This week the Grand Circuit arrives as the leaves turn orange and the grass stays blue, so to speak, in Lexington, Kentucky. The other color involved is red—The Red Mile. Thanks to Nick Salvi, who is representing the two-week GC stint, we have a lot of the important facts concerning the first big weekend of harness racing. And thanks to veteran equine photographer Tom Tanner, we have the photo accompanying this blog:
Frosh colt trotters and filly pacers take the stage as the main attraction of a 12- race program on Friday evening, Sept. 28.
The trotting colts go in four nine-horse divisions, each worth $101,000.
The first highlights Kentucky-bred star Mystical Dew, recently the American National winner in Illinois. Also getting high marks in the field are Longwell, Major Athens and Pine Credit. Bound to be overlooked is one of two maidens, Here’s Johnny. The Ross Croghan-trained son of Deweycheatumnhowe has been racing well enough to cash two big checks in only three starts and may awaken at a price.
The second colt split brings Fashion Blizzard from a big win at Yonkers to take on eight others, including My Man Can and recent winner Jacks To Open. We suggest the 9 horse, Arctic Tale, who won’t get the action he deserves due to the trio just mentioned.
Caveat Emptor leads split three for Ray Schnittker but this is a tough group. No doubt Spider Blue Chip will haunt Ray’s charge and Possessed Fashion is bred for speed. Give your support to whichever is least wagered upon; it doesn’t look like a major upset here.
The colt-trot nightcap is a tight fit, with three maidens and six that have only won a single race. We’ll go with the Chocolatier maiden from the rail, Deadliest Catch. John Duer’s lightly raced fella has one second to his resume but here, on good behavior, he could win his first. Certainly Duer in the bike will help bring the price up.
Pacing fillies race in a trio of nines, each for $108,700. The first division features the recent world-record setting I Luv The Nitelife, once again taking on Parlee Beach. We suspect the price play is Miss Madi M from the wood.
The second division pits Authorize and Carol’s Desire in an evenly matched field, though the former is bound to go off the public choice. Want Answers from the rail should be in the mix as the best candidate for an upset.
In the final filly race, Nikki Beach comes in off a win and now she faces three-time winner South Pacific. For a price, consider Real Mozartist from the rail, with Yannick Gingras probably wanting to be the engineer on the engine all the way.
Saturday’s frosh presentations on the 12-race card are Bluegrass colt pacers in five divisions for purses over $425,000.
Trainer Tony Alagna has brought Captaintreacherousto Kentucky where the headliner continues his campaign. The Somebeachsomewhere colt has three sub-1:50 wins to his credit and comes into his Bluegrass division from a brief freshening. For us, this is the point where there is no competition worth supporting. Let’s watch and see how fast he goes this time.
Earlier on the program, Bob McIntosh has Dress The Part primed for this Bluegrass division but once again we go with Dedi’s Dragon, a colt on the improve from the Ron Burke stable.
In the third division Fool Me Once makes his stateside debut for trainer Mark Austin but we will be all over Sir Richard Z Tam for the Lachance boys.
Next, we will take back Rockin Amadeus, who was second for us up north at 14-1. He might not be near that this week but he could make a cool exacta with Teresa’s Beach sitting behind him.
The fifth freshman split could also belong to an Alagna property—Wake Up Peter. Red-hot Scott Zeron is up and this colt will be fired up from post 2, for sure, though the price is negotiable.
Saturday’s Sophomore Sizzlers
The big Saturday card also hosts three-year-old pacing colts and most of the marquee players arrived to race for $100,000 in each of the two Bluegrass divisions. This season, members of this division have been scorching the miles, many managing to break the three-quarters record but failing to knock that final quarter out of the park. This has made for some swift opportunists and longshots.
Thinking Out Loud tries to regain some respect since losing everything after the $1-million North America Cup. He will again meet the foes that have been beating him, including A Rocknroll Dance. However, sharp from Ohio comes Bettor’s Edge and he certainly cannot be ignored as the upset here. As well, beware of Pet Rock, who devoured horses in Ohio, just not the “Jug” crowd.
In division two Bolt The Duer, one of the “swift opportunists and longshots” (remember this year’s Adios?) meets Sweet Lou again and if that one can fire too quickly for three-quarters, “Bolt” has another chance at being super fast. He cannot do it on his own (at least he has not shown he can), so he will stalk the apparent leader, “Lou.”
We don’t know what happened to Dapper Dude in the Jug but it did not seem to be a general flaw. He can bounce from that defeat and be much better here, especially if he takes the Bolt route, saving ground and doing what he did in Canada with a wide and stealthy close.
The pacing fillies split into a pair of $70,000 divisions.
Jugette-winner Darena Hanover takes on first-heat Shelliscape and the top filly, Romantic Moment, as well as Pennsylvania-heroine Big McDeal. Let’s take Ramalama again, though she bombed in Ohio.
The other split features the veritable American Jewel, facing off against Economy Terror and the darling of New Jersey, Sarandon Blue Chip. There is one way to go against the trio and that is to give Rockaround Sue another shot at an upset, too. She was all right in Ohio but her trip cost her dearly. On this oval she may prove much better.
More race analysis’s from The Red Mile will appear at the Breeders Crown Countdown as soon as Sunday’s races are drawn. Always check the exclusive blog that, along with the Hambletonian Society and TwinSpires, covers major activity in that could affect the 2012 series of champion-making events, again this year on a single card at Woodbine. Keep up to date on great betting opportunities that don’t appear in the regular TwinSpires blog.
Ray Cotolocontributed to this edition.