As we inch closer and closer the Breeders’ Cup, we will be looking at four races this weekend highlighted by the Lexus Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland Race Course. The Grade: 2, seven furlong sprint for three year old fillies drew a full field of 14 (with 2 AEs).
Additionally, we will also be looking at pair of restricted Stakes races in New York in the $300,000 Empire Classic, a nine furlong contest for three year olds and up, and the $250,000 Empire Distaff, an 8 ½ furlong race for three year olds and up fillies and mares. Both races are restricted to NY breds only.
Lastly, we will take a trip to Laurel Race Course in Maryland for a look at the Maryland Million Classic, another nine furlong test for three year olds and up that carries a purse of $150,000.
Saturday October 29, 2018
Race: 9 (4:48 PM EST Post)
If you throw out Bonita Bianca’s failed turf experiment in her last, you’ll see she is batting .500 in her career (6 for 12), is 2 for 3 this year, on this oval and at this distance. Filly by Curlin holds a speed figure advantage over these and should get a lively pace in front of her to set up her late run. My best guess in a ridiculously difficult race to figure, one where any one of 7 or 8 could win it………………..Hay Field has won 5 of her last 6, including beating open company in her last two. Mare by Haynesfield is sharp right now and has never been worse than second in 5 tries on this surface…..another who should be coming late…………………..Split Time has won 5 of 7 in the Northeast region of the country this year. Filly by Take Charge Indy lacks in the speed figure department as compared to the top two, but you have to respect her record and her connections as Irad Ortiz gets the leg up from Linda Rice……………….Honorable Mentions: You know it’s a tough race when I’m putting Frostie Anne, who might be the post time favorite, this far down. This 5 year old mare from the “Rudy Rod” barn comes into this riding an impressive six race win streak, is 4 for 6 on this track and 13 for 31 in her career. Speedy filly should come out running and figures prominent throughout, however the closing fractions in her last three races are…well….average at best………………………..English Soul is 8-4-2-1 in her career, including a game score in the $200,000 Fleet Indian Stakes at Saratoga last time out….could be a menace here………………………Take Charge Aubrey is a nose shy of coming into this on a three race win streak. Her speed figures match up well and is still another who likes this track and distance…could easily outrun this rating……………….If you are looking for a long-shot in here, and I’m not sure why you would as this race will offer a ton of value, take a look at Frost Wise. Her last race was too bad to be true and it looks as though she bounced off a tremendous effort two back. Chestnut filly gave the streaking and BC bound Blue Prize all she could handle in the Top Flight Handicap. Of course, having good speed and rail never hurts either.
Race: 10 (5:23 PM EST Post)
Although Pat On the Back is just 1 for 5 this year, he is clearly in peak form as three of those losses were by one length …combined. This son of Congrats has never been off the board in seven tries on this oval and draws a good post (outside the speed), so should get a good trip…………………..Can You Diggit beat the top pick last time out and is capable of doing it again, it’s just that 4 for 19 record that makes me hesitate……………….The speedy Control Group figures prominent throughout in this spot and he has won 9 of 20 career starts. Good looking colt by Posse has recorded several strong speed figures in the process also. I just saw two things that trouble me. One, he is 0 for 4 on this track, and two, he had things all his own way on the front end last time out but still couldn’t fend off late runs by both Pat On the Back and Can You Diggit….looks best of the rest……………..Honorable Mentions: I thought Sea Foam ran VERY well in the Grade: 2 Oklahoma Derby (against opens) last time out while being beaten just over two lengths for all the money. Very handsome colt by Medaglia d’ Oro won back to back NYSB races in his two prior races to that and he could easily better this rating. In fact, I won’t argue with you if make him an exotics inclusion ……………..Evaluator just missed, charging hard late, in his last two including finishing right behind Sea Foam in his last…something to think about in this spot………….….. What’s up with Twisted Tom who has run twice this year and has been beaten by combined margin of 21+ lengths after winning 6 of 7 races last year, banking almost $650,000 and rattling off three straight NYSB Stakes races to end the year?? His best race beats this field but appears to be far from being at his best.
