Arkansas bred sprinters take the spotlight this weekend with a pair of six furlong stakes races. The Downthedustyroad Stakes is the 6th Race and it’s restricted to fillies and mares. Colts and geldings go in the Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes in Race 9, where the highly talented Gar Hole is in search of his 4th straight win at this meet. He looks to stake his claim as the best Arkansas bred sprinter in training.
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||3||3,6||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||8||8||4,5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||6||5,6,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The Saturday card kicks off with an optional $15K claiming/$10K starter allowance going six furlongs. I’m not feeling the morning line favorite, News Box (#6) in this race. He’s moving up in class after setting a career top speed figure when facing $6,250 claimers. He was over 20-1 in his previous two tries with $10K starter allowance company, so I’m not rushing to the windows to bet him back. Archiemyboy (#5) ran a better race last out when dropping to open $20K claimers while posted wide in a full field. He was 8th that day but, but only beaten four lengths. The third place finisher of that race, Tappin Fora Dance, came back with a big effort in his next start to easily beat an $8K starter allowance field. He’s done most of his best work in Illinois, but I think if the apprentice, Albert Lopez, can put him in the race a little sooner, he’s got a good shot with these. Petit Verdot (#3) was posted wide in a starter allowance race that was on the same day as Archiemyboy’s last race. He’s best when he’s interested early, and he couldn’t go with the pacesetters early on that day. He also came with a four wide sweep on a day where coming over the top wasn’t playing well for many horses. That field was stronger than this group today, and he’s in his second start off a brief layoff. He’s another one that would benefit from a ride that is a little more aggressive than what he got in his last start. D’Yank (#8) is another Illinois based horse that is looking to hit the jackpot down South. He was claimed for $8,500 with in open claiming company at Hawthorne in his last start at the end of December. He’s been away since, which isn’t ideal, however, if he can run back to that effort, he’s going to be right there with this group.
$20K starter allowance runners sprint six furlongs in the back end of the early double. I’m not in love with this morning line favorite, Mr. Thunderstruck (#1), in this race either. He ran a huge race off the layoff with $50K starter allowance foes last out, nearly blowing up the toteboard at 77-1. He has shown considerable improvement in his last three starts, and for that, I will cover him on some deeper plays. However, after that big effort, he’s certainly a bounce candidate. Incorruptible (#3) resurfaced in a $10K N2L claiming race in January, after over two years away from the races. He was a clear second behind a runaway winner that day and was claimed by Paul Holthus. He moved him up in class to a contentious $101K money allowance. He had a tough trip that day when breaking from the rail. He wasn’t as fast as some of his rivals in the early stages, and wound up in traffic, buried along with rail. He had to hit the brakes at two separate points in that race. Apprentice rider, Rene Diaz, makes his local debut aboard this gelded son of Tapiture, who fits better at this level. Shacks Way (#6) is worth another look after bouncing last time after a big performance two starts back. He was claimed for $20K that afternoon and moves to a protected starter allowance company. He has the best early foot in the race and could clear with a sharp break and an aggressive ride from Kylee Jordan.
The third consecutive starter allowance race is essentially a N1X allowance race restricted to horses that have started at least one time for a $50K claiming tag or less. This is yet another race where I’m trying to beat the morning line favorite. Name Rejected (#9) ran a monster race two weeks ago, easily beating a $50K-$45K N2L claiming field. He was claimed out of that race and wheels back quickly for Frederico Villafranco. He bounced hard after setting his previous career top speed figure, and I’m worried that he’ll face the same fate again. This race looks like it sets up beautifully for Breaking News (#6), who was second best behind Name Rejected last time out. With Cold as Hell (#1) drawing the rail and Salado (#8) on the outside, the early pace battle should be strong. I’d consider singling him, but he is only 1-19 in his career, so I do worry about his lack of winning instincts. However, I think he’ll get the right trip if he’s good enough. Beer Chaser (#4) was steadily improving this fall, breaking his maiden at Prairie Meadows and then running a strong second with $50K N2L claimers at Keeneland. He struggled in some bad weather in his local debut, but he ran much better when beating $30K-$25K N2L claimers last month. Latin Casino, who finished behind him, came back to win in his next start. Ribbons and Medals (#7) has been knocking on the door at this level. He struggled while going wide last out, but still ran on well enough to get within 3 and ½ lengths of the winner. He’s another one that could benefit from a hot early pace.
