After the ominous start to Presque Isle Downs’ inaugural meet, with Cantrel (a Scott Lake trainee) breaking down on the turn in race 1, and subsequently being euthanized due to fractured sesamoid and “disruption of the suspensory apparatus in the right front,” another possible breakdown on Sunday, in race 4, when Don Reeder’s 4-year-old gelding Genie on the Move stopped and was vanned off. No word on his condition yet, but any information would be welcomed.
Blue Bay (1) shortens after an excellent turf outing at Laurel last out. Taupo (5) comes in here second off a layoff, with a solid last effort. Rosehanna (4) threw a real clunker last out, but seem to run well every other race so should be good here (and loses 4 pounds).
Triple Kiss (10) has an impressive synthetic track record (5 wins, 2 seconds and 5 thirds in 17 races), and has been out of the money only once in 11 tries this year. Reputed Deeds (2) won extremely convincingly (by near 10 lengths) last out, at 6 furlongs, and her previous routes demonstrate early speed, so she should be on the lead from the break. However, she may prefer dirt over Tapeta so not entirely convinced here. Grasshoppa (1) has yet to finish out of the money this year, in 8 allowance races.
Speedy Sandy (5) appears the logical favorite here for owner Maggi Moss, in her second race off the claim from Zayat Stables and trainer Bill Mott. She boasts the highest Bris figures across the board—speed last race, prime power, class rating and best speed at distance. What’s not to like? I’m going to try and beat her with Sarah Mony (2) who has had success on turf at this class level, and Trouble In Tahiti (10) who comes in, first off a claim, with two consecutive wins at Mountaineer. She has had three previous races on Arlington’s synthetic surface where she showed some promise. I really like her here.
Lady Takum (1) has been a bridesmaid 4 of 8 times this year, with 1 win, but I’m not totally sold on her. Straight Laced (5) may go to the lead and run completely away with this one. Dixie Marrone (6) has two good turf efforts coming in here.
Miami Sunrise (3) is the 2-1 morning line favorite, after three straight wins, including the Claiming Crown Jewel at Ellis Park last out. I want to beat him with Flight Captain (6) who is lightly raced this year, but both were wins on turf, including an impressive allowance victory at Tampa Bay in March where he had a horrible trip and still got up for the victory; last out he won under a hand ride. Also running in good form now is Serene Harbor (2) who finished third in the $125k Smarty Jones Classic last out at Philly Park.
Thunder Anees (2) came off a terrible showing in a six furlong race at Saratoga and won convincingly at this distance on the Mountaineer turf. Jared’stemper (10) finished third, just a head behind Cryptolight two races back at Mountaineer; Cryptolight was just ½ length behind winner Itsallaboutthechase here at PID on opening night, in race 6. Professor Biggs (5) has plenty of turf experience, and is lightly raced this race; coming off a nearly 3 month break, his two recorded workouts leading up to this are very good.
Race 7 ($100,000 Tom Ridge Labor Day Stakes):
Cherokee Country (7) has defeated my beloved Southwestern Heat thrice this summer, so I would be a fool if I didn’t bet him here. His last victory was the $58K Anderson Fowler which was taken off the turf at Monmouth on August 18. The only question is, can he run well after 16 days rest, and after 11 races already this year (more than any horse in the field) including 7 straight stakes races? Front Court (8) has raced consistently at sprint distance this year, and comes off a nice third place finish in the $45K Forward Pass at Arlington on August 11; two impressive workouts since seem to point to a breakout performance here. Elite Squadron (6) was well-beaten in the G2 Amsterdam Stakes last out, but has reeled off two impressive workouts since, and should feel more comfortable with this level of competition.
There is every reason to like Peace Rock (12) here, particularly with his prior success on synthetic tracks (2 wins and 2 seconds in 6 attempts); now trained by Michael Pino, the only downside here is the far outside post position (and, for me, the fact that Madrigal is riding). One Royal Affair (9) whose grandsire is Foolish Pleasure is a sentimental as well as logical pick here, considering his recent turf work. El Escorial (4) is shortening up after several mile turf races at Colonial; this distance should suit him better. Zephyr Charlie (1) also looks promising, after two sharp workouts; in his last race, he was seven-wide around the final turn and into the stretch, yet still got up to finish within 4-1/2 lengths of the winner.