The Road to Kentucky grind is about half over, congratulations to those of you that are solidly in contention for the top prize. Today we return to Turfway Park for Act 2. The feature race today is the Grade II Lanes End, as another group of three-year-olds hopes to make that big move forward towards the first Saturday in May. Good luck to all this afternoon! The temperature at Turfway today is in the mid-thirties!
Race 1: This was a MSW for 3+ horses going 6 ½ furlongs. I couldn’t see an obvious horse to beat in here, as several seemed to be relatively even. I settled on Jake the Snake, an intriguing longshot making his second career start. He was a non-threatening sixth in his debut after breaking poorly, but gets a nice jockey switch today to Lebron (18%) and comes back from a three-month freshening. The third place finisher from his debut race came back to win, and it looks like it was a faster than par race for the level. I saw some things to like here at ML 15-1.
The Result: The ML favorite Due Date scored at 5/2 as he sat behind the speed and got the perfect trip. My selection broke sharply today at 11-1 and dueled for command to mid-stretch before tiring late. Longshot first time starter Rockin Rod earned the most points by finishing second and Oneshotaway ran third.
Maximum Points: Rockin Rod 338Maximum Score: 338My Score: 0
Race 2: This was another MSW for 3yo fillies at 6f. I selected Island Runner, a Fairgrounds shipper making a trainer switch from Stewart to Thornbury. She showed four sharp workouts at Turfway Park since her last start. The heavy favorite is a Gulfstream Park shipper named Lady Yankee trained by Helen Pitts.
The Result: Lady Yankee broke sharply and wired the field from the outside post at odds of 9/5. Hungry Tigress finished second and Noon Day ran third. My selection, Island Runner, was never involved in a very poor effort at 9-1 odds. Lady Yankee was my second choice, but I went for the higher price instead.
Maximum Points: Lady Yankee 124Maximum Score: 462My Score: 0
Race 3: This was the lone claiming event on the card, a Clm16000 for 3+ at 6f. I got pretty uncreative here and sided with the heavily favored entry as I couldn’t find an angle to hang my hat on any of the other entrants. The favorite has won the first two races; let’s hope that trend continues in this spot. Both halves of the entry are dropping from Clm25000 to run here.
The Result: I continue to be on fire as the 4/5 favored entry doesn’t even hit the board. Speak of Kings gets it done from the outside post over Kendon Valley and Running Play. Kendon Valley got the most points in this race for the second place finish. Maximum Points: Kendon Valley 232Maximum Score: 694My Score: 0
Race 4: This was a MSW23K for 3yo’s. Time to get some points hopefully with Immediatedeparture, who ran a very nice debut effort that resulted in a third place finish. I’m expecting this horse to be the favorite but this is a race loaded with question marks. Six horses in the field are first time starters.
The Result: Orangespangledgator drew off to an impressive debut win over Klassi Berti and Captured Red Magic. Debutantes take the top three spots today as the 7/5 favorite Immediatedeparture folded at the top of the stretch after setting some quick splits early. Orangespangledgator is by Gold Case, who currently gets about 14% debut winners and is out of the dam Ever a Lady who had 6 winners from 8 previous runners. Gold Case is also the sire of a very fast Indiana bred named Mr. Mink.
Maximum Points: Orangespangledgator 202Maximum Score: 896My Score: 0
Race 5: This was an ALW25800N1X for fillies and mares at 6f. I went to the outside horse Midianite, although I do respect several others in this race. Midianite has won 3 of his last 4 over the Turfway track against claiming company but I’m hoping he can step up and compete with allowance types. I thought he might be a bit of a price with the class hike.
The Result: Wish On won it at 2-1 for Frank Brothers, returning from a lengthy layoff since last June. This horse figured strongly in my view but I just wasn’t going to take 2-1 off a 9 month layoff like that. She held off the favored Silent Street, and Even Tempo finished third. My selection, Midianite, couldn’t handle this level of competition with a wide trip and was outrun at 12-1. Still throwing the shutout through 5 innings!
Maximum Points: Wish On 136Maximum Score: 1032My Score: 0
Race 6: This was a MSW23K at 6f for three year olds. I selected King of Rhythm who is making his second career start off a decent third place finish back in December. The winner of his maiden race came back to win. Veiled Prophet is getting a lot of money here off his third place finish on the turf last August at Saratoga.
The Result: First time starter I.M. Boomer zipped clear and hung on for second behind the favored winner Veiled Prophet. Skills Coach finished third. Veiled Prophet is royally bred by Kingmambo out of a Storm Cat mare. My selection chased the first time starter down the backstretch in second and then faltered on the turn.
Maximum Points: Veiled Prophet 130Maximum Score: 1,162My Score: 0
Race 7: This was a MSW23K for 3yo fillies at 6f. I selected City Flag with Leparoux aboard for trainer Foley. City Flag is by the speedy Carson City and she returns from a three month freshening. The race favorite is in the outer post, a filly by Forestry trained by George Arnold and ridden by Edgar Prado.
