Cheap plug: I’ll be on the HHH Racing Podcast Thursday evening to preview the power-packed Travers Day program. You can watch live at 7:30 pm Eastern time on the HHH Racing Podcast YouTube channel. There’s always an active comments section, which makes for lively discussion and fun debate. We’ll focus primarily on Saturday’s late Pick Five, but that’s not to say we’ll ignore other races on the program.
I was on a few weeks ago and had an awesome time talking shop, and I don’t expect this show to be any different. Howard, Peter, and Paul do amazing work and have as in-depth a library of episodes as any show I’ve come across (I should know, I used to host one). Hope to see you all there Thursday evening!
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: My action was washed out when the steeplechase race was cancelled.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the third, where I’ll hope #6 ST. JOE LOUIS is a beaten favorite for (not a misprint) the ninth time in his 10th career start. My $5 doubles starting in that event use #3 ICARUS and #7 MERCI there, followed by #5 SECRET THUNDER and #7 EE YAH in the fourth. Additionally, I’ll play $2 exactas using Icarus and Merci on top of those two, #4 ROYAL SPIRIT, and St. Joe Louis.
TOTAL WAGERED: $32.
Best Bet: Ee Yah, Race 4
Longshot: Danzigwiththestars, Race 7
#6 MONTEREY PENINSULA: Debuts for Wesley Ward, whose barn has been firing on all cylinders at this stand. This certainly seems like a very weak spot for a first-time starter to be unveiled, and the cushy outside draw is a big plus; #2 NECROMANCER: Has a record that looks far better if you solely consider the dirt sprints. He probably moved a bit too early last time when fourth at Monmouth Park, but he’s got back races at Aqueduct that would give him a chance; #4 SUPERSONIC: Sold for $175,000 and debuts with a tag that’s just over 10% of that total. That’s a red flag, but he does sport a solid local worktab and wouldn’t be a gigantic surprise in the Thursday opener.
#10 PLAYLIST: Hammered for $400,000 at Keeneland last September and has been training forwardly for Wesley Ward (who could conceivably sweep the early double). Her dam is a stakes-winning half-sister to top turf miler Gio Ponti, and this one’s a half to Grade 3 winner You’re To Blame; #6 LADY CARAGGIO: Has an all-European pedigree that says she’ll love the lawn, and Bill Mott-trained firsters have been running fairly well all summer long. She’s been working steadily (and pretty fast, too), and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was ready right away; #11 REFLEXIVITY: Needs a scratch to draw in off the also-eligible list but merits plenty of respect if she does. This Irish-bred is another with turf up and down in the pedigree, as her dam was a Group 3-winning turf sprinter overseas.
#3 ICARUS: Drops way down in class after being beaten three lengths by optional claiming foes downstate. This event for non-winners of two is a significantly weaker spot, and this one ran several very strong races this past spring in Kentucky; #7 MERCI: Was claimed out of his last race by Jose Camejo, who’s been as good as anybody with new acquisitions. He suffered from a wide trip in his local debut, and he could move forward if he’s able to save any ground here; #6 ST. JOE LOUIS: Gets a mention here, but is a horse I cannot endorse on top. He has lost at odds of 6/5 or shorter on five straight occasions, and it’s not like he’s been running against world-beaters. If he beats me, he beats me.
#7 EE YAH: Debuted running second at Monmouth in what’s turned out to be a key race. That day’s winner hit the board in the Grade 3 Sanford, the third-place finisher came right back to win, and I think this one looms large dropping in for a tag; #5 SECRET THUNDER: Debuts for a patient barn and has every right to need a race. However, the last few local workouts have been pretty sharp, including an August 8th gate drill that was eighth-fastest of 51 that day. Offspring of Bolt d’Oro have shown themselves to be precocious, and this one attracts Luis Saez; #3 WARMAN ROAD: Debuts for Rob Atras and sports some decent-looking drills at Belmont Park. Every prior foal from this dam that’s raced has won, including a minor stakes-winner in Louisiana.
