How to Bet the Saratoga Special

Eight two-year-old colts will speed 6 1/2 furlongs on the Saratoga main course on Saturday in the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes (G2). The race that was established in 1901 has historically produced impactful horses and sires, and two winners in the past seven years have gone on to later pick up Classic victories — Union Rags (2011) and Exaggerator (2015).

ANALYSIS

As many as five in the field could view for the early lead in the Saratoga Special, with Green Light Go, Tuggle, Long Weekend, King Snake and Iberico all flashing big gate presence to this point.

Noose, who was super impressiver winning from off the pace at Churchill Downs, could benefit most if the quintet tangles early and often.

WAGERS

$20 Trifecta Key 3 with 1,5 = $40

Here is the 2019 field:

NOOSE (#1) (4-1) – Eddie Kenneally pupil was ultra-sharp at first asking with a powerful tally from off the pace. The April foal was in traffic until the turn for home in his debut offering, and he powered clear in a swift and professional fashion in the stretch. More Than Ready colt fired a bullet half-mile most recently and will retain the services of Corey Lanerie.

ZYRAMID (#2) (5-1) – Steve Asmussen trainee is the lone runner in the field with local experience following a maiden win in July. $275,000 son of City Zip is out of really nice mare and has plenty of room for improvement. Ricardo Santana Jr. picks up the ride aboard the contender.

GREEN LIGHT GO (#3) (2-1) – Stronach homebred dazzled on debut at Belmont Park with a 3 1/4-length score, and he was further flattered when runner-up Another Miracle graduated at The Spa in his comeback race. Bay colt earned a substantial 93 BRIS Speed number for his work and he has sizzled in the mornings with a pair of bullet drills in the interim. His :46.34 breeze here was impressive.

TUGGLE (#4) (9-2) – $160,000 son of Point of Entry made good in a first offering when leading throughout at Belmont. The Jeremiah Englehart charge was backed at 6-5 odds in his tally and has trained steadily since for a barn having good success at the meeting. Luis Saez will be sending the prospect from the break once again.

LONG WEEKEND (#5) (6-1) – Son of Majesticperfection ran his foes off of their respective feet in a debut waltz at Churchill Downs for Tom Amoss. $225,000 juvenile purchase has been eyeing this race ever since with four local morning drills, including a swift four-furlong move here most recently. Kentucky-bred picks up pilot Joel Rosario for his stakes debut.

KING SNAKE (#6) (8-1) – Jack Sisterson second-timer missed by a nose on the Polytrack at Arlington in his unveiling. Well-meant son of Elusive Quality was heavily backed that day and returned with two sharp morning moves at Keeneland in preparation of this assignment. Jose Ortiz riding adds to the appeal.

PERUVIAN BOY (#7) (10-1) – Tapiture colt ran down the aforementioned at Arlington last time and will hope to do the same in his third lifetime showing. April foal will have to get faster to be a factor in the stretch against this bunch, however.

IBERICO (#8) (15-1) – Florida-bred brings 4 1/2-furlong speed from the Sunshine State to the dash. Antonio Sano pupil draws widest, but he put it all together in his third lifetime showing and could be a menacing pace presence today. Chestnut colt will have Tyler Gaffalione on board.

PHOTO: Noose (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

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Swinging at the Early Pick 4 on Arlington Million Day

A trio of Grade-1 races led by the 37th running of the $1 million Arlington Million (G1) will headline the action at Arlington Park on Saturday. The monstrous day of racing features numerous betting options throughout the card, and I will take a crack at starting the day off with a score.

The early Pick-4 features a trio of maiden contests, with two for the youngsters, and I like the sequence a lot. While it may not yield a life-changing return, there is potential for value while keeping the ticket at a reasonable cost.

Race 1

Juveniles fillies will sprint 5 1/2 furlongs on the main oval in the opener. The Larry Rivelli-trained JOSEPHINE BAKER (#3) (9-5) makes a second lifetime showing and will run on Lasix for the initial time. Malibu Moon filly showed big early foot on debut before fading but improvement is expected from the top juvenile barn on the grounds.

