The Player’s Edge – July 12th: Arlington Park, Hollywood Park & Colonial Downs
Arlington Park - Modesty Handicap
Arlington Park - American Derby
Colonial Downs - Virginia Derby
Hollywood Park - American Oaks
Arlington Park - Modesty Handicap La Tia Looks Loose on the Lead
Arlington Million Preview day is this Saturday with four graded stake races on the turf. First up is the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap for fillies and mares. The nine and one-half furlong race drew a field of eight and no one stands out.
The post time favorite for the race may be Strathnaver, who won her first two starts in the U.S. early this year before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park. On that day in May, Strathnaver finished second to last, beaten almost 19 lengths. Perhaps it was the soft turf, but the Oasis Dream filly had run on a less than firm turf course in England last year.
The best news for her connections is that there is clear skies forecasted for this weekend and she had previously run poor only to come back and win off the layoff.
The filly in the best form is La Tia, the Illinois-bred that has won back-to-back races over the Arlington turf course. She did not run well in the Grade 2 Raven Run, but did win the Grade 3 Arlington Park Oaks in July 2012. La Tia is the pace of the Modesty.
On paper, La Tia should run wire-to-wire as the most probable winner on the card. There are no other fillies or mares in the race that can run with her early; they are going to need a huge late kick to overhaul La Tia late.
Colonial Flag is likely to be close to the pace coming out of third place finish in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap last month at Churchill Downs. Her last win came in August 2012, four starts ago, in a Grade 3 race across the border at Woodbine. The Michael Matz trainee will need to find some more late to get the job done.
The class fillies that could upset are all drawn next to each other in posts one, two and three.
Embarr Drew the rail and is making her fourth start off the layoff. In her previous three starts the daughter of Royal Academy has a win and a pair of out-of-the-money finishes. Her win was in a small stake race at Pimlico and her best finish in a graded stakes race was a second in the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont Park last October.
Dame Marie has no early speed and the only thing she has going for her on Saturday is the distance. The Smart Strike filly began her career with back-to-back wins, but has only won once in ten starts since. New pilot Rosie Napravnik is going to need to ask the question earlier in order to be in contention late.
Ausus, the Shadwell color bearer, is making her first start since finishing fourth, beaten one length, in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron over the main track in May. In her five starts on turf, Ausus has one win and one second.
Artemus Kitten and Madam Nancy complete the field. Artemus Kitten is a Ken and Sarah Ramsey mare trained by Michael Maker with five wins in 21 career starts. In her previous two starts in a grade stakes she has a third and a fifth place finish. Madam Nancy looks out classed.
The runner will all need to find a little class to run down La Tia. Post time for the Modesty is 5:25 pm ET and starts the 50-cent pick-5.
Arlington Park - American Derby General Election versus Admiral Kitten
The second of the Saturday turf stakes at Arlington Park on Saturday is the Grade 3 American Derby for three-year-olds. The $200,000 race features the first two finishers in the Grade 3 Arlington Classic, General Election and Admiral Kitten.
While General Election was getting an inside trip down the stretch, Admiral Kitten was rallying ridiculously wide and just fell a length short of catching the winner. Switch the trips and perhaps Admiral Kitten is crowned the winner.
General Election may have been an upset winner of the Arlington Classic, but he had claims on the win. In his previous start, the Harlan's Holiday colt was second in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes and won a $75,000 stakes race at Turfway Park four starts back. Joe Rocco once again has the mount for trainer Kellyn Gorder.
Admiral Kitten had run against General Election prior to the Arlington Classic, finishing just over 27 lengths behind that rival in the Battaglia Memorial, which was won by General Election. Since that horrible finish, Admiral Kitten has three straight seconds, one by a nose in an allowance race and two in graded stake races. He will once again be bet given his connections of owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Michael Maker and jockey Julien Leparoux.
The above two are not the only ones coming out of the Arlington Classic as Procurement and Dorsett also ran in that race and are back in the American Derby.
Dorsett was disqualified from his third place finish in the Classic, but came right back to win an allowance race in mid-June, proving that finish was no fluke. His sire Artie Schiller was a miler in his day; however, Dorsett looks like he can break the front line and score at longer.
