Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017
By Dick Downey
All bets are four-horse $2 exacta boxes (total cost $24) unless indicated otherwise. Kentucky Downs' exacta takeout of 18.25 percent is among the lowest in the nation.
UPDATED on race day. Scratches show a strike-through.
NOTES FOR SATURDAY'S CARD: I anticipate that the surface will be firmer than it was the first two days of the meet, giving early speed from the inside half of the gate a better chance to win. However, if the track is still rated good, front-runners will have a difficult time just like they did the first two days of the meet. Be sure to check whether the track is rated firm or good.
The rail has been moved to zero feet on the far turn and the stretch, opening up fresh ground. The rail is now in its traditional configuration all the way around the track.
Race 1. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies 2YO, $130,000, 1 Mile
This race is inscrutable to me, and I'm not very impressed with the past performances I'm seeing, so on top I'm picking a first-time runner ridden by the jockey with the best record.
I am betting only the top choice that makes it to the gate $3 to win and $9 to show.
1. BRINGYOUROWNBOTTLE #5 -- A maiden by Stay Thirsty out of a Kitten's Joy mare ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. Ramsey, Maker connections. Steady works.
2. AMERICAN HALO #4 -- Needs to break more quickly from the starting gate but does possess a good late kick.
3. COACH ROCKS #2 -- Gets first Lasix for Romans and Robby.
4. STARTING ARTIST #12 -- Sharp barn could improve off not-too-bad debut.
Race 2. Maiden Special Weight, 3YO & up, $130,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
Tough, tough race.
1. DYNAMIC DANCER #6 -- Good early speed with Geroux up.
2. CHIGGER BITE #5 -- Calvin motoring up front on the rail might be hard to catch at this distance.
3. BIG DOLLAR BILL #3 -- Late run could pick up pieces if not the win.
4. SHARM EL SHEIKL #12 -- Albarado riding for obscure trainer on horse that's been knocking at the door.
Race 3. Allowance N1X/N2L, 3YO & up, $140,000, 1 5/16 Mile
1. PERFECT PARTNER #2 -- Expensive son of Curlin recently was third in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga. Recent breezes on turf indicate readiness for first turf start.
2. RICHMOND STREET #4 -- He's never run this exact distance, but he's been running long distances since his third start, and he broke his maiden in start number six going a mile and a quarter. Last year, he ran well in one of those tough 1 3/8 mile maiden races at Saratoga.
3. UNITED STAND #1 -- Has improved since moving to turf three starts ago.
4. WAR BOND #14 -- Recently ran well in one of those tough 1 3/16-mile turf allowances at Saratoga; however, most of his best races have come after breaking from much closer to the rail.
In case of scratches:
BIRD'S EYE VIEW #7 didn't embarrass himself in graded stakes last year and in minor stakes this year before being given some time off.
HART HILLS ROAD #9 finished a close fifth here last year in an allowance race.
Race 4. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $130,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. DAKOTA DIVA #3 -- Stands to break much better in this, her second start. The added distance from her debut, in which she was sent off at 5-2 odds, should help. She is running for the first time for trainer Gorder, who has a 25% win rate this year. LATE NOTE: Trainer of record changed to Tom Proctor.
2. CHRIS COVE TOWN #8 -- She is showing some fast workouts atypical for the Asmussen barn.
3. GRACELAND #4 -- Second start off the layoff with a sharp break from the gate is anticipated.
4. BRIELLE'S APPEAL #6 -- First-timer is extremely well bred and has a trainer with good stats with debut runners.
Race 5. Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500 N2X/N3L, 3YO & up, $145,00, 1 Mile
The import from Britain (#1) was tempting me until I noticed he's earned $34,000 from 17 career starts.
If TURF TITAN doesn't run in this race, I have little enthusiasm for my ability to separate the rest of these and will pass on this race.
If Turf Titan does run, I'll bet $16 to win on him.
TURF TITAN #7 was scratched from the Old Friends Stakes on Thursday, and he's my pick for reasons set out in my Old Friends write-up as follows: He's already shown versatility early in his career. By Kitten's Joy, this Calumet Farm homebred didn't race at age two or three. Now four, he's started three times and has shown very good energy each time. He broke his maiden in his debut facing 11 others at Indiana Grand and circled five wide to do it. His second start he stalked while hugging the rail to get up for a very close third in a super fast time at Elllis Park. Most recently, he did as he pleased on the lead to win in a return appearance at Indiana Grand. His gallop-out each race has been strong, and you just have to think he loves what he's doing and is getting better with every start. The fact that progeny of Kitten's Joy have done so well at Kentucky Downs makes for additional interest. Admittedly, he is facing much more experienced horses, but I'm hoping for an upset by a fresh face at a generous price.
All that said, I also took notice of these horses:
--HIGH NOON RIDER #2 has Florent Geroux riding for Brad Cox.
--MUTAZEN #8 represents a rare KD appearance by Kiaran McLaughlin and is always in the mix.
--FLASHY CHELSEY #3 has gone from being a close seventh in a $25,000 starter allowance here last year to finishing a close sixth in the Grade III Stars and Stripes two races back.
--ALL RIGHT #9 won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile last year.
--Two of theses are former marginal players on the Kentucky Derby Trail in 2016 and 2015, respectively: ADVENTIST #5 and
ROYAL SON #12.
