Storms brought a decent amount of rain to Hot Springs, Arkansas over the last few days and with more rain in the forecast, a wet track can be expected for this Friday afternoon program. There are nine races on the card, highlighted by a N1X allowance contest that has been split into two divisions (Races 8 and 9). First post this afternoon 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||4||4,5||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,7,12||11||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||2||2||7,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
$10K maiden claimers get things started this afternoon. Arkansas breds entered in this race are entered with a $20K tag. Strickland (#6) was stuck in post 11 when running at this level last month. He was hopelessly wide on the first turn as a 27-1 outsider. He did show some late interest to get into 5th, beaten by a pair of talented runners that put up big figures for this condition. His race on a wet track three back was strong, and his last race hinted that he’s going to be better at two turns, assuming he gets a cleaner trip. Mr Works (#7) ran a strong second with state bred maiden claimers when going two turns in the slop for the first time. He’s the deserving morning line favorite off that effort, whereas most of the others in this race have been regularly beaten by double digit lengths.
State bred fillies sprint six furlongs in this $10K claiming race. I’m not particularly eager to take a short price on anyone in this race, so I’ll try Tiger Bait (#4) off the layoff for Coty Rosin. This mare is a definite upgrade on a wet track, boasting a significantly better Tomlinson number than the rest of this group. She’s been a winner on this course and fits nicely at this level. Proud Victoria (#5) runs for a higher tag, but is getting some class relief after running a solid 5th place with open $8K claimers last month. She was claimed two back for $6,250, when just missing with an open group at that level. She ran her biggest race on this oval at a similar level last spring. Tapit Right (#3) is dropping out of state bred N1X allowance company after coming up short in her last two starts at that level. She’s a fairly consistent runner that has been facing better horses on a regular basis. She was claimed for $5K back in August of 2021. Despite not winning in that span, she’s banked over $45K. I don’t love her as the favorite, but she’s worth covering in this spot.
This is a nice maiden special weight field where the shorter prices appear to have the edge. I think Lark’s Mischief (#6) is the quickest early and might be able to take them all the way this time. His last two races are better than they look, as he was under pressure every step of the way. He ran well in the slop two back and took a nice step forward last time. Runaway Jack (#5) has not broken well in his first two career starts, so I think Lark’s Mischief should have a reasonably easy lead this time. Bye Bye Ray (#1) was strong when sprinting two back, but he wanted no part of the two turns last time out. He definitely has a sprint oriented pedigree, so the cutback should be a favorable move. Runaway Jack ran absolutely huge last time out after a respectable debut at Hawthorne in December. He’s one that should be upgraded on a wet track, but he could be a bounce candidate off that last effort. His antics at the start aren’t ideal for a favorite either.
This is a lackluster $7,500 N2L claiming race. Both Beyblader (#2) and Hanks (#6) are heavy favorites on the morning line, and both are claim and drop type horse. Beyblader was claimed for $30K back in November by Eddie Kenneally. He started once on the synthetic at Turfway and didn’t run a step that day. He takes a serious drop in class, which is definitely a red flag. However, his dirt form stacks up very well with these and even if he isn’t the best version of himself, he still could beat this group. The same could be said about Hanks was claimed in January for $30K by leading trainer Robertino Diodoro. I don’t love that he’s in for this low of a tag in his first start back, but he’s been competitive enough to think that he’ll be better than most of these. Quality Run (#10) is the longshot that I’ll use as a saver. He was much better in 2021, prior to going on the shelf for a long time. His last few starts with better have been dull, but the drop in class could spark something for him.
A dozen Arkansas bred fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in the $12,500 claiming contest. This feels like a spread race to me. Dr. Woods Miracle (#6) debuted at the end of January in the mud here. She broke slow, but made up some ground to get up for 5th that day. She proved she can handle an off track, which is a likely scenario today. Aseel (#7) faded to 6th in that same race last time out. This is a softer group than she saw last time out and she’s more consistent than many of these. Wonderstrike (#12) draws the outside for her debut. Her works are okay and the barn is capable of winning at first asking. The outside post may work to her benefit here. On deeper tickets, Dixie Girl To (#11) never looked comfortable when racing along the rail last time out with state bred maiden special weight types. That was a much deeper field, plus she might improve breaking to the outside here.
