First picked post time is 4:10 pm. The Ellis Park Derby, at 6:10 pm, features the lone 3-year-old who may be fast enough to threaten Tiz the Law in Kentucky: Art Collector.
Man, what a performance by Tiz the Law winning yesterday’s Travers Stakes. Not only was he visually impressive, dispatching a pretty good field of 3-year-olds with almost condescending ease, but Tiz did the one thing that he’d not done before: he ran truly fast, earning a 109 Beyer Speed Figure with his 5 ½-length win. This not only makes him the horse to beat in the Kentucky Derby on September 5, but it stamps him as one of the better and more satisfying 3-year-olds we’ve seen in recent years: he was good as a juvenile, and he’s gotten better in every race as a 3-year-old. The only horse who ever won a Triple Crown and the Travers in the same year was Whirlaway in 1941, and while Tiz the Law has obviously not done that yet, the fact that we’re even talking about it is something else.
We have five stakes on the docket today, including one featuring the lone 3-year-old who may be fast enough to threaten Tiz the Law in Kentucky: it’s Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.
$100,000 Runhappy Debutante, 7 furlongs, 2-Year-Old Fillies
Twelve fillies line up for this juvenile stakes race. We like 4-Crazy Beautiful, who broke her maiden on turf in her first try last out. Her pedigree is dirt-oriented, which suggests that she will be even better on the main track than she was on the grass. That should be good enough to take the prize here. We’re expecting her to sit behind the leaders early, and to surge to the front down the stretch. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 6, $30 to win on 4-Crazy Beautiful.
$100,000 Oceanport Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
A good field of eleven goes in the Oceanport at the Jersey shore. 5-Sacred Life is a strong play: the Chad Brown runner has been running in much, much tougher races, including a Grade 1 in his last, and seems to outclass this field. We also think his running style is a fit: deep closers generally fare poorly at Monmouth Park, but he generally is in mid-pack during a race’s early stages, which means he shouldn’t have too much ground to make up. We think he takes this rather easily and will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Sacred Life.
$85,000 Alydar Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
The Alydar drew a field of six. After fighting the chalk at the Spa yesterday, thoroughly unsuccessfully -- favorites dominated the Travers card -- we’re going with the morning line pick here, 1-Endorsed. He’s a regally-bred 4-year-old, by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Tapit mare, and he comes out of this race off a good fourth in the Met Mile, which probably had the toughest field of any dirt stakes race this year. He’s got superior figs and should win the Alydar with a stalking trip from his rail post. We will bet him to win at 7/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Endorsed.
$200,000 Ellis Park Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The Ellis Park Derby drew a field of twelve. We are tempted to say that they’re all second- or third-stringers as far as the Kentucky Derby goes, but the presence of 4-Art Collector negates that: the son of Bernardini is ranked as high as #2 in some Derby rankings. He got himself noticed two back, when he won a Churchill Downs allowance in very fast time; and then he moved toward the front of his class winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on July 11. He earned big Beyer Speed Figures for those wins, 102 and 103 respectively, and this is important, as earning a Beyer of 100 or better has historically been an important benchmark to winning the Kentucky Derby.
Art Collector may win this, but he looks to us like a candidate to regress off his Blue Grass win. We prefer 12-Shared Sense, a late-blooming and late-running colt who runs for Brad Cox. Look for him to be toward the rear of the field early and rolling late. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 10, $25 to win on 12-Shared Sense.
Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The La Jolla, the lone graded stakes in the country today, drew a field of eight. The pick is 6-Smooth Like Strait: he’s coming off a win in a minor stakes at Churchill Downs on May 23, and we think that effort is better than it looks on paper, as he stalked a fast pace and still managed to win. Several of the horses who finished behind him that day have come back to win since -- that’s a key race, which makes him overwhelmingly the likeliest winner here. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $50 to win on 6-Smooth Like Strait.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.