A big weekend of Breeders’ Cup prep races at Woodbine continues Sunday, with the $250,000 Summer Stakes (G1) and the $250,000 Natalma Stakes (G1).
These one-mile grass events for juveniles offer “Win and You’re In” qualifying berths to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), respectively. Two competitive fields are the result.
Let’s add our own rooting interests to the action with a couple of graded stakes spot plays.
Race 7: Summer Stakes (G1)
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Summer Stakes four times and has a strong chance to win another with #6 Mystic Lancelot. The son of Into Mischief was a decisive winner of his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on grass at Saratoga, where he tracked quick fractions and took command to win by three lengths over next-out Kentucky Downs maiden winner Art Collector.
Mystic Lancelot posted solid speed figures (83 Beyer and 86 Brisnet), and he has the pedigree to stretch out to a mile. His tactical speed should allow him to work out a clean, forwardly placed trip. The question mark is whether he can simultaneously reel in the frontrunning #5 Keep On Truckin and hold off the late charge of #2 Decorated Invader.
Those two rate as a couple of serious challengers. Keep On Truckin posted fast speed figures in two wins sprinting on Tapeta by a combined 18 3/4 lengths, but he is an unknown commodity on grass. Decorated Invader might be a bit slower on paper, but he had no difficulty rallying from mid-pack to break his maiden by 3 1/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles on grass at Saratoga.
Let’s key Mystic Lancelot in the trifecta with these two, plus the lone European raider, #1 Vitalogy, and the Soaring Free Stakes runner-up #4 Pleasecallmeback.
$1 trifecta: 6 with 1,2,4,5 with 1,2,4,5 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 2,5 with 6 with 1,2,4,5 ($6)
$1 trifecta: 2,5 with 1,2,4,5 with 6 ($6)
Race 9: Natalma Stakes (G1)
European shippers Capla Temptress and La Pelosa won the last two editions of the Natalma, and #1 Walk in Marrakesh can make it three in a row for Europe. Conditioned by Mark Johnston, Walk in Marrakesh hasn’t missed the trifecta in five starts, winning three times while attracting the services of renowned jockeys Frankie Dettori and William Buick.
Last time out Walk in Marrakesh tackled the seven-furlong straight course at Deauville and finished third in the Shadwell Prix du Calvados (G2) for her second consecutive 99 Racing Post Rating. This falls right in line with the form displayed by Capla Temptress and La Pelosa prior to their successful forays at Woodbine. They had both hit the board against group 3 company and posted Racing Post Ratings of 97 and 101, respectively.
Walk in Marrakesh appears to be a cut above her fellow European raiders #2 Diamond Sparkle and #7 Secret Stash, who are currently transitioning to the barn of Woodbine mainstay Mark Casse. For the exotics I suggest pairing Walk in Marrakesh with #3 Fair Maiden, a Godolphin homebred who looms as the best of the locals after she dominated the 6 1/2-furlong Catch a Glimpse Stakes over the turf course by 7 1/2 lengths. With Beyer speed figures of 91 and 90 in tow, this speedy daughter of Street Boss could be tough to catch.