Wow, wow, wow! That’s my reaction to the entries for Saturday’s $400,000 G3 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes. While my favorite Elusive Heat is still on the sidelines after surgery for an entrapped epiglottis, the twelve entrants include the best female sprinters in America.
In the midst of a six-race win streak, G1 Just a Game winner Diamondrella with Rajiv Maragh up drew post 2, right next to G1 Test victress Flashing with Richard Migliore, and to her outside, in post 4, is G1 Princess Rooney and G2 Honorable Miss winner Game Face, with Edgar Prado riding for Todd Pletcher. Now, that right there is a horse race in itself!
Add in G1 Madison third-place Bear Now (Jamie Theriot) in post 5, G2 First Flight victress Porte Bonheur (Channing Hill) in post 6, G1 Humana Distaff third-place Dubai Majesty (Miguel Mena) in post 11, and...the pièce de résistance...G1 Madison and G1 Humana Distaff winner Informed Decision, with Julien Leparoux up, in post 9.
Hands down, this will be the best race of the weekend.
For Diamondrella who has run successfully on turf, this will be her first all-weather surface attempt, but as the sole deep closer, this race could set up perfectly for her especially saving ground from the inside. For Flashing and Game Face, this is also a crucial test heading towards the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but Informed Decision and Bear Now are proven on artificial surfaces, as are Porte Bonheur and Dubai Majesty.
If any outside these seven win, it would be a complete shock. Christine Janks-trained Nicks (Israel Ocampo) won the state-bred Isaac Murphy Handicap at Arlington in June, but just doesn’t have the speed to keep up with these. Sweet Lorena (Dennis Carr) has been running successfully in allowance optional claiming company at Presque Isle this year, while Tequilas Dayjur (Terry Houghton) hasn’t attempted anything close to this quality since last year’s G1 Test—where she finished dead last, 26 lengths back in a field of six. Beautiful Venue (Rex Stokes III) and Rollicking Affair (Gabriel Suarez) are too slow.
Who will win is just too tough to call, and I suspect if you ran the race five different times, you’d get five different winners. Dubai Majesty hasn’t run since July 11, but has four works since August 9. Still, I’d be surprised if she won. Informed Decision couldn’t handle Music Note and Indian Blessing—or the sloppy track—at Saratoga last out, but her Polytrack efforts at Arlington and Keeneland are terrific—will she take to Tapeta? Porte Bonheur has posted two bullet work at Saratoga coming into this race, but I’m not convinced she’s completely in the same class as the others. Bear Now’s front-running style will probably cook her chances, as at Presque Isle, in 6.5f races, only 16% winners wire the field—it much more conducive to on pace and late closers. Even though she’s on a two-race win streak, I’m taking a calculated guess that Game Face won’t win here—she’s never beaten this quality of sprinters.
That leaves 3-year-old Flashing as the big question mark, although her breeding suggests she should handle Tapeta just fine. However, I really believe this is the perfect race for Diamondrella who’s been working gangbusters in advance of this. Informed Decision will be her toughest challenger.
Regardless of who wins, I can guarantee one thing—a new track record for 6.5 furlongs will be set.