I will also use CONTENDRESS (#7) (9-2) from the Brendan Walsh barn. Competitive Edge filly shows a pair of dirt races at the level, and she will add blinkers while trying the all-weather for the first time.

Race 2

Two-year-old boys will get their turn in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on the Polytrack. I lack conviction with any particular entrant and will spread with the debuters who intrigue me.

JURISDICTION (#3) (5-1), LINFIELD (#4) (9-2) and NICELY NICELY (#8) (7-2) makes the ticket.

Race 3

Maiden special weight affair for fillies and mares on the lawn attracted eight. OUR BAY B RUTH (#2) (8-5) looks very tough for conditioner Eddie Kenneally. Candy Ride filly was a fine runner-up from the 10 post in a similar spot at Churchill Downs most recently, and the well-bred lass seems poised to graduate today.

I will also use GENTLE TOUCH (#4) (8-1) at a nice price. Larry Rivelli trainee was a positive third on debut before faltering most recently, and the Kitten’s Joy filly tries the lawn for the initial time. Sophomore has five turf-winning siblings and gets top pilot Jose Valdivia Jr.

Race 4

Allowance/optional claiming run on the lawn will close out the sequence and could deliver a price to end it. I could make a decent case for the longest shot on the board, BLUE SKY KOWBOY (#7) (20-1), who loves the Arlington turf course. So with that said I will hit the ‘all’ button in the competitive field.

WAGER

$.50-cent Pick 4: 3,7 with 3,4,8 with 2,4 with all = $48

Happy Million Day!

PHOTO: Arlington Park (c) Coady Photography/Arlington Park

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Hoosier Park Harness Racing

Hoosier Park Harness Race of the Week for August 7

The 7th Race at Hoosier Park on Wednesday is a $20,000 claiming event for three and four-year-olds. Six will vie in the pacing event at one mile which carries a $9,500 purse. While the field is small, this appears to be one of the more competitive betting events on the card with contenders from top to bottom.

Don’t forget to get your GAIT INSURANCE before the Race of the Week! Your $5 WIN BET will be refunded if your horse breaks stride and loses the race!

ROAN COLOR (#2) (2-1) is the one to beat today coming off of a superb score from the 10 post most recently. The son of Always A Virgin has fine current form with top-three finishes in four of his last five assignments, including three straight over the Hoosier Park surface. The roan gelding, who is trained and driven by Ross Leonard, has good tracking ability and will never be far back against this compact bunch.

SHER’S SPEEDYSHARK (#3) (9-2) has raced back into shape after missing a few turns with a scratch and a break, and the late runner could be the best upset chance in the field. Conditioned by Dylan Davis, the sophomore gelding was in an impossible spot when last and 21 lengths back early most recently, but he showed a fine turn of foot to be defeated by just four lengths under the wire when finishing fifth behind the aforementioned. Michael Oosting will be in the bike trying to run them down late.

COLITION (#6) (7-2) draws widest but could still be the one to catch if asked for run from the start. The three-year-old son of Always A Virgin was impressive in a wire-to-wire victory on the oval three back, but the Michigan-bred never got going early when an even fourth in advance of this assignment. The gelding will be guided home by his trainer, Matt Rheinheimer.

VALIANT IVY (#5) (3-1) was compromised from being hung wide for much of his latest offering at Scioto Downs and will surely get a better trip in this spot. Gelded four-year-old is a winner on the course in 2019 with a nice tally on May 24, getting his mile in 1:53. The son of Jereme’s Jet is bound for improvement with Joey Putnam in the sulky.

(c) Photo courtesy of Jamie Linscott/Hoosier Park

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How to Bet the Saratoga Derby Invitational on Sunday

An excellent field of 11 three-year-olds will run 1 3/16 miles on the outer turf at Saratoga on Sunday in the inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational. The top-five finishers of the recent Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) will line up once again, and will face a few fresh faces in the super-competitive second leg of the Turf Trinity.

