Predictably, horse racing Twitter had very animated reactions to the jockey introductions prior to Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes. As I stated when they initially rolled these out a few years ago, I don’t have a problem with them. If they don’t scare horses, and if jockeys are fine with the added bells and whistles, it’s a-OK with me.
We need to do more to celebrate the people who bust their butts every day to keep the industry’s wheels turning. Given that jockeys do some of the most dangerous work in all of sports, any chance we can get to recognize them should be taken and run with. For that reason, along with a few others (I’m a wrestling fan, after all), I endorse the intros, provided they’re kept in moderation and saved for the biggest races on the calendar.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Between the exacta I hit on the Kentucky Derby undercard and the one I hit in the A.G. Vanderbilt, Lexitonian is rocketing up my “favorite horses of all-time” list. Pick Threes fizzled after we ran second in the first leg, but the $2 exacta box connected for $367. My only regret is that I didn’t play the trifecta, which included all three horses I used and came back at $525 for a 50-cent bet.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early Pick Five, which of course kicks off in the first race of the day. My 50-cent ticket looks like this: 1,5,10 with 3,5 with 1,7 with 9,10 with 1,3,7. I usually set my sights on Pick Fours, but I feel #2 EVERESTING is very vulnerable at 2-1 in the opener, and beating that one may knock plenty of tickets out right away.
TOTAL WAGERED: $36.
Best Bet: Jackie’s Warrior, Race 9
Longshot: Kenner, Race 5
Uncle Mo’s Cat
BUSH ENTRY: The same barn houses two contenders in a wide-open Sunday opener. I prefer #1A CONGRATS FOR GLORY, whose two-back effort was pretty solid and would be a contender should he return to that form; #10 THRUSTER: Is a deep closer, which means he may need an ideal setup but also that the far outside post shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Jose Ortiz could be able to drop him back out of the gate, save ground, and come running late; #5 UNCLE MO’S CAT: Was a decent third last time out over yielding going downstate, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back. He’s run like a horse that will improve with experience, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.
Popular Vote (MTO)
#5 SILVERY RILL: Is bred to want precisely this race as her first career outing. She’s by all-world sire War Front, out of Grade 3 turf winner Stays in Vegas, and boasts the formidable tag team of Joel Rosario and trainer Christophe Clement; #3 BLISSFUL: Hammered for $350,000 earlier this year and is bred to be a strong turf horse. Her dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner on the lawn, and her full sister, Keri Belle, took down a Grade 3 of her own during her racing days; #4 WATERVILLE: Is the “other” Christophe Clement trainee here and could have some potential. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy is out of a graded stakes winner that has thrown four prior winners, including multiple stakes winner Sea Foam.
Lookin for Loki
Full Court Press
#1 LOOKIN FOR LOKI: Has plenty of back form and takes a huge drop in class off the claim by Danny Gargan. Over the past three years, Gargan is 5-for-7 with new acquisitions dropping by 50% or more in claiming price, and his best can absolutely beat this bunch; #7 EUCHARIST: Ran like a horse that needed a race last time out, and he may very well have been rusty given the long layoff. He’s another class-dropper, and perhaps he’ll be more ready to go for the red-hot Mike Maker barn in this spot; #2 FULL COURT PRESS: Was taken off the pace last time out but still managed to run third that day. It’s possible these connections discovered some flexibility here, and there certainly seems to be plenty of early speed signed on to set up for his newfound late kick.
Jill’s a Hot Mess
#9 JILL’S A HOT MESS: Found her form after being switched to the turf two starts ago, and she’ll make her first outing for new conditioner Linda Rice here. On paper, it’s a step up in class, but on figures, she absolutely fits and could be in line for a new career-best given Rice’s record with new acquisitions; #10 TRANSLATE: Was in strong form earlier this year, when she ran well plenty of times out west. The outside post isn’t ideal, and her form has taken a step back since coming east, but her best could absolutely thump her rivals; #4 LILLY SIMONE: Earned her diploma last time out in her first start for a tag. I’m not sure what she beat in that event, but she looked good doing it and this isn’t the toughest spot to run against winners for the first time.
