A pair of $100,000 stakes races for two-year-olds will take place at Ellis Park on Sunday. The Juvenile for the boys attracted seven and boasts a few interesting youngsters for now, and potentially, the future.
Night Time (#1) (5-1) drew the rail and was impressive on debut with a wire-to-wire score on this course for the red-hot Dale Romans barn. The chestnut son of Majesticperfection broke best despite getting the innermost post slot in that offering and has trained forwardly since.
The $210,000 yearling buy could be a nice one going forward. His dam is a full sister to Grade 2 heroine Emotional Kitten, who also placed in the 2013 American Oaks (G1) and Del Mar Oaks (G1).
Trainer Ian Wilkes doesn’t saddle many debut winners, so when Letmeno (#2) (6-1) won at first asking despite breaking last we took notice. Gray son of Twirling Candy is out of a stakes vixen who is a half-sister to 2010 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) queen Wickedly Perfect.
April foal will be coming from off the pace on Sunday with Calvin Borel back in the saddle. He might be a horse that we hear a lot of in 2019 and beyond.
Axiomo (#3) (7-2) was a bargain $20,000 purchase as a yearling and is unbeaten from a pair of career outings. Tapiture colt is a sibling to 2019 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) princess Jeltrin and could add to the stakes glory of this family.
Rowdy Yates (#4) (9-5) is the morning-line choice off the strength of a sharp maiden win, followed by a stubborn second in the Bashford Manor (G3) for Steve Asmussen. Morning Line colt acts more like a one-turn horse at this stage of his development, but he is obviously talented will be tough to defeat in this stakes venture.
The Debutante Stakes will feature 11 two-year-old fillies vying in a seven-furlong affair. Lady Glamour (#4) (5-2) is two-for-three lifetime, which includes a daylight allowance romp at Ellis Park most recently. The stakes-placed daughter of Discreet Cat is not from a rich family, but the precocious lass looks like a prime player on Sunday for Larry Demeritte.
Spitefulness (#6) (10-1) was a winner second time out at Presque Isle Downs and received a barn change to Phil D’Amato prior to this endeavor. The first foal out of 2015 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) queen Ekati’s Phaeton is bred for speed and is from the same female line as 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) star Regally Ready.
Green Destiny (#7) (5-1) graduated in her second appearance with a game win at Ellis Park. Trained by Steve Asmussen, she is out of a stakes victress who counts herself a half-sister to Callback, who bagged the 2015 Las Virgenes Stakes (G1).
The filly descends from a solid female line that produced her sire, 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) champ Super Saver.
Don’t Mine Me (#11) (20-1) is an interesting long-term prospect. The Mineshaft filly is a longshot in the Debutante, but the Kentucky-bred is cut out to be a nice one down the road. The bay is a descendant of an ultra-successful Phipps breeding line tracing back to champion Lady Pitt et al’s.
PHOTO: Ellis Park (c) Coady Photography/Ellis Park
A strong 10-race card will be hosted by Ellis Park on Sunday with a pair of stakes events for juveniles on tap. The co-features are the $100,000 Ellis Park Juvenile and $100,000 Ellis Park Debutante. While I will cover those races with more detail in another piece, I did find a few good betting opportunities on the card that I will attack.
The Pick-3 sequence starting in Race 4 has appeal to me. A one-mile maiden special weight contest lacks a lot of depth to kick things off, and going two-deep with Sultry Samurai (#1) (5-2) and Winnipesaukee (#2) (7-5) seems logical. It’s not sexy but one of the two should prevail.
A competitive race for two-year-olds closes out the sequence. The special weight dash features prospects from powerful barns and I will use two to conclude the ticket.
Continental Clash (#3) (7-2) is from the red-hot barn of Dale Romans and was a $550,000 Fasig-Tipton March purchase. The Tiznow colt shows swift morning moves at Churchill Downs in preparation of his debut.
If I am fortunate enough to collect on that wager I will roll my money over on the late Pick 3 starting in the 8TH Race. Here are my preferred runners in the final three contests (with my top pick in italics):
Race 8 – Night Time (#1) (5-1), Letmeno (#2) (6-1), Rowdy Yates (#4) (9-5)
Race 9 – Lady Glamour (#4) (5-2), Spitefullness (#6) (10-1), Green Destiny (#7) (5-1), Dixie Mo (#9) (4-1)
Race 10 — Berning Report (#1) (4-1), Avenida Manana (#2) (8-1), It’s Complicated (#4) (7-2) and You People (#9) (10-1)
Race 4 $1 Pick 3: 1,2 with all with 3,6 = $24
Race 8 50-cent Pick 3: 1,2,4 with 4,6,7,9 with 1,2,4,9 = $24
PHOTO: Ellis Park (c) Coady Photography/Ellis Park
In addition to serving as the first points races for the Derby and Oaks the Pocahontas and Iroquois are also Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge races, with the winners receiving an entry fees-paid berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Juvenile (G1) on November 1 at Santa Anita Park.
