Unfortunately, today’s bankroll blurb is a sad one, as horse racing lost longtime California trainer Mel Stute Wednesday morning. Stute was 93 and lived a full life, one that included the presence of many top-tier horses. Among the thoroughbreds he campaigned were champions Snow Chief and Brave Raj, as well as 1987 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Very Subtle.
How revered was Mel Stute? Listen closely to the background announcements in the classic horse racing movie “Let It Ride.” The voice of Trevor Denman urges Mel Stute to contact the racing office. Hopefully he got around to that at some point.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: I went five-deep in the first leg of the late Pick Four but did not use Microsecond, who naturally cruised home well clear of two horses I had on the ticket (including the 11-1 runner-up). A scratch did cut my losses in half, as the ticket only cost $15.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the late daily double starting in the ninth. I’ll have a pair of $3 tickets that lean on #3 MRS. ORB in the Union Avenue and #6 FAVORITE IMPULSE in the nightcap. These tickets look like this: 3 with 6,11,13, and 1,3,6 with 6. I’ll also have $5 win tickets on both of those horses.
TOTAL WAGERED: $28.
Best Bet: Grit and Glory, Race 4
Longshot: Favorite Impulse, Race 10
#6 NEW MEMBER: Likely needed his return off of a nearly two-year layoff, so I don’t have much of an issue ignoring that clunker. He was one of the top jump horses on the grounds two summers ago, when he ran second in a Grade 1, and he could be sharper here; NAYLOR ENTRY: #1 ELUCIDATION comes in off of a win over several of these rivals. He was winless in 2019, but perhaps he’s found his best form as a 6-year-old; #4 IRANISTAN: Was favored in both Grade 1 races over fences at the Spa two years ago but hasn’t found that form in four subsequent starts. However, he does drop in class for legendary horseman Jonathan Sheppard.
Lutescoot N Boogie
#5 LUTESCOOT N BOOGIE: Has outworked her modest $9,000 auction price and seems ready for her unveiling. Steve Asmussen has done strong work with 2-year-olds to this point in the meet, and the July 22 gate drill looks particularly strong; #8 MALIBU LUNA: Was one-paced when fourth in her debut, but she’s bred to get better with more experience under her belt. The outside post should help, and the restricted condition may mean this is a class drop; #4 SAFE CONDUCT: Sold for the maximum price allowed by the condition and has been working consistently for Phil Serpe. The barn’s horses sometimes need a race to get going, but some of the drills since her arrival look solid.
Palace Avenger (MTO)
#1 OLENDON: Hasn’t won in a while but was a solid second behind an odds-on winner earlier in the meet. She was Group 1-placed overseas, and this spot seems like a fairly weak one for the condition; #8 ORIGINATOR: Comes in off a win at Churchill and earned a victory at this route last summer. Trainer Ian Wilkes has enjoyed some success here, and she should have every chance to come rolling late; #7 TURF WAR: Was third in the same race my top pick exits, and that was her first start since October. She has every right to step forward second off the bench for one of the top trainer-jockey combinations on the grounds.
Grit and Glory
#6 GRIT AND GLORY: Comes back after winning the first race of the meet in late-running fashion. On paper, this is a step up in class, but this spot seemed to turn up very weak for the level and this may be the only horse here that can pass horses late; #2 BLOOD MOON: Tired to finish third at this level and route last time out. That day’s second-place finisher has since come back to win, and he may be the one to catch turning for home; #5 NAUGHTY PRINCE: Is wheeled back quickly after moving to 2-for-2 last week. This barn can get new acquisitions ready right away, and while the last-out win wasn’t a pretty one, he’s also never been beaten to this point and he’ll likely be a bit of a price.
Hey It’s Tati (MTO)
New York Supreme
Frenchie Frou Frou
#2 NEW YORK SUPREME: Tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. She’s by Constitution, out of a More Than Ready mare, and also drops in for a tag for the first time second off the bench. All of these changes could be what she needs; #7 FRENCHIE FROU FROU: Was a late-running third in her lone prior turf sprint. The experiment going long earlier in the meet didn’t work out, and it seems like she’s back where she wants to be here; #11 BONUS BABY: Doesn’t draw well but is another bred to want the grass. She’s out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, one who’s a half-sister to Swift Warrior, a multiple Grade 3 winner on the lawn.
#5 OFF TOPIC: Ran in some pretty big spots a season ago, including when she was third in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at this route. She’s been working well ahead of her return to the races for Todd Pletcher and will be a handful if she’s right; #1 RISKY MANDATE: Hasn’t fired a bad shot in five previous starts and will go two turns for the first time here. The back class is certainly there, but the pedigree does’t scream that she wants to go long, so I can’t endorse her on top; #4 FOXTAIL: Will be going for her third win of the meet, and no, that’s not a misprint. She capitalized on a perfect trip in an off-the-turf event last week and will get a significant class test here.
Thin White Duke
I’m Blaming You
#2 THIN WHITE DUKE: Has burned money in his last two starts, but his turf debut last time out wasn’t bad. He was beaten just a length that day, and a similar effort here likely puts him in the winner’s circle; #8 I’M BLAMING YOU: Hammered for $100,000 earlier this year and is bred up and down for turf. He’s by Blame, out of a City Zip mare, and may not need to be much to best this field on debut; #7 DAGGERBOARD: Comes in off a string of strong gate works downstate. He’s a son of strong turf sire Mizzen Mast, and dam Run a Dubb Dubb was a classy runner who won nine times and banked more than $421,000.
Turn of Events
#6 BRAY: Has yet to run a bad race, with two wins, a second, and a third in four lifetime starts. On paper, this is a jump up in class, but it didn’t come up looking like a strong race for the level, and this level is one he’s been competitive at in the past; #2 TURN OF EVENTS: Earned the diploma earlier this meet against maiden claiming foes and goes into starter allowance company for a hot barn. His tactical speed figures to be a plus, and the presence of aggressive rider Luis Saez implies he’ll be forwardly-placed; #3 MANDATE: Ran second behind my top pick two back before rallying to win earlier this meet. Both of his wins have come going two turns, but I fear he may need a bit more pace than he’ll get.
#3 MRS. ORB: May get an ideal setup second off the bench for a sneaky-good barn. She was a close-up second behind the likely favorite in a similar spot at Belmont, and with an abundance of early speed signed on, it certainly seems like she’ll be the one they have to hold off late; #1 RATAJKOWSKI: Held off my top pick last time out to earn her fifth win in eight lifetime starts. If she gets left alone on the lead, she may be very tough to reel in; #6 NEWLY MINTED: Looked like a star last summer when she romped in the Fleet Indian going two turns here. However, she’s won just once since, and the five-month layoff is certainly a concern.
Sainte Mere Eglise
#13 GAELIC GOLD: Will likely be favored if she draws in off the AE list. Her late-running third against similar earlier this meet was sharp, especially since there wasn’t much pace for her to close into off a bit of a freshening; #6 FAVORITE IMPULSE: Is bred up and down for the grass and looks very intriguing at a big price. She’s a half-sister to Grade 2 turf winner Factor This, and that’s not the kind of turf pedigree we see often in New York-breds; #11 SAINTE MERE EGLISE: Almost certainly needed her return race off a layoff of nearly a year. She was one-paced that day, but her debut here last summer was fine and she’ll be a contender if she runs back to that effort.