There are some storms and heavy showers in the forecast tomorrow and it seems that the question is not “if they’ll come” it’s “when they’ll come”. It’s definitely worth watching the hourly radar if you’re playing the multi-race exotics on this card. The featured race is the 8th where eight sprinters go six furlongs in an optional claiming/allowance race. First post for the Friday card is 12:35 (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||2||2,5||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||5||5,7||10||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||8||5,6,8||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
There’s a pair of short priced runners in this $30K-$25K maiden claimer that will start the day. Guided Arrow (#7) is more desirable to me than Alpha Whiskey (#3) in this spot. Guided Arrow has three career races on the main track, all of which have been solid. He just missed at this level in his last start back in January. Barkley gave him a little time to recover after claiming him from that spot. Alpha Whiskey on the other hand, returned with a big time performance when making his first start since September at the beginning of this month. That race seemingly came out of nowhere, so at short odds, I’m not totally convinced he can duplicate that kind of race. The favorites might be in a race of their own early on, as there isn’t much other speed signed on. Contrabandista (#1) is making his third start off the layoff and showed some improvement last out when facing a tougher group of $40K maiden claimers. Morse drops him in class to run against his stablemate. He may be the one gaining late if the two favorites engage in a duel up front.
It’s hard for me to get too excited for a Delta shipper as the favorite in this time restricted $8K claiming race. Luck of the Draw (#3) at 2-1 on the morning line is dropping in class after a pair off off the board finishes in his last two starts with allowance types there. He falls into the category of a few negative trainer angles. Richard is 0 for his last 16 starters going from a sprint to a route, with his last win coming back in November of 2021. However, I don’t think that is too much of a factor going from seven furlongs at Delta to one mile here, since the seven furlong distance there is a two turn race. He has run well enough on this course in the past to make sure that I’ll cover with him, but I’ll look to Space Odessey (#2) to get the job done for Diodoro and Torres. Diodoro re-claimed him for new owners last month after training him last spring. He was a decent second here with open $6,250 claimers two starts back, but he struggled badly when making his only start for Jason Barkley off the claim last time out. He’s worked three times since his last start and should be ready to rebound at this level today. Twitty City (#5) may be signaling a return to his better form that he showed over the summer and fall at Delaware Park. He closed well to be second last out despite breaking slowly. He did win a race on this oval at a similar class level on New Year’s Day. He went off form after being claimed out of that race, but he did look better two weeks ago. Trainer Elueterio Altamirano has a pair of wins at this meet and 25% of his starters have hit the board.
Assuming there isn’t a pronounced closer’s bias, the morning line favorite, Show Me Grace (#2) looks awfully tough in this spot. She was claimed off Asmussen by Diodoro after finishing 4th in her last start. She drew the rail that day and didn’t break well, which is never a good thing for a horse that wants to be on the lead. She hung in there, and came with a four wide move, but wasn’t good enough that day. She’s at her best when she’s controlling the tempo, and there really doesn’t appear to be a significant threat to her, other than the cheap speed of Emerald Princess (#5). I feel like this is her race to lose. My backup plan would be Chasing Shadows (#3) in the stall next door. She’s coming out of the same race, and she broke slow as well that day. She was claimed from that race and could improve with a smoother start.
$10K maiden claimers will dash 5 and ½ furlongs here. This is another race where the favorite looks very tough to beat. Dancin Rocket (#8) has faded late in his last three starts. He was beaten by a runaway winner last time out in the slop when posting a career best speed figure. Cutting back a bit in distance and getting a softer field makes him a serious threat to beat his eight rivals today. The second choice in the morning line, Mo Down (#1) is the most likely upsetter here. He debuted in a maiden special weight race at Delta last month. Chris Richard, who is 0-6 at this meet. He got tired late after being sent from the rail that evening. He’s back on the rail and in with a soft field.
$10,000-$7,500 N3L claimers will travel six furlongs in this race which is the last leg of the Early Pick-5 and the first leg of the Late Pick-5. Todd Fincher is in search of his first win at this meet, and I think he has a good shot with Tap Me a Text (#5), shipping in from Sunland Park. She was dull with N3L allowance company in her last start in January in New Mexico. I like that Fincher gave her a little extra time off that race and now brings her to a tougher circuit where she’s dropping in class. Fincher has great numbers over the past year with horses returning for this type of layoff, winning 31% of the time. There are storms in the forecast today, but the timing of them remains in question. If Forever Home (#7) can get a fast track, I’d include her on the A line. I’d drop her down to the B or C lines if the track comes up sloppy like it did last time. She was claimed back in November at this level and returned a little flat while racing for the same tag here last month. Look for her to be more fit this time around, but she’s definitely better on dry footing. Put a Bow On It (#10) is yet another live, short-priced runner for the potent Diodoro/Torres combination. I don’t like her as much as some of their other runners today, however, this is not a deep field and she is capable of running better than she did last time out.