Eagle Pass (#6) is a candidate to rebound after breaking slow last out against a better field for time restricted claimers. He made a strong middle move before flattening out and finishing midpack. He drops a level from $10K to time restricted $8K claimers today. I think he’ll improve in his second time out for Scott Becker, assuming that he’ll have a better break. King Ford (#7) is an interesting longshot that is 20-1 on the morning line in this wide open contest. He can fly under the radar in this spot after losing by double digit lengths in his last three starts against considerably better fields. His last race was awful, but he’s been able to bounce back off poor efforts in the past. He was much more beneficial when facing lower level claimers in the past at Remington and Louisiana Downs.
This is a nice $10K starter allowance where two of the leading riders at the meet could be set for a showdown. Win With Pride (#6) was very good off the claim when making his first start after relocating from New York. He closed well to defeat $16K claimers while entered with the waiver. Broberg opts to run this 13 time winner back in a protected spot. He’s won 33% of his career races on dirt and 35% of his races at this distance. I think he handles the rise in class. One For Richie (#7) is the morning line favorite and the one to beat after running a strong second against a better $16K starter allowance group last time out. He always seems to run his best races on this oval and he’s facing a slightly lesser bunch here. Seau (#8) narrowly missed at this level twice in his first two starts at Oaklawn. He gave a very nice young horse, Wobberjod, all he could handle in his last start, coming within a neck of pulling a considerable upset. This field might be deeper, but this eight year old gelding sure seems to like racing here.
Race 6: The $150K Downthedustyroad Stakes:
This is the first of two sprint races for Arkansas breds, this one carded for fillies and mares. Kaboom Baby (#8) is a solid play, dropping in class while competing fiercely in some solid open allowance heats. She may not get the best pace setup in here, however, she has more tactical speed than she’s shown in her last two starts and her outside draw should help her secure a decent early position. She’s been facing better horses than the other seven in here and has never finished off the board in her seven career. I think this nice four year old filly will get the job done here. Hillary G (#5) is another one that is coming out of an open allowance effort. She ships back here from Sam Houston after making her first start off a long layoff. She beat my top pick in the Rainbow Miss Stakes on this oval when facing fellow three year old fillies last season, however, I’m not sure she’s as far along in her development as my top choice. If this odds disparity widens, I’d be more inclined to take a bigger chance with her. Connie K (#4) is the morning line favorite after a strong win with state bred optional claiming allowance types. She is definitely a gate to wire threat, but her last was a career top, and at short odds, I’m worried that she’s a bounce candidate.
$50K maiden claimers sprint six furlongs in the race that kicks off the late Pick-4. I liked the effort on debut from Uncaptured Dream (#6) last month when he made a strong four wide bid, only to be repelled by the more seasoned Beeasy. He had a solid three furlong drill on Tuesday and looks ready to go for Scott Becker, who was hit with 28% of his second time starters since the start of 2021. Randy Morse also has a very good track record with second time starters, and the value is there (on the morning line at least) with Contrabandista (#5). He met an eight length runaway winner in his debut last month at this level. He was beaten by a Southern California shipper who was absolutely loaded off the layoff. He came wide after taking a little time to get going, and he got up for third, despite being double digit lengths behind the winner. Cole Spur (#7) drops back to this level and cuts back to a sprint after a forgettable outing against better last time out. He broke slowly and was never able to get himself involved in the race. His effort two back when he was claimed was solid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was better suited for one turn races when looking at his pedigree. I can come back to him one more time here.
