There’s a ten race program highlighted by the $150K American Beauty Stakes older fillies and mares, sprinting six furlongs. Six runners will go postward there, which will be the 6th race of the afternoon. There’s also a few nice allowance races and a pair of interesting maiden special weight sprints on this card. First post is 12:30 (CT) with the featured race scheduled to go off at 2:55 (CT).
I’ll be covering 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||Exotics Menu|
|2||10||10||4,11||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||2||2,5||4||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||4||4,11||5,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The day starts off with a $10K maiden claiming race for fillies and mares. I’m not getting good vibes from Lunch Lady (#7) who is the morning line favorite. She’s unraced since being claimed for $30K at Churchill back in June. Even though she has been working out okay in the morning, I don’t love seeing her entered with a $16K tag in her first race for Moquett. This barn hasn’t been particularly sharp first off the claim lately either. Go Go Go (#10) is interesting to me in her third career start. She’s a full sister to the New York bred gelding, Jerry the Nipper. That one has five wins in twelve career starts, all coming on the NYRA circuit. The dam’s other foal was also a useful runner. She only sold for $28K at the Keeneland November Sale in 2022, which suggests that she likely isn’t as good as her brother. However, I am willing to forgive her last in the slop at Remington. She takes a solid drop in class and could be a candidate to move forward in her second race off the layoff. Martique Miss (#9) brings an 0-13 record into this race, however, it will be the lowest level she’s been in. She ran credible races here in the past, finishing in the money five of six times. It’s hard to swallow a short price on a mare that has burned so much money in the past and might not be in the best current form. However, this is not a strong field, so this race does have a now or never feel for her.
Arkansas breds sprint six furlongs in this $30K-$25K N2L claiming contest. If Peace Dog (#10) is the same horse he was last season, he’s going to be very tough to beat at this level.He makes his first start since May when he finished 7th in allowance company for Ernie Witt. His maiden victory came with state bred $30K maiden claimers, so this level feels right for him. Lou’s Arrow (#11) is a bit of an interesting longshot in this race. He’s 30-1 on the morning line after a rough race at this level last month. He was traveling well, despite being four wide into the turn. However, a longshot came up to his outside and made things very tight for him. He was forced to check and wasn’t traveling nearly as well after the incident. He was eased up in the late stages of that one when he finished last of twelve. He ran well enough to be competitive at this level two starts back when racing at Delta. With a better trip, I could see him hitting the board here. Lord M (#4) was clearly second best in that same race last time out. He’ll make his second start off the layoff today, so there’s reason to believe he could move forward a bit. However, he’s a five year old, so I’m not sure how much higher his ceiling is, and he’s not that much better than the rest of these to merit taking too short of a price.
Five of the nine runners in this $30K N2L claiming race were last seen squaring off in a $45K-$35K N2L race in the slop here last month. With the exception of Russiarussiarussia (#5), all of those runners were longer prices in that race. Candy Kick (#7) is the morning line favorite off a solid effort in that race. She was away slow but closed fast to be 4th. Perhaps she can build off that race, but I wonder if her career top figure was inflated a bit due to the wet track. At short odds, I’ll be trying to beat her. I’ve never been that high on Russiarussiarussia either. She was a turf horse in New York for Chad Brown that was sold privately after an off the board finish in October at Aqueduct. Her first start on the main track was okay, but it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in her ability to beat this group, especially at shorter odds. Of that duo, she’d be one that I’d back up with on deeper plays though. I’ll use Eli’s Girl (#1) on top here, getting the rider switch to David Cabrera. She had some traffic woes last out in the mud and found herself in a less than ideal position. She has run well when she’s closer to the front end, which is the kind of trip I envision for her today. Hal’s Dream (#9) also struggled in that same race last out. That was her first race on a muddy course and perhaps it simply wasn;t for her. Her effort two back at Churchill would put her right there with this group. She’s another one that’s getting a positive rider switch, with Francisco Arrieta hopping abroad for the first time.
This N2L allowance race for fillies and mares will be the second consecutive race where Ingrid Mason will be training the morning line favorite. Hypersport (#4) has not won since crushing a maiden field here on Opening Day in 2021. Even though she has faced tougher fields than this group, she seems to have forgotten how to win. I’ll cover with her because I do see this as one of the softer fields that she’s seen during this seven race losing streak. Adaline Julia (#1) faces winners for the first time after a strong performance in maiden allowance company at the end of December. Diodoro claimed her for $75K from her debut at Keeneland where she was a decent second. This barn continues to roll at this meet, picking up two more wins yesterday, pushing his win total to an even 20. I could see her moving forward once again in this spot. Dance It (#5) is trying to rebound after a dull effort at the Fair Grounds on New Year’s Day. She broke slow, rushed up toward the front, and then faded late. She makes her second start off the six month layoff, where I’m expecting her to be more fresh.