Last year, the Tom Amoss-trained Serengeti Empress took the Ellis Park Debutante by 13 1/2 lengths. A month later, she romped by 19 1/2 lengths in the Pocahontas, and on the first Friday in May, she wired the field in the Kentucky Oaks.
In 2016, Lookin at Lee won the Ellis Park Juvenile for trainer Steve Asmussen in advance of a runner-up finish in the Iroquois and an eventual second-place run behind Always Dreaming in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
On hiatus since 2009, a recent surge in Kentucky purses inspired the revival of both Ellis Park juvenile stakes, and the overall two-year-old program in recent years has improved immensely, with top Kentucky-based trainers opting to stay local in lieu of shipping their young stock to summer at Saratoga.
Scouting the stars of the future is the most satisfying part of my job, so let’s dive right in!
Race 8 – The Ellis Park Juvenile
Horse to Beat
ROWDY YATES (#4) (9-5)
Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race two of the last three years, taking down the 2016 edition with Lookin at Lee and last year’s with Tobacco Road. This year he sends out the likely favorite.
Bet down to the 2-1 second choice in his career debut on May 31 at Churchill, he pressed an even pace, too full command while still in hand on the turn, responded when asked and drew off.
The second betting favorite in his follow-up start in the Bashford Manor (G3) under the Twin Spires, he once again enjoyed a perfect pressing trip, but this time through more honest fractions against a much tougher crew. He ran on willingly, but was narrowly outkicked by the California invader Phantom Boss.
Purchased for $42,000 as an October Fasig-Tipton yearling, he is by Morning Line and the first foal out of the unraced Yes It’s True mare Spring Station, who is a half to Grade 3-winning sprinter Rich Mommy.
AXIOMO (#3) (7-2)
By the impressive first-crop sire Tapiture ($20,000 Fasig Tipton October yearling) and conditioned by the under-the-radar trainer Mikhail Yanakov, this upstart two-year-old has been ultra-impressive in winning both of his starts.
Sent off at odds of 45-1 while sprinting on turf in his career debut at Churchill Downs, he left from post position 10 of 11, was stuck in tight between horses behind an even pace, was steadied back in traffic, popped out late, got the jump on his late closing rivals, led, held safe and galloped out best.
In his follow-up start on dirt at Indiana Grand, he was in a bit tight while stalking an even pace early, split horses entering the turn while still in hand, had the leader measured at the top of the stretch, took over on the wrong lead, switched mid-stretch, and drew off solidly best.
Out of the Successful Appeal mare Song to the Moon, he is a half-brother to filly Jeltrin, who upset the Davona Dale (G2) this past spring.
NIGHT TIME (#1) (5-1)
A big supporter of the Ellis Park juvenile program, trainer Dale Romans won the 2017 edition of the Ellis Park Juvenile with the very promising Dak Attack, and earlier this meet in what was certainly a WOW performance, his Dennis’ Moment broke his maiden in Henderson by some 19 1/4 lengths.
Romans is represented here by a son of Majesticperfection ($210,000 Keeneland September yearling) out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Silent Joy. The dam has some quality to her family, but it certainly tilts towards turf.
In his career debut on June 30, this colt broke alertly, was pinned at the rail while battling a pair of rivals through honest fractions, he responded when asked and disposed of his challengers before drawing away under a drive to a 4 1/2-length score.
LETMENO (#2) (6-1)
The past five years, trainer Ian Wilkes has won with just 15 of his 277 first time starters (5%), but when it does happen, the horse is often quite talented. McCraken, Cicatrix and most recently With Dignity come to mind.
In most cases, the barn’s first and only goal with a first timer is to provide a lesson-learning experience, and early in his career debut on July 13, that looked to be the case with this son of Twirling Candy ($70,000 Keeneland September yearling).
A half to the useful sprinter Summerduck, he’s out of the Mizzen Mast dam Wicked Mizz, a minor stakes winner who had a promising career cut short. That mare is also a half to 2010 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) victress Wickedly Perfect, so there is some sneaky quality to the family.
In his debut, a race that certainly was more meant to serve as an educational tool, he broke six lengths slow, sat chilly while in the clear behind an even pace at the back of the pack, built momentum while still in hand on the turn for home while hung four-wide and finished slightly best.
TWO LAST WORDS (#6) (8-1)
A debut winner at Indiana Grand, this homebred son of the $7,500 stallion Commissioner would return to finish a better-than-it-looks fourth in the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs. Hung three-wide early and five-wide late, he finished willingly to the wire. Last out back at Indiana Grand, he stumbled badly at the start, was shuffled back and then finished with renewed energy off the turn for home.
