Letruska did not disappoint the fans when becoming the 4th horse to win the Grade 1 Apple Blossom two times. She joins Zenyatta, Azeri, and Paseana, all three of which are in the Hall of Fame. By winning her 5th career Grade 1 North American race, which is also her 8th graded stakes win and her 19th win in 25 career starts, she may be paving her own path to the Hall of Fame. Today’s nine race card is highlighted by a pair of very interesting optional claiming allowances, where some horses that are in for the expensive claiming tag, are taking on the horses that qualify under the non-winners of 3 or 4 races allowance conditions.
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||5||5||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||7||7,13||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||10||6,7,10||12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Fillies and mares go six furlongs in this open $6,250 claimer that starts the day. This is the kind of race that I hate playing, as Diodoro sends out Itsallinthenotes (#1) as a part of a coupled entry with Honey Parade (#1A). Itsallinthenotes was claimed for $30K in her last start and immediately entered for $6,250. She’s run much better at two turns of late, so the cutback to a sprint isn’t enticing for me. I prefer the stablemate, Honey Parade, as she’s been knocking on the door at this level. She was also claimed by Diodoro in her last start, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her move forward. Cohen is named on both, so we’ll have to wait and see. If they both go, the value will be nonexistent here. Tailorbeswift (#2) is the logical alternative, moving into open claiming company after fading late to to be third with state bred claimers last month. She’s in the third race of her current form cycle, so I’d expect a solid effort from her.
Three year old maiden fillies, running with a $20K claiming tag, go 1 Mile and 1/16 here. Makemebelieve (#5) feels like the one to beat after finishing 6th with $50K maiden claimers in her last start, which was her first of the year. Robertson adds blinkers while dropping her in class. She’s still running for a tag that’s higher than her purchase price, and if she can run back to her last race, I think this race is hers. Undecoded (#4) was claimed for $10K two back then was inexplicably entered in a sprint race last out at this level after showing some routing ability. DiVito brings her back to a two turn race and finds a field that she could be competitive with. These are the two that look like they have the best shot here.
One of the cooler horses out there is entered in this $62,500 optional claiming/N3L allowance race, Greeley and Ben (#2). I’ve talked about this horse in the past and how he was claimed for $10K last year and has gone on to win 13 races for Karl Broberg and End Zone Athletics, earning over $400K in the last 13 months. He was third in the Grade 3 Whitmore Stakes in his most recent effort. His Beyer speed figures have been tailing off a bit, averaging in the lower 90’s, down from the mid to higher 90’s he was hitting in the summer and fall. I wasn’t sure we’d see him be in for a tag again, but he’s available for $62,500 in a race where he towers over his competition. A win and claim would net his connections another $100K+ score. If he’s not on the top of his game, I’d cover with Absolute Chaos (#7) for James DiVito. Many here are coming off a race where their speed figures took a noticeable jump. He’s been more consistent than some of the others and he could move forward again in his third race off the layoff today.
An overflow field of Arkansas bred $12,500 maiden claiming fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in what feels like it’s an absolute spread race to me. Blow Sum Smoke (#13) will need a defection to draw in, but her Remington Park form from the fall would make her a clear cut favorite with these if she does get to run. She’s been away since September, so there is enough concern with how she’ll come back off the layoff to make sure we do have some other options. Miss Dutton (#11) is interesting while dropping another level in class. She’s passed some tiring rivals late in her last two. She was kind of done in at the break last time when making her second career start. She could be a candidate to improve in start number three. She’s Hamazing (#3) has made a move in each of her last two starts, but has leveled off a bit late. She did the same thing in her debut, so I’m starting to worry that this is a habit. Perhaps the softer company and the added race day experience can help her finish the job. Tallandlong (#1) was very good here in 2021, hitting the board in her first four starts when racing for John Ortiz. She was transferred to Jason Barkley’s barn for her last start where she showed some brief interest before backing up quickly. If she can party like it’s 2021, she might offer some value, while listed at 10-1 on the morning line. The rail is a possible setback though, so I’ll need that kind of price to stay on board. Fibrillator (#4) passed some horses in the stretch in an even debut with $10K maiden claimers last month. She split the field that day and could move forward with some experience under her belt today.
There’s another overflow field for this open $8K claimer, and another horse that is stuck on the AE list that would be very tough in this race. Deano (#13) ships in from the Fair Grounds for Diodoro after winning two of his last five and hitting the board in the other three starts. If he starts, he’ll be on the A line for me, but regardless, I’m trying to hit with a price here, taking Trappe Valley (#7) on top. He’s in his third race off the layoff and his third race of the meet. For Wesley Hawley. I thought his effort against a better field last out (facing time restricted $10K claimers) was better than it looks on paper. Stormin Hongkong was third in that race and he snuck in off the AE list to win a race on yesterday’s program. He has some efforts in Illinois that are on par with Deano, so 12-1 is an enticing proposition on him. Lover Boy (#11) is coming out of the same race, and actually finished in front of Trappe Valley. He, too, is making his third start off the layoff, so I’m expecting to see one of his better efforts with this group[ today. Tappin Fora Dance (#2) was excellent three starts back, dominating a field of $8K starter allowance types. His last two have been below average efforts though. The drop in class could be the key for this gelded son of Tapiture.
