Dry Track Can Help Farrell Rebound in Azeri Stakes
Some horses like wet tracks; other show a strong dislike for anything but dry footing. And of course, once in a while a horse comes along and shows an affinity for only certain types of wet tracks.Such a horse is entered in Saturday’s $350,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, that being #2 Farrell. A brief glance at her record on wet tracks reveals that she’s won 2-for-5 in such conditions, but a closer examination of her performances reveals that she is 0-for-2 on tracks labeled “sloppy and sealed.” For whatever reason, Farrell simply doesn’t seem to care for such footing.
Keeping this in mind certainly helps explain some of Farrell’s most notable defeats. Last winter, the daughter of Malibu Moon embarked on a four-race win streak that saw her win the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II), Silverbulletday Stakes, Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II), and Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) by a combined 15 ½ lengths. On every occasion, she used her excellent cruising speed to secure good position and dominate her opposition.
Then came the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), held over a sloppy and sealed track. Being part of a fast pace didn’t help her chances, but the footing may have been the bigger issue as she retreated to finish last.
Given some time off, Farrell returned to the races last fall and soon picked up where she left off, winning the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in a sharp performance and following up with an excellent gate-to-wire win in the Pippin Stakes going 8.5 furlongs at Oaklawn, the same conditions as the Azeri. Unfortunately, Farrell caught a sloppy track again in the Bayakoa Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn last month and once again finished last, eased across the finish line after failing to show her typical early speed.
That disappointing run has left Farrell as an 8-1 shot in the Azeri, but if you excuse her effort as the result of a sloppy track, she suddenly looks like one of the main contenders. Farrell has already beaten several of her Azeri rivals, including #3 Terra Promessa and #6 Streamline, and in a race where Terra Promessa appears to be the only other serious speed horse, there’s a chance that Farrell could shake loose on a modest pace and spring a gate-to-wire upset.
I’ll play the race with that idea in mind and box Farrell in the exacta with Terra Promessa and the talented Falls City Handicap (gr. II) winner #8 Blue Prize, who also likes to race reasonably close to the pace.
$6 to win on #2 Farrell $4 exacta: 2,3,8 with 2,3,8 ($24)