The Late Pick-4 begins with a $35K starter allowance for horses that have also not won twice since November 24th. Four of these eight runners threw down here at this level two short weeks ago, with Devil’s Tower (#5) getting the best of that bunch. Many of those horses want to be forwardly placed, and the addition of Joe Frazier (#2) to this field off the layoff could definitely add to the early pace battle. I think the table will be set for Alexandros (#8) to get another win at this meet. His last four races on this oval have been very good. Kelly Duncan and Trisha Vance Duncan lost this gelding in a claim back in 2021 after running two very good races in starter allowance company here. They followed him to Del mar to claim him back that summer and he hasn’t been offered up for a tag since. While there’s been some gaps in his running lines, and some up and down form, he always seems to save his best efforts for this oval. If he can run back to his last race he’s going to be back in the Larry Snyder Winner’s Circle. Stage Left (#6) was last at this level two weeks ago when making his first start on this oval. While his last few tries haven’t been the greatest, his Aqueduct form from the end of last year was very good. At 12-1, I’ll take one more chance that he can get back to running those races. Devil’s Tower is another horse for course, winning six of ten times on this course. He’s won his last two tries, but remains eligible for this race since that win in February came with $30K claimers. He won three straight races here last season and his trainer, Chris Hartman, continues to have a monster meet. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with Dark Timber (#3). I worry that the pace is going to be too spicy for him, especially after fading in the final stages last time out. Santana likely had a choice between him and Alexandros and ended up on this one, which has to mean something. He’s definitely consistent, which is enough for me to at least make sure I’m backed up with him, even if I prefer some of the others.
The first of two allowance races on the card is a N1X contest for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Scott Becker brings Wildwood Bye (#6) in from Hawthorne after clearing this condition in her last start, back in December. She’s eligible to run at this level here because of the purse structure in Illinois. She’s never run a bad race in her five career starts and now she moves up to a tougher circuit for a trainer that wins a ton of races wherever he goes. Becker is five for 12 at this meet so far, and I think he has a chance to push that percentage even higher today. Pistol (#3) has been close in two starts at this level at this meet and now makes the third start of her current form cycle for Thomas Van Berg. She might be better at a little longer sprint races, but that’s not an option here. She’s trending in the right direction and should be a tough customer here. Chillaxification (#5) is an interesting longshot here. Dallas Stewart cuts her back to a sprint after three straight two turn tries. Her two sprint races at Remington Park last fall were her two best races. I think she is capable of moving forward off her dull effort in her first local try.
The feature today is an optional $40K claiming/conditioned allowance race for three year olds and upward. There’s a lot of speed signed on and if Atoka (#6) is right while coming off the layoff, he could be ripe to pull off the upset in this spot. He was very good on this course last season when closing well to be second after letting a hot pace develop in front of him. He went way off form in Kentucky last season, prior to going on the shelf for nine months. He’s worked well in the mornings for D, Wayne Lukas, so I’ll try to take a shot. I’m conflicted with both Jackman (#2) and Kavod (#5) here. Both want to be out on the front end early on. Kavod keeps running rig races, but keeps getting caught late. Jackman was second with $35K starter allowance runners last out, (see Race 6). He’s been so good for Broberg, I’m a bit surprised to see him entered for the tag here. I get that the purse is higher, but he’s still eligible for the $35K starter allowance race earlier in the day. I’ll use both on some deeper tickets, hoping that Atoka is sharp today.
We’ll wrap up the afternoon with a dozen statebred $40K maiden claimers going 1 mile and 1/16. Madmartigan (#7) drops in for a tag for the first time after showing improvement in his second time out. He was a solid 4th with statebred maiden allowance runners three weeks ago, finishing a respectable 4th. He drops in class and goes two turns after a pair of sprints to start his racing career. The barn has done well with a small sample of class dropping maidens lately. Empyreal Shadow (#11) doesn’t get the best draw in this race, but he is coming out of an effort with open maiden allowance runners, where he finished up the track. He finished in front of Madmartigan two starts ago, so there is some ability there. Storm Strategy (#4) isn’t the sexiest pick in this race, but he is solid, finishing in the money in his last two tries. He had an outside draw last time, but gets some significant post relief today. I’ll use this trio while trying to beat the Brad Cox favorite, Third Watch (#8). He looked like he was standing still once Chupapi Munyayo ran off the screen last time out. The drop is probably the right move, but I think he’ll be too short of a price for me in this spot.