The Player’s Edge – June 14th: Churchill Downs & Hollywood Park

Matt Carter

June 14th, 2013


Photo: Matt Carter

Churchill Downs – Matt Winn Stakes


Churchill Downs – Stephen Foster Handicap


Churchill Downs – Regret Stakes


Hollywood Park – Vanity Handicap

Churchill Downs – Matt Winn Stakes Grade 3 Three-Year-Olds

The All-Stakes Pick-4 on Saturday night at Chuchill Downs begins with the Fleur De Lis Handicap and normally we would start there; however, with the presence of champion Royal Delta and a seemingly free square, we will begin with the much tough Matt Winn. The Grade 3 stakes race drew a full field of 11 and contention runs deep.

The morning line favorite for the race is Code West at a lukewarm 4-1, but the feeling is that he will be lower than that. The Lemon Drop Kid ridgling comes out of a win on Preakness day at Pimlico and was second by a neck two starts back at Churchill on Derby day. Code West has been working lights out in the mornings since the Pimlico score and his owner/trainer/jockey combination of Gary & Mary West, Bob Baffert and Rosie Napravnik scored a small stakes win last weekend at Belmont Park.

In addition to Code West, the West’s also enter Treasury Bill, who is now trained by Wayne Catalano after moving to Churchill from Ron Ellis at Hollywood Park. Treasury Bill looks best as a late-running sprinter so he may have been entered to insure a decent pace, which was not the case for Code West in his last start.

The horse that beat Code West by the neck at Churchill was Bellarmine, who is also entered in the Matt Winn. While Code West was stuck behind horses, Bellarmine had the run of the race and made nearly every pole a winning one. It’s likely the son of Magna Graduate does not get an uncontested lead on Saturday.

Uncaptured and Abstraction look like they are pretty handy colts and will be on or near the pace early. Uncaptured just ran second in the Wando Stakes at Woodbine over the Polytrack, but as a two-year-old won back-to-back races at Churchill including the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. By Lion Heart, Uncaptured cost $290,000 as a yearling and has been training over the Churchill track since late May.

Abstraction has won two of his first three races, highlighted by a win in the $75,000 Federico Tesio at Pimlico in late April. Not sure the reason for the layoff, but if the bullet drills are any indication on how he will run, watch out. Do note that his dam, Andujar, was a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed.

Two “apple-cart” horses are Sunbean and Carve, both of which coincidentally enough started their racing careers for Al Stall and are now in different barns.

Sunbean won three of his first four races against Louisiana-breds then has found the open waters a bit too deep in his last two. Back on dirt after a fifth place finish in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland, Sunbean could rebound with the blinkers going on.

Carve made a splash in his debut at Oaklawn Park and was claimed from Claiborne Farm and Al Stall by the current trainer, Steve Asmussen. Carve ran sixth in the Grade 2 Rebel and third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. He is a late running type that will need them to go a bit faster up front if he is to make an impact.

Gotta catch Bellarmine and hold off Code West, which won’t be an easy thing to do. Rounding out the field are Looking Cool, Dewey Square, Street Spice and Ruler of Love. Post time for the Matt Winn is 9:05 pm ET.


Churchill Downs – Stephen Foster Handicap Fort Larned Looks to Rebound

The feature race under the lights on Saturday at Churchill Downs is the 32nd running of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap for older horses. The race only drew a field of six, but those six have won seven Grade 1 races between them.

Fort Larned is co-third choice on the morning line, but when right is the best horse in the country. The E Dubai horse won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic last year at Santa Anita, holding off Mucho Macho Man and Flat Out. It hasn’t been an easy start to 2013; Fort Larned dumped his jockey at Gulfstream Park in March then was completely flat at Oaklawn in April. Was 2012 just a flash in the pan or are there bigger and better things to come?

If Fort Larned is going to win the Foster he is going to have to work hard to do so. His best wins have come on the speed and there is plenty of pace to go around on Friday.

Take Charge Indy breaks outside of Fort Larned and is coming off a smashing six-length win in the Grade 2 Alysheba on Kentucky Oaks day last month. It was the first win for the son of A.P. Indy since making all to win the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March 2012. The bullet drill on June 8 jumps off the page and while it may be best to stalk the pace, Rose Napravnik may not have a choice.

