Wednesday marks day 10 of 40 at the 2021 summer meet, and this stand seems to go by quicker and quicker every year. I miss it dearly, and I wish I could get back to the Spa this summer. Alas, four weddings in six weeks later this year, combined with a vacation bank that got dealt a body blow when I had to switch jobs earlier this year, makes that almost impossible.
If that changes, this space will be the first place that news breaks, unless I decide to leave everyone in the dark until a dramatic, WWE-style run-in is deemed suitable. In that instance, should you hear the chorus of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova,” followed by a record scratch and “Judas” by Fozzy, go crazy and sing along with Chris Jericho’s lyrics.
Side note: If you had “day 10” in the “Andrew’s first wrestling reference of the season” pool, step up and collect your money.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Most of my action was off when the third race was moved to the main track. My remaining $5 cold exacta was half-right, as Kaely’s Sister cruised home, but my projected runner-up was nowhere.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll look to the late double and use that to try to extract value out of #9 BELL’S THE ONE, who looms large in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She’s a single to start $6 tickets that end with #3 CARIBBEAN GOLD, #9 DECLAREATRUCE, and #10 BUNKER HILL in the nightcap. Also, because he’s going to be an insane price and I’ll be very upset if he runs well and I don’t have him in some form or fashion, give me $1 across the board on #9 KINGDOM ON PAWS in the fifth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $21
Best Bet: Bell’s the One, Race 9
Longshot: Kingdom On Paws, Race 5
The Mean Queen
#6 THE MEAN QUEEN: Is 3-for-3 over fences and looms large in the rescheduled Jonathan Kiser. Not only has she not lost in these races, she’s never truly been tested, and she’s a legitimate favorite; #2 FAST CAR: Almost certainly needed his return last month and won over fences here last summer. He was 3-1 in a race at this level in August when he was eased, and a return to his mid-2020 form would make him logical; #5 BODES WELL: Hasn’t won in quite a while but sure looks like the lone early speed in this race. He’s not without form, and he could lead them a long way at a nice price.
Rocking the Boat
Yodel E. A. Who
#4 ROCKING THE BOAT: Gets a tepid nod in one of the classiest $40,000 claimers you’ll see. He hasn’t run a bad race since 2019, was second in a swiftly-run race last month at Churchill Downs, and goes out for a barn that’s enjoyed success so far this meet; #3 MADISON’S LUNA: Beat similar three back and is a closer in a race that has some early speed signed on. Philip Bauer has sent out some live runners this summer, and his usual race gives him a shot; #2 YODEL E. A. WHO: Takes a big drop for a very successful outfit, but I have my doubts. His one recent win came in the slop, he’s run a few clunkers since then, and horses adding blinkers after long stretches without them imply the humans around them may be searching for answers. His best is good enough, but at or near his morning line price, I’ll try to beat him.
#4 OCALA DREAM: Has won two in a row and beat several of these rivals going shorter last time out. Two turns is a bit of a question mark, but his pedigree says it won’t be a problem and Tom Morley does well with horses stretching out in distance; #8 BARRAGE: Moves to the Danny Gargan barn and adds blinkers for a conditioner enjoying a stellar 2021 season. His two local works look very strong, and improvement could be in the cards; #6 STEP DANCER: Has had some adventurous journeys in three starts this season and will need to work out a trip once again here. He’s a closer and will need a pace to set up in front of him, but he’s good enough if he gets his desired race shape and a clean journey.
#2 HOLLYWOOD GINA: Ran a big race two back and had every right to need her last-out effort against better horses. This sure seems like the correct level, and her two-back workout implies she ships to Saratoga in good form; #6 QUASAR: Gets a big trainer change to Rob Atras and will likely go favored for logical reasons. Figures-wise, her usual race wins, but when a horse is 1-for-23 and will be a short price, I’m inclined to go elsewhere with my top selection; #3 ALPINE QUEEN: Earned her diploma last time out in an off-the-turf event and tries winners for the first time. This isn’t the toughest spot for the level, Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and perhaps Bruce Brown has found what she wants to do.
