The Player’s Edge – June 21st: Hollywood Park & Colonial Downs

Matt Carter

June 21st, 2013

Hollywood Park – Hollywood Park Oaks


Colonial Downs – All Along Stakes


Colonial Downs – Colonial Turf Cup


Colonial Downs – Da Hoss Stakes


Hollywood Park – Hollywood Oaks A Five Pack of Fillies

The feature race on Saturday at Hollywood Park is the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks, which drew a compact field of five three-year-old fillies. The morning line favorite is Iotapa, who is coming off a win in the Railbird Stakes last month.

Iotapa is only making her fifth career start and second around two turns. She won her debut when in the bard of Marty Jones and was claimed out of that race by her current trainer, John Sadler. The only defeat of her career was a second place finish to Beholder, one of the best three-year-old fillies in the country. With Beholder out of the Hollywood Oaks, Iotapa is the filly to beat.

While Iotapa has only run four previous times, the second choice on the morning line Doinghardtimeagain is making her ninth career start. In her previous eight races the daughter of Ministers Wild Cat has four wins and three seconds including a perfect three-for-three at Hollywood Park. She has been working well in the mornings and is the filly to beat.

Exiting a second place finish behind Iotapa in the Railbird is Ciao Bella Luna, winner of the Grade 2 Beaumont in April at Keeneland. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Tribal Rule has run twice around two turns and those are the worst two races of her career.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has both Doinghardtimeagain and Ciao Bella Luna so expect the two to be separated in the early running.

Ondine could prove to be a gift at 4-1 on the morning line and clearly has the ability to win based on her last two starts, a maiden race at Santa Anita and an allowance race at Hollywood Park. The Medaglia d’Oro filly looks to have good tactical speed and it would not even be a shock to see her take them wire-to-wire. Her speed figures are soft, but perhaps we haven’t seen the best of her yet.

The long shot in the field is Unbridled Wee and her connections are hoping for a fast pace as she is a filly that comes from the back of the pack. Of course with Gary Stevens aboard we may see new tactics as he has been a force on the front-end recently. The old man can still ride.

First post on Satuday at Hollywood Park is 4:00 pm ET with the Oaks scheduled to break from the gates at 5:01. As race three, it is part of both the pick-5 and early pick-4.


Colonial Downs – All Along Stakes Grade 3 Turf Fillies and Mares

Two graded stakes on the Saturday card at Colonial Downs and first up is the Grade 3 All Along Stakes for fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the turf. The race drew a field of seven led by morning line favorite Channel Lady.

Channel Lady gets bit of a class relief on Saturday after running in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park. The daughter of English Channel started off her career winning three of four races, but has only one win since. She has now shown the same kind of speed in her last two starts and there is other pace in the race.

Drawn to her inside on rail is Welcome Dance, one of the aforementioned pace runners. The Henny Hughes filly has not run since finishing seventh after setting the early pace in the Grade 3 Valley View at Keeneland last October, but does own a win at this distance and has run well off the layoff in the past.

The other speedy filly, Adjacent, is not drawn adjacent to those two, in fact she is drawn at the opposite end of the gate in post seven. The seven-year-old mare makes her stakes debut after ten starts, which have been spaced out since her first start back in August 2009. Trainer Shug McGaughey is looking to start off the second half of 2013 better than the way the first half ended.

The best of the closers are Clare Skies Ahead, Embarr and Appealing Cat; all three have a shot hit the board or even upset the apple cart.

Clare Skies Ahead is the longest shot of the three, but finished second in this race last year, beaten only a neck. She comes into the race this year off a little different schedule; however, with only one prep race under her belt. She will be flying late and will need some help up front.

Embarr is drawn in post four and may have a bit more early speed than Clare Skies Ahead. The lone Virginia-bred in the field, Embarr has won seven of her 17 career starts including a perfect three-for-three on the Colonial grass. She needs to improve off her sixth place finish in the Grade 3 Galorette Handicap in mid-May at Pimlico.

Appealing Cat is 3-1 on the morning line, the actual second choice in the field. The Graham Motion-trained filly does not really win out of turn and has yet to crack the top spot in a graded stakes race. If there was any chance of her doing so, Saturday is the day.

Rounding out the field is long shot Idle Talk, who was eighth in the Ms Liberty Stakes in late May at Monmouth Park.

Post time for the All Along is 7:10 pm ET.


Colonial Downs – Colonial Turf Cup Atigun Meets a Field of Eight

The co-feature Saturday at Colonial Downs is the Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup, which drew a field of eight. The field is a little more open than the All Along and could be a spread race as the final leg of the pick-4.

The morning line favorite at 5-2 is Air Support, who is coming off a fourth place finish in an allowance race as the favorite in early May at Churchill Downs. While Air Support is a Grade 2 winner, he has only returned to the winner’s circle once in his last nine starts. He did win the Grade 2 Virginia Derby over the course in July 2011 and was second in this race last year.

While Air Support is the favorite, the horse to beat may be Atigun, who has found a new life on the turf. The son of Istan was a player in the three-year-old stakes last year, but was never really able to break through. After a couple of also-rans in graded stake races this year Atigun won his turf debut then was a good second to the Dark Cove in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap last month at Churchill Downs. He is reunited with jockey Julien Leparoux, who was aboard his turf win two back.

