Why I'm Betting Amy's Challenge in the Raven Run Stakes
As handicappers and racing fans, we all have horses that we follow and support for better or worse. Usually it’s because, at some point early on, we saw them flash significant talent that suggested the future was bright, pushing our expectations so high that we’re tempted to offer up our wagering dollars every time they run.One such horse of mine is running in Saturday’s $250,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, that being #1 Amy’s Challenge. For the most part this year, the three-year-old daughter of Artie Schiller has disappointed me, but I have the feeling that Saturday could be the day she finally lives up to her full potential.
As a two-year-old racing at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, Amy’s Challenge showed a ton of raw ability, flashing the speed of a very capable sprinter to win her debut by 16 ½ lengths before beating colts (including the talented Mr. Jagermeister) in the Shakopee Juvenile Stakes. Those efforts earned her eye-catching BRIS speed figures of 97 and 105, which remain her best figures to date.
Amy’s Challenge opened 2018 with a strong performance in the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park, in which she tracked blazing fractions of :21.48 and :44.49 before getting up to beat the future graded stakes winner Mia Mischief by a neck. But attempts to stretch out Amy’s Challenge around two turns resulted in frustration as the speedy filly ran over to huge leads in both the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) and the Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) before tiring late to finish second and third, respectively. And when she cut back to seven furlongs for the Eight Belles Stakes (gr. II), she seemed burned out from her tough spring campaign and faded to last place after dueling for the lead through fast fractions.
But following a three-month layoff, Amy’s Challenge returned to score an easy victory in a five-furlong turf allowance race at Canterbury Park, defeating the next-out stakes winner Honey’s Sox Appeal by 1 ½ lengths. Now Amy’s Challenge is switching back to dirt and stretching out to seven furlongs, which should be more or less her ideal distance. Her race record is loaded with triple-digit BRIS E1 and E2 pace figures, so she should be able to secure the lead while breaking from post one, and judging from her recent workouts at Keeneland (five furlongs in :58 3/5, five furlongs in :59 flat, and four furlongs in :46 4/5), her rivals could have a tough time keeping up early on.
I’m not going to get too creative here. Amy’s Challenge should offer decent odds, so rather than try to crush the exotics, I’ll just bet Amy’s Challenge to win and place and hope she lives up to my expectations:
$10 to win/place on #1 Amy’s Challenge ($20)