In search of value in Pennine Ridge, Penn Mile, PA Governor's Cup

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 2nd, 2017

With a couple exceptions, turf dominates the graded proceedings across North America on Saturday. Three-year-olds have the spotlight in the features at Belmont Park and Penn National, and here's where I'm leaning in those as well as a turf sprint for older horses.

Pennine Ride (Race 9, Belmont Park): There's not a lot of pace here, though Oscar Performance (#6) may not be in the best of form to take full advantage. Likely favorite Good Samaritan (#9) is overdue to have a better trip and might enjoy this more expansive setting. However, I'm settling on Ticonderoga (#7, 6-1), who's had valid excuses in three of the four losses he's incurred since his maiden win over the Widener turf here. Narrowly beaten by Good Samaritan in his debut, he was even farther behind that unlucky rival in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) but managed to rally into fourth place at the wire. A solid winner of the Palm Beach (G3) in his season debut, I'm willing to look past his disappointing run in the Transylvania (G3), where he endured a wide run on less-than-firm ground. Unsurprisingly, the Chad Brown barn is red-hot at the moment and this colt appears capable of continuing the trend.

Pennsylvania Governor's Cup (Race 7, Penn National): Richard's Boy (#2), who just won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint two weeks ago, the swift Rainbow Heir (#7) or defending titlist Take Cover (#4) would all be straightforward selections. But the value might lie with Ready for Rye (#1, 5-1), whose best turf sprint form, now hidden for the most part on the past performances, would put him in the mix. Recall he was rather fancied at 6-1 in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland, but faded after an early pace battle with Lady Shipman over softish ground. His lone two grass runs since came against the classy Pure Sensation, a tough nut to crack in six-furlong dashes at Belmont. Otherwise, he's been settling for minor awards in various dirt sprints of late. I think the five-year-old's best game, barring an off main track, is on grass. Though unraced since November, I look for him to make a late bid with a strong pace helping out.

Penn Mile (Race 9, Penn National): Holiday Stone (#6, 12-1) is another that should offer value. With other speed breaking to his inside, I'd expect him to revert to the stalking tactics that have worked well for him in the past. He did show early zip in the Transylvania (G3) two back, narrowly missing to fellow Mile entrant Big Score (#7) at 34-1, but last time perhaps struggled with the wet ground when down on the inside at Churchill in the American Turf (G2). Easily the worst of run of his career, I'm willing to draw a line through it and look for better form this time around.

(Ticonderoga photo: Adam Coglianese Photography)