The top two finishers in the King Cotton Stakes here in January, Home Base (#8) and Seven Nation Army (#5), headline this six furlong allowance race. While there are others that have run races that would make them very competitive in this race in the past, these are the only two horses that have been races like that recently. I give the edge to Home Base (#8) while drawing the outside post here. His inside draw forced Arrieta’s hand to go early, and he wasn’t able to keep pace with Bob’s Edge in the late stages of that one. He should be able to apply pressure on Topper T (#4) who might need this race as a tightener, while coming off the bench. I think his class will prevail here. Seven Nation Army always runs well on this oval, finishing on the board in 10 of 14 career tries, and winning four times. He struggled to keep up with the top two last time out in the final furlong, however, he still outfinished some classy runners. He makes his third start off the layoff, but he will be without his regular pilot, Ramon Vazquez. He’s earned some mounts in stakes races out in Southern California this year, so Ron Moquett has tabbed apprentice Rene Diaz, who has yet to ride at this meet, to pilot this favorite in this $101K allowance race. He’ll have a chance to get a race in prior to this one, as he’s named to ride Incorruptible, who is the second choice on the morning line in the second race. That is something to keep an eye on though.
Race 9: The $150K Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes
Arkansas bred colts and geldings go six furlongs in this stakes race. Gar Hole (#9) throws his hat into the ring for horse of the meet honors by going in this lucrative race today. He’s undefeated at this meet, winning all three sprint races by open margins. He was four lengths in front of last year’s winner of this race, Tempt Fate (#3), last time out while covering more ground. He gets another outside draw, which suits him well. He’s in very good form right now, and I’m not sure this field is that much deeper than the allowance field that he dominated three weeks ago. He feels like a solid single in this spot. Tempt Fate may have needed his last race from a fitness standpoint, but he’s struggled to regain his excellent form that he had in 2021 when he won all four races over this course. I’ll cover with him on deeper plays, but I think Gar Hole is just better right now. Young Bull (#8) is a little interesting while returning to Arkansas after being primarily based at Delta and Evangeline after last year’s meet wrapped up. This is his best distance, and it’s not offered at Delta. His last few one turn races on fast tracks have all been solid efforts. I feel he’s better suited for underneath in this race, but he’d also be worth using as a saver on some deeper multi-race plays.
The nightcap is a maiden special weight for three year old fillies going 1 mile and 1/16. I’m kind of chilly on the two morning line favorites, Bella Runner (#7) and Beguine (#11). Bella Runner was based at Turfway for her first two starts, finishing 4thboth times while facing some unremarkable fields. Her works over the local course have been alright, and the red hot David Cabrera gets the call for Asmussen. Beguine has been sharp in her first two sprint races with maiden allowance foes, but while she’s not facing the greatest field, she has a tough assignment today. She’s drawn wide for her two turn debut and while her sire is Gun Runner, her dam was best when sprinting. I’ll cover with her, but I think there’s value in trying to beat her. I ended with Star Table (#6) on top, hoping she can get the right trip today. She was away slow two starts back and never got involved. She outran her long odds last time out, making a nice run from the back of the pack, but losing a little momentum when being forced to go wide. I’d like to see Pereira put her in play a little sooner today. Midnight Mistress (#5) is the more desirable Asmussen runner in my eyes. She showed some early zip in a sprint in her debut before backing out. Second place finisher, Mun Luv, was a winner with maiden special weight foes here last weekend. I think she’ll improve on the stretch out. Decade of Dreams (#2) debuted for Diodoro last out in a maiden special weight sprint. She bred to be able to handle two turns, and she might be overlooked as Diodoro is on a cold streak and doesn’t have a great track record with second time starters. Nonetheless, I think she’s drawn well and should run an improved race today.
Favorite Bet Today: Early Pick-5 ($36 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)
These early sequences are intriguing to me because I think the morning line favorites in the first four races are vulnerable. I’ll play a moderately priced $36 ticket, playing against all four horses. I might back up with some of them in the Pick-3’s/Pick 4’s, but I think this sequence has some potential to pay out four figures if we can beat all four.
Race 1: 3,5,8
Race 2: 3,6
Race 3: 4,6,7
Race 4: 6,7
Race 5: 6,7