Give many talented jockeys a single multiple Grade 1 winner to ride, and most would be ecstatic. For Mike Smith, it’s another day at the office. He’s in town today to ride Coaching Club American Oaks favorite Abel Tasman, who comes in off of back-to-back Grade 1 wins. Currently, he’s also the regular rider of champions Arrogate and Songbird, as well as likely Allen Jerkens favorite American Anthem, Travers probable West Coast, and sleeping giant Unique Bella, among many others. Nice work if you can get it!
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Someone knew Voodoo Song was sitting on a big race, judging by the odds plunge that one took in the last flash of the tote board. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that person. My early Pick Four was toast right away, and I dropped $21.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on my best bet of the day, which comes in the fifth race. #1 THEBIGFUNDAMENTAL may be a short price, but I’ll try to maximize my profit. I’ll put $15 to win on him and single him in $5 doubles that use #2 QUESTEQ, #5 THRICE, and #7 PRADO VISION in a sixth race that seems wide-open on paper.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Thebigfundamental, Race #5
Longshot: Rapid Red, Race #4
Our Girl Abby
Kitty Kat Kate
OUR GIRL ABBY: Tries turf for the first time and has a surprising foundation for such a young horse. With every horse trying two turns for the first time, that could be a big help, and her tactical speed is another plus; KITTY KAT KATE: Merits respect if she draws in off the AE list. Her effort two back was solid, and she’s got the pedigree to stretch out effectively; YOU PEOPLE: Is a first-time starter from a barn whose horses sometimes need a race to get going, but her dam was a Grade 3 winner going long on the turf, and the presence of Jose Ortiz is intriguing. DIRT SELECTIONS: OUR GIRL ABBY, IN THE MOOD, ORBOLUTION.
Tiz Shea D
Scarf It Down
TIZ SHEA D: Takes a big drop in class, and it would be surprising if this Grade 2 winner was not claimed. He comes back to the dirt, and even a repeat of his 2016 dirt races would make him very tough; SCARF IT DOWN: Makes his first start for new trainer Robertino Diodoro following a win over lesser company at Churchill Downs. Seven furlongs is an unknown, but he could sit a dream trip just off the pace; CHUBBY MASTER: Took a step forward when second at this level downstate. He was a close second at this route last year and could rally for a piece of it at a price.
MR CLASSICAL: Didn’t break well when backed heavily in his debut, but still rallied to finish third behind a stakes-quality runner in Emancipation (Orb’s little brother). He should love this two-turn route of ground and is the one to beat; WEATHER WIZ: Adds Lasix after finishing third in his Independence Day unveiling. His pedigree says he wants as much ground as possible, and improvement is logical at second asking; UNCLE MOJO: Re-rallied to finish second in his first start off a long layoff. He likely needed his debut back in January, and his July 8th bullet indicates he’s coming into this well.
Phi Beta Express
RAPID RED: Gets my nod at a bit of a price in a wide-open starter allowance. He hasn’t run a bad race on dirt, the outside draw is a plus, and while he’s got tactical speed, he doesn’t need the lead in what figures to be a race with plenty of early zip; MAIN ROAD: Makes his first start for trainer Ron Moquett after a pair of sharp races at Churchill Downs. How he’ll take to the Spa is anyone’s guess, but his usual race from Churchill or Oaklawn would put him right there; PHI BETA EXPRESS: Took a big step forward in his local debut earlier this month, leading every step of the way and earning an 87 Beyer Speed Figure. Regression is possible given the departure from his previous form, but he can’t be ignored.
THEBIGFUNDAMENTAL: Couldn’t have been much more impressive downstate, where he won two in a row by daylight. He tries two turns for the first time, but seems to be one of the few in this field that is going the right way from a form standpoint; SECURITIZ: Ran a big race first off the bench last month and is eligible to improve. He tends to run second a lot, but he’s got several strong local efforts on his resume; ROYAL POSSE: Has struggled of late, and it’s alarming to see him in for the optional claiming tag, but he’s 5-for-7 over this surface, and the change in scenery may wake him up.
Skyline Drive (MTO)
THRICE: Has done very little wrong in three career starts and makes her first start for new trainer George Weaver. She’s won going two turns before and should be flying late; PRADO VISION: Drops back in for a tag after running fourth against better at Churchill. Like my top pick, she’ll benefit if an early speed duel ensues; QUESTEQ: Draw a line through the last-out effort, which came against much better horses and may have been a bounce off of a career-best performance. Castellano returns to ride her, and he’s piloted her to her two top efforts. DIRT SELECTIONS: SKYLINE DRIVE, QUESTEQ, CRIMSON FROST.
HONOR WAY: Takes a big drop in class after fading to fifth in her first start against winners. Her races against maiden special weight foes were very solid, and she was second here last summer in her unveiling; COURTMEWITHCARATS: Is one of many in here who figure to be gunning for the early lead. She’s improved considerably since moving to trainer Danny Gargan’s barn for her 3-year-old season, and a second straight wire-to-wire win could happen; KISSIN CASSIE: Merits a look underneath at a big price off of some OK performances downstate. As mentioned, there’s a lot of speed signed on, and the faster they go early, the better this closer figures to like it.
Verdant Pastures (MTO)
Lem Me Dance
Table for Six
LEM ME DANCE: Was a debut winner here last summer and has progressed this season, recorded a pair of in-the-money finishes. She tries two turns for the first time, but she had no problem with distance in her most recent outing; TABLE FOR SIX: Has been at this level a long time and seems to enjoy running second or third. She’s a must-use in exotics, though, especially if there’s any zip up front early on; BREE’S GOT HEART: Took a big step forward last time out in her first start over a firm turf course. She’s another who isn’t necessarily a “win type,” but she’s stakes-placed going two turns and isn’t without a shot at a piece of the purse. DIRT SELECTIONS: VERDANT PASTURES, ABOUT THAT BASE, BREE’S GOT HEART.
Summer House (MTO)
Miss Katie Mae
ANIMAL APPEAL: Has plenty of early speed and loves this route of ground. Her lone bad race since the start of 2016 came off a long layoff in a stakes race on Preakness weekend, and this is the spot she’ll likely relish; MISS KATIE MAE: Boasts plenty of back class and has run up against several top-class turf sprinters of late. While her recent rash of runner-up finishes is concerning, the faster they go early, the better her chances should be; NITE DELITE: Is another with stakes experience, and she ran several very fast races in Florida earlier this season. DIRT SELECTIONS: SUMMER HOUSE, GINGER N RYE, SPELLKER.
ABEL TASMAN: Emerged as a top 3-year-old filly with back-to-back Grade 1 wins this past spring. She’s certainly the one to beat, but the relative lack of early speed signed on here could be a concern given her late-running style; SALTY: Threw everything but the kitchen sink at my top pick in the Acorn and was well clear of that day’s third-place finisher. She may prefer one turn, but she’s got plenty of class; ELATE: May be the pace-setter by default here. She was visually impressive when winning a minor stakes at Delaware, and she may get a chance to dictate the early tempo.
River Deep (MTO)
West Point entry
CHAPIN: May take a taxi to the winner’s circle if he improves off his comeback effort earlier this month at Belmont. It’s not (30,000 pounds of) bananas to think that he’ll improve second off the long layoff; NILE PRINCE: Had no chance in his debut after a horrible start, but he did rally to be beaten just five lengths. That came against a better group, and John Kimmel trainees tend to improve at second asking; PROGNOSTICATION: Has run second in back-to-back races at this level. Two turns is a question mark, but Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz are a powerful combination. DIRT SELECTIONS: RIVER DEEP, COOKIE CRISP, MAJOR FORCE.