My “Champagne and J.D.” co-host, J.D. Fox, is almost as passionate about Woodbine as I am about Saratoga, and Sunday’s card up there is a big one. It’s a 13-race program headlined by the Queen’s Plate, which is the first leg of the Canadian horse racing Triple Crown.
In celebration of the occasion, we welcomed four-time Sovereign Award-winning writer Jennifer Morrison to our newest show. We discussed this year’s Queen’s Plate and offered a trio of late Pick Five tickets. Multi-race exotics up there can be played in 20-cent increments, which provides room for coverage in wide-open races without forcing horseplayers to break the bank.
You can watch the episode on our YouTube channel. While you’re there, hit the “subscribe” button so you don’t miss any of our weekly updates!
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Triple Elvis was flat, Robin Sparkles tired, and my Pick Three and double plays went up in smoke. If there’s any consolation, it’s that the fifth-race surface switch cancelled my Pick Five and reduced losses to $21.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: It’s a fun card, and I’ll scatter my action across several races on the program. I’ll have $10 win wagers on #5 STROLLING in the third and #1 RHYTHM SECTION in the seventh. In addition, I’ll play $2 exactas in the fifth that key #6 SISTER’S GHOST and #7 THIEF OF HEARTS on top and use those two, #1 MISS PEPPINA, and #3 CAZILDA FORTYTALES in the second spot.
TOTAL WAGERED: $32.
Best Bet: Strolling, Race 3
Longshot: Thief of Hearts, Race 5
Goddess of Fire
Time for Cupid
#6 GODDESS OF FIRE: Gets a tepid nod in the Sunday lid-lifter, a 2-year-old maiden race short on quantity but loaded with potential. This Todd Pletcher trainee is out of a stakes-winning sprinter, one that’s also thrown multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control, and she’s been working well of late for the recently-enshrined Hall of Fame trainer; #3 TIME FOR CUPID: Was taken down in a hard-to-fathom disqualification at Lone Star Park, one where she was clear by nearly five lengths under the wire. That experience may help her, and Steve Asmussen clearly thinks highly of her if he’s shipped her up from Texas; #2 SAFFRON MOON: Is one of two first-time starters trained by Chad Brown, and I prefer this one to #4 DOVER DREAMS. This daughter of Malibu Moon sports an exceptional bottom-side pedigree, including second dam and Grade 1 winner Vacare (who herself is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Captivating Moon).
Penny Saver (MTO)
Miss You Ella
#5 MISS YOU ELLA: Debuts going long on the lawn for Chad Brown and is bred to be any kind. This daughter of Declaration of War boasts a very strong female family, including third dam Hollywood Wildcat, who won an Eclipse Award and threw Breeders’ Cup Mile winner War Chant; #9 DIAMOND HANDS: Hammered for $425,000 at auction earlier this year and is out of a mare that won multiple stakes races at longer turf routes. She’s one of two in here for Christophe Clement, and the presence of Javier Castellano is noteworthy, as he doesn’t ride much for this outfit; #1 HIGHLY DEVAUXTED: Has some sharp works on the tab from her time at Keeneland and is out of a mare by Mizzen Mast, who’s a very strong turf influence. Additionally, if owner/trainer and husband/wife David Ingordo and Cherie DeVaux are naming a horse in this fashion, chances are it has some talent.
#5 STROLLING: Topped a similar-quality field here last month and merits plenty of respect running back at this level. He’s very popular at the claim box, and for good reason, as he’s won 10 of 35 career starts and two of his last three outings; #1 EAGLE PASS: Comes in off a bit of a freshening and won by daylight two and three back downstate. John Toscano doesn’t claim tons of horses, but he’s very astute and has a track record of success with new acquisitions; #3 STORM ADVISORY: Boasts a fitting name given the weather forecast for much of the northeast (stay safe, everyone!), and goes first off the claim for Dominick Schettino. He’s won twice this season when entered for a $16,000 tag, so a $20,000 claimer shouldn’t be too far outside his wheelhouse.
Mia Bea Star (MTO)
What a Trick
#7 WHAT A TRICK: Makes her debut on this circuit after finishing third in a listed stakes race at Pimlico a few weeks ago. She’s shown an abundance of early speed, attracts top turf rider Jose Lezcano, and sure looks like the one they’ll have to catch turning for home; #2 JADES GELLY: Was declared a non-starter earlier in the meet, but she actually ran a bang-up race that day and was beaten less than three lengths despite a terrible beginning. Her two-back victory was sharp, and she certainly stands a big chance provided she gets a clean start; #8 LILLY SIMONE: Earned the diploma two back and just missed at this level and route last time out. The far outside post isn’t ideal, but she’d benefit from someone going with my top selection early, and if such a scenario materializes, the race shape will play right into her hands.
