The Player's Edge - September 6th: Two-Year-Old Stake Races

Matt Carter

September 6th, 2013


Photo: Matt Carter

Churchill Downs – Pocahontas Stakes


Churchill Downs – Iroquois Stakes


Arlington Park – Arlington Washington Futurity


Arlington Park - Arlington Washington Lassie

Churchill Downs – Pocahontas Stakes Eight Fillies Go Eight and One-Half

Special September racing is upon us at Churchill Downs when the meet opens on Friday, September 6. While Friday is opening day, Saturday is the day to tune in. Four stake races are on the card, first up is the Grade 2 Pocahontas for two-year-old fillies.

The morning line favorite for the Pocahontas is Stonetastic, the Mizzen Mast filly that won her debut by a widening 12 and one-half lengths at Monmouth Park. What makes that margin of victory even more impressive is that it came in a five and one-half furlong sprint. Only two horses have run since then, one finishing second and the other fourth, both in maiden special weight races.

In addition to Stonetastic, there are four other fillies in the field that are going straight to the Grade 2 Pocahontas after winning their debut.

Untapable won her debut over the track in June and has been working regularly at Saratoga since late July. Not sure if trainer Steve Asmussen targeted this race, or perhaps he wanted to run her in New York, but she was just not ready.

Milam won her debut at Ellis Park in stylish fashion, drawing off to win by just under four lengths. The fields at Ellis may not be the best, but she beat a next out winner and did it so well that she could handle the class hike and track switch. Also her sire, Street Sense, made Churchill Downs his home in 2006 and 2007 winning both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby.

Rosalind also won her debut at Ellis, but over the turf course. She is the one of two fillies in the field with a win around two turns and only one with a win at a mile or longer. She is bred on the bottom for turf, but sire Broken Vow was a graded stakes winner on the dirt.

The class of the field is Elena Strikes, a debut winner in her own right at Monmouth Park before finishing third in the Grade 2 Schuylerville at Saratoga in July. The fifth place finisher out of the Schuylerville came back in her next start to win a stakes race at Mountaineer, while the dead-heat winners game back with disappointing efforts in the Grade 1 Spinaway. The daughter of Smart Strike may get over looked in the wagering even though she will be ridden by John Velazquez and is trained by Todd Pletcher.

Rounding out the field are Harlan’s Special, Nevada Deputy and Redheaded Witch. Nevada Deputy won a turf race around two turns at Louisiana Downs while Harlan’s Special is still a maiden after two starts, finishing behind both Untapable and Rosalind, and Redheaded Witch broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park in her debut, but with a very low speed figure. All three look like they will be doing their best running late and could hit the board at a good price.

If they want to win, they will need to step up their game, but with two-year-olds, anything is possible.

Racing on Saturday at Churchill Downs will be under the lights and post time for the Pocahontas is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

Churchill Downs – Iroquois Stakes Ride On Curlin One to Beat

The second of the stake races for two-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs is the 32nd running of the Grade 3 Iroquois. The eight and one-half furlong race drew a full field of 12 led by morning line favorite Ride On Curlin.

Ride On Curlin began his career at Churchill Downs with a good second place finish in a very productive maiden race. Six in that race have come back to run with one win, two seconds, one third and two fourths. Of the two second place finishes, one was in a stakes race at Woodbine and the other was by a nose. Ride On Curlin came out of that race and absolutely blitzed maidens at Ellis Park in mid-July, making him the one to beat on Saturday.

Now there are a couple of caveats with the favorite, one he has only had two published workouts since that race, a month apart, and two, the son of Curlin cost only $25,000 as a yearling and Curlin’s yearlings from 2011 averaged $136,780 at auction. Those may be two small concerns, but we are always trying to beat the favorite.

The next three choices are all between 7-2 and 6-1 on the morning line then the horses all jump up to double digits. The race is extremely wide open and could produce a couple of very nice payouts in the mutli-leg and multi-position wagers.

Tapiture is the second choice and may even start favored based on his connections and running line from his debut. The Tapit colt finished second at Saratoga last month to Strong Mandate, who came right back to run away from the Grade 1 Hopeful field and looks to be a top prospect for Wayne Lukas. Tapiture was three lengths clear of the third place horse in that maiden race and with another step forward would crush.