Next on the morning line are Swift Warrior, Hyper and General Logan; contenders on their best day and worth a look in the wide open race.

Swift Warrior drew post five for the Turf Cup and is reunited with the jockey Jose Espinoza, who won both the Grade 3 Connally and Grade 3 Tampa Bay aboard the five-year-old hose. Swift Warrior won the Connally on the pace and the Tampa Bay from just off so he is versatile in a race that came up a bit light on pace. The horse that is most likely to set the pace is General Logan, who is coming off an easy win at Pimlico last month.

General Logan won three of his first four starts last year before jumping into the deep end against Grade 1 horses in the Hollywood Derby. He didn’t fare so well in that race, but came back strong at Pimlico and shows two good works since. Jockey Edgar Prado has been a turf whiz recently and at 6-1, General Logan may be the one to lead the charge to the winner’s circle.

Prado has a choice whether to set the pace himself or sit just off long shot Two Notch Road, who is coming off a third place finish as a 56-1 outsider in the Grade 2 Monmouth. For comparison though, Two Notch Road was a neck behind Big Blue Kitten, who beat Air Support by two lengths in the allowance race at Churchill.

Hyer is likely to sit the trip in the Turf Cup under jockey Jose Lezcano for one of the leading owner/trainer combinations in the game of the Ramseys and Michael Maker. He was good enough to win five straight in 2011-2012, but has only one win in his last six starts, two of which came in England.

Roadhog and London Lane are the two longest shots on the board and a win by either would blow up the tote.

Post time for the Colonial Turf Cup is 7:46 pm ET.


Colonial Downs – Da Hoss Stakes Second Leg of the Pick 4

The Da Hoss Stakes is the only ungraded stakes on Saturday at Colonial Downs, but as part of the pick-4 it is just as important. Of course it may prove to be the universal single for all tickets if Hudson Steele is ready to roll of the nearly one-year layoff.

Hudson Steele is 4-5 on the morning line and worth of it being a Grade 2 winner and having a fourth place finish on the resume as well. While those two races came at nine and ten furlongs, Hudson Steele has two wins and a second in races at a flat mile. Not sure how cranked he will be for the race on Satuday; however, and he offers little to no wagering value.

Headlining the list of contenders is Hoofit, who is coming off a second place finish in a stakes race over the Belmont turf course in mid-May. Of course it’s hard to recommend wagering on a horse that has not won since October 2011 and has only two wins in 23 starts on the turf.

Action Andy gets back on the turf for the first time since September 2012 and should show much better in his second start off the layoff. In contrast to Hoofit, Action Andy has four wins in 14 starts on the turf including a sparkling record over the turf at Colonial. In eight starts in Virginia, Action Andy has three wins and four seconds. Look for him to set the pace from his rail draw and could take them wire-to-wire if there is no pace pressure from the stretch-out sprinter Disco Elvis.

Sitting in the second flight of horses should be Hudson Steele as well as Alajwad Dancer and Change of Command, two six-year-old geldings that are making their graded stakes debut.

Alajwad Dancer seems to always hit the board with 10 in-the-money finishes in 15 career starts. The Florida-bred has not run since finishing sixth in the state-bred Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs, which was his worst finish since June 2012. The blinkers go on and he has been stable locally since early this month.

Change of Command is another for the trifecta and superfecta, having been outside the top four only once in his last 12 starts. Class is the only question mark for the Michael Trombetta-trained gelding.

The co-longest shot on the board with Disco Elvis is Powder Mountain, the one most likely to be at the back of the pack early. The seven-year-old gelding has no early speed and will be doing his best running late. It’s probably not enough to win, but he does have eight seconds and thirds in 12 starts at Colonial.

If Hudson Steele runs his race, Powder Mountain may finish 12 lengths behind.

Post time for the Da Hoss is 6:44 pm ET and is the second leg of the pick-4, which starts in race four, a starter handicap for three-year-olds and upward.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

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

Saturday– June 22
  • Hollywood Park: Hollywood Oaks - G2, $150,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
  • Colonial Downs:  Colonial Turf Cup - G2, $300,000, 3yo & up, 9.5f turf
  • Colonial Downs:  All Along Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f turf
  • Colonial Downs:  Da Hoss Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 8f turf
  • Churchill Downs:  Debutante Stakes, $100,000, 2yo f, 6f
  • Calder Race Course:  JJ's Dream Stakes, $100,000, 2yo f, 5.5f
  • Calder Race Course:  Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes, $100,000, 2yo, 5.5f
  • Charles Town:  Its Binn Too Long Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 4.5f
  • Monmouth Park:  Blue Sparkler Stakes, $60,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Parx:  Don LeVine Memorial Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 7f
  • Pleasanton:  California Wine Stakes, $50,000, 3yo f, 6f
  • Woodbine: Victoria Stakes, $150,000, 2yo f, 5f
Sunday – June 23
  • Hollywood Park:  Tsunami Slew Stakes, $70,000, 3yo, 8f turf
  • Monmouth Park: Revidere Stakes - G2, $200,000, 3yo, 8f turf
  • Woodbine: King Edward Stakes - G2, $200,000, 3yo & up, 8f turf
  • Emerald Downs:  Coca-Cola Handicap, $50,000, 3yo, 8f
  • Emerald Downs:  Irish Day Handicap, $50,000, 3yo f, 8f
  • Pleasanton:  Livermore Valley Wine Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 6f