Kingdom On Paws
#8 REGAL EMPIRE: Hammered for $125,000 earlier this year and is bred to want distance on the lawn. He’s by top turf sire Lemon Drop Kid, and his female family includes a dam that’s a half-sister to graded stakes-winning router Zivo; #3 TIMBUKTU: Has a series of strong works for Brad Cox and is another that could like the turf. Broodmare sire Scat Daddy is a strong turf influence, but as good as Cox is, his numbers with first-time starters going long are just so-so; #9 KINGDOM ON PAWS: Will be an astronomical price, but I think there are reasons to believe he can move forward here. His pedigree is all-distance, which he gets here, and the winner of his last race at Monmouth has since come back to win again.
#6 CODY’S WISH: Ran a credible third in his debut and earned an impressive 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Perhaps that’s a bit inflated due to the mud, but Bill Mott’s first-time starters often need a race or two to get going, and I love the steady diet of strong drills over the Oklahoma track; #9 BEATBOX: Didn’t run badly last time out in an effort that doubled as his first race since October. This is his first start going two turns, and his world-class two-turn pedigree is a big reason he sold for $2.1 million back in 2019; #2 ABSOLUTE COURAGE: Has improved in all three prior outings for patient horseman Shug McGaughey. He showed some grit last time when second downstate, and he figures to once again be forwardly-placed here.
#6 TAMAHERE: Headlines a loaded optional claiming race that may as well be a Grade 3 event. She misfired in the Grade 1 Just A Game, but before that was second in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and won last year’s Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont; #7 SWEET MELANIA: Sure looks like the main speed, which is always dangerous on the inner turf, and her multiple graded stakes wins jump off the page. However, her two 2021 starts have been pretty disappointing. Her best race could win this, but she also could be over the top; #4 SPEAKTOMEOFSUMMER: Hasn’t won in more than a year, but that score came here, in the Grade 2 Lake Placid. She’ll do her best running late beneath Joel Rosario, and she’d benefit if another runner kept Sweet Melania honest in the early going.
Life Changer (MTO)
#3 BIG PACKAGE: Has a win over this tricky route of ground and hasn’t run a bad race in his last five starts. His two-back win came over Shiraz, who took a classy race earlier in the meet, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., returns to the saddle; #1 CHARMED: Chased a talented horse in Fauci last time out in his North American debut at Monmouth. That was his first race in six months, and he hinted at some potential in Europe while part of the world-class Joseph O’Brien outfit; #7 NOBLE EMOTION: Looks like the main speed in here and comes in off of a wire-to-wire score downstate. Horacio DePaz does excellent work with last-out winners, and he could prove tough to catch, but he’ll almost certainly have to work hard in the early going to get to the front.
Bell’s the One
#9 BELL’S THE ONE: Oozes back class and exits a win over a strong group in a listed stakes at Churchill Downs, where she took a Grade 1 race last fall. She’s a perfect 4-for-4 going six furlongs, and with so much speed to set up for her late kick, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss seems like a dream scenario; #2 REAGAN’S EDGE: Hasn’t won in a while but is always competitive and is another that can rate. In a race with lots of early zip, that could give her a tactical edge, and she ran well here a season ago when second in the Grade 2 Prioress; #4 LAKE AVENUE: Shortens up to six furlongs for this one and merits respect based on her past accomplishments. The Bill Mott trainee just missed in a Grade 3 downstate and may sit a stalking trip just off a sizzling pace.
Bold Victory (MTO)
#3 CARIBBEAN GOLD: May have bounced a bit second off of a long layoff in his last start. He’s been gelded since that effort, and he looks like the only horse that will want to go early. That could put him in a prime position in the Wednesday finale; #10 BUNKER HILL: Sure looked like he needed his last-out effort off of a nine-month break. He drops in for a tag for the first time, doesn’t face any world-beaters in here, and has every right to improve at a bit of a price; #9 DECLAREATRUCE: Is reunited with Junior Alvarado, who piloted him to two second-place finishes against similar earlier this season. One of them came two back, and that day’s winner has since come back to win again.