Rise Up and Solemnly Swear have something that Tapiture does not, wins. Rise Up has won two of his three starts including the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile a month ago. Rise Up started his career on the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs under the care of Timothy Hamm, but is now in the Tom Amoss barn. Not sure what he beat at Mountaineer, but never count out an Amoss horse.

Solemnly Swear is one of two horses in the race with a win at a mile or more on the dirt. The Yes It’s True colt had two five-furlong races then, when stretched out to a mile, destroyed maidens by eight and one-half lengths. The second place horse out of that race came right back two win while three others finished second or third. It could be a good day for trainer Kelly Breen with Stonetastic in the Pocahontas and Solemnly Swear in the Iroquois.

Two interesting long shots in the field are All Cash and Honorable Judge. All Cash is a Wayne Lukas horse that is bred for the turf, but is also one that will have no problem with the distance. Honorable Judge won his maiden at Parx in a one-mile race where he just dominated late, drawing off to win by just under seven lengths. If the favorites falter, it’s really anyone’s race.

Post time for the Iroquois is 9:05 pm ET.

Arlington Park – Arlington Washington Futurity High Roll, Whyruawesome Headline

The two races at Churchill are not the only stake races for two-year-olds across this country this weekend with Arlington Park putting on two as well. First up is the Arlington Washington Futurity for the colts and geldings. Off their debuts, High Roll and Whyruawesome look the two to beat.

High Roll is the 3-1 morning line favorite for trainer James DiVito and owner Curtis Green coming off a three and three-quarter length win in his debut over the track last month. The son of Roman Ruler has been working well since that race and can win stretching out to a flat mile.

High Roll was the favorite in his debut, but Whyruawesome was overlooked on the board at 17-1. The Whywhywhy colt; however, did not look at his odds and was able to get up late, winning by a half length over a Tom Proctor, Glen Hill Farm gelding. The race Whyruawesome won was at seven furlongs so this one-turn mile should not pose a problem. It may actually help his late kick, especially as there appears to be some speed in the race.

High Roll won his debut gate-to-wire, but there may be some horses in the field that are faster out of the gate. Lotsa Mischief is a speed ball from Prairie Meadows by way of Canterbury and is likely to send from post two as is Cee ‘n O, who drew the rail. Cee ‘n O is also entered in the Iroquois at Churchill so be sure to check the scratches. If he does opt to run at Churchill, Lotsa Mischief and High Roll could run one-two around the track.

Others to consider in the Grade 3 race are Solitary Ranger and Captain’s Affair, two colts with top synthetic connections.

Solitary Ranger has run twice, both times in April at Keeneland and both times finishing second. His second race may be the one to key on as he may have just been beat by the fastest two-year-old in the world. No Nay Never came back to win a Group 1 at Deauville in France. Solitary Ranger comes into the Futurity off of back-to-back bullet drills.

Captain's Affair began his career in his native Ireland with a win for trainer John Murphy and a fifth place finish in a stakes race. In that stakes, Captain's Affair led early, but often times front-runners in Europe do not translate to front-runners in the States. Captain's Affair is owned by Team Valor International, who have brought over some top horses. Just when you dismiss them, that's when they score at a big price.

Rounding out the field are Mighty Brown, also entered in a race on Saturday at Louisiana Downs, Gone Mountain, winner of a maiden special weight race in his last race over Mighty Brown at Indiana Downs, and Joedini, third in the Mountaineer Juvenile as the 4-5 favorite. Some good mutuels are produced betting favorites that lost their last start, Joedini may just fit that profile.

Scheduled as race seven on the 11-race card, which starts the 50-cent pick-5, post time for the Futurity is 5:06 pm ET.

Arlington Park - Arlington Washington Lassie Two-Year-Old Fillies Go Eight

Two races after the Arlington Washington Futurity is the Arlington Washington Lassie, the one-mile stakes race for two-year-old fillies. Eleven were drawn for the one-turn race with Maria Maria the lukewarm 3-1 favorite.

Maria Maria is coming off a maiden special weight win over the track, a race in which she stalked the early pace then drew off to win by three and one-half lengths. She defeated Battlefield Angel, who came right back to break her maiden, so Maria Maria must be respected.