#3 AMOUNT: Ran horribly last time out, and I’m willing to forgive that clunker. He won three in a row earlier this year at three different racetracks, and while there’s every chance his best days are behind him, anything close to his best would make him tough to beat; #1 DIRECT ORDER: Has bounced around barns a lot lately, and for good reason given his 12 career victories. One of them came here just a few weeks ago, and I expect him to come running late beneath Luis Saez; #8 LOCALLY OWNED: Hasn’t done much running since upsetting a rich stakes race last fall at Belmont. He drops way down the ladder for this one, and he’s another that could be a win threat if he channels his best form.
#7 LIGHT STARS: Might have needed her U.S. debut, which came off a nine-month break. She contested some very strong races overseas, including the Group 1 Prix de Diane. I’m expecting improvement second off the bench, and that could put her in the winner’s circle over a very tough field; #8 ROCKY SKY: Ran second in a race at this level last time out and stretches out to a marathon distance here. She ran very well to win a minor stakes race overseas going 1 1/4 miles, and this trip may be what she needs to record her first North American triumph; #2 BESIDE HERSELF: Was third behind Walkathon and McKulick in the Grade 3 Regret two starts back. She tries this 12-furlong journey for the first time, but she’s got the pedigree to handle it and may still be moving forward in the middle of her 3-year-old season.
#3 DANZIGWITHTHESTARS: Is 3-for-5 at Saratoga (and 0-for-9 elsewhere), and one of those wins came in a swiftly-run optional claiming event at the beginning of the meet. She goes outside of the state-bred ranks for this one, but it’s tough to go against an in-form horse that clearly loves this course; #5 DRIPPING GOLD: Got marooned in post #11 last time out and may have moved a little early. He was talented enough to win at first asking here last summer, and he’ll add blinkers for his third start of the season; #1 JAMES JONES: Ran on late to be beaten less than two lengths last time out, and that day’s winner came right back to win at next asking. He’s shown an ability to make up ground late, and he’d benefit from a lively pace that could set up for the way he runs.
Tizzy in the Sky
#5 TIZZY IN THE SKY: Settled for second in her debut after doing some of the dirty work up front. That day’s third-place finisher came right back to win, she exits a bullet drill for new trainer Jose Camejo, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back; #1 HANDBELLE: Hasn’t raced since October and adds Lasix for her 3-year-old debut. Bill Mott knows how to win off of long breaks, and while the inside draw’s a bit tricky, the consistent works are a plus and she may be ready to run; #8 PRECURSORY: Is the other Mott trainee, and she’s run fairly well downstate. The outside draw could be beneficial, but it’s worth wondering why Joel Rosario hopped off to ride my top pick.
A Mo Reay
#3 SKIMS: Drops in class to contest the Riskaverse after running against graded company in each of her last three outings. This field isn’t bad, but it’s a far cry from the likes of Spendarella, Consumer Spending, and Dolce Zel, and I think she’ll appreciate the class relief; #11 WONKA: Was a fast-closing fourth in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly downstate and stretches back out to two turns. The far-outside post is far from ideal, but we know two turns shouldn’t be an issue and there should be some pace signed on; #10 A MO REAY: Tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. She’s out of Grade 3-placed turfer Margaret Reay and boasts a strong 341 turf Tomlinson figure, so it wouldn’t be surprising if she’s wanted the grass all along.
Stainless Steel (MTO)
#6 DIGITAL FUTURE: Has been off 11 months and runs for a tag in his comeback race. For most outfits, this would be a red flag, but this one’s aggressive enough to where it doesn’t scare me. His 2021 races were solid, and any forward progression off of those figures would make him tough in the Thursday finale; #5 SANDRONE: Drops in for a tag after showing some speed in a pair of outings against allowance foes. This race seems light on quality speed, and I think Luis Saez will be able to work out a trip aboard a runner that showed some potential a season ago; #2 AFTER FIVE: Speaking of potential, this one chased Golden Pal in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He’s won just once since but makes his first start off the claim for an astute outfit, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a move forward in his second start off a short freshening.