The Result: Flaming Slew at 9-1 rallied wide and scored over City Flag and Get Going Bertie. Flaming Slew was quite playable, posting the highest speed figure in the race last August at Ellis Park, and turning in several sharp workouts in preparation for her return. This one feels like a missed opportunity.
Maximum Points: Flaming Slew 322Maximum Score: 1,484My score: 88
Race 8: This was the 22nd running of The Queen. I selected what I hope will be a longshot Initforthekandy, who has finished 2nd and 3rd at long odds in her last three starts. I’m hoping for a quick early pace. Initforthekandy has never won on the synthetic surface, but has outrun her odds a few times.
The Result: Pola’s Place sprinted clear at 6-1 odds and held on to defeat Victorianna and Just for Keeps. The speed held well here despite the quick splits in this race. My selection closed for fourth at 21-1 but never threatened the top three.
Maximum Points: Pola’s Place 292Maximum Score: 1,776My Score: 88
Race 9: This was the 14th running of The Hansel. I selected Little Nick who wasn’t able to get near the lead in his last start at Santa Anita but figures to get a softer pace scenario today. My main concern is that the inside part of the track doesn’t seem too good as most of the winners are breaking from outside posts or rallying far wide on the outside. Dale Romans sends this one out and Kent Desormeaux rides.
The Result: Mitigation rallied wide on the turn and drew off with authority over Stormin Yank and U.S. Cavalry. Little Nick dueled for command along the inside but was finished midway around the turn. I think the evidence of a dead inside part of the track is pretty substantial. There hasn’t been a single rail horse hit the board yet, and the 2 post has a lone third place finish in the books. This is the kind of information you need before you turn in your picks!
Maximum Points: Mitigation 160Maximum Score: 1,936My Score: 88
Race 10: This was the 26th running of The Bourbonette at 1 mile. I thought A to the Croft looked like a standout in this field based on her class advantage. She placed 2nd in two Grade 1 races and one Grade 2 race last year before running poorly in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Filly race. Despite my struggles today, I would still be very surprised to see this horse lose, especially with her favorable outside draw. She’s strictly the one to beat. The Result: Maren’s Meadow pulls the upset at 7-1 with Valentine Fever second and A to the Croft third. Albarado made an inexplicable inside move with A to the Croft on the far turn and she immediately flattened out turning for home. I thought that was pretty weak to dive down inside like that the way the track has played today. Maren’s Meadow had been improving race by race for Larry Jones and she got the job done today after shipping in from Oaklawn Park.
Maximum Points: Maren’s Meadow 296Maximum Score: 2,232My Score: 114
Race 11: This was the 23rd running of The Rushaway. There are a few returning runners from prior RtoK races, namely Big Glen who scored in the WEBN bonus race on February 2, and Acting Out, who shocked his maiden field at 31-1 on March 1. I selected Holidaze, who exits a poor effort in the foggy Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, but gets the riding services of Leparoux for this one and is trained by Todd Pletcher. He has some trouble comments in his races and can factor with a good trip today.
The Result: Big Glen made a winning bid turning for home and actually prevailed down along the rail in a thrilling finish over the favored Miner’s Claim. Icabad Crane finished third. This was a pretty formful finish with the top three favorites all hitting the board. My selection, Holidaze, was rank early and never looked interested in competing today. Last year’s winner of the Rushaway was Dominican, who went on to defeat Street Sense in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.
Maximum Points: Big Glen 154Maximum Score: 2,386My Score: 114
Race 12: Here’s the final race and my last chance to avoid the donut in the win spot today. This was the 37th running of The Lane’s End. I ended up taking Adriano, throwing out his run in the Fountain of Youth and going back to his dominant turf victory in January at Gulfstream Park. I always pay close attention to horses that score by big margins on the turf because it doesn’t happen that often. There are clearly a lot of contenders in this race so Adriano is just one of perhaps eight that have a legitimate shot.
The Result: Adriano saves what would have surely been my worst day ever in this contest with a solid victory at 9/2. A nice ride by Prado keeping Adriano off the rail after he made the lead on the turn, forcing Racecar Rhapsody to go inside entering the stretch where he failed to sustain his run. Halo Najib ran second and Medjool was third. I don’t know what to make of this field, it didn’t look like Derby material to me. But, you never know who develops perfectly in the next two months. Plus, I saw a biased surface today so those who were down on the inside were really disadvantaged in my opinion.
Maximum Points: Adriano 452Maximum Score: 2,838My Score: 566
Summary: There weren’t any shockers today, Adriano was the top point getter and most of the horses were around 200 points. The winner will probably have Adriano, Flaming Slew and 4 or 5 other winners bringing the winning total to around 1,800 points or so. I would be pretty surprised if somebody doesn’t at least crack 1,500 points this week. Good Luck if you tabbed Adriano and had several of these other top point horses, you just never know! I suppose you could even win it without having Adriano, but you would have to be almost flawless in the other races. It could happen, conceivably. Next week we are back on the real dirt at Gulfstream Park for the Florida Derby and our first look at the NEW HYPE HORSE Big Brown. The insiders are all raving about this one, and so far there haven’t been any real dominating performances to speak of in 2008. Perhaps Big Brown can fill the void. Stay tuned….