We're in the early summer doldrums. The big stakes races of the spring are over, but the marquee meetings of the summer − Saratoga and Del Mar − are still a ways off. But we've still managed to find some playable races across the country, and we will, as always, play them enthusiastically. We're expecting fast dirt and firm turf everywhere. Let's go . . .
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Belmont Park Race 9 (5:18 p.m. ET) – The Mother Goose Stakes (Grade 2)
It's 3-year-old fillies going a mile and an eighth on the dirt. The hot 4-5 favorite is 1-Dunbar Road, a Chad Brown-trained daughter of Quality Road. She's won two of her three career starts, with her only loss a half-length defeat in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. She's a deserving favorite, but there are reasons to think she's vulnerable. She has yet to win a stakes race, and she's also yet to run fast enough to win a race of this caliber. She may be the real deal, but at miserly odds, we will be playing against her.
We like the outside horse, 6-Wings of Dawn. This daughter of super-sire Medaglia d'Oro started her career on turf, where she floundered.Then won two races on the synthetic surface at Woodbine. We think she will take to dirt like a duck takes to water, and we love the outside slot in the one-turn configuration at which nine-furlong races at Belmont are run. We see her getting a good stalking trip outside, and at 5-1, we think she offers a much better bet than the favorite. We will bet Wings of Dawn to win.
Belmont Park Race 9
$40 W on 6-Wings of Dawn
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Churchill Downs Race 11 (5:59 p.m.) – Bashford Manor Stakes (G3)
It's closing day and the penultimate contest is 2-year-olds going six furlongs on dirt, and 10 are entered. We like the favorite in here.1-Phantom Boss ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Jorge Periban, and we like the fact that top jockey Rafael Bejarano comes along with him. This boy has abundant early speed, and he will need it breaking from the rail, but we see him zipping right to the front and not looking back. We will bet him to win at 9-5.
Churchill Downs Race 11
$35 W on 1-Phantom Boss
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Gulfstream Park Race 12 (5:30 p.m.) – Princess Rooney Stakes (G2)
Down at Gulfstream Park in South Florida, they're running what they call the Summit of Speed, which features sprinters. The featured races is a 7 furlong dirt affair for fillies and mares 3 and up. Seven horses are entered. We're playing against another odds-on favorite here (6-Stormy Embrace, who's 4-5), and we are doing so because we think we've identified lone speed. 1-Razorback Lady has a huge edge in early pace, and breaking from the rail, she really has to go right to the front. We see her setting a comfortable early pace, and at generous 8-1 odds, we are going to bet that she can stay there all the way. We will bet her to win.
Gulfstream Park Race 12
$25 W on 1-Razorback Lady
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Woodbine Race 6 (2:53 p.m.) – King Edward Stakes (G2)
There's a big card up in suburban Toronto, where they're running the Queen's Plate. We'll start with this one, which is for horses 3 and up, and goes a mile on Woodbine's sweeping turf course. Eight are entered. We like the top two betting choices here, 2-Synchrony (7-5) and 7-Emmaus (3-1), and we like them in that order. Synchrony has much better form, and a better closing kick, than the rest of the field, and Emmaus is clearly second best. We will be them in the exacta − and we're playing it straight, and not boxing it.
Woodbine Race 6
$30 Exacta 2-7
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Woodbine Race 10 (5:36 p.m.) – Queen’s Plate Stakes
This is for 3-year-olds bred in Canada. Fourteen are entered here. It's a good and deep field. The race projects to have a pretty fast early pace, as there are some confirmed early-speed types in here, so we are looking for an off-the-pace runner, as the synthetic Tapeta surface at Woodbine is less kind to speed than traditional dirt. We think that 10-Skywire fits. He's won on the surface before, and he's got adequate early speed and a good closing kick. This is a good combination. He should get first jump on the other deep closers, and be able to hold them off late. We will bet him to win at 4-1.
Woodbine Race 10
$40 W on 10-Skywire
That's all for today. Enjoy the summer Saturday, and, as always, good luck at the windows.