ANALYSIS

The pace could be honest and contested with A Thread of Blue (#3) (12-1) and Flying Scotsman (#11) (15-1) being the swiftest pair from the gate, and being followed closely by Henley’s Joy (#1) (4-1), Social Paranoia (#2) (6-1), Eons (#5) (15-1) and possibly Mohawk (#10) (10-1).

I think the winner comes from the second or third flight and holds off the bevy of high-class closers inside the final yards.

WAGERING STRATEGY

$10 Win and Place: #10 Mohawk = $20
$2 Exacta Key Box: 10 with 3,4,6,8 = $16
$.50-cent Trifecta: 10 with 3,4,6,8 with all = $18

Here is the field:

HENLEY’S JOY (#1) (4-1) – Kitten’s Joy colt was best in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and draws the rail for this difficult assignment. Kentucky-bred was no fluke last time and has the tactical speed to get the jump on the deeper closers under Jose Lezcano.

SOCIAL PARANOIA (#2) (6-1) – Belmont Derby runner-up has never missed the board on turf and could be right there late with even slight improvement. Street Boss colt was second in his turf bow on the course in 2018, and he will never be far back beneath Manny Franco.

A THREAD OF BLUE (#3) (12-1) – Grade 3 winner didn’t handle a yielding course at Penn National in his last appearance, but he has trained swiftly on both the dirt and lawn at Saratoga in the interim. Kiaran McLaughlin pupil has good early foot and might be the one to catch into the first turn at a generous price.

ROCKEMPEROR (#4) (7-2) – Import drew widest in his U.S. bow in the Belmont Derby and was last after the first call. Son of Holy Roman Emperor finished full of run to be a closing third and he draws in a much better spot on Sunday. Irish-bred looks to have as good of a chance as any in the field with Johnnie Velazquez returning to ride.

EONS (#5) (15-1) – Arnaud Delacour pupil has rolled home to win four turf races in succession, capped by a game tally in the Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park in advance of this one. Giant’s Causeway colt will be facing a serious class test in this spot and will need a substantial step forward to contend for the top prize.

KADAR (#6) (30-1) – Interesting sort made a big late rally to be third in a local allowance try in what might have been a very good prep run for this lucrative test. Longshot will add blinkers for trainer Mike Maker, and the $836,000 purchase gets a rider change to Jose Ortiz. Scat Daddy colt is one to consider for the top-three at big odds.

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE (#7) (15-1) – One of two from the Aidan O’Brien barn ran evenly when eighth in the Belmont Derby and will need better in a second run in the states. Son of Galileo has faced some fine foes in 2019 and wouldn’t be a total shocker under Julien Leparoux.

DIGITAL AGE (#8) (9-2) – American Turf Stakes (G2) victor rallied to be fourth in the Belmont Derby in his first outing since May. Once-beaten Chad Brown pupil has improved with every start and will be roaring home if he gets clear sailing late. Red-hot pilot Irad Ortiz Jr. will be at the controls.

SEISMIC WAVE (#9) (6-1) – Bill Mott trainee made a decent stretch run to be fifth in the Belmont Derby as the lukewarm 9-2 favorite. Juddmonte homebred has shown excellent consistency and could be right there late if he improves in his Spa debut. Joel Rosario will guide the Tapit colt once again.

MOHAWK (#10) (10-1) – Galileo colt appreciated the class relief last time out when dominating the Meld Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown in Ireland. The high-class sophomore was second to the stout Circus Maximus in his 2019 debut, and he faced the best overseas in a pair of classic events prior to the Meld. Wayne Lordan could have a lot of horse under him as the colt turns for home in his U.S. debut.

FLYING SCOTSMAN (#11) (15-1) – Calumet homebred led in the stretch before fading to sixth in the American Derby (G3) in his seasonal bow. Son of English Channel faces an infinitely more difficult task here, and he also drew widest in the field.

PHOTO: Henley’s Joy and jockey Jose Lezcano capture the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park on July 6, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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Looking for an early score on the Whitney Stakes undercard at Saratoga

The historic $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) headlines a massive day of racing at Saratoga on Saturday. A total of four additional stakes races are on tap, with two of those coming in the graded form and led by the $500,000 Test Stakes (G1) for sophomore fillies.