Top Pick: Rowdy Yates (#4) (9-5)
Best Longshot: Two Last Words (#6) (8-1)
Others to Consider (in order of preference): Axiomo (#3) (7-2), Night Time (#1) (5-1) and Letmeno (#2) (6-1)
Race 9 – The Ellis Park Debutante
Horse to Beat
LADY GLAMOUR (#4) (5-2)
Entered in a $40,000 maiden claimer on debut at Churchill Downs, this daughter of Discreet Cat was dismissed at odds of 26-1. Off slowly losing four lengths at the start, she was stuck between horses while racing four-wide. Seven-wide on the turn, she rallied off heels while on the wrong lead to spring the upset. One had every right to be skeptical of the win which came against a suspect group over a track that favored runners who ran wide and off the pace, but this gal certainly legitimized herself in a pair of follow-up starts.
Once again overlooked at 33-1, she would finish a deceivingly good third behind the highly regarded Magic Dance in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs. Stalking a fast pace while four-wide, she ran on willingly behind a talented pair, and take note that the Debutante was run three-fifths of a second faster than the Bashford Manor (G3) for the boys.
In a recent allowance race at Ellis Park, she settled last in the field of six early on, made a bold move when nudged while five-wide on the turn, took over in a blink under a strong hand ride leaving the highly regarded favorite Josie in her wake, and crossed the line by open lengths with plenty in reserve.
Just a $1,000 yearling purchase, she’s already proven to be quite the bargain.
HIS GLORY (#1) (6-1)
Much like last year’s winner Serengeti Empress, this daughter of Mineshaft ($52,000 Keeneland September yearling) broke her maiden at first asking by open lengths at Indiana Grand before disappointing in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.
There are some sprint influences in the pedigree, but nothing to get overly excited about.
The Asmussen Factor
GREEN DESTINY (#7) (5-1) and MILLI STARR (#10) (8-1) are capable of hitting the board, but chances are, based on the connections, both will be over-bet.
The former chased the super talented Frank’s Rockette on debut. After breaking alertly, she was forced to check out of it early, but was under a ride thereafter without making an impact. She did win her follow-up start at Ellis, but was all out to do so against a very average field of foes.
The latter chased home stablemate Magic Dance in her first try. After losing two lengths at the start, she rushed up to show speed and then quickly backed out of it. She won her follow-up assignment in a fine performance at Ellis, but then proved to be no factor behind Lady Glamour in a recent allowance race.
MONEDAS DE ORO (#2) (20-1)
A game winner on debut at Indiana Grand, this daughter of the $20,000 sire Munnings who was purchased for just $3,500 as a Keeneland September yearling would face the boys in her follow-up start at Churchill. Bothered at the start and shuffled back, she failed to make a serious impact.
Once against entered to face males on July 3 at Indiana Grand, she gutted out a solid third-place finish, and last time out back with her own set, she scored a game, gate-to-wire win.
This gal has experience, speed and heart.
Top Pick: Lady Glamour (#4) (5-2)
Best Longshot: Monedas de Oro (#2) (20-1)
Others to Consider (in order of preference): His Glory (#1) (6-1),Milli Starr (#10) (8-1) and Green Destiny (#7) (5-1)
Other “Spot” Plays on the Sunday Ellis Park program
A field of 10 two-year-olds will go six furlongs on the Churchill Downs dirt in Saturday’s $125,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3). Half of the well-matched field was victorious last time out with a pair of most impressive winners among those.
PHANTOM BOSS (#1) (9-5) — Shackleford colt has run a pair of nice ones at the maiden level and makes his stakes debut in this spot. Jorge Periban trainee was a head shy on debut to a runner who dominated the Tremont Stakes in his subsequent performance. Likely one to beat will have Rafael Bejarano in the silks.
SNELL YEAH (#2) (8-1) — John Ennis trainee will aim to break his maiden in a graded race today. Kentucky-bred was a clear second to a nice one in the slop on this surface most recently, and he deserves a chance with a forward move against this cast. Gabriel Saez picks up the potentially live mount.
ALEC AND ARTHUR (#3) (8-1) — Stakes-placed son of Successful Appeal hasn’t done much wrong from a trio of lifetime runs, two of which resulted in victories. May foal prepped for this with a facile allowance win on the course and smoked a bullet half-mile in the interim. Colt is very logical with Tyler Gaffalione on board.
ROOKIE SALSA (#4) (5-1) — Kentucky Juvenile Stakes star finished third in the Tremont Stakes most recently and returns to the Bluegrass State for this assignment. Two Step Salsa colt was a winner in his lone local appearance and has to be given a winning chance beneath Angel Suarez.