Procurement is an interesting play for trainer Tom Proctor, coming off the layoff after the fifth place finish in May. Not taking anything away from Joao Moreira, the leading jockey in Singapore, but his ride on Procurement in the Arlington Classic was not the best. Proctor goes to Eddie Castro, who knows how to win a big race or two on the turf.
The American Derby, unlike the Modesty, does look like a race that will be run with a fair pace. Coastal Breeze and Mongolian Saturday are drawn next to each other and both are expected to be battling on the front end. Mongolian Saturday is also entered for the 11th race on Saturday so be sure to check the late scratches.
Stormy Len could be sitting the trip and may be worth a gamble. The David Donk-trainee has tactical speed and can finish, a deadly combination for jockey Alex Solis. Solis will need to get the jump on the closers because they will be coming fast late.
Rounding out the field are Infinite Magic, Triple Cross, Moro Tap and Formidable Heart. Team Valor may need to go back to trainer Graham Motion after Infinite Magic has been nowhere in his two starts since the switch.
Post time for the American Derby, which starts the late pick-4, is 5:55 pm ET.
Colonial Downs - Virginia Derby Three-Year-Olds on the Turf
This Saturday there is a definite turf theme across the country as all of the major races are on the lawn. That is the case on the all-turf Colonial Downs track as they will be running five race on the grass. The top race on the day is the Grade 2 Virginia Derby for three-year-old colts and geldings.
Four horses are making the trip to Virginia off of wins, none better than Rydilluc, the winner of the inaugural Penn Mile at Penn National. Rydilluc has won all four of this turf starts including a win in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park. His only poor race was his debut, a fifth place finish on conventional dirt. The son of Medaglia d'Oro was fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass on the polytrack at Keeneland and enters the Virginia Derby as the horse to beat.
This wouldn't be a race without a Ken and Sarah Ramsey horse and there are two, three if you count the horse they bred and had claimed from them, Fear the Kitten, who is ironically enough trained by Michael Maker, who does not train the ones they actually own.
First up is Redwood Kitten, the Wesley Ward-trainee, that is making his first start since winning a small stakes race at Pimlico in May. Two starts back the gelding was third in the Grade 3 Transylvania. Expect jockey Joel Rosario to put him on the pace early, which may not be ideal in this race as Rydilluc is a front-runner too.
Joel is also named to ride the Ramsey's other colt, Charming Kitten, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. Charming Kitten was second behind Rydilluc in the Penn Mile and could turn the tables on that rival with the added distance and expected swift pace. Check the scratches to see if the owners decide to run both, but if they do run, both have a big shot to upset.
Jack Milton is another exiting the Penn Mile and he was third behind the top pair. The War Front colt can sit chilly early behind the speed then make one run late under jockey John Velazquez. Jack Milton won the Grade 3 Transylvania by a neck and has yet to finish worse than third in his four career starts.
War Dancer is the threat from off-the-pace, making his seventh career start for trainer Kenny McPeek. War Dancer was an impressive winner at Keeneland three starts back, but has just failed in his last two finishing third and second. Again the pace should be better for him and the ten furlongs may be just what the doctor ordered.
The wild card in the race is Draw Two, the Macho Uno colt from the Michelle Nihei barn. Draw Two has won his last two races by a combined nine and one-half lengths, both over yielding turf courses at Belmont Park seven months apart. The horse that finished second in his last race was Stormy Len, who is one of the contenders at Arlington Park in the American Derby. Time to see where he fits at this class.
Bethel, Readyshakego and Gefest complete the field. First post on Saturday at Colonial Downs is 5:00 pm ET with the Virginia Derby off at 8:12. Nothing better than some horse racing during those long, hot, Virginia nights.
Hollywood Park - American Oaks Grade 1 Fillies on the Turf
A great Saturday card at Hollywood Park, the second to last day of the meet before racing moves to Del Mar. There are two stakes for two-year-olds, a graded sprint for fillies and mares and the feature of the day, the Grade 1 American Oaks. The race has a rich history and these fillies are hoping to add to that tradition.
The local prep race for the Grade 1 race was the Honeymoon Handicap and the top four fillies are back to contest the American Oaks. Sarach won that Grade 2 race wire-to-wire so we begin with her.
