The week begins with a solid Thursday card. There are nine races on the program, including three competitive allowance races. All three races could produce some runners that could find their way into stakes company sooner than later. The 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||3||1,3,8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||5||5,7,9||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||7||7,9,11||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The week starts with a dull $10K maiden claiming route. The Ron Moquett entry of Levy (#1) and Just Because (#1A) are heavily favored. Levy is the one they’ll be backing, and he definitely looks better than most of these. He takes a deep drop after falling 10 times in maiden special weight company. He’s been racing on turf in five of his last six tries, but his dirt figures are good enough to contend at this level. I’ll definitely use him on the multi-race tickets, but he’s still 0-10. I’ll try Lobo Irish (#6) on top. He faced state bred $20K maiden claimers in his last start. He was caught wife and perhaps moved a little early. He leveled off that day, finishing 4th. He’s steadily improving and the barn, which had been ice cold at this meet, got off the duck last weekend with two straight wins.
$16K N2L claimers are set to go one mile here. Rounder (#3) looks tough among a field where some of the shorter prices feel vulnerable. He ran 6th, splitting the field in a much tougher $20K N2L spot a few weeks back. He was fairly consistent over the summer and fall in Indiana so I can see him running back to his last race with this group. Liar’s Club (#1) should be represented on your tickets because he feels like a lone speed threat here from his rail post. He’s caught off tracks in his first two local starts and he handled them just fine, finishing second both times. He may prove tough to catch, especially if Cabrera can crawl on the front end. Major Contender (#8) figures to benefit from a return to traditional dirt racing after a pair of dull efforts on the Tapeta at Turfway. He broke his maiden on this oval back in April when he was racing for Brad Cox. he was claimed for $62,500 from that race and hasn’t come close in his four starts since. The post isn’t ideal and I think he’ll go off at odds shorter than his 9-2 morning line figure. However, if he can get back to his better dirt form, he figures to be in the mix with this group.
We have another group of $10K bottom maiden claimers here, sprinting six furlongs this time. Arkansas bred horses are eligible to run with a $20K tag. Dancin’ Rocket (#7) was second in a similar spot last time out, while making his second start off a year long layoff. Both efforts so far this season have been solid, so there’s no reason to think that he can’t improve off his last performance. He’s in for the $20K tag, which feels like a plus to me. As favorites go in $10K maiden claiming races, he feels like one of the better ones. Natorade (#8) is the logical alternative, running a decent 5th after a rough start in his debut last month. He passed several horses late, while rallying into a strong pace that afternoon. He might be more effective today with a smoother start.
This $12,500 starter allowance race is for horses that have started for a $12,500 tag or less at least one time in the past two years and for horses that have not won twice in 2023. Mystery Man (#7) was on a roll last year, finishing first or second in seven straight starts at Prairie Meadows and Tampa Bay Downs. That streak also included four straight victories in that span. He was given a little time off after a dull effort in October in Iowa. Timothy Martin brought him back here in N1X allowance company where he was soundly defeated on a sloppy course. He lost some momentum after a tough break when racing with a similar group a few weeks ago. He now makes his third start of this current form cycle where I’m thinking he’s going to move forward. Dilettante (#6) was claimed for $25K by Jerry Hollendorfer last month, who immediately moves him into a protected spot, which I typically view as a plus. He’s a horse that moves up on a wet track and he should get a nice set up for this race as there are a few need the lead types in this race that might cancel each other out. I think he’ll run a better race than what we saw from him last time out. If speed is looking good in the first few races, I do see Sidetown (#4) as the speed of the speed here. His last three starts have been sharp and he gets the leading rider, Cristian Torres, back to ride. If Colton’s Dream (#1) defects for some reason, I would upgrade him on to the B line and play him a little more prominently.
When Hypersport (#8) crushed a nice maiden special weight field on opening day field here in December 2021, she had the look of a filly that could be on to bigger and better things. However, she has gone to lose eight straight starts, some of those races coming in stakes company. She has come close, but hasn’t been able to break through at this level .Her lone score was a front running victory, which is a trip that she really hasn’t been able to duplicate since that race. With Lady Demaree (#9) breaking to her outside, and Kant Believe It (#2) closer to the rail, I don’t envision that kind of trip for her today. She has been a money burner, so I’m going to play against her in the multi-race wagers, saving her for the bottom of the vertical exotics. Fashion Rage (#5) makes her local debut for Bret Calhoun after six consecutive in the money finishes to start her career. She won half of those races, including both starts at this six furlong distance and she’s just simply better at one turn. She’s been on the bench since May, but Calhoun does a nice job getting his horses ready to fire fresh. Gunning (#7) is a half to Mage, who was just recently fourth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes this past weekend. She was very sharp in her first two career tries. She made the lead, but faded in the late stages of the Audubon Oaks at Ellis in her third career try. Something appeared to go amiss in the Dogwood Stakes in September, which unceremoniously ended her three year old campaign. She’s back off some snappy AM drills for Ken McPeek. She’s another one who appears to be a major player. Lady Demaree is a speed threat from her outside post in this race. She took a nice step forward when running for Diodoro for the first time last month. She led for most of the race before yielding late at this level. This might be a slightly tougher group for this condition, but she’s another one to think about upgrading if speed is holding well in the front half of this card.