But there are other fantastic wagering opportunities on the card, and I will take aim at padding my bankroll prior to the biggest events of the day. The Pick 3 starting in Race 1 has appeal to me and I think it could be a lucrative sequence. With a pair of races for two-year-olds bookending a competitive first-level allowance event, I expect some decent prices in each leg.

RACE 1

Juveniles will travel 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the opener in what appears to be a wide-open test. My top pick is Our Country (#8) (6-1) for conditioner George Weaver, who is long overdue for his first winner at the meeting. The Constitution colt ran quite well on debut over the course while encountering some traffic, and the Kentucky-bred gets Lasix for a second run.

But this field has too many well-bred prospects in the cast and I will also include a slew of others. Chad Brown’s duo of Policy Option (#2) (6-1) and Brewmeister (#5) (4-1), as well as Eternal Summer (#6) (9-2), U S Army Corps (#7) (8-1) and Shamrocket (#10) (12-1), make the ticket.

RACE 2

First-level allowance going nine furlongs is another tough one in leg 2. The Rock Says (#8) (3-1) was a fine third in a similar assignment on this strip last out and is the one to beat after earning a 103 BRIS Speed number. The Uncle Mo colt will add blinkers for conditioner Stanley Hough, but I do not think that the sophomore is a slam dunk in the field.

Hersh (#9) (8-1) broke his maiden in last-to-first fashion on the course last campaign, and the colt has faced some really good horses in swiftly run races in his brief career. The Jimmy Creed colt removes the blinkers, runs two turns for the initial time, and also retains John Velazquez. The price will be right for the chestnut in his third run off the layoff.

RACE 3

My theory for the better part of the last two decades has been: Big Day, Big Barn, Big Juvenile. And it has treated me well. This seven-furlong special weight dash for two-year-olds attracted a well-meant cast of 10, with three of particular interest to me.

Steve Asmussen’s Wayne O (#5) (5-2) is half-brother to Grade 1 heroine Restless Rider, who was very precocious and finished second in the Spinaway Stakes (G1) here in 2018. The $750,000 colt has been training locally since late June and figures to be a runner.

Glory Road (#9) (4-1) makes a debut for the Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez duo who have won a whole lot of baby races at Saratoga over the years. The $220,000 son of smart debut sire Commissioner has worked here since the end of May and should be fully fit for the assignment.

Phipps Stable’s homebred Amends (#10) (12-1) gets a tough draw while widest, but his :48.44 gate drill on this surface two back really catches the eye. His second and third dams were champions, and I love that Joel Rosario takes the reins.

WAGER

$1 Early Pick 3: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 with 8, 9 with 5, 9, 10 = $36

Good Luck!

PHOTO: Saratoga starting gate (c) Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com

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How to Bet the 2019 Whitney Stakes

Five millionaires will lead a superb field of eight postward in the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile test is the early race of the year for handicap runners, and the winner gets a free pass to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park in this “Win & You’re In” event.

ANALYSIS

The pace of the race is a bit of a tricky read, but I do expect McKinzie to be sent early on under Mike Smith. He will be on top or forcing the pace into the first turn.

Thunder Snow was close in the Met Mile (G1) last time when tracking substantial early splits, and he will be close up early, as will recent Suburban Stakes (G2) romper Preservationist from the outside draw.

Yoshida, the best closer in the cast, will bide his time early on and hopes to run them down inside the final furlong.

WAGERS

$10 Trifecta: Key 6 with 4,7,8 = $60
$2 Superfecta: Key 6 with 4,7,8 = $12

Here is the cast:

IMPERATIVE (#1) (30-1) – Nine-year-old has seen better days and could be making his final appearance in the Whitney. The accomplished son of Bernardini has lost a few steps and would be a massive surprise under Jose Bracho.

FOREWARNED (#2) (30-1) – Capable colt from the Uriah St. Lewis barn has some solid allowance form in preparation of this demanding assignment. But this is far from an allowance field, and the son of Flat Out looks overmatched in this spot.

