It’s closing day at Saratoga and Del Mar, and opening day at Kentucky Downs. First picked race, the 8th at Kentucky Downs, has a post time of 3:55 pm.
Today is the day that those of us in the United States celebrate labor, but it’s also a day of endings and beginnings: it’s the unofficial end of summer and the unofficial start of fall, and in our little horse-crazy corner of the sporting world, it’s closing day at Saratoga and Del Mar, and opening day at Kentucky Downs. That means the simulcast schedule is packed, especially with stakes races; there are so many, 27 by our count, that we can’t begin to cover most of them, let alone all of them. So we’ve selected the five races that we like the most, Grade 1 races on each side of the country, and three at Kentucky Downs. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all. Let’s go.
Kentucky Downs opens its six-day race meeting today, where all races are on turf, and all are run on the undulating, European-style course that makes the Henderson, Kentucky facility, unique among American tracks.
They have some good racing spread out over those six days, and this race is an example: twelve juvenile fillies line up to run a mile, with a giant, half-million dollar purse at stake.
We like the favorite here, 6-Plum Ali, who starts for Christophe Clement. She won her debut at Saratoga on July 23, but it is how she won it that makes us like her here: she sat toward the rear of the field early, and from there unleashed a powerful late move to win by a comfortable two lengths. She’s got the best closing kick in the field, and that is key at Kentucky Downs, where due to the hills, a greater level of stamina is usually required to win. We think Plum Ali sits chilly early, and wins this with a late charge. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Plum Ali.
Two races after the girls, the boys get their turn, as ten 2-year-old colts line up for this mile stakes race. We think there will be a pace meltdown, as quite a few of the entrants are fast early/slow late types. This worked for them in maiden races, but it will not work here, and that makes the pick 9-Pivotal Mission, who starts for trainer Graham Motion. He is a maiden, winless in two starts at the current Saratoga meeting, but his breeding -- he was bred in Kentucky, but has an all-Euro pedigree -- and his running style suggests that he will love the course at Kentucky Downs. Look for him to sit well behind the pacesetters early, and to be moving late. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 10, $35 to win on 9-Pivotal Mission.
Twelve older horses line up for the Tourist Mile, and it’s a very, very impressive field. This is another race that looks to us like it will have a fast early pace, so we’re going with the horse with the best closing kick in the field, 12-Hembree. He starts for Mike Maker, and though it’s been a while since he won, he’s been running against some pretty tough fields, and he did finish a close fourth in this race last year, which shows he likes Kentucky Downs. The pace setup here will favor him, will allow him to run the best race he is capable of, and we think that is going to be good enough to win here. At 12-1, we will bet on it. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 11, $40 to win on 12-Hembree.
Seven go in the Hopeful. This is the best juvenile stakes race we’ve seen this year, with three exceptionally good-looking colts, 3-Mutasaabeq, 5-Reinvestment Risk, and 6-Jackie’s Warrior, appearing to stand above the others. The one of the three we like the most is Reinvestment Risk, who comes from the Chad Brown barn. The 7 furlongs will be a test for all these colts, and the way Reinvestment Risk won his career debut, sitting just off the early pace and finishing strongly, winning by nearly eight lengths, suggests he should thrive going this longer distance. His pedigree suggests the same thing. Jackie’s Warrior will set the pace; look for Reinvestment Risk to sit just behind him, and to take over in mid-stretch. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 13, $40 to win on 5-Reinvestment Risk.
The Futurity is the featured race on the last day of Del Mar’s summer meeting, and they’ve put together a pretty good field for it. We are going with a colt at a big price, 4-Scooby, who starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He’s a maiden after two starts, but they were both in stakes races, and one of them was on turf, a surface he really did not take to. We think he’s better than his past performances show, but what really makes us like him is pace: the composition of this field has us seeing a very fast early pace, and Scooby has the ability to close strongly when the pacesetters run out of gas late. We will hope to end the Del Mar meeting with a bang, and we will do so by betting Scooby to win the Del Mar Futurity at juicy 12-1 odds. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $40 to win on 4-Scooby.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.