The nine race Sunday program is headlined by a N3L allowance race, which is the 8th of the afternoon. It will feature the return of Cogburn for Steve Asmussen, who was last seen finishing a close up second to Lightening Larry in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. First post for is the usual 12:30 (CT) time, with the feature race going off at 4:10 (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!
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|5||9||7,9||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
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There are three starter allowance races on this afternoon’s card, starting with this one restricted to horses that have started with a $16K tag or less in one of their last three starts. The seven entrants will be tested by going 1 mile and 3/16 in this race. I see Driven One (#1) and Fifty Cent Dollars (#6) carving out the fractions on the front end. Fifty Cent Dollars is definitely quicker, but Driven One has inside position. If Travis Wales pulls back with Driven One, Fifty Cent Dollars should have a loose rein and be very tough to beat. If he engages him early, I think Fort Peck (#3) will get the dream run. He was claimed by Scott Becker for $10K last month when running a wide second in a race where he drew the outside post. He faced some tougher fields than this not too long ago. He’s a year and half removed from finishing second to Life Is Good in the Grade 2 Kelso Stakes. He ran four times at the meet here last season, running two sharp races and two that were subpar. I think we’ll see the better version of him today. Fifty Cent Dollars is the other one that I’ll use from this race. He’s lightly raced and being asked to go further than he ever has before on raceday. If left alone, I can see him being very tough to catch.
This is not a particularly strong group of $12,500-$10,000 N2L claimers. The heavy favorite, Lantern’s Candy (#2) feels very tough in this race. There’s not a ton of early speed, so Cristian Torress should have plenty of options that will give her the best chance to win. While I don’t love that she was claimed for $30K two starts back, I don’t see many other viable options. Abby the Bull Dawg (#6) will be where I back up, thinking that we’ll see a better effort from her in her second local race. She drops in class and figures to get back to a dry track with no rain in the forecast this afternoon. Trainer Chelsey Moysey has had a rough start to this meet, but the horses she’s been running lately have been better spotted.
This is a $30K starter allowance race which is also eligible to horses that have never won three times. Ginsburned (#7) is probably the most consistent runner in the field, running three strong races in a row. He has two wins in three career starts on a fast dirt track, and he certainly looks very comfortable running on this oval. He should be forwardly placed and right in the thick of things at the end. Robertino Diodoro sends out a pair and while the California shipper, Black Storm (#3) is the shorter price and gets the services of leading rider, Cristian Torres, I prefer his other runner, Alvaaro (#8). He was last seen at Remington two months ago, just missing in N1X allowance company. Diodoro claimed him at Santa Anita back in October and has brought him back to the main track after running several races on turf in California. He cuts back to a sprint today, which is a good angle for this barn. He’s never finished off the board at this distance and Ricardo Santana getting the ride is another plus.
Fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this $50K N2L claiming contest. I have some concerns with the morning line favorite, Bali Dreamin (#6) here. Her dirt races stack up with this group, but her trainer struggles to have horses ready to fire their best off the bench. In addition, Tyler Baze, who is still looking for his second win of the meet, gets the call. To be completely fair, Baze is hitting the board with over 25% of his mounts at the meet, but only one of those 64 runners came in first. I’ll try to beat this one at a short price. Love of My Life (#1) is coming off a dull race on the synthetic at Turfway back in December. Prior to that, she ran three strong races in the fall in Kentucky, the last two of which came against sharper fields. She gets some class relief and appears to fit very nicely with this group. Two of the longer prices in this race that are a little interesting are Sammies Samurai (#4) and Massard (#7). Sammies Samurai could be the speed of the speed in this race. She runs with a tag for the first time, but has never won a race. She broke her maiden on a technicality, when sometime after September 8th, the horse that beat her on June 23rd, was disqualified from purse money at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Chel-C Bailey had a 9% winning percentage in 2022, but when she rode for Tom Swearingen, that number went up to 21%. When you draw a line through the two disastrous races at two turns in the mud, she has the look of an improving filly that could be competitive at large odds in this race. Massard is another one that went off form for a while. She looked promising when making her debut at Sam Houston last season, however, she hasn’t looked the same since when facing allowance foes. Her last effort on the turf was sharp in November and she’s had a little time off since. This is the first time she’s in for a tag, which is probably getting to the right level of competition.
Three year old maiden fillies run with a $30K tag in the race that starts the Late Pick-5 and wraps up the Early Pick-5. I’ve been trying to find some prices in the early sequence, and it’s been a struggle. I think the shorter prices have a clear edge in this spot as well. I’m siding with Ring Twice (#9) here, coming off a few months away. She has run three times at Churchill in restricted maiden special weight races ,limited to horses that sold for $45K or less at auction. Her effort two back was strong, but she struggled in her most recent try on 11/24. She drops in for a tag, which is some decent class relief, as those races can be quite competitive. Lasix goes on for the first time and Richard Eramia, who has been on the sidelines since the end of October, is slated to ride his first race of the year. Wreaking Havoc (#7) is the morning line favorite after a strong debut effort at this level last month. She was near the back of the field early, but made up a lot of ground while closing with some serious interest. There’s reason to believe she can move forward today. On deeper tickets, Nelly Larkin (#1) makes her first start since her debut in September when facing maiden special weight foes at Prairie Meadows. She’s a Jack MIlton filly that has attracted the services for Cristian Torres, who doesn’t ride a ton of races for trainer Kenny Smith, but they have a positive ROI for the few races that they have won together.
