I strongly recommend going to places that challenge you and make you feel small. It’s a surreal experience that’s tough to describe, but I’ll give it a shot.
Last summer, on the way to Mammoth Lakes for a wedding, my girlfriend and I stopped at Yosemite National Park. The winding roads through the mountains will help anyone looking for perspective find it (provided, of course, you also stay focused behind the wheel).
On Sunday, we went to Angel Island State Park. It’s California’s answer to Ellis Island, but with a significant history of its detainees being kept in suboptimal conditions while they awaited processing and entry into the United States (or, in some cases, deportation back to Asia). Chinese carvings in the walls reflect poems written by those who lived in those buildings, and they’re still visible 100 years later.
Put it this way: Bad beats at the racetrack feel awfully insignificant by comparison.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I didn’t get rich in Sunday’s fifth race, but I turned a modest $18 post-scratch investment into $36.20. That exacta would’ve paid considerably better the other way, but it beats losing.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the eighth race, where #9 MISCHIEVOUS DIANE hits me as a formidable foe despite not being the likely favorite. In addition to a $10 win bet on that one, I’ll also key her in $3 exactas above #1 SHORT SUMMER DRESS/#1A PIECE OF MY HEART, #2 SMASH TICKET, and #8 MOVIE MOXY.
TOTAL WAGERED: $19.
Best Bet: Mariah’s Fortune, Race 2
Longshot: Darknstormy, Race 5
#3 PISTOL WHIPPED: Has finished first or second in all but two of his starts since the beginning of 2021. Most recently, he was a distant second behind top steeplechaser Snap Decision in the Grade 1 Iroquois, and a similar effort would make him tough to top in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick; #7 IRANISTAN: Did not finish the Iroquois but won two in a row prior to that, including a win over Snap Decision in a Grade 2. He won here twice two summers ago, and his best effort gives him a big chance; #2 DOWN ROYAL: Has won two minor stakes races in a row and figures to be prominent from the jump. This is a significant class test, but she’s done more than enough to merit a look in the first steeplechase race of the summer.
#4 MARIAH’S FORTUNE: Takes a big drop in class for this non-winners-of-two claiming event. It wasn’t long ago she was 13-1 in the Grade 3 Fantasy, but these are very aggressive connections and this is probably the weakest bunch she’s ever run against; #6 BABYITSGOLDOUTSIDE: Cuts back to a sprint for a savvy barn and merits a look at a price. She’s been competitive at this level in the past, and this outfit has already found the winner’s circle multiple times at this meet; #1 EVOKING: Cruised home in her debut last spring and went to the sidelines for nearly 14 months. She’s worked consistently ahead of her return, but the rail draw and the long break are both significant concerns, and she’s likely to take plenty of betting money.
#5 AUNT VIRGINIA: Nearly pulled off a 40-1 upset in her unveiling at Delaware Park. That day’s winner, Silvery Rill, can run a bit, and the transfer to a trainer hitting at a 35% clip with new acquisitions cannot be ignored; #7 IZEAMALIBUMOON: Raced greenly when third in her debut at Monmouth Park and completes a 1-2 punch for trainer Jose Camejo (who also saddles my top pick). She earned a 71 Beyer Speed Figure that day and may improve with experience; #8 GRACEFULLY WILD: Has run second three times in as many 2022 starts, including a pair of turf sprints. She’s shown she doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, and she could sit a dream trip just off the pace.
Epona’s Dream (MTO)
Out of Sight
#3 PURE BODE: Goes third off the bench and stretches back out to two turns, which should be to her benefit. Her win last year at this route was very solid, and top turf rider Jose Lezcano knows her very, very well; #1 OUT OF SIGHT: Has yet to run a bad race in 2022, a stretch that includes a pair of nice wins two and three back. Her last-out third at this level was fine, and the lone question mark is the two-turn route of ground; #6 INSTINCTIVE: Has shown an ability to rally from off the pace and should benefit from the likely race shape. The faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be, and she may be the one they have to hold off late.
