Swinging for the fences in the Kent S.

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 30th, 2022

Saturday’s edition of the $200,000 Kent S. (G3) at Delaware Park feels like a race ripe for an upset.

The 1 1/8-mile turf test for three-year-olds has drawn a competitive field, but from a class perspective they aren’t necessarily the most consistent runners. #6 Main Event (5-2) is the morning line favorite after dominating Gulfstream Park’s Cutler Bay S. in gate-to-wire fashion, but he was beaten to ninth place in the American Turf S. (G2) at Churchill Downs last time out.

#9 Tommy Bee (3-1) is another short-priced contender after cracking the exacta in seven straight starts. However, the two-time allowance winner has been defeated in all three of his stakes starts to date, including when finishing second as the 1-2 favorite in the Caesars S. at Indiana Grand last month.

So why not think outside the box and play a longshot? That’s the approach I’m tempted to take with #7 Uncle Irish (12-1). The chestnut gelding has never run on turf, but his recent dirt form is strong. On May 20 he wired a $62,500 allowance optional claimer at Pimlico, dominating by 6 1/2 lengths. He was similarly impressive over the same class level at Laurel Park on June 11, employing pace-tracking tactics to score by 5 1/4 lengths.

These efforts produced encouraging Brisnet Speed ratings of 93 and 92, and there are reasons to believe Uncle Irish can handle the switch to turf. For starters, hot trainer Jamie Ness (a 30% winner at Delaware this year) strikes at a solid 20% rate with horses trying grass for the first time. For another, Uncle Irish is a son of Uncle Lino, who sires a lofty 21% winners from first-time turf starters.

In short, I’m willing to bet Uncle Irish can spring a surprise at double-digit odds. A win bet is certainly in order, but we won’t stop there. Let’s swing for the fences and aim for a big payday, keying Uncle Irish over Main Event, Tommy Bee, and French import #3 Elizar (5-1) in the exacta and trifecta.

Kent value plays

  • $14 to win: #7 Uncle Irish
  • $4 Exacta: 7 with 6, 9 ($8)
  • $2 Trifecta: 7 with 6, 9 with 3, 6, 9 ($8)
    Total: $30

Good luck!