$10K maiden claiming fillies and mares will start the Late Pick-4. Rowdy Daisy (#3) feels like the filly with the most upside in this race. She clipped heels and fell in her debut at Oaklawn in December of 2021. She returned almost a year later and ran in a five horse race, where the heavy favorite, Doozy Bats (#11), was pulled up early. She led the way until the last furlong when she tired and finished 4th, beaten less than two lengths. She drops in class after being given a little time in between starts. While that $20K field was compact and not very good, this larger field is also fairly weak. I think if she can take a small step forward, she’ll be in the Winner’s Circle. Vegas Blue (#7) is a suspect dropper making her first start in almost 11 months for McLean Robertson. Robertson got his first win of the meet in the nightcap yesterday, so perhaps that momentum can keep going here. Her last two races with maiden special weight company in New Orleans were solid, so this is a heavy drop for this mare. Her works look a bit dull, but this barn is capable with runners off the bench. I’ll use her because the field is so weak, but taking too short of a price would be concerning. Quality Chrome (#8) is a professional maiden, losing her first 12 career starts. She has hit the board in ⅔ of those races, finishing third seven times. Her last race, which was her first in six months, didn’t go well, but she was away slow that day. If she can get back to her 2022 form, she’ll likely be close.
The third starter allowance race of the afternoon is the second division of the $30K starter allowance in Race 3. I’m on Lake Radio (#3) in here, making his second start off the layoff. I like his progression of races from Prairie Meadows over the summer and fall. He faced a strong field of $30K-$25K claimers in his local debut and was rolling late after breaking at the back of the pack. He typically likes to be closer to the front end, so I thought the fact that he still showed interest while racing from last for the first time in his career showed some versatility, which is always a plus to me. Dark Timber (#1) races for Norm Casse after clearing the N2L condition with $30K-$25K claimers. It feels like every horse that Casse has brought here during this meet has been live. He won with a $32 horse on Friday and had another winner on Saturday. He has won eight of 16 starters so far this season. His last race was a career top, so he’ll need to prove he can do that again. I don’t love the price, but I’ll honor anything from this barn right now. Totalizer (#7) was consistently in good form for the majority of 2022. He went off form late in the year, when facing some tougher foes. He dropped in for a $20K tag with N3L company last month and surged late to get the job done, getting back to running races that he did earlier in the year. He was claimed from that race, but I like that Villafranco is trying to strike while the iron is hot.
The featured N3L allowance this afternoon appears to be a good spot for Steve Asmussen to bring back two of his better Not This Time colts for their respective four year old debuts. Cogburn (#1) is the one to beat in this race. I’m sure this barn has hopes that he can replicate the success that Asmussen has had with sprinters over the last several years. We last saw him at Pimlico on Preakness Day, when he lost a thrilling stretch battle with Lightening Larry in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes. He was caught late in the Bachelor Stakes at the end of April here as well. The last time he was in allowance company, he was a handy four length winner where he cleared the N1X condition. He has fired well off the bench and he looks like he just might be too fast for this group, especially at this six furlong distance. If someone can run him down, I think his stablemate, Chasing Time (#6) is the most likely suspect. He was closing well in the Chick Lang, when his stablemate beat him by 2+ lengths. He was second at this condition in the slop at Ellis two starts ago and was 4th after a wide trip in the Ellis Park Derby, which was when we last saw him on track. He’s never won at this distance, leading me to think that he might be better with a shade more distance. However, this seems like a good starting point for his four year old season as well.
We’ll wrap up the week with a state bred optional $30K/N2X allowance sprint. Many of the contenders are coming out of a race against the talented Arkansas bred sprinter, Gar Hole. That one recently came back to run six lengths behind Gunite, who might be the best sprinter in training at the moment. Both Navy Seal (#4) and One Ten Stadium (#7)ran huge races to both finish about four lengths behind that one. Both runners hit their career top speed figure, so I am left to wonder how much that race took out of this duo. I’ll be covering with both of them, but I’ll look to another horse from that race that might offer better value. Big Success (#11) starts off at 10-1 on the morning line, and he was only three lengths behind this duo on that day. He had some traffic troubles in that race, which I wouldn’t classify as major, but they didn’t help his cause either on a day where he was outclassed by two of the best Arky breds in training. I like the outside post for him, which should ensure that he isn’t stuck between rivals this time. He’ll need a solid pace to set him late, but I like what I’ve seen from him in his first two starts off the layoff. There isn’t a ton of early pace, so I’m wondering if Bettys Cash (#2) might be able to get brave on the front end. He’s a four year old that is still eligible for the N1X allowance condition. That may be worth keeping an eye out for next time. However, he is quick from the gate and I don’t think there are too many that will be challenging for that early spot. Toss his first start of the year in the slop and we’ll see how much he’s grown up from his three year old season.
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 43/204 (21.1%), $324.20 $1.59 ROI