This $12,500 starter allowance is restricted to horses that have run for a $12,500 tag or less in their last three starts. What a Country (#2) might be overlooked a bit in this race, despite being the second choice in the morning line. Fort Peck (#7) had his number last out when going 1 mile and 3/16. He ran well to be second that day, despite conceding a decent amount of ground on the first turn. Fort Peck isn’t nearly as effective on an off track, where this one moves up. I think the value tilts toward him in this spot. Fort Peck is still worth covering, because I do see him as the class of this field. Wartime Hero (#9) got the better of him two starts back when facing time restricted $10K claimers. Fort Peck was claimed out of that race, whereas Wartime Hero was a voided claim. Franciscio Arrieta opts to stay with Fort Peck. I think both are live runners in this race though, and I’ll make sure to be covered with both.
I really like Into Disco (#5) in this maiden special weight for fillies and mares going one mile. She ran well on the dirt in her debut at Colonial, and then sprinted on the turf in her next two starts in Maryland, running credible races each time. She was off for a few months and resurfaced here with Riley Mott in a race at this same condition. She was in some tight spots along the rail, but she looked like she had some run. She was caught behind Elusive Belle (#1) who stopped to a walk. She ran on well late after being forced to steady, but the race was over by the point, especially with the short stretch in these one mile races here. She’s the second foal to race from the mare, Disco Barbie. She was a stakes winner on dirt and synthetic in sprint races. She was a close second in stakes company at this one mile distance as well. I’m looking for her to be more fit in her second start at this distance, which should give her an advantage over some of the shorter prices here. The morning line favorite, Vow (#3) will be where I backup in this sequence. She debuted in 2021, and was off for a year after that. She returned with $75K maiden claimers two back and ran well enough to try maiden special weight company here in January. She should be able to handle the stretch out, but this is uncharted territory for her, which isn’t as appealing at short odds. She’s owned by MyRacehorse, who had a winner here last weekend with Chasing Time. Their horses tend to be overbet though, so the chance of her odds dropping under her 2-1 morning line price is high.
The featured N1X allowance race drew 21 entries, so the racing office split the race into two divisions, which will close out the Friday card. I think the 1/28 race, which was part of the Southwest Stakes card, on a sloppy course will be a key race for this contest. I like both Megan’s Honor (#5) and Magoo (#6), giving the slight edge to Megan’s Honor. He missed the break at this level in that 1/28 and found himself taking a lot of mud to the face along the rail in a full 12 horse field. His Illinois form was considerably better than his last race, and I;m confident that he can get back to those races for Scott Becker. Magoo likes to be forwardly placed, which may not be ideal with some of the stretch out sprinters in this race. He challenged for the lead from an outside draw last out and faded late in a strong field. This is a competitive group, but it lacks the depth of that last race. He gets a rider upgrade to Bejarano, which could certainly help his cause. Amongst Friends (#1) has closed well in his last few starts to finish in the money. With his rail post, he’ll need a trip and a little bit of luck to break through. Cristian Torres, who rides regularly for Robertino Diodoro, opts to ride him instead of Alvaaro (#2), who is the morning line favorite for that barn.
Outlier (#7) is an interesting horse in the second division of this N1X race. He’s trained by Norman Cash, who is a throwback trainer that loves racing his horses. He started 21 times in 2022, and he’s had three starts already in 2023. His form goes up and down, but he is a horse that tends to run better races on a wet track. He has two wins and has finished in the money in 60% of his starts on off tracks. Tonka Warrior (#8) is a four year old that may have bounced in his last start after a huge effort two back. He was second in the aforementioned 1/28 race at this condition. He broke from the 12 hole and was four wide all the way around the track, but still managed to be second that day. He didn’t have the same fire as the 8-5 choice last time out. I do think we’ll see the better version of himself today. Jedrek (#1) rides in on a two race win streak, and he moves up the class ladder to try for his third straight. He handled the slop three weeks ago in starter allowance company. It may be a different kind of trip though, but he’s one that feels like his price might be a little too light. Pat’s Property (#6) is another interesting longer priced runner, making his first start since June. He ran huge off the layoff here last season, pulling off a 45-1 shocker in starter allowance company. He ran some credible races at this level before going on the shelf. There’s other speed signed on for this race, but he was keyed up in his first race back last year, and with a wet track forecasted, that might not be the worst thing here.