U Glow Girl
#2 U GLOW GIRL: Debuts for Brad Cox after a very strong four-furlong gate drill at Keeneland. Her dam and second dam are both stakes winners, and young sire Girvin is off to a very strong start; #8 DARKNSTORMY: Debuts for Rudy Rodriguez, who doesn’t work his horses quickly. That can make his first-time starters tricky reads, but her dam was a stakes-placed sprinter and the daughter of stakes-winning sprinter Tangier Sound, so there’s plenty to like; #1 CALLIE’S PASSION: Is one of two in this field trained by Joe Sharp and comes in off of a five-furlong bullet work. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a debuting 2-year-old, but this half-sister to Grade 3 winner Scotus has every right to be a runner.
#6 HAPPY FARM: Is a really easy horse to root for, with 11 wins and 24 top-three finishes in 32 career starts. His last-out win has aged beautifully, as runner-up Three Two Zone came back to top a strong field Sunday. Add in he could be in the garden spot just off the pace early, and I think he looks very tough; #3 SHADOW MATTER: Hasn’t won in a while but drops to what’s probably the right level. He’s been facing much faster horses of late, and Luis Saez lands here when he probably had plenty of options; #5 ARISTOCRATIC: Has blazing early speed and goes first off the claim for a barn that hits at a 27% clip with new acquisitions. He may not be alone on the front end, but he’ll likely be the one they have to catch turning for home.
#3 HEY THERE: Just missed last time out downstate and looms large given her forward progression for a world-class barn. She showed more early zip than ever before last time out, which gives Flavien Prat plenty of options here; #9 LIBRETTO: Has been one-paced going longer and cuts back to a sprint for the first time. Joel Rosario rides and may drop back before coming with one run at a price; #6 MRS. GREEN: Was fourth in the race my top pick exits and makes her third career start here. She’s another that could sit back and come charging late, and there’s enough speed signed on to potentially make that trip a winning one.
#9 MISCHIEVOUS DIANE: Came back running off the bench last time out, when she drubbed an overmatched allowance field and earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. She showed plenty in 2021 to hint this race wasn’t a fluke, and the outside post gives Dylan Davis plenty of options; #2 SMASH TICKET: Romped by 11 lengths last time out at Lone Star Park and has since joined the Rob Atras barn. She was third in last year’s Grade 2 Sorrento at Del Mar and may have enough talent and early zip to overcome a tricky inside draw; #8 MOVIE MOXY: Hasn’t run for 10 months but has been working steadily for George Weaver, who does well with similar stock. She was fourth in a pretty fast race for the level here last summer, and if she’s ready to run, a similar effort could get her a piece of this one.
She’s a Mia
#4 CLASSIC LYNNE: Scratched out of a race on Sunday in order to make her 2022 debut in the Suzie O’Cain. Her best race to date, by far, came in her only turf route. Running here hints at some confidence, and I think she’s ready to spring a mild upset; #1 SOLIB: Is the other Joe Sharp trainee in the field and could inherit the early lead by default. She just missed last time and was claimed out of that race. Inside speed has always been tough on this turf course; #5 SHE’S A MIA: Is a heavy morning line favorite, but I have my doubts. She’s run second twice downstate, and those efforts were fine, but hardly ones that tower over her competition. She wouldn’t be a gigantic shock if she won, but 7/5 hits me as a significant underlay.
#3 SUPER QUALITY: Responded to the drop in class last time out with the best effort of his young career. Since then, he’s fired a bullet drill over the Oklahoma track, and Saez will be back aboard in the Wednesday finale; WACHTEL ENTRY: I’m most intrigued by #1A PISTOL OR SHOTGUN, a colt bred up and down for the grass. His dam is a full sister to the dam of a Group 1 winner overseas, and it’s entirely possible he’s wanted the lawn all along; #6 BLINDING LIGHT: Is another entered by George Weaver, who also conditions my top pick. He was second against straight maidens on dirt at Gulfstream in his debut, but hasn’t run since March, and if this 2-1 favorite is so well-meant, why does this barn run two?