Covering a lot of ground today, with 2 races on the Enlightened Oaks and Derby Trail combined, plus a race by Tale of Ekati’s top 2YO, and a look to today’s Claiborne Breeders Futurity, which is part of the Million Dollar Finish series.
Let’s start with Keeneland, which doesn’t enter the picture for either of my Trails until near the very end, hosting the Blue Grass and Ashland Stakes in April. For the Million Dollar Finish, I have to basically attempt to pick the order of finish for the top 10. I basically have to be psychic. If I pick a horse for 2nd and he/she wins, I get nothing for it. It’s not right.
Here’s how I see the top 3 in the Futurity:
6 BOLD CONQUEST was 2nd in the Iriquois (Grade 3) last time, after winning maiden race prior. I like him based on pace progression. Debut race was 76, then small new top of 80 to graduate, then surge to 89 in the Iroqouis, which was his debut at a route and first close to home in KY. The 89 is also best in this field for distance. Switching back to Rosie Napravnik for this. 1st or 2nd in 3 lifetime. ML: 9/2. Me: 7/2. Contender, favorite.
8 DEKABRIST won the Kodiak Island at Gulfstream this spring, just after his maiden debut win. Was not a factor in 3 stakes efforts since…no help with gain in class nor in distance or jockey. Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko managed a 2.33 ROI with Graded stakes entries this year, with 1 win and 6 placings. Did manage a gain in Brisnet from 52 to 65 in the Iroquois last out. ML odds: 50/1. Me: 6-1. May prove to be an overlay.
7 CONQUEST TSUNAMI is undefeated in 4, ships from Woodbine, switches from turf and actually makes dirt and route debut here. Always in the lead in the last 3 starts. Won the Colin and Victoria Stakes, 125k each, top class win of field. Won an allowance, presumably as prep, last time out. Debuted at Keeneland with 81 winner. Only horse with prior race on this track. Faces a big field for the first time. Will be in the mix. ML: 9/2. Me: 7-1. Contender at a price.
Here’s the rest of the top 10:
4th: 10 Hashtag Bourbon
5th: 12 WV Jetsetter
6th: 1 Tough Customer
8th: 4 Mr. Z
9th: 11 Keen Ice
10th: 5 Carpe Diem
Tale Of Ekati in the spotlight now, ranked 19th in first-crop foals, 6 wins in 21 races, yet no stakes wins. That stat may change today, as his lone two-time winning progeny, Ekati’s Phaeton, is in the Our Dear Peggy Stakes at Gulfstream. In fact she’s the ML favorite at 3/1. Here’s how I rank the top 3:
10 FROLIC TO THE WIRE I like most for her pace progression; alternating fast/slow races, coming out of a small new top of 79, in an optional-claimer at the 75k level just 7 days ago. In that race she was switching from route to sprint. She disappointed in the Pocahontas (Grade 2) at her one try at route, as well as her only race away from Gulfstream. She’s back to a route here and top company and is aiming to post a consistent score here. I think she will. This will be her debut on grass as well. ML odds: 12/1. My odds: 9/2. Overlay.
11 KITTEN’S TOP CAT has 2 races at GP, breaking maiden status against 43k fillies, and a convincing win in the mud in a mile effort. That race was scheduled for grass but was taken off turf. Today’s weather suggests another off track condition which can help her chances. 4 works since last all here, last 1 around dogs was competitively fast at 5 furlongs. Considering her outside post, she may prove fastest of these. ML odds: 20-1. My odds: 5-1. Overlay.
3 NAVAJO KITTEN is the other Kitten’s Joy offspring here. 2 races on GP’s turf, graduated last out with 83 Brisnet, best turf score of the field as well as for the track. That race was a dead-heat along with the #8 horse, Red Sashay. She has more of the historical/inherent ability to win. Best average winning distance from pedigree too (Kitten’s Joy/Indyan Lisa, by Lemon Drop Kid). ML odds: 5/1. My odds: 6-1.
As for Ekati’s Phaeton, I don’t have her factored at all. She does have the one win in the field beyond maiden and certainly did better in that race than her debut but this is a big class jump, and her first time at a route. ML: 3/1. I say she is best avoided. I would not mind including her in exactas and such but I think we’ll see a real surprise in the top 3.
The Enlightened Trails are at Beautiful Belmont today, the Frizette for fillies, the Champagne for the colts. Track is downgraded to sloppy. .The Grade 1 Frizette has 7 fillies going 1 mile, 500k at stake. Here’s my contenders:
1 CAVORTING won the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga, that after her maiden debut win at Belmont. First shot at a route, and was on the bench 8 weeks. Had 3 works here, 1 very fast. Jockey Irad Oritz Jr. has 9 wins and 16 placings in the last 60 days with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, for an ROI of 4.82. Brisnet gained from 86 to 99 here. Stalking-type horses running a mile on the dirt are winning 43% during the meet thus far. ML odds: 5/2. My odds fully agree.