Keeneland Race Course
Race: 9 (5:30 PM EST Post)
Moonshine Memories is a $650,000 daughter of Malibu Moon, a half sister to 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and a two time Grade: 1 winner. Albeit she is just 1 for 4 this year, it must be noted she chased the pro-tem three year old filly sprint division leader (Dream Tree) and the overall three year old filly division leader (Monomoy Girl) in two of those four races and sandwiched a win (while coming in :06.2) in between at Del Mar. She is absolutely meets no such rival(s) here, shows a big work Oct 6 (5F- :59.2) signaling readiness and trainer Simon Callahan and I both think this distance should hit her squarely between the eyes. “I think switching back to sprint distances is showing this filly at her absolute best,” Callahan said. “I think six or seven furlongs is absolutely perfect in terms of distance for her”…………………….Amy’s Challenge is faster than the proverbial speeding bullet as she normally opens up long leads early in her races and plays “catch me if you can”. She should have a big tactical advantage while drawing the rail here and her last two works (Oct 9- 5F- :59 flat and Oct 17- 4F – 46.4) were nothing short of sensational…….catch and beat her for all the “jack”…………………………I’m not sure why there was a recent trainer change in regards to Blamed. I think her former trainer Joel Marr did an absolutely perfect, textbook job in bringing this filly along. After finishing second in her debut, this filly rattled off five straight, wide margined wins at Zia Park and Sunland Park. She’ll be swimming in much deeper waters here but she might be able to handle it…………………….Honorable Mentions (and there are several due to the size of this field). After winning her two prior starts by wide margins, I thought Alter Moon ran well to be fourth (just missing third) in the Grade: 1 Test Stakes at ‘Toga in her last. Filly by Alternation, who I think is a bargain standing for $6,000, is not without a chance here………………….Kelly’s Humor, who finished very well to grab third in the Test Stakes last time out, and Chauncey, who almost pulled off a colossal upset (42-1) in the Charles Town Oaks last time out, both love this distance and rate a punchers chance here……………………She’s Pretty Lucky is hiding her form very well. It wouldn’t shock me if this filly by Lookin’ at Lucky runs well in this spot………………….Couple of long-shot to consider: Nootka Sound is 3 for 5 in her career, is unbeaten on the dirt and wired a (sloppy) Grade: 3 in field in NY at this distance in her last……………You may want to take a glance at She’s a Gypsy if she draws in off the AEs. Filly by Pioneerof The Nile is razor sharp right now while using her versatility to win her last three straight…takes a sizable step up in class here however.
Laurel Race Course
Race: 11 (5:37 PM EST Post)
Maryland Millions Classic
This race is hands down the craziest race I/we looked at all year long. The far and away best three horses in the race are AEs and the AE horses can only draw into the race if the main body falls below six Maryland certified bred horses. If, by some stroke of luck, any of the three draw in it looks like Bonus Points is the best of the bunch as he won this race last year, has never been worse than second in five tries over this surface and just missed in his last race at Saratoga……..If he doesn’t make it in, then Hammering Aaamer looks next best as he too likes this track (3-2-1-0 over it) and also just missed winning at Saratoga last time out……….If “HE” doesn’t make it in then Belfour is up next. Good looking gelding by Super Saver closed well, late in a restricted Stakes race on this oval in his last, won his two prior starts and is 8-4-2-2 on this surface………If “HE” doesn’t make it in, this race drew very weak and becomes a guessing game……………That’s said, I’ll gingerly go with Clubman, who started his career by winning three of his first four starts before completely tanking his next four races. However, and even though he blew a clear lead at a shorter distance in his last, his last two races do signal a possible return to top form…..key word: possible…………………Saratoga Bob’s past performances suggest him to be more of a late running sprinter as I can’t really find a good reason as to why he is 0 for 3 at a mile or longer yet he’s run very well throughout his career in six and seven furlong races. Needless to say, I don’t think nine furlongs is within his scope but he merits consideration based on the fact that he is as consistent as the day is long (on the board in 7 of 8 career starts and 6 of 7 on this surface)…………………………You know this isn’t exactly a star studded race when I’m taking a horse in Admiral Blue, who is 2 for 21 in his career, including being 0 for 15 on fast surfaces (and 2 for 4 on off tracks), to pick up the “show dough”. This five year old from the “Rudy Rod” barn clearly shows a spike in form in his last three races but they also coincide with him running those three races at Saratoga, a surface he clearly likes. I just don’t trust him all that much in this spot/on this surface………………Honorable Mentions: Pal Cal broke slowly and was beaten a country mile in his last but it appears that race is a throw out. Before that, this chestnut gelding was having a very good year as had hit the board in nine of 10 starts, all at Penn National….steps up in class here but deserves a mention based off his consistency………………..I’m not sure why Tattooed is listed a 20-1 on the morning line….Hell, he’s got as good a chance as any other in here. Yes, he’ll be making his first start in 7 ½ months but he did win two of his last three earlier this year and has been training well for his return….long-shot possibility?
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2018- Record: 88-212= 42%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and who finished a disappointing seventh as the favorite in Saratoga’s Spinaway Stakes Sept. 1, got back on track last Sunday with a hard fought win in Santa Anita’s Anoakia Stakes.
Going off as the 3-5 betting favorite, Chasing Yesterday got the job done by a neck.
“She showed us that she’s a stakes winner now,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “She just went up in price. That was a nice filly that she beat today.”
**** After losing Justify, Instagrand and Diversify, the Breeders Cup finally got some good news when the connections of two time Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe winner Enable has been given the green light to run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs Nov. 3, Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khallid Abdullah who owns the filly, said this past Tuesday.
****Superstar Winx, who attempts to become the first horse to win a fourth consecutive Cox Plate on Oct. 27, had a very impressive work this week.
The daughter of Street Cry worked at Moonee Valley on Tuesday, under regular rider Hugh Bowman.
Her trainer Chris Waller said: “Winx worked over 1,200 meters (six furlongs) at three-quarter pace, and then breezed up over the final 400 meters, where she went through her gears nicely and was full of running at the completion of her work”.
“Hugh Bowman was very complimentary about how she felt and he was extremely pleased with where she is at leading into the Cox Plate. It is our intention to take her to the Breakfast with the Best at Moonee Valley next Tuesday as we have prior to each of her Cox Plate victories to date.”
Waller added: “She’s never gone any better, I don’t think. She’s as good as she’s ever been. I’m not saying she’s improved, but it will take a champion to beat her”.