There are nine races on the second Saturday card of 2022, highlighted by the Pippin Stakes, which is the first local stop on the road to the Grade 1 Apple Blossom here on April 23rd. I have a single in that race that I really like today. The weather forecast is not great, with rain and storms in the area this afternoon. Unfortunately, there have been many Saturdays at this current meet with less than ideal weather. Hopefully, that pattern will change soon.
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||6,10||2,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,8||7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||13||5,13||6||9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Maiden three year old fillies start the day, running with a $40K-$35K claiming tag. Three fillies feel logical here to me, and I’ll make Burrow Down (#3) my lukewarm top choice. She has five career starts, and the three of them that have come on the main track are clearly her best. She was a solid second two starts back at Keeneland with $50K maiden claimers. She tried the Tapeta, while facing maiden allowance foes at Turfway and split the field after a bobble at the start. She gets Lasix for the first time and is back on her surface of choice. Bunnie Rae (#5) drops in for a tag after finishing last of four in a two turn maiden allowance at the Fair Grounds in her debut. Fannie and Freddie, who won that race, did come back to finish a close up second in the Untapable Stakes in her next start. Asmussen putting her in for a tag shows that he doesn’t think she belongs with maiden special weight fillies, but she looks like she’ll be more competitive at this level. Red Queen (#1) gets two turns for the first time after a pair of sprints. She definitely took a step forward last out from a speed figure perspective. She was well-beaten in a very fast race that day. She drops in for a tag for the first time and draws a solid post for her first route.
I think this race runs through V.I.P. Who (#10) who scratched out of an open $6,250 claimer here last week in favor of this open $10K claimer. He ships in from the mid-Atlantic region where he has been on a nice roll. He’s won four out of his last five races there, with his only defeat coming in a narrow photo finish at Monmouth. He’s been off since a score at Delaware in October, and he seems to fit very well with this group. Rain is in the forecast again this Saturday, and that could benefit Eagle Pass (#6) in his second start off the layoff. He was entered with restricted $30K claimers while sprinting last out. He has been running in a lot of one turn races of late, however, he has some very good two turn form in his running lines. He has four wins, a second, and a third, in seven tries on wet tracks, so the wetter the better for him. On deeper tickets, I’ll keep an eye on Arrival (#2). I’m not encouraged that he was claimed for $25K at Churchill back in September, and after only one start for Jason Barkley, he’s entered for a $10K tag. However, he was really thriving here last season, running strong races against significantly better opponents. He may wake up with the class drop and in his second try off the layoff. Pepper Pike (#7) is another one to consider covering here off the Asmussen claim. He’s beautifully bred, but he just hasn’t had the career Godolphin would have hoped for when they bred his dam to Ghostzapper. He’s been claimed in three of his last four starts, and may be rounding back into better form. Asmussen used to own him, and he re-claimed him for Clark Brewster for $10K last time out.
Kim Puhl and Tiago Pereira teamed up to win the opener yesterday, and I think they have a good shot with Quality Chrome (#7) in this $20K maiden claimer. He was a decent third at this level last month, when making his local debut. He’s never run a bad race on the main track, and he showed back in Ohio that he can close on an off track. Pereira has ridden very well with limited chances thus far at the meet. My Coralena (#5), by Exaggerator, is one that I would consider upgrading on a wet track. She was claimed at this level last out, finishing 4th behind Itsy Bitsy Betty (#11) and Quality Chrome. She ran well at 1 Mile and 1/16 in the slop when facing a tough group of maiden special weight fillies in the slop at Colonial this summer. She faded late, but still put forth a solid effort. Itsy Bitsy Betty was second in that common race last out, and she’s drawn well here. She was claimed by Asmussen off that effort and comes right back at the same level. She’s at 5-2 on the morning line, and I do wonder if the value will lie elsewhere here as there’s not much separating her and the other two above. Epicurean (#1) might be better suited for sprinting on the grass, so if this race doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up at Sam Houston in the near future. However, he has some main track sprints that would get him close here and now he’s running for Diodoro off the claim.
