I just love three-year-old maiden races, especially with a mix of first-time starters and those that are more experienced. Two such races caught my attention today. The first is race 5 at Keeneland, a $50,000 maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies, going 7 furlongs. Todd Pletcher-trained Mini Sermon seems to be the logical pick here, coming off two improving performances at Gulfstream, where she lost last time by a neck going 1 mile. Maybe the shorter distance is just what she needs; Garrett Gomez is up. At Saratoga last August, Granny Fanny was just beaten by a neck in her first outing, while Marquee Delivery gave a nice performance at Keeneland last October, and has been putting in nice workouts this year. I don’t think one can overlook Street ‘Em Sheila, though, as her trainer Michael Matz’ luck has seemingly turned for the better here at Keeneland, and he has great success with second-time starters (19%). Moreover, Edgar Prado is up, and he must be having the best year of his life in 2007. The first-time starter that interests me is Ken McPeek-trained Pure Star, a half sister of Birdbirdistheword, out of Pure Prize, currently number six on the Second Crop sire list. Her young dam, Star Crusader, has two winners in two starters thus far, and she has some very nice workouts leading up to this start. Maybe not in the money, but a filly to watch.
In the 8th race at Santa Anita—a six furlong $46,000 maiden for three-year-old fillies—Into Reality is the morning line favorite, but it’s Moujane that intrigues me here. She’s unraced since last October, but in that race, a mile race on turf, she nearly wired the field, falling late by less than a length to Super Freaky, who last Saturday won the G3 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita. Moujane is also a full sister to G2 winner Leprechaun Kid, out of Alphabet Soup. I’m looking for a victory from her. I also like the first-time starter Divina, out of Elusive Quality, whose dam (St. Lucinda) has three stakes winners from four starters. Her trainer Jean-Pierre Dupuis is 22% with first time starters, and Elusive Quality’s progeny win 18% as first-time starters. Her workouts are excellent, so I would not be surprised to see a big effort out of her.