An overflow field of 14 is entered in this state bred $20K maiden claiming race at six furlongs. The two favorites seem to be considerably better than their rivals in this race. Impoverished (#3) debuted with a strong effort at this level on New Year’s Day. He led every step of the way until he was caught in the final strides. He gets a rider upgrade to Rafael Bejarano and should have a little more staying power after getting his first race out of the way. Atta Party (#4) has had several chances to break his maiden, but he continually comes up short. His local efforts have been better than his Oklahoma races, but I have concerns about how he finishes races. Seeing as how the top two do have the same running style, I would consider Black Apple (#5) on some deeper plays, as he passed some tiring foes late when finishing a distant seventh with state bred maiden special weight company last month. Lasix is added and blinkers go on for his second start for John Ortiz. He may be the most likely candidate to run them down late.
Race 6: The $150K American Beauty Stakes:
The feature today is a tricky six horse field where five of the six runners want to be a part of the early pace. The lone closer in the group, Lisette (#4) hasn’t really run a race fast enough to beat these. I see Hot and Sultry (#2) as the one to beat in this race. I picked her to beat Yuugiri in allowance company last out, under the assumption that Yuugiri was prepping for longer races and this Speightster filly is right at home at six furlongs. She was second all the way around though, beaten by that graded stakes winning filly in her return. She was excellent in her second career start on this oval last year, and I’m thinking that she’ll be better today than she was last out. Sarah Harper (#5) is the morning line favorite and the one she’ll have to beat. She was beaten by a Norm Casse horse, Pretty Birdie, in the Poinsettia Stakes here last month. She was a little farther off the early pace than she was used to that day. I’d think Bejarano will try to have her closer today. I think both ladies will dispose of the other horses and battle to the finish. I will cover with Lisette on the deepest tickets and use her underneath. If there is an aggressive pace battle up front, I’d like to see her bide her time at the back and make one run late. She was too close to a strong pace last out to have any real kick in the stretch.
R Doc (#4) has speed figures that stack up favorably with some of the shorter prices in this $20K N3L claiming race. He’s dropping out of starter allowance company here and open allowance company at Remington to face conditioned claimers. The last time he ran with a tag, he was a winner going one mile at Del Mar. While most of recent races have been at two turns, his last sprint race at Lone Star this summer was very sharp. He has upset potential in this race. Grapnel (#11) continues to improve, and takes up step up in class after finishing second with conditioned $10K claimers. For this sized field, there’s not a ton of early speed, so he should find himself in a favorable position early on. John Haran has won with two of his last nine horses that have come back first off the claim. Title Shot (#5) is another runner moving up the class ladder after defeating $10K N2L claimers at the beginning of the month. He closed well to win that race at this same six furlong distance. He has stronger races on his resume, so there’s reason to believe he has a forward move in him. Diodoro has the top two choices in the morning line, Red Label (#2) and Totalizer (#10). Even though Red Label is technically the favorite, it’s notable to see Cristian Torres aboard Totalizer. He seems to be riding the better horses for this barn, so even when it’s close, when you look at his record compared to Mojica’s (riding Red Label), Torres is consistently getting the upper hand. I’m not in love with either, but the way this barn has been going, I’ll make sure to cover with Totalizer.
