Arkansas Derby week kicks off with an eight race Thursday afternoon card. This will be the last week of four day racing for the 2022-23 meet. There’s an interesting allowance race for three year olds at one mile featuring two horses that made some headlines as two year olds. Echo Again was a monster maiden winner at Saratoga back in August. Tyler’s Tribe put up some big time speed figures when dominating the two year old stakes scene at Prairie Meadows this summer and fall. They’ll square off against five other rivals going one mile in Race 7. First post is 12:35 (CT) with the featured 7th race going off at 3:50 (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|
|1||7||4,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||7||7||2||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|4||6||2,4,6||DBL, PK3, PK 5|
|5||9||5,9||2||DBL, PK3, PK4|
I’ll try Wesleyan (#7) on top in this conditioned $7,500 claiming sprint that will start the afternoon. He was claimed for $10K two starts back and moved up the class ladder to face a strong field of $20K N3L claimers last out, he showed a little early interest, but was unable to keep pace with a better group. He drops in class to face a suspect field here. I think his early speed from his outside draw should ensure a solid trip. News Box (#4) is the morning line favorite off the Karl Broberg claim. He’s an eight year old gelding whose last win came with open $6,250 claimers on this course over a year ago. This will be the cheapest tag he’s run for since.
State bred maiden claimers run with a $40K tag here. She Be Sheehan (#7) feels like a logical play in this spot. She makes her third career start for John Prather after facing tougher in her first two tries. She debuted with open $50K-$40K maiden claimers in February where she finished 6th. She went on to face state bred maiden special weight company in her last start, where she showed improvement by finishing 4th. Blinkers are added and she’ll stretch out to two turns for the first time today. Horses sired by Shaman Ghost typically struggle on debut, but they do tend to improve with added racing experience. She has enough speed to possibly clear this paceless bunch from her outside draw, and maybe take them all the way, Dr. Woods Miracle (#2) was second best when going this distance for the first time two weeks ago with $20K state bred maiden claimers. Getting Francisco Arrieta, who is winning 22% of his races at this meet, is a rider upgrade. Blinkers will go on for the first time for her second career route. Reaux Bina (#4) feels a bit vulnerable as the favorite in this race after burning money as the favorite in the same $20K maiden claiming race two starts back. Like Dr. Woods Miracle, she’ll also get a jockey upgrade as Cristian Torres takes over this horse who has lost a lot of ground in her last races. I’ll cover with her on some deeper tickets, because I do have a few doubts, however, there aren’t a ton of other viable options.
There’s three shorter priced runners that were each recently claimed for $30K, and are quickly relegated to this $10K maiden claimer, where Arkansas bred fillies and mares are eligible to run for a $15K tag. Honeycamp (#4) is not one of those runners, but she does make a lot of sense in this spot. She went to the lead in her last start against state bred $20K maiden claimers, and she was stubborn throughout the stretch, yielding the lead late and finishing third. She’s been improving and looks like a runner that could graduate with this group. Street Painter (#7) is one of the recent $30K claims that I will play, because at least she showed progress after the claim. She faced state bred maiden special weight company in her last start, so she is eligible for the $15K tag here. The drop in class deters my confidence a little bit, but improving horses in races like this are hard to come by.
Fillies and mares go 1 mile and 1/16 in this $10,000-$7,500 N2L claiming race. Elegance N Tonic (#6) is an interesting player in this race. She walked home in a similar spot last out, never really getting herself involved. Clearly something was amiss that afternoon, but she’s back off for a few weeks to get herself right. She’s been involved in some races where the early pace has been aggressive, and I’m not sure I see that scenario materializing today. She adds blinkers and should be more comfortable, while closer to the pace here. Ain’tnosweetie (#4) may be worth trying while stretching out for the first time today. She’s been dull in her last two starts in sprint races, however, she was sharper earlier in the winter. She’s quick enough to get loose on the lead if that’s what Cabrera wants to do. She could be the kind of horse that might start feeling brave if she’s left alone up front. Abby the Bull Dawg (#2) doesn’t have much early speed, but she could wind up being the best runner in this race. She struggled over a sloppy course last out, so I do think she’ll appreciate the dryer footing that she’s likely to encounter today. If the top two get aggressive up front, she certainly wouldn’t mind it.
