Big Money and Big Opinions Monday at Mahoning Valley
There is a $200,000 stakes race today at Mahoning Valley Race Course, and shame on me for not knowing this for certain, but I think it is the co-second-highest purse ever offered for a Thoroughbred* race in Ohio. The Ohio Derby is tops, and the long-gone Cradle Stakes at the former River Downs is the other $200,000 race.
Regardless of where it ranks in that regard, the Steel Valley Sprint Stakes is definitely an intriguing race pitting the top three from the Perryville Stakes with sharp claim Tanner's Popsicle. #2 Hebbronville won the latter and has to tote 124 pounds in this contest, a seven-pound penalty against the seven rivals. And while he picks up 7 pounds, he loses jockey Joe Bravo, though Trevor McCarthy aboard here was also up for consecutive wins in July, including the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes.
Ricardo Santana sticks with #6 Bayerd and Irad Ortiz #7 Lewys Vaporizer, who will be gunning from the outside after an inside draw in the Perryville as one of two "E" types in this race. The other is #3 Tanner's Popsicle, who has won five of seven races since Tom Amoss claimed him, including his last four. Corey Lanerie retains the mount, and based on Brisnet.com Pace Ratings, wouldn't be surprised to see this one tracking Lewys Vaporizer early rather than engage in an all-out duel despite the inside draw.
The Steel Valley is the second leg of a Pick 4 that kicks off with the Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff Stakes. I'll use Lewys Vaporizer and Tanner's Popsicle as "A" picks and Hebbronville and Bayerd as "B" selections along with On Spirit River, who ships in from Maryland with a 2-for-4 record at the distance.
My all "A" Pick 4 ticket: 1, 3, 5, 10 with 3, 7 with 1, 3 with 10.
*an important distinction since the richest horse races in Ohio are for Standardbreds with the Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fair the richest race in the state