Thief of Hearts
#7 THIEF OF HEARTS: Ran into a very well-meant Brad Cox trainee in a starter allowance event several weeks ago. She drops back in for a claiming tag here, and a repeat of her impressive two-back effort at Churchill Downs would put her right there at a square price; #6 SISTER’S GHOST: Has a resume that looks far more impressive if you toss the races run over turf and synthetic courses. Her dirt races from earlier this year at Indiana Grand were solid, and I think she’s back to her preferred surface in this spot; #3 CAZILDA FORTYTALES: Looks like the main early speed in this heat and was a close-up second at this level in her first start for new trainer Orlando Noda. Manuel Franco rides back, and the cutback from seven panels to six could be a plus.
#3 SHANGHAI SHAMROCK: Has had some tough trips against maiden special weight foes and drops in for a tag for the first time. It’s possible she’s a horse that seeks out trouble, but she’s shown potential in the mornings and may prove tough to deny with a clean start; #4 LADY MILAGRO: May not have appreciated the muddy going in her debut earlier this summer. The recent half-mile drill downstate jumps off the page, and it may show that she’s sitting on a significant improvement in her second start; #7 LANDSLID: Has run into talented 2-year-olds such as Kaufymaker and Happy Soul, and there are no such monsters in this spot. She may need to improve in order to contend, but the shallower waters should be much appreciated, and the cushy outside draw doesn’t hurt, either.
#1 RHYTHM SECTION: Looks like the main speed in this 11-furlong race that will take place on the inner turf course. Lone speed is dangerous in any event on the inner, and he’s bred to want every bit of this distance. If he gets comfortable up front going into the stretch for the first time, look out; #6 EXULT: Has shown himself to be a consistent sort that runs pretty much the same race every time out. This is his first try at a three-turn distance, but he’s bred to handle it and has shown a very strong turn of foot in several starts against starter allowance foes; #5 BOX N SCORE: Came up a neck short when rallying from last in a similar event downstate back in June. The horse that won, Shamrocket, is a pretty good one, and it also helps that this one was a good third in a start at this distance at Aqueduct back in November.
Him She Kisses (MTO)
Ahead of Plan
#3 AHEAD OF PLAN: Hasn’t won since October of last year, but he did take a big step forward on the drop in class last time out. He was second beaten less than a length last time out. That day’s winner has since come back to win again, and it helps that he boasts a win at this route; #1 KASIM: Didn’t do much running last time out, but that was in an off-the-turf race and he’s clearly better on turf than on dirt. He’s a stakes-placed turf sprinter making his first start for Danny Gargan, who has achieved great success with runners first off the claim; #4 TOMATO BILL: Showed an affinity for the lawn with a win at Lone Star in May. He returns to the turf after finishing fourth in an off-the-turf race last month, and if he returns to the form he displayed two starts ago, he’ll have every chance in what seems like a wide-open turf sprint.
#2 HOROLOGIST: Did everything but win in the Grade 3 Shuvee, where she set a legitimate pace and just couldn’t hold off Royal Flag. She comes back at the same route in the Summer Colony, and she should be able to use her tactical speed to sit a great trip once again; #6 GOLD SPIRIT: Had every right to need her last-out effort, when she tired a bit to run fourth in the Shuvee. That was her American debut and her first start since June. She has every right to take a step forward here in her second start off the bench, and her two recent works here look pretty solid; #3 DUNBAR ROAD: May not be the same horse she was in 2019 and 2020, when she won the Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 2 Delaware Handicap (among other races). However, it’s not like she needs to take an impossible leap forward to contend here. If my top two selections make one another work early on, this one stands to benefit.
Rudy Rod (MTO)
#5 TALLIS: Tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. His dam, Isabella Sings, was a graded stakes winner on the lawn, and Uncle Mo has shown he can sire a turfer. Between the pedigree and the drop in for a $40,000 tag, I think there’s plenty to like in the Sunday finale; #8 VOTER PROTECTION: Hasn’t run since January and has been working at Monmouth for Chad Brown. These two items are red flags, but this is his first start in for a tag and his first try as a gelding. He may not need to move forward much to best this group; #2 EMPIRE ATTRACTION: Drew a wide post last time out and wasn’t able to save any ground. He gets a far friendlier draw here, and if his last start is any indication, he should be on or near the lead going into the first turn.