The Late Pick-4 kicks off with $20K N3L claimers going six furlongs. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, and being on the front end wasn’t necessarily the best place to be yesterday. Horses that were closing over the top were getting home. O Dogg (#10) with Francisco Arrieta, fits that mold. He threatened to run a big one last out, but had some traffic issues late. There’s more speed signed on in this race to soften up Espionage (#12) who finished a strong second that day. Special Pryce (#7) doesn’t seem like the prototypical Diodoro claim, however, he must have seen something to go in and take him for $20K last out. He comes back at the same level and is 20-1 on the morning line for his new connections. Diodoro has another runner in here, Wipe the Slate (#9) who I’m not sure about, so it’s possible that this one will go off at long odds in this full field. Charliecando (#6) is coming out of the same O Dogg/Espionage race, when finishing third. He hasn’t been the most consistent runner, as he’s struggled to pair his big efforts. However, he’ll get the right set up if he’s right. Espionage is still one that I’ll cover with, despite my fears that he’ll get cooked in a speed duel. The outer part of the track looked better yesterday, so perhaps he can shake free at the top of the stretch and prove too tough to catch.
Three year old maiden fillies run with a $75K tag in the race that starts the last Pick-3 of the afternoon. Middie (#6) was a solid second in her debut when facing $40K maiden claimers for McLean Robertson. She was beaten by a more seasoned rival that afternoon when Zmuda broke through to break her maiden. She moves up in class, but I don’t think that class rise is as pronounced as it looks on paper. Brad Cox sends out America’s Pride (#8) to make her debut this afternoon. She’s a Gary and Mary West homebred that’s entered for a tag, and her works looks reasonable. Florent Geroux is back in town and getting the call. Jog (#2) is a second time starter here who passed some tiring rivals late after blowing the break. Donnie Von Hemel looks for his first win of the meet and he drops this Constitution filly in for a tag to try to get there. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with Redefinition (#5). Asmussen does very well with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming. However, by virtue of racing at Sam Houston in those maiden allowance races, I’m not sure how much of a class drop he’s actually getting here.
The co-feature this afternoon, is an optional $75K claiming/N4L allowance race for fillies and mares, three and up, going one mile. I ended up on It’sfiftyshadestime (#2), who is an improving four year old filly with four wins, and thus entered for the tag. She was no match for Clairiere (2nd in yesterday’s Apple Blossom) in an optional claiming/allowance race at the Fair Grounds last month, finishing well behind her, but right in the mix with some runners in 4th. She came into that race on a stwo race win streak, including winning a restricted stakes race at Delta two back. Her races here last season were credible, and I like seeing Ramon Vazquez getting aboard. Let’s Cruise (#3) is one of two horses that McLean Robertson is sending out that look like in this race. This four year old daughter of Not This Time comes into this race in great form, dominating both of her last two starts. She looked very comfortable getting this distance for the first time in her last race. This is a step up, but if she can continue to produce efforts like her last two races, she’s going to be very tough to beat. Beach Flower (#8) is the other Robertson horse, and she might offer some value after turning in a rare clunker last month. She was a winner at this meet last year and is versatile enough to adapt to any running style. On deeper tickets, Bow Bow Girl (#5) might be worth covering. She was a credible 4th at this condition when she ran into Maracuja (4th in yesterday’s Apple Blossom) at the beginning of the month here. That snapped a streak of seven straight on the board finishes. Trainer Chris Richard has been ice cold at this meet, but this filly has some ability.
The week ends with Arkansas bred fillies and mares that have never won two races, running with a $16K claiming tag. I like Life of Saturdays (#6) a decent bit in this race. She broke her maiden with state bred $20K maiden claimers in her 10th career start two starts back. She moved to open $10K N2L claimers last month, and ran a decent 6th at 26-1. The runner up, Flashy Biz, looked good as a next out winner. She had some run, but was stymied in traffic that day. She returns to state bred company, where she’s getting some class relief. Wicked Street (#5) is another logical player in this race. She was right there with Life of Saturdays two back, although I felt she had less of an excuse for where she finished. She came back to finish second, almost four lengths behind Flashy Biz on April 3rd. She since has been moved to Rene Amescua, who does well with his new runners. She continues to work well in the mornings, and she looks like a good fit at this level.