A field of ten $50K N2L claimers goes to post here in a race that looks like it could produce some prices. I’ll go to the outside gate with Khozan’s Success (#10) off the layoff for Scott Becker. He had a great record in 2021 with horses running off the layoff, winning 33% of the time with a positive ROI. The horse debuted here last season in a speedy and deep maiden special weight race contest where he split the field, finishing 5th of 9 that day. He ran two sharp races at Fairmount and Indiana Grand, before throwing in a bit of a clunker on the synthetic at Arlington. He’s in for a tag for the first time and he can definitely handle a wet track. Trainer Chelsey Moysey was based at Delaware this summer and fall before bringing her stable down here for the winter. She sends out Chief Ron (#8), who had three solid races in the mid-Atlantic region this fall. He broke his maiden comfortably in the slop at Delaware in September, and then ran solid races at two turns with allowance foes at Parx and Charles Town. He’ll make his first start at this meet for Moysey, who has had some early success, winning three of her first nine races thus far. Tuggle (#2) will likely vie for favoritism with Saffa’s Day (#5). Of the two, I think Tuggle is more likely to run the better race. He gets back to sprinting on traditional dirt after two bad starts in a two turn route on the dirt and a sprint on the Tapeta at Turfway. His previous five starts in dirt sprints were sharp, including a pair of photo finish losses here back in 2020 in allowance company. Saffa’s Day broke his maiden here at two turns last season, then faltered in the Southwest. He ran two sharp races in allowance company before going to the sidelines in April. He’s unraced since, and reemerges in claiming company off the layoff. I’d think if he was coming back as the same horse, he’d be running in a protected spot, as opposed to being up for sale. I’ll cover him on the deeper tickets, but I think there’s value playing against him here.
I’ll take a shot with Pasamonte Man (#6) in this $10K starter allowance at one mile. He’s been very consistent with lesser rivals, winning three of his last five at Remington. He moves up in class to a better circuit where he finds a field that isn’t the strongest for this condition. Santana taking the mound is a plus. I don’t think I’ll get the 20-1 on the morning line, but I think he’d be nice playable at half of that number. Home Run Trick (#8) makes his third start on the meet today, and looks to become the 4th two-time winner this season at Oakalwn. He was a winner here three weeks ago, winning at this level. He typically saves his best work for this course, winning five of his six career races here. He handled an off track in his last start, winning in gate to wire fashion, so bad weather shouldn’t bother him this afternoon. Heirloom Kitten (#7) was claimed for $8K out of an open race in his first career start over this track. He’s one of the few horses sired by KItten’s Joy that has found more success on the main track as opposed to the turf. He’s been running well enough to be competitive at this level of late, but was much better over the summer in New York. He is another horse that runs well on off tracks, winning twice and finishing second two more times in six chances.
The late pick-4 starts with an optional claiming/allowance for Arkansas bred fillies and mares at six furlongs. If Seriously Sassy (#13) can draw in, I think she’s dangerous from her outside post, while coming in from open company. She was claimed off of Karl Broberg this summer at Louisiana Downs by the Singh family. Since then, she’s won three of six starts, in varying levels of open company races in Louisiana. She has good speed from her outside draw and can handle an off track. I think with the unfamiliar connections and the decent current form, she could offer solid value at her 12-1 morning line figure or higher. Connie K (#5) is another one that is moving from open races to state bred races. She debuted with Arkansas bred in a maiden allowance race here in April, winning by six lengths. Her form was up and down in Kentucky, but her most recent race was a nice score with $50K starter allowance company at Churchill in November. Her most recent work over this course was strong, and she figures to have a class edge over many in this race. Heated Argument (#6) is the morning line choice and the runner up in last year’s Rainbow Stakes for Arkansas bred three year old fillies. She returned off an eight month layoff with a stronger field, and faded badly late after showing some early zip. She was very good in the slop in her debut when winning at 37-1, so I can give her another chance, however, 3-1 feels very light on her in this race, and I’d need to get a better price before using her on top. I can say the same thing about Dolly Dimple (#9) who is 9-2 on the morning line, making her first start since April for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. She was well backed, but struggled in the Rainbow Miss, which was her last start. I think she’ll take money because of her connections, and they do typically do well with horses off the layoff, but I’m not sure the value will be right with her either.