Successful Dan is the actually morning line favorite for the race and while he may look like a speed horse, he is anything but. In 2010 the gelded son of Successful Appeal was disqualified from the win in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap over the track then took 17 months off and has only lost once in his four starts since. He has won from sprinting and routing on the dirt and synthetic and has won from on and off-the-pace. There’s a reason he’s the favorite.

The winning horses don’t stop with those three as Golden Ticket, Ron the Greek and Pool Play are all Grade 1 winners.

Golden Ticket dead-heated for the win in the Grade 1 Travers last year at Saratoga and just won an allowance race a month ago as a solid prep for the Foster. On figures; however, he is a cut below the top choices.

Pool Play won the Foster way back in June 2011 and has only one win in eight starts since. He may be better at ten furlongs than the nine he gets on Saturday. The one thing he does have going for him is the likely pace scenario. Jockey Miguel Mena just cannot get too far back, so far back that he is head and head with Ron the Greek.

Ron the Greek has absolutely no early speed. He just likes to take his sweet time and then burst home late. He did that when he won two Grade 1 races in 2012, the Santa Anita Handicap and the Stephen Foster. It is an interesting fact that the horse he beat in the Foster last year, Wise Dan, who runs for the same connections as Successful Dan.

It looks like Saturday will be their best shot to turn the tables.

Post time for the Foster is 9:39 pm ET.


Churchill Downs – Regret Stakes End of the All-Stakes Pick-4

The final leg of the All-Stakes pick-4 on Saturday at Churchill Downs is the Grade 3 Regret for three-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the turf course. Eleven will line up in the gate with Kitten’s Dumplings the one to beat.

Kitten’s Dumplings may be a second single on many tickets with Royal Delta and wouldn’t be shocked to see a ticket that looks like this: Royal Delta with all with all with Kitten’s Dumplings. Kitten’s Dumplings comes off an easy win in the Edgewood Stakes, the local prep race for the Regret. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy was second in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on the Tampa Bay Downs turf and is the class of the field.

After the favorite trying to pick an exacta filly or even one to upset Kitten’s Dumplings gets a little tougher. Of the remaining ten, seven of them are between 6-1 and 10-1 on the morning line. All in at 6-1 are Praia, Oscar Party and Seaneen Girl.

Praia was second to the favorite in the Edgewood at huge odds of 45-1 and would have paid over $90 had she been able to get up. She is now 6-1 and needs to make up three and three-quarter lengths. Perhaps jockey Alan Garcia will have her closer to the pace as she was in her first four races.

Oscar Party made her three-year-old debut a winning one, drawing off to win an allowance race over the course by two and three-quarter lengths. The second place finisher came back to win her next start and the third place finisher is Beverage Queen, who is also in the Regret. Oscar Party is likely to be position in front of the favorite early and will need to break away to hold her off late.

Seaneen Girl makes her turf debut after four straight dirt starts and five straight synthetic starts to begin her career. On the synthetic track at Woodbine, Seaneen Girl won her first race and was Grade 3 placed. From post nine jockey Shaun Bridgmohan may opt to use her early to get a good position.

The next group of fillies, including Beverage Queen, all have claims on the place spots except for maybe Broken Spell, but just when you dismiss a Wayne Lukas-trained horse, that’s when they win.

Eden Prairie is the likely pace-setter in the Regret, first off the layoff after finishing third, beaten a half-length in the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland in April. She has a bullet drill in preparation for this and will be tough to run down.

Intelyhente, which phonetically sounds like the Spanish “intelligente,” which means intelligent, made her bettors look just that when scoring at nearly 7-1 last month. She was slow early then blasted home late to win at nine furlongs. She is the only one in fact to have even raced at this distance. No question marks over her tactics as jockey Corey Lanerie should break and put her near the back early, letting the speed clear off in front of him.

Lanerie should just follow Kitten’s Dumplings and make his run when Rosario makes his aboard the favorite. Let the best filly win.

First post on Saturday at Churchill is 6:00 pm ET with the Regret scheduled to break from the gates at 10:11.