I see this maiden special weight as a very difficult race to handicap. There’s several ways to go, so this would be a spread race for me. Both Bye Bye Ray (#2) and Ben’s Legacy (#7) have some similarities and I think both could be dangerous in this race. I made Bye Bye Ray the top pick for Todd Fincher. Fincher has been dominant in New Mexico, but the quality of the horses that have been rolling into his barn has gone up dramatically over the last few years. He debuted this Ransom the Moon colt at Remington, where he was a game second that evening. Cristian Torres retains the mount for his local debut where I think we’ll see improvement. The stud fee is $5K for Ransom the Moon, but this one sold for $375K in May of 2022, so he has clearly shown ability to be a runner. Ben’s Legacy debuted on the all two year old program on New Year’s Eve here. He drew the rail in another full field at this condition and broke slowly. The winner and runner up drew clear, but he closed nicely to get into third that afternoon. He cost $360K at the OBS Sale in March 2022, so he’s another horse that appears to be well-meant. I was on J J’s Joker (#11) in a maiden special weight race with older horses last week, however,he defected from that race and entered here with horses that are his own age. I do think this field might be deeper, but I think he’s still very live. He caught sloppy tracks in his first two tries and should get a fast surface today for the first time. Chris Hartman picked up another win yesterday, as everything coming from this barn seems live at the moment. The morning line favorite is Lark’s Mischief (#10) for Steve Asmussen. He faded late in the same race in the slop that J J’s Joker is coming out of. He paired his Beyers in his first two starts and should be eligible to move forward again. I don’t love the 8-5 (ML) for him, because I see this as a deep field with better value opportunities elsewhere. However, he is definitely one to cover with. Dats Mr. Mo (#4) is a first time starter here, listed at 15-1 on the morning line. That figure could go up, as not many locals know about Jonas Gibson. He’s winless thus far at this meet, however he won with 27% of his starters in 2022, mostly in Louisiana. The works at Louisiana Downs are solid and the dam is the producer of several useful horses that seem capable of running well on any surface. He sold for $60K, which is $90K less than the stud fee for Uncle Mo, which is a bit of a concern. However, I’d be willing to take a chance with him at those odds or higher.
A field of seven older runners are set to go 1 mile and 1/16 in this optional $100K claiming/conditioned allowance race. Decision Maker (#5) won all three starts on this oval last season, coming from off the pace to beat three strong starter allowance fields. He would go on to run strong races at Churchill, clearing the N2X allowance condition three back, which was the last time he caught a fast dirt track. He has struggled in his last two starts, one on the turf at Keeneland and the other coming in the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes on a very sloppy course at Churchill. Thomas Van Berg gave him a little extra time to regroup and now brings him back here. He may not get the best pace setup today, but I think he offers value and will be finishing well. Caddo River (#4) sure feels like he could be the lone speed in this race. He left Arkansas last spring in very good form, winning his last two races by open lengths, before dominating a stronger field at Churchill at a condition similar to this. He tired late in the Stephen Foster and then went to the sidelines for five months. He resurfaced at Remington in the J.A. Hawk Memorial Stakes where he was sent to post as the heavy favorite. He drew a wide post and didn’t have the speed to clear that day. He finished a dull 6th, never looking comfortable there. Perhaps he just didn’t care for the track there, which we know is not the case here. After his success last season, I’d think some of the stakes races later in the meet (perhaps the Razorback Stakes next month) would be on his radar with a strong effort here. Riley Mott takes over the training of Mystic Night (#6), who was purchased privately by Louis Cella. He was primarily based in New York when he was campaigned by Chad Brown. Physical ailments have likely limited his time on track, starting only 12 times in his career despite being a six year old gelding. He’s a good two turn horse though that has several quality starts on his resume. He’s another one that came up empty on a very sloppy course at Churchill in his last start. I’d look for a better effort from him today as well.
The day will end with another maiden special weight sprint, this one for three year old fillies. I really like Kid’s Last Laugh (#5) for Ken McPeek in this race. She ran very well, closing wide and fast in her debut at Churchill in November. McPeek tried her here on New Year’s Eve in a mile race where she faded late. I like that he brings her right back to a sprint race, where Ithink she she’ll get the right set up with both Into Love (#6) and Just an Angel (#10) having a lot of speed, along with a handful of first timers that could be forwardly placed as well. While this field feels deep, I’d be comfortable being singled to her in this spot. I’d back up with Pate (#1) on deeper tickets in this race. While I don’t love the rail for her, I do think she provided that she can run with this level on this circuit. She ran a pair of strong races at Remington before finishing within a length of Klassy Bridgette in the mud last out. That filly came back to dominate an allowance race here earlier this month. I like the rider switch to Bejarano, who I think can work out a trip for her.
Favorite Wager Today, Late Pick 5 ($60 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)
While it’s an aggressive single, I really like Kid’s Last Laugh (#5, R10) in the nightcap. I love the cutback in distance and I think this Practical Joke filly will get the perfect setup. I think the best chances of catching some prices might come in the 7th or 8th races, where I’ll spread four and five deep.
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 31/138 (22.5%), $225.20 $1.64 ROI