I think this $40K maiden claimer is the most wide open race of the day. I’m going to spread as deep as I can here in hopes of getting a price. The all button wouldn’t be a bad play, but it’ll be costly in a twelve horse field. I’m expecting improvement from Full On (#3) after breaking slow and finding himself last of twelve when debuting in maiden allowance company. Blinkers and Lasix are added while dropping in class for D. Wayne Lukas. Pure Rocket (#7) was claimed off Brad Cox by Genaro Garcia for $30K last out. He’s got the board in three straight, including a third in the mud most recently. He could be overlooked while leaving a high profile barn. He cost $460K, and while he’ll never likely be the horse they thought he could be, there’s still reason to believe he’s capable of improvement. La Flecha (#8) has continued to improve in each start and was finished in front of Pure Rocket last out. He moves up in class, but handled an off track well last time, and is another live runner here. On deeper tickets, I’ll add the two likely favorites, Aristocat (#1) and Lookingorexcitemen (#5). Aristocat goes two turns for the first time after a pair of sprints. I suspect he’ll be better at one turn, but he draws well and makes sense getting back to this level. Asmussen and Santana had a winner together here yesterday. Lookinforexcitemen improved in his second start for Chris Hartman last time out at this level. He faded late in his first try at two turns, but he should have a little more stamina this time around.
Race 8: The $150K Pippin Stakes
I really like Miss Bigly (#6) in the featured stakes race this afternoon. She’s hit the board in her last seven starts, winning three of them. She has consecutive third place finishes in graded stakes company, finishing behind Private Mission as As Time Goes By in the Grade 2 Zenyatta, and finishing behind Obligatory and Matera in the Grade 3 Chilukki. Her only start on this track was a win in the mud last season. She’s getting some class relief today, and looks like she’s better than her six rivals. I’d be glad to get her anywhere close to her 5-2 morning line figure. I’ll be singled to her on my multi-race tickets.
Morning line favorite, Carillo (#5), is a horse I’m playing again in this allowance race that closes the card. While I like the steady improvement, his deep closing style has not been playing well at this meet so far, and I believe he’s better suited at distances that are a little longer than a mile. Many in this field are exiting an allowance race at this condition on 12/11, including my top pick, Miacomet (#3). He was hustled hard from his outside post in that race, forcing a contested early pace. He faded to 5th, but he was fighting every step of the way. I think he’ll have an easier time making the front while getting significant post relief. He continues to improve and I expect him to run a strong race here. Running Ray (#1) was five lengths better than Carillo when they squared off at Churchill in October. He’s hit the board in five straight for Joe Sharp. He didn’t get a comfortable trip last out, but I think he can rebound here, on a track where he has had past success. Phantom Dance (#8) was a fast closing third in that same 12/11 allowance race. He was considerably farther off the pace than usual that day as the pace battle developed in front of him. He’s been very good at the one mile distance, winning three times and finishing second once in four tries. I think he’ll be closer to the front today and very dangerous in a wide open affair. On deeper tickets, I’ll include the Canadian shipper, Sun Daddy (#2). Historically, I’ve found that the McKinght horses that he brings to Florida and Arkansas from Canada over the winter, tend to need a start, especially when running on the dirt for the first time. However, his horses have run very well at this meet, and I like the pattern of improvement for this son of Frac Daddy. I also like the way Tiago Pereira is riding and I think he’ll go off at odds over 12-1. If he goes to post at 15-1, I’d definitely consider him for a win bet, and I think he’s an interesting value addition to the multi-race sequences.
Favorite Bet Today: Late Pick-4 ($30)
I’ll be singled to Miss Bigly (#6, R8) in the Pippin today, and with the races that surround the feature, I think the potential for some prices to score is there. I’ll use the $0.50 base wager for a main ticket and hope to hit with a few longshots in the other spots.
Race 6: 5,6,13
Race 7: 1,3,5,7,8
Race 8: 6
Race 9: 1,2,3,8