be to her advantage. I like the rider switch to Irad Ortiz Jr as she looks to make good on the lofty purchase price of $270k she went for in the recent horses of racing age sale. I also want to use Up To Something (#10) on my tickets. Although she broke her debut on the dirt, she did it in nice fashion rallying from well off the pace in the slop. Also, there’s plenty of pedigree for grass as Into Mischief is a prolific turf sire and the dam’s top progeny is Eamonn who has banked nearly 200k on that surface.
Kentucky Downs Race 7: Boltoro (#5)
Like many of the two-year-old maiden events at Kentucky Downs, this race looks wide open with contenders coming from all corners of the country. There are some first-time starters worth mentioning like Wet Paint (#11) who goes out for Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, and Godolphin. The dam won her debut and was G3P as a juvenile, so she’s bred for turf there’s some precocity in the pedigree. However, the firster I like the most is Tiger Tap (#6) for Brendan Walsh. Her dam won a Grade 3 on turf and her lone sib to race just broke her maiden impressively at Monmouth going long on the grass for Chad Brown. Of the ones with experience, I think a lot of the public will gravitate towards Stay Lost (#7) and bet her down off the 8-1 morning line. She ran decent enough in a productive maiden race at Saratoga in her debut and Joel Rosario picks up the mount for Joseph O’Brien. However, I landed on a runner with a different type of experience in her first start in Boltoro (#5). She debuted on dirt at Churchill and broke a step slow before just going through the motions en route to an off-the-board finish despite taking a ton of money to be bet down to 7-2 in a 12-horse field. I’m willing to forgive the inauspicious debut because I think this is a grass horse. Bolt d’Oro is off to a fast start in his young stud career and that includes a record of 11: 3-1-1 with his turf routers with a G3W in Boppy O. She’s the first foal from a Scat Daddy mare that won over turf, but what I like best was her 10.1 breeze at the OBS Sale in April where she had turfy action and did it well within herself.