#3 ROTKNEE: Debuted with a good second at Belmont and finished nearly five lengths clear of the third-place finisher. His lone work since that effort was a bullet drill downstate, and he’s certainly eligible to move forward at second asking for the hottest barn on the circuit; #1 WHITTINGTON PARK: Debuts for Brad Cox and may very well be good enough to overcome the rail draw. His dam has thrown four runners, and they’ve all won multiple times, including multiple stakes winner Critical Value; #7 KENNER: Has a very interesting work tab and ships up from Delaware Park for a barn that doesn’t run many in New York. His second dam is graded stakes winner Lovely Lil, who has thrown three winners, including recent first-out victor American Xperiment.
New York Girl
#5 MISS TEHERAN: Hasn’t run a bad race since coming across the pond after the 2018 season. She goes to a two-turn route of ground here, and she’s run her best races over similar configurations. Between that and the presence of legitimate early speed, I think this Chad Brown trainee will get an optimal setup; #1 NEW YORK GIRL: Has spent this year tackling graded stakes competition, and she’s better than she showed in the Grade 1 Just A Game on Belmont Stakes Day. Her back class is evident, and if she can work out a trip from her tricky inside post, she could be in a position to stalk and pounce turning for home; #7 ENOLA GAY: Won last year’s Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland, but hasn’t run since September. She was fifth in the rich Saratoga Oaks over this turf course a season ago, and she could have a big say in this one if she’s ready to run off of such a long layoff.
#6 ALOHA WEST: Gets a tepid nod in a tricky optional claiming event. He was most recently fourth in a minor stakes race at Churchill Downs, and that day’s winner, Bango, has since come back to win again. If he’s able to rate behind a fast pace, he’ll be the one they have to hold off late; #7 NIGHT TIME: Hasn’t won since this meet last year, when he prevailed over allowance company. He ran reasonably well last month at Churchill in his first race since November, and he’s good enough to win if he’s fully-cranked; #3 TOWN CLASSIC: Broke through when dropped in for a tag at Belmont and was claimed that day by Mike Maker. He’s hit the board in 38 of 52 career starts, and his 97 Beyer Speed Figure from that romp is by far the highest such last-out number in the field.
Bayshore Foxes (MTO)
Summer in the City
#2 MIRABELL MEI: Hasn’t won in a while but is entered for a tag for the first time in a while. She’s run reasonably well twice this season against starter allowance foes. This seems like a weaker bunch, and her chances would get even better if a solid early pace is set that sets up for her late-running style; #10 SUMMER IN THE CITY: Was rated last time out against starter allowance foes, and that probably isn’t what she wants to do. She’s usually up far closer to the pace, and if she gets that kind of trip on the drop in class, she’ll have every chance to win this; #6 AMORTIZATION: Will run for a tag for the first time in her young career. Between that and the presence of top trainer Chad Brown, she may make a lot of sense to some. Personally, I see works at Monmouth Park as a big red flag for this outfit, but based on numbers, she absolutely fits here.
Drain the Clock
#3 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Did everything but win last time in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens. He broke slowly, rushed up, did all the dirty work while setting a fast pace, and was beaten just a neck. If he gets out to a cleaner start in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, I think the race could be for second money; #6 CROWDED TRADE: Was scratched from an allowance race earlier in the meet but has been working well enough to where I’m seeing his entry here as a sign of confidence. The outside post is a plus, and his only prior start going short was a first-out win at Aqueduct; #2 DRAIN THE CLOCK: Benefited from Jackie’s Warrior’s poor start last time out and has done very little wrong, winning six of eight career starts to date. This barn, however, has gone a bit cold of late, and the 97 Beyer Speed Figure last time out was a new career-high by 11 points. He’s good enough to win, but perhaps he’s in line for a bounce, and 2-1 seems a bit short for my liking.
Not a Trace
Know It All Red
#1 ESOTICA: Ran a career-best race when third in the slop at Belmont back in May. She’s got enough speed to use the inside draw to her advantage, and that and her back form are enough to make her my tepid top pick in the Sunday finale; #10 NOT A TRACE: Was third in an off-the-turf race on Independence Day, and her form suggests she may have been a dirt horse all along. She was a good second three starts back, and she’s got enough speed to be on or near the lead from the first jump; #4 KNOW IT ALL RED: Has run second in back-to-back tries against similar, and the last-out effort came with a wide trip and resulted in her highest career Beyer Speed Figure. There may be enough speed in here to provide a friendly race shape, and at least we know she can pass horses in the later stages.