Before Maria Maria was a runaway winner at Arlington Park, the daughter of Curlin finished second in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs. The winner of that race was Divergent View, who is also in the Lassie.

Divergent View has won two of her four career starts with another second on the resume. She comes out of an allowance win at Indiana Downs, but takes the blinkers off after wearing them in the Hoosier state. On speed figures, Divergent View needs to pick it up.

Divergent View is 6-1 on the morning line and she is co-second choice with Battlefield Angel and Tamazula with Istanford and Sweetsoutherndame at 8-1.

Battlefield Angel won her second career start at 3-5 over Gumdrop, 10-1 on the Lassie line, and it was 10 and one-quarter lengths back to the third place finisher. Those two battled neck and neck for the lead as soon as the gates opened and that could again be the scenario with the two drawing posts one and two.

Tamazula was second to She's Offlee Good in her debut then came back to score in a maiden special weight race by three and one-quarter lengths. She's Offlee Good is 10-1 on the line for the Lassie with Tamazula 6-1. The difference may be due to the speed figures and that jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode both, chose Tamazula. If you use one, you should use both.

Istanford won her debut for trainer Michael Stidham, who also trains Gumdrop, but did so at one-mile on the turf. The daughter of Istan is the only filly in the field to have a race around two turns, and that should not be taken lightly. Hall-of-Fame jockey Mike Smith is in to ride.

Sweetsoutherndame may be the most interesting of the group, coming off a second place finish in the Ontario Debutante at Woodbine. She broke her maiden over the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs in her second start and can get a good stalking trip from the outside draw. Regular pilot Pablo Morales is in to ride.

Bellarada, Richies Sweetheart and Look Who's Here are the long shots in the race, but in a field of two-year-olds where most have not run at this distance, anything is possible.

Post time for the Lassie on Saturday is 6:08 pm ET.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

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

Saturday– Sep 7
  • Churchill Downs:  Iroquois Stakes - G3, $150,000, 2yo, 8.5f
  • Churchill Downs:  Pocahontas Stakes - G2, $150,000, 2yo f, 8.5f
  • Churchill Downs:  Ack Ack Handicap - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8f
  • Churchill Downs:  Locust Grove Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Arlington Park:  Arlington Washington Futurity - G3, $150,000, 2yo, 8f
  • Arlington Park:  Arlington Washington Lassie, $100,000, 2yo f, 8f
  • Louisiana Downs:  Super Derby - G2, $500,000, 3yo, 9f
  • Louisiana Downs:  Sunday Silence Stakes, $100,000, 2yo, 8f turf
  • Louisiana Downs:  Happy Ticket Stakes, $100,000, 2yo f, 8f turf
  • Louisiana Downs:  Unbridled Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f turf
  • Louisiana Downs:  River Cities Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf
  • Louisiana Downs:  Temperance Hill Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Barretts at Fairplex:  E.B. Johnston Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Delaware Park:  Kent Stakes - G3, $200,000, 3yo, 9f turf
  • Kentucky Downs:  Ladies Turf, $150,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8f turf
  • Kentucky Downs:  Ladies Marathon Stakes, $150,000, 3yo & up, 10.5f turf
  • Kentucky Downs:  Ladies Sprint Stakes, $150,000, 3yo & up, 6.5f turf
  • Woodbine:  La Prevoyante Stakes, $125,000, 3yo f, 8f turf
  • Gulfstream Park:  Cherokee Run Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Parx:  Roanoke Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Parx:  Mrs. Penny Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf
  • Parx:  Marshall Jenney Handicap, $75,000, 3yo & up, 5f turf
  • Parx:  Banjo Picker Sprint Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Parx:  Dr. Theresa Garofalo Memorial, $75,000, 3yo f, 6f
Sunday – Sep 8
  • Hastings:  British Columbia Derby - G3, $150,000, 3yo, 9f
  • Hastings:  British Columbia Oaks, $100,000, 3yo f, 9f
  • Hastings:  Jack Diamond Futurity, $100,000, 2yo, 6.5f
  • Hastings:  Sadie Diamond Futurity, $100,000, 2yo f, 6.5f
  • Barretts at Fairplex:  Jim Kostoff Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 6.5f