The daughter of Arch was making her first start since April in the Honeymoon, but she showed no signs of rust making all to win by a length. She should be better fit second-off-the-layoff and she already has a win in that situation previously. The only thing that may keep her from back-to-back wins is presence of other pace.
Macha finished third in the Honeymoon and was just off the heels of Sarach for the entire nine furlongs. They will have to go another furlong for the American Oaks, but the gut feeling is that Sarach is the better filly.
In between that pair was Scarlet Strike, the closer that got no pace to run into. The connections had to like the entries as there does appear to be enough speed to set it up for their filly. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer would love to close out Hollywood Park with a Grade 1 win.
Becky Lou was fourth in the Honeymoon and will once again be a long shot. She does; however, deserve respect and including her in any trifecta or superfecta play is advised. Also coming out of that race is Wittgenstein, who finished seventh.
Sarach is expected to make the pace from the rail and right there with her should be Emollient, the talented Juddmonte Farms filly.
It didn't take long for the daughter of Empire Maker to get going. She was second in her debut then won her second career start by an easy two and three-quarter lengths before taking on graded stakes company in the Demoiselle at Aqueduct last November. She held her on until unraveling in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, finishing fifth, beaten 30 lengths.
The connections did not fret, instead they sent her immediately to Kenneland to run in the Grade 1 Ashland seven days later and Emollient did not disappoint. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott decided to try her once more on the dirt in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, but that did not go as planned so Emollient is back on the turf. She is talented and can win, but must avoid a speed duel.
Scarlet Strike is the best closer in the field with Emotional Kitten a close second. It could be a great day for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey with contenders all across the country. Emotional Kitten, trained by Wesley Ward, has won back-to-back races at Keeneland at Pimlico and is coming off nearly a two month layoff. This is her first start in a graded stakes race.
Topic is the final filly in the race and is one to watch for the future after just breaking her maiden last month. First post on Saturday at Hollywood is 4:00 pm ET with the American Oaks scheduled for 8:00.
Thoroughbred Racing Action
Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.
Saturday– July 13
- Arlington Park: Modesty Handicap - G3, $200,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9.5f turf
- Arlington Park: American Derby - G3, $200,000, 3yo, 9.5f turf
- Arlington Park: Arlington Handicap - G3, $200,000, 3yo & up, 10f turf
- Arlington Park: Stars and Stripes Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo & up, 12f turf
- Hollywood Park: American Oaks - G1, $350,000, 3yo f, 10f turf
- Hollywood Park: A Gleam Handicap - G2, $200,000, 3yo & up f&m, 7f
- Hollywood Park: Landaluce Stakes, $150,000, 2yo f, 6f
- Hollywood Park: Hollywood Juvenile Championship, $150,000, 2yo, 6f
- Monmouth Park: Serena's Song Stakes, $75,000, 3yo f, 8f 70y
- Delaware Park: Delware Oaks - G2, $300,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
- Delaware Park: Robert G. Dick Stakes - G3, $200,000, 3yo & up, 11f turf
- Colonial Downs: Virginia Derby - G2, $500,000, 3yo, 10f turf
- Colonial Downs: Chenery Stakes, $75,000, 2yo, 5.5f turf
- Colonial Downs: Tippett Stakes, $75,000, 2yo f, 5.5f turf
- Colonial Downs: Kittens Joy Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 12f turf
- Woodbine: Passing Mood Stakes, $125,000, 3yo, 7f turf
- Canterbury Park: Lady Canterbury Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8f turf
- Canterbury Park: Mystic Lake Mile Handicap, $125,000, 3yo & up, 8f turf
- Woodbine: Ontario Damsel Stakes, $150,000, 3yo f, 8f turf
- Woodbine: Shady Well Stakes, $150,000, 2yo, 5.5f
- Monmouth Park: Klassy Briefcase Stakes, $60,000, 3yo & up, 5.5f turf
- Hollywood Park: Le Cle Stakes, $70,000, 3yo f, 8f turf
- Emerald Downs: Kent Handicap, $50,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
- Emerald Downs: Seattle Slew Handicap, $50,000,3 yo, 8.5f