MONONGAHELA (#3) (12-1) – Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) romper comes in off a lifetime-best performance and another move forward puts him in the mix to get a piece of the pie. K One King five-year-old has some tactical speed, and he might secure a decent trip along the rail since the pair of runners to his inside do their best work from well back. Jose Lezcano rides the exotics contender.

THUNDER SNOW (#4) (3-1) – Classy Godolphin homebred leads the field with earnings in excess of $16 million. Son of Helmet was beaten just a length in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) when close to rapid fractions throughout in a fine prep for this titanic battle. Two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) star looms a huge chance with his best in his Saratoga debut.

VINO ROSSO (#5) (6-1) – Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner comes in fresh for Todd Pletcher in a third career attempt at The Spa. Curlin colt was a closing third in the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on the course, and these connections can never be counted out locally. John Velazquez will ride the chestnut.

MCKINZIE (#6) (7-5) – Bob Baffert trainee is a consistently excellent colt coming off a troubled second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. Street Sense four-year-old is versatile and shows some rapid morning drills in preparation of his initial start at Saratoga. Mike Smith has not won this race since 1993, but he has the right contender to add a second Whitney victory to his resume.

YOSHIDA (#7) (10-1) – Multiple Grade 1 hero has been sixth in each of his three assignments in 2019, but in his defense, he has ran into some of the best horses in the world along the way. The Bill Mott trainee was a fine winner of the Woodward Stakes (G1) last summer in his Saratoga debut and is training well as of late. One-run closer will be moving best inside the final furlong as the value of the field with Joel Rosario riding.

PRESERVATIONIST (#8) (3-1) – Rapidly improving son of Arch earned a monstrous 116 BRIS Speed number in his Suburban Stakes (G2) victory for trainer Jimmy Jerkens last out. Lightly raced six-year-old has won five of his last six races and is a budding star in the handicap division. Kentucky-bred bay put in a strong five-furlong work over the surface last weekend and rates an obvious chance beneath Junior Alvarado.

PHOTO: Yoshida wins the Woodward Stakes (G1) under jockey Joel Rosario on September 1, 2018, at Saratoga (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher

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Sprinters flaunt their speed in weekend dashes

We witnessed trio of ultra-impressive performances over the past weekend by horses who are sure to have a major impact in November’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Defending champ Imperial Hint was one of six who contested the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, The dark bay son of Imperialism successfully defended his crown with arguably his finest effort to date. The Luis Carvajal Jr. trainee sat just off dueling leaders to the turn for home, and he exploded through the stretch to post a four-length romp beneath Javier Castellano.

“He’s an amazing horse,” his pilot said.

Imperial Hint, who has finished second and third in the last two editions of the Sprint, continues to carry his high-class form with him into his six-year-old campaign. The Florida-bred registered a career-best 113 BRIS Speed number for his efforts.

The John Sadler-trained Cistron earned his first Grade 1 triumph with a half-length tally in the Bing Crosby Handicap (G1) at Del Mar. The five-year-old son of The Factor is a head shy of winning three straight graded races since moving to the dirt, and he has bragging rights as the top sprinter on the West Coast currently with Roy H being on the sidelines.

Cistron led at every call on Saturday and posted a BRIS Speed number of 103, his lifetime best. The fact that the bay loves Santa Anita enhances his chances at Breeders’ Cup glory.

In the 11TH race on Sunday at Saratoga, a dozen sophomores vied in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2). Jorge Navarro’s Shancelot went forward as the 6-5 favorite and didn’t disappoint in his third lifetime outing.

The dark bay son of Shanghai Bobby broke best from his outside post, extended his lead to six lengths at the top of the stretch, and then poured it on late to the tune of a 12 1/2-length tour-de-force. The colt is unbeaten from a trio of lifetime runs, and he earned a robust 114 BRIS Speed figure for his work.