$12,500 maiden claiming fillies and mares will go 1 mile and 1/16 here. This is another race where state bred horses can run for a larger tag, $20K in this race. While Sweet Truffles (#5) is definitely the horse to beat in this race, it’s hard to get too excited about an 0-11 maiden. She has distance experience and has many races that would likely put her in the Winner’s Circle if he can duplicate them. She was bad last time out, so she drops in class to try to get right here. I’ll use her on the A line because the alternatives aren’t great. However, I’ll try Haythere Jogeegirl (#9) to pull off the upset in her first start at two turns. She’s had trouble at the gate in all three starts, which is never a great thing. However, that trouble is more problematic in sprint races than it should be in longer races. I’m hoping that Torres can get her out of the gate cleanly for the first time today, while also racing with a tag for the first time. Altar Girl (#2) is the backup plan today. She definitely improved in her first race at two turns last time out. She was gradually gaining on the leaders, and ended up two lengths behind the winner when they crossed the wire in the short stretch of the mile race. I feel she could benefit from the added fitness and the longer stretch drive here.
The last Pick-3 of the afternoon begins with a $50K starter allowance for fillies and mares that are also eligible for $50K starter allowance company. Lady Commander (#2) was better than what she showed in her last try at this level. Prior to that she ran two strong races on this oval, breaking her maiden three starts ago, and running a quality 4th with a decent N1X allowance field two back. I think she’s capable of rebounding in this race, where I think she’ll be able to stalk the pace. The 5th place finish from Ghostly Girl (#3) last out looked a lot better once the winner of that race, Southlawn, went on to win the Fair Grounds Oaks in impressive fashion over the weekend. She broke her maiden with $50K maiden claimers two starts back in the only race in her career where she was entered with a tag. She is protected once again and should be a player at this level here.
Both Echo Again (#1) and Tyler’s Tribe (#6)are trying to hit the reset buttons on their respective careers. I think both speedsters are vulnerable here and stand the risk of canceling each other out. I don’t see Tyler’s Tribe having the same amount of success at two turns, so I’ll be leaving him off my tickets completely. Echo Again pulled up in the Lecomte and is trying to find the form that he showed on debut at Saratoga. While he might try to rate, I think the rail commits him to go for the lead. I think the pace could be hot and heavy, which could set the table for El Tomate (#5). He broke his maiden when going seven furlongs on debut at Remington. He tried stakes company in the Southwest Stakes where he had to deal with Arabian Knight. He closed well after taking a lot of mud in the face in a similar race last time out. I think he’ll be rolling late. B MInor (#3) is another runner that should appreciate a fast track today. His lion start on a fast dirt track was his maiden breaking score at Churchill back in September. He moved early in the same race that El Tomate is coming out of last out and he faded to 4th. He should be more fit in his second start off the layoff. Echo Again will be the favorite that I’ll back up with, because he is the class of this field that is capable of running a monster race on his best day.
We’ll wrap up the Thursday program with a state bred $16,000-$12,500 N2L claiming race. Allo Enry (#3) looks like the most viable favorite on the card for me this afternoon. He was transferred to the Diodoro barn while dropping in for a tag for the first time in a while. He broke his maiden with state bred maiden special weight types earlier in the meet. He was second in N1X company three back but has struggled to find his best against some strong fields in his last two starts. I get the drop in class for this homebred that has done very well for his breeder and owner, Jerry Caroom. He feels single-worthy in this spot. The lightly raced, Vying Edge (#8) will be where I’ll back up in this race. He won on debut two starts back, handily beating a $15K-$10K maiden claiming field. He tried facing state bred N2L allowance types where he was clearly overmatched. He seems like a much better fit at this level.
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