Race 6. Allowance N1X/N2L, 3YO & up, $140,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. TAKEOFF #2 -- He has good early speed and should fire well off the bench since he ran well in his debut -- if he takes to the turf. One would think trainer Casse has reason to believe that he will do that. Note that Geroux was on him before, but Julien Leparoux is named today. Geroux doesn't have a mount in this race, so maybe he was committed to something else that didn't make the field, or maybe it's simply a matter of Leparoux being Casse's go-to guy.
2. TAM TAM ATTACK #4 -- Looking for Calvin to go straight to the rail with this son of a gun and set some pretty fast fractions. Last time he recorded a good time on dirt and may be even better on turf, being by War Front out of a Leroidisanimaux mare.
3. DARK ARDEN # 6 -- He's in good form and ran well in a rare turf start last time out.
4. FACTION CAT #7 -- Likes to stalk and pounce and pick up checks.
In case of scratches:
SIX SCHILLINGS #3 is a grinder that gets into the picture one-third of the time.
PAGLIACCI #16 broke poorly last time out and will run better than he did in that race if he can just get away from the gate cleanly.
Race 7. Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (Grade III), Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $350,000, 1 Mile
1. BEAULY #1 -- She doesn't possess a devastating turn of foot, but she is relentless in the stretch of late. I can see her sitting behind ZIPESSA and MISS TEMPLE CITY in the turn and grinding out the win in the stretch.
2. MISS TEMPLE CITY #5 -- She has shown good early stalking speed. I see her doing that behind ZIPESSA, who's just to her inside. At Keeneland, she's won grade I's versus males twice, including Tourist both times. Throw out the debacle at Royal Ascot. A win would be well-deserved.
3. ZIPESSA #4 -- I didn't like her prospects much on wet ground in the $150,000 One Dreamer, from which she was scratched, but I do like her on firmer ground in this race. She appears to be one of only two in the race that races on or close to the early lead, and she's cutting back in distance today. Based on her last two workouts, she bounced out of the poor Diana effort in great shape.
4. LINDA #2 -- Won an allowance last year at the track at this distance.
In case of scratches:
SUSIE BEE #7 is looking to scoop them up late, which would be a change of strategy from last year when, in this same race, she led and faded to fourth.
MAJESTIC ANGEL #6 has Geroux aboard, so she can't be completely ignored.
Race 8. Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $350,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. FAIR POINT #2 -- Trainer Shug McGaughey had started only one horse at Kentucky Downs in its history before this meet, but he won on Thursday. Fair Point's regular rider is Jose Ortiz, and so with Ortiz at Kentucky Downs for the first time, things look fortuitous. The question is whether Fair Point has lost a step at age 6 or has been a victim of wide trips this year. There's going to be plenty of early speed to set up her run from off the pace.
2. MISSISSIPPI DELTA #1 -- She won this race last year running near the lead in the early going on a yielding track, and that's not always easy to do at Kentucky Downs. She defeated the top choice the last time they met.
3. CORBY #3 -- This horse cannot win on the lead, but she can finish second. That's what's happened in three of her last four races. In fact, no matter what running style was employed, she finished second in six of her last seven races.
4. LULL #5 -- Since winning the Juvenile Fillies here last year, she's gone on to be very competitive in graded stakes at a variety of tracks. She should be competitive from the moment the gates open.
In case of scratches:
MOTICIA #6 also has plenty of early speed.
As does SCATTER GUN #8, who both broke her maiden and won an allowance race here in 2015-2016.
Race 9. Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (Grade III), 3YO & up, $400,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. HOGY #10 -- He ran second in this race last year. His former connections put him in for an $80,000 claiming tag last time out, and trainer Maker snatched him right up, undoubtedly with this race in mind. A strong finisher with Geroux aboard.
2. BONDURANT #5 -- He has a ton of graded stakes experience compared to most of the others but has trouble finding the winner's circle.
3. COMMEND #1 -- Appears to have rounded back into form.
4. UNDRAFTED #7 -- Was also entered in the Old Friends on Thursday but was scratched. Trainer Ward once said Undrafted is best running out of his old barn near Keeneland, but he runs in earnest and gives a good account of himself regardless of venue. He certainly is familiar with this track and has hit the board in two of three tries here.
In case of scratches:
TELL ALL YOU KNOW #4 may very well show the way and hang on for part.
WTETH #6 has a record that earns respect.
Race 10. Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (Grade III), 3YO & up, $600,000, 1 1/2 Mile
1. POSTULATION #1 -- Adding blinkers had the desired effect of getting him into his races earlier, and that in turn led to greater success. He has the right running style for this distance, which is to get near or on the front early.
2. OSCAR NOMINATED #4 -- He was also entered on Thursday's card in the Old Friends but was scratched. I shouldn't read too much into that, but it does make me wonder if everything is tip-top right now. Other than that, he's totally playable as the winner of last year's Dueling Grounds Derby and a tough knocker in tough company since then.
3. ENTERPRISING #7 -- The fact that he almost won the Grade I Arlington Million last time out is compelling, but he came from well off the pace to do it, and that's probably what cost him the win.
4. TAGHLEEB #11 -- Was second to POSTULATION last time out.
In case of scratches:
BULLARD'S ALLEY #8 can't get no respect. Two years ago, he was third in a 1 5/16 mile allowance at the track at 31-1 odds, and last year he finished second in this race at 18-1 odds.
NESSY #12 attracted the services of Javier Castellano at Saratoga last out and now gets the return services of experienced KD jock Brian Hernandez, Jr. The reason I didn't pick him higher is that he hasn't faced the type of competition that some of the others have faced.
MUQTASER's #3 recent form looks a lot like that of POSTULATION except that he hasn't been in quite as tough.