The Late Pick-4 starts with a state bred $20K maiden claiming race for fillies and mares. This is an evenly matched field of 11, so I will try to find some value. Honeycamp (#7) debuted in December with a dull effort with Arkansas bred maiden special weight types. She came back two months later and ran an improved race, but was still well-beaten. She makes the necessary drop and adds blinkers for the first time. Driving (#9) debuted in the same race and was wide throughout that contest. Danny Pish is winless at the meet, but has decent numbers with second time starters and horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming. Relentless Rocket (#11) draws the outside for her second career try. She debuted with $30K state bred maiden claimers back in January. She hesitated at the gate while drawing the rail, which certainly didn’t help her chances. She still finished with interest, thus stamping her as a contender in this spot. Bootlegging Girl (#10) is one of a few horses that have had several chances to get that elusive first win. She came very close at this level two starts back and has handled a steady diet of off track races lately.
This is a very nice optional claiming/N2L allowance route for three year olds. Heroic Move (#2) beat a strong field despite a less than stellar post and trip in his debut last month. He’ll face winners for the first time in his second start, and he’ll have Florent Geroux piloting him for the first time. He gets a better post for a barn whose horses typically move forward in their second starts. Ken McPeek has a pair of Mendelssohn horses that are both moving from turf to dirt in this spot. I think B Minor (#6) is interesting, making his first start as a three year old. He has four starts, three of which came on the turf. None of those were anything special, but he did break his maiden, beating Cyclone Mischief in a one turn mile on dirt in September at Churchill. Funny Uncle (#5) has come into his own at this meet, running three sharp races since shipping here from Churchill. His last two starts at one mile have been solid. He was no match for Two Eagles River, who is a very nice horse last time out. I think he fits a little better with this group, especially if Heroic Move isn’t as heroic this time around.
A field of six goes in the featured optional claiming/conditioned allowance race. Kavod (#2), Payne (#3), One For Richie (#4) and Seven Nation Army (#6) all squared off at this level last month. One For Richie is a need the lead type whose race was over at the break when he was flat-footed out of the gate. Kavod ended up as the unlikely pacesetter that day. He set strong fractions which set the table for Payne to roll up as a much the best winner that day. He returns as the favorite, but I’m not convinced that we’re going to see this eight year old gelding duplicate that effort. I think One For Richie is going to be on the lead today, and Kavod will be applying the pressure. This should set the table for Heart Rhythm (#5) to sit the right trip here. He was a winner the last time that he was art this level. He hit the board in two starts in stakes company at this distance before struggling a bit when going one mile in the Fifth Season Stakes last out. This feels like a local prep to determine whether or not he’d be competitive in the Count Fleet Stakes here next month. I think he’s strictly the one to beat in this race. One For Richie does have a good race/bad race pattern going on, so he could be sitting on a better effort than what he showed in his last try. If speed is holding well on the program, I’d upgrade his chances.
$30K maiden claimers will wrap up the afternoon. I don’t typically love playing horses that were claimed for a lower tag and moving up the ladder in maiden claiming, however, I do think Gone Again (#11) makes a lot of sense in his second career try. He’s sired by American Freedom out of an Istan mare, so I’d think that one turn racing would be where he has the most success. He debuted at a two turn mile with $20K maiden claimer, where he had some traffic issues. He finished 5th that day, but now cuts back to a sprint for new trainer Scott Becker. He has great numbers with horses cutting back from routes to sprints. From a value perspective, I think there’s a case to be made for Shotgun Billie (#8) in his debut. He’s one of two well-meant first timer starters in this spot, but he’s listed at 20-1 on the morning line, whereas Dark Afternoon (#5) is 4-1. Shotgun Billie is trained by John Ortiz, who was awesome here last year, but he hasn’t had the same level of success at this meet. He does have strong numbers with debut runners in maiden claiming company though. Free Drop Billy hasn’t covered the best group of mares in his freshman season as a sire, but he was a debut winner and a Grade 1 winner at two. His horses have won two of 30 starts at first asking so far. Dark Afternoon is trained by Chris Hartman, who has had a tremendous meet. His numbers with debut runners aren’t as strong as Ortiz. His full brother won on debut with state bred maiden claiming company at Remington, and his half brother is a seven time winner. He has a shot, but I don’t love the 4-1 figure. Eternally Grateful (#4) makes sense on figures, but he often leaves himself with too much work to do late. There’s not a ton of early speed signed on here, so his best chance is if the two firsters go hard in the early stages of this one. I’ll use him as a saver on the deeper tickets, but as the favorite, he doesn’t really do it for me.
Leave a Reply