Hollywood Park – Vanity Handicap Grade 1 Fillies and Mares

The leader of the fillies and mares division may be racing at Churchill Downs on Saturday, but the better field of fillies and mares is at Hollywood Park a half hour earlier in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap. The nine-furlong race drew a field of six; let’s take a look.

More Chocolate is the morning line favorite at 5-2 back in southern California after a fifth place finish in the Grade 2 La Troienne last month. This is the Malibu Moon filly’s first start on a synthetic surface, but she has run well enough on turf to suggest the switch will not be an issue. If she runs back to her Santa Margarita or La Canada races the rest of the field will be running for second.

While More Chocolate is making her Hollywood debut, she has been training over the track; four of the other entrants have already won over the surface including a two-bagger for Royal Tiger.

Royal Tiger has been doing her running against allowance company and now makes the step up the class ladder to the top. She blitzed first level allowance runners by 14 in her latest race two weeks ago and may be the pace of the race.

If Royal Tiger doesn’t go, and by all accounts it looks like she will, then Esentepe will be carving out the early splits. The Irish-bred daughter of Oratorio drops from the Grade 3 Wilshire to get the money over the main Cushion track last month and won with something in reserve. Owner William de Burgh and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer are the same owner/trainer combination that brought us Grade 1 winner Heatseeker.

Stalking the early pace will be Lady of Fifty with Open Water bringing up the rear. The two fillies just ran one-two in a Grade 2 over the course in mid-May with Open Water getting the better of the odds-on favorite. Lady of Fifty won the Grade 2 Bayakoa over the track in December of last year and should improve second start off the layoff. Open Water also makes her second start off the layoff making the two fillies hard to separate. Adding to their little rivalry, Open Water finished second to Lady of Fifty in that Bayakoa race.

That is five of the six starters with the last one being Byrama, who is making her first start at a distance greater than a mile. Where she will be in the pace is anyone’s guess. Trainer Simon Callaghan takes the blinkers on for the first time since finishing fourth, beaten less than a length, in a stakes race over the Del Mar turf. She ran from off the pace that day and she looks like a late running sprinter and while often sprinters stretching out show more speed, Byrama does not fit that mold. She was only a length off the pace of Mizdirection in the one-mile Buena Vista in February, but also 11 lengths off the pace in the one-mile San Clemente at Del Mar in July 2012.

It wouldn’t even be shocking to see jockey Gary Stevens roll her to the lead and go wire-to-wire. It’s that type of race.

First post on Saturday at Hollywood Park is 4:00 pm ET with the Vanity off at 8:00. Also on the day are the Cinderella and Willard Proctor for the two-year-olds.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.

Saturday– June 15
  • Churchill Downs:  Stephen Foster Handicap - G1, $500,000, 3yo & up, 9f
  • Churchill Downs:  Fleur de Lis Handicap - G2, $175,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f
  • Churchill Downs:  Regret Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo f, 9f turf
  • Churchill Downs:  Matt Winn Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Hollywood Park:  Vanity Handicap - G1, $250,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f
  • Hollywood Park:  Cinderella Stakes, $100,000, 2yo f, 5.5f
  • Hollywood Park:  Willard Proctor Stakes, $100,000, 2yo, 5.5f
  • Delaware Park:  Obeah Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f
  • Delaware Park:  Go For Wand Stakes, $75,000, 3yo f, 8f 70y
  • Arlington Park:  Black Tie Affair Handicap, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f turf
  • Arlington Park:  Lincoln Heritage Handicap, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf
  • Golden Gate Fields: Lost In The Fog Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6f
  • Monmouth Park:  Crank It Up Stakes, $60,000, 3yo f, 5.5f turf
  • Woodbine: Zadracarta Stakes, $125,000, 3yo & up f&m, 7fturf
  • Woodbine:  Steady Growth Stakes, $125,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
Sunday – June 16
  • Hollywood Park:  Desert Stormer Handicap, $70,000, 3yo & up f&m, 6f
  • Monmouth Park:  Pegasus Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Monmouth Park:  Dan Horn Handicap, $60,000, 3yo & up, 8fturf
  • Woodbine:  Victoria Park Stakes, $150,000, 3yo, 9f