Here is my current top six in the sprint division:

  1. Mitole – Brave third in Vanderbilt on Saturday keeps multiple Grade 1 star on top
  2. Imperial Hint – Little guy continues to be big
  3. Shancelot – “Freaky” three-year-old has never been headed
  4. World of Trouble – Dual Grade 1 victor unbeaten in 2019
  5. Cistron – Peaking five-year-old has home court advantage in CA
  6. Roy H/ X Y Jet – Either of this fine duo can go to the top if they fire upon return

PHOTO: Imperial Hint successfully defends his title in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga under jockey Javier Castellano on Saturday, July 27, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Meredith Chrimes

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Hoosier Park Harness Racing

Hoosier Park Harness Race of the Week July 31

Eight pacing fillies will travel one mile at Hoosier Park on Wednesday in Leg 2 of the $36,000 Indiana Sires Stakes.

Don’t forget to get your GAIT INSURANCE before the Race of the Week! Your $5 WIN BET will be refunded if your horse breaks stride and loses the race!

The two-year-old pacers attracted a nice cast and will be led by Leg 1 vixen PRICELESS (#1) (6-5). Trained and driven by Brandon Bates, the daughter of Rockin Image was beet down to 3-5 favoritism last time and showed why, leading at every call in posting a comfortable tally. The exciting prospect draws the rail and the race goes through her.

MYSTICAL CARRIE (#6) (5-2) came home in a powerful :26 1/5 to earn a win in a Leg 1 division of the Sires Stakes in her most recent attempt. The James Eaton-conditioned filly showed marked improvement in a second appearance on the oval and and owns arguably the best closing kick in the cast. Michael Oosting will be in the bike.

TOWNLINE ADIOS (#3) (9-1) might have the best chance to upend the top pair in the affair. The bay filly, who is trained and driven by Lewayne Miller, had a poor break and trip most recently but could have the fitness edge on her foes. The daughter of Panspacificflight was third in a July 10 edition of this series and might be overlooked at the windows.

Hawthorne invader AIN’T NO SECRET (#2) (15-1) is the wildcard in the group making her debut on the Hoosier surface. Time to Roll filly broke in her latest assignment, but the juvenile was a sharp winner two back and she will compete with something like that effort. Trainer Cordalius Stewart will be in the sulky and likely rallying the lass from off of the early pace today.

(c) Photo courtesy of Jamie Linscott/Hoosier Park

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How to Bet the Bing Crosby Stakes

Eight horses will go postward in Saturday’s $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar in hopes of gaining their first Grade 1 trophy. The six-furlong dash attracted a well-matched field as jockey Flavien Prat will aim to bring home the winner of the contest for the fifth year in succession.

ANALYSIS

Calexman, Cistron and Jalen Journey will all view for the early edge, with Chief Cicatrix and Recruiting Ready in close attendance early on. The latter appears to be the class of the field and I will key with him in my wagers.

WAGERS

$10 Exacta 7 with 6, 8 = $20
$2 Trifecta 7 with 6, 8 with all = $24
$1 Superfecta 7 with 6, 8 with 2, 5, 6, 8 with all = $30

Here is the group:

CALEXMAN (#1) (15-1) – Vladimir Cerin pupil has good current form having finished first or second in three straight allowance races. Kentucky-bred son of Midshipman was a winner in a lone previous race on this surface but faces a tough assignment here. Speedy sort will be flying early under Geovanni Franco.

DESERT LAW (#2) (12-1) – Thor’s E, cho Stakes romper ran a lifetime-best at Santa Anita Park in his second start at five. Carla Gaines trainee shows a pair of bullet morning drills in the interim and could be peaking in advance of his graded bow. Rafael Bejarano stays in the silks.

CISTRON (#3) (5-2) – Rapid Grade 2 victor was run down late after being clear in the stretch in the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at seven panels. Fleet son of The Factor has brilliant early speed and could come out firing under Victor Espinoza.

LINE JUDGE (#4) (8-1) – Genius claim from the Peter Miller barn paid instant dividends when romping home in the Kelly’s Landing Stakes at Churchill Downs last out. Spring at Last five-year-old will be moving best of all in the lane with Drayden Van Dyke in the controls.

AIR STRIKE (#5) (4-1) – Triple Bend (G2) upsetter broke his maiden in impressive fashion last summer in a lone local appearance at Del Mar. Phil D’Amato trainee cuts back to six furlongs for the first time since his debut offering last year, and his best work will be done late with Norberto Arroyo Jr.