2 WONDER GAL was 3rd in the Adirondack, and won her debut in the Lynbrook by 14 lengths. Also first time route distance. The 91 Brisnet is the best score on Belmont of this field. 8 weeks off should not be an issue. Best work tab coming in….5 works, last was 1st of 3, running 5 to 7 furlongs in last 4. Probably fastest of the field respective of post (Adirondack speed was 93 from a rail start). ML odds: 6/1. My odds: 9/2. Contender.
3 RING KNOCKER has 2 2nd place finishes in sprints at the 83k maiden level at Saratoga, retains jockey Jose Lezcano for this race 7 weeks later. This is a tough jump up in class. If anything, she gained from 84 to 90 between both races. One of the 3 stalking-types benefited by track bias. Gets Lasix for first time. ML odds: 15/1. My odds are about the same, 17-1. Dark horse.
4 FEATHERED also comes out of a pair of 83k maiden sprints at Saratoga graduating last time by 9 lengths, and increase in Brisnet from 83 to 97. Best average winning distance from pedigree (Indian Charlie/Receipt, by Dynaformer). Top jockey/trainer combo here.. Javier Castellano 18% wins, Todd Pletcher a sharp 26%). 3rd of the 3 stalkers in the field. ML odds: 7/2. My odds: 6/1. Contender at price.
5 CAYMAN CROC won lifetime debut at the 30k level, a mile scheduled for turf, changed to dirt, at Delaware, taking place 53 days ago. Brisnet of 81 is strong for this field at the mile distance. Should have no rust here. Best trip of field coming in….sprinting at or near the lead for the entire mile, winning by 1.5 lengths. ML odds: 12/1. My odds: 17-1. Dark horse.
6 CONDO COMMANDO has 250 EOT points for winning the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga, and can share or gain the lead in the EOT with a placing here. Debut race was very similar result, sprinting and leading much of the race, winning by double digits.Given that the Spinaway was in the mud, as we’re sloppy today, she may well have the off-track advantage. Based on her early speed, she seems to be the speed of this field. ML odds: 2/1. My odds: 3/1. Contender.
7 BY THE MOON picked up the pieces from CONDO COMMANDO in the Spinaway, earning 100 points. Won debut race also at the Spa, winning an 83k maiden race. Michelle Nevin has trained 3 horses going sprint to sprint to route, with 1 win and 3 placings for return of 2.53. ML odds: 8/1. My odds: Worse than 20-1. Stay away.
6 Condo Commando
2 Wonder Gal
Not expecting much in the way of value in this race.
The Champagne Stakes is also at Grade 1, 500k for 2YOs going a mile.1 EL KABEIR graduated from maiden status in style, a 100 Brisnet over 7 furlongs and a 10 length margin of victory. First time with Lasix certainly helped. Best AWD numbers here (Scat Daddy/Great Venue, by Unbridled’s Song). Best works of the field. 3 works at Belmont, 2 of them bullets, and the 3rd nearly so. Stalking-type horse that can succeed here as per the abovementioned track bias. ML odds: 5/2. My odds: 5/1. Contender.
3 I SPENT IT has earned 100 EDT points for being 2nd in the Hopeful at Saratoga. That race was actually a bounce, as he had won his prior race, the Grade 2 Saratoga Special with a 99 Brisnet. His stalking style makes him the speed of the field. Also should progress further and bounce back in this race. His 77 from a middle post is actually best among those making a start from a general set of posts (that is, comparing those with prior inner, middle or outer posts). Another stalker type that can succeed here. ML odds: 6/1. My odds: 7/5. Favorite, contender and overlay.
5 THE TRUTH OR ELSE took 4 tries to graduate from maiden winning with his first appearance on dirt last time out, going a mile in his fastest lifetime appearance, an 87 Brisnet score. That score is fastest at the distance of the field. Certainly a risk to bounce here, as his prior races were in the 70s, tho that may be overlooked because those were grass races. ML odds: 10/1. My odds: 9/2. Contender, overlay.
6 DAREDEVIL won his lifetime debut, a 75k maiden race, by 6.25 lengths, and a 92 Brisnet. That score is fastest of this field at Belmont, as well as best on an off track. Top jockey/trainer combo (Castellano/Pletcher again). ML odds: 2/1. My odds: 3/1. Contender.
3 I Spent It
5 The Truth Or Else
1 El Kabeir
Good race for value, with overlays 3 and 5 factoring in my top 3.