CHIEF CICATRIX (#6) (12-1) – Crack sprinter is a superb 10-for-15 lifetime and will look to add another graded win to his resume. Shawn Davis pupil is capable of running huge, and the son of Munnings could be any kind in his first run on this main surface.

RECRUITING READY (#7) (2-1) – Grade 3 hero ran a big third when beaten by a half-length in the True North (G2) at Belmont Park in advance of his West Coast debut. Algorithms five-year-old zipped a bullet five-eighths leading up to this one and gets a prime post position outside much of the early speed. Flavien Prat is the king of the Bing Crosby recently, guiding home the winner in four straight seasons, and he has the call.

JALEN JOURNEY (#8) (6-1) – $510,000 purchase fell just shy in the Smile Sprint (G3) in a most recent offering prior to the barn change. Swift son of With Distinction makes a first run for Peter Miller and comes into this with a nice local move for a top sprint barn. Mike Smith will be in the stirrups atop the lightly raced contender.

PHOTO: Recruiting Ready (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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Golden Award joins the Breeders’ Cup Distaff party

The division for the top fillies and mares leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) has been a busy one in recent weeks. The superb Elate started things off two weeks ago with a sublime tally in the Delaware Handicap (G2) at 1 1/4 miles for conditioner Bill Mott. Five-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is the queen of the10-furlong affair, and if she continues to run with her gender, the Kentucky-bred mare will be tough to upend.

But, this weekend showcased a handful of other standout fillies and mares that put their best foot forward in the most exciting division in racing right now.

The sublime Midnight Bisou kicked things off on Saturday with a facile triumph in the Molly Pitcher (G3) on the Haskell Invitational undercard. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the classy filly settled just off the pace while saving ground inside to late stretch against her overmatched foes, and she won at ease once clear at Monmouth Park.

Four-year-old is perfect from a quartet of starts in 2019 and is currently a clear leader in the division. She is halfway through a historic season with triumphs in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), Ogden Phipps (G1) and Azeri (G2), prior to her most recent waltz.

Saratoga played host to the Shuvee (G3) on Sunday and displayed a trio of fantastic horses. The up-and-coming Golden Award sent notice to her fellow distaffers that she will be a horse to deal with throughout the second half of 2019. Also conditioned by Mott, the half-sister to 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) hero I’ll Have Another beat a pair of accomplished ladies by 2 1/4 lengths in posting her biggest win to date.

Golden Award, who is also by Medaglia d’Oro, earned her first of what could be multiple graded wins this campaign. The bay filly is getting really good at the right time of the year.

Second in the Shuvee was Wow Cat, the multiple Group-1 winning Chilean import who finished an excellent second in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The Chad Brown trainee was making her first run since the fall and has a lot of room for improvement as a high-class mare with a proven track record.

Shuvee third She’s a Julie might be a notch below a few of the other in the Distaff race, but she is no slouch. The Asmussen pupil bagged the La Troienne (G1) and Bayakoa (G3) this season and is consistently excellent.

Brown’s Guarana is a rapidly rising three-year-old filly who is unbeaten from three lifetime runs. The Ghostzapper sophomore added the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) on Saturday to her previous Acorn (G1) trophy, and there is no telling what her limits might be. The Three Chimneys homebred is a fantastic prospect that might be ready to challenge her older counterparts in the near future.

With apologies to the brilliant Monomoy Girl, who is unraced in 2019, here is my current Top 6 in the Distaff Division:

1. Midnight Bisou — Four-for-four this season, and she does it with panache
2. Elate — Robust mare would be a clear number 1 if the Distaff was at 1 1/4 miles
3. Guarana — Unbeaten lass passed her two-turn test with aplomb at The Spa
4. Wow Cat — Great comeback race for the defending Distaff runner-up
5. Golden Award — Mott trainee is peaking at the right time
6. Dunbar Road — Exquisite Mother Goose (G2) heroine just scratching the surface

 

Golden Award (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Joe Labozzetta

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