FINNICK THE FIERCE (#5) (30-1) — Second timer was a resilient winner on debut at Indiana Grand and has some appeal at a price. Chestnut son of Dialed In will be forwardly placed in the early stages with Abel Lezcano retaining the mount.
SILENT MALICE (#6) (20-1) — Maiden returns in just six days following a third-place maiden run at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Interesting sort was never going to win last time, but he did show great interest late once getting a clear run. Chris Landeros will guide the exotics contender.
JAMMING CAMERON (#7) (30-1) — Longshot was outrun with allowance foes in his Churchill Downs debut most recently. Maiden winner will need marked improvement to challenge this field in the stretch.
VERB (#8) (9-2) — Keith Desormeaux trainee has put in a pair of solid third-place finishes from two races to date. $65,000 Dialed In colt could put it all together in his third lifetime assignment. James Graham gets off of another contender to pilot the Kentucky-bred.
TWO LAST WORDS (#9) (15-1) — Bay gelding from the Tim Glyshaw barn led throughout in an off-the-turf race at Indiana Grand on debut. The second timer faces a tall task in this event, but he could be in the mix from the start in a field lacking an abundance of pace. Corey Lanerie takes the call.
ROWDY YATES (#10) (7-2) — Superb first out winner draws widest as a major contender for conditioner Steve Asmussen. $42,000 son of Morning Line was geared down late in his maiden romp and should have clear sailing throughout from this slot. Oklahoma-bred will always be forcing the pace under Ricardo Santana Jr..
Phantom Boss will be sent from the rail, and he will likely have company on his outside from Alec and Arthur, Two Last Words and Rowdy Yates.
Verb and Rookie Salsa will be in the next flight hoping to pounce at the head of the stretch, while Silent Malice will aim to run them all down late.
$20 Win #1 = $20
$1 Trifecta Part Wheel: 1,10 with 1,8,10 with 1,4,5,6,8,10 = $16
Churchill’s Single 6 Jackpot is a 20-cent denomination wager and, if it survives through Friday, the carryover in excess of $300,000 makes it a must-bet situation this Saturday. Including what figures to be a massive amount of money bet into the pool for the mandatory payout day, the pool should hit the $1 million mark.
Even if you haven’t bet into the pool all season long, Saturday will be a tremendous betting opportunity at carryover money. Plus, at 20-cents a ticket, even small or average players can cover a wide range of combinations for an affordable investment.
Here is one example of a recommended Saturday Single 6 Jackpot ticket at Churchill, worth $76.80. Best of luck!
Several horses have shots to win race 7 – the first leg of the Single 6 sequence – and it just so happens all of them on this ticket are drawn on the far outside. Those posts are not enough of a deterrent to keep the best horses off the ticket. BATTLE OF MEMPHIS (#8) (4-1) looks like the horse to beat based on a solid allowance second here last out with a good BRIS Speed figure. There are, however, three possible upsetters at double-digit odds who also should be on your tickets, including SALVATOR MUNDI (#10) (10-1), who will improve back on the grass in his second race off a layoff. The other double-digit contenders are SPEED GUN (#12) (12-1), who is two-for-two on the turf in his career, and DASHING DAN (#9) (20-1), who makes his sophomore debut in this spot off a break but showed promise on the turf last season after getting the maiden win at Saratoga.
In the Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes at seven furlongs on the main track, go ahead and spread three ways to cover the main contenders. UNCONTESTED (#1) (7-2) drops from the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) last time and won the General George (G3) at Laurel Park as recently as three races ago. Fellow WARRIOR’S CLUB (#8) (5-2) also drops from an unplaced effort in the Churchill Downs Stakes and was second two races ago at Keeneland in the Commonwealth (G3), a race he won in 2018. PETROV (#7) (6-1) has been just missing behind a good opponent here in two recent six-furlong outings, including a runner-up finish in the Aristides Stakes last out.
OM (#12) (2-1), who exits a very good second-place finish behind division-leading monster World of Trouble in the Jaipur (G1) at Belmont Park, is certainly the horse to beat in this 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance, but he’s still not the only serious contender. UNDRAFTED (#2) (7-2) and BATTLE STATION (#4) (8-1) are two very realistic Wesley Ward trainees who are both sitting on second-off-the-layoff improvement. TOTALLY BOSS (#8) (6-1) steps up in company versus these but has reeled off nice-looking back-to-back turf sprint wins, including a course and distance victory here last out.
If you are trying to put together an economical ticket for smaller and mid-range players, you need to look for a single somewhere in the sequence, and this race presents itself as the best possible single of the six races with MAGIC DANCE (#7) (8-5) for trainer Steve Asmussen. The filly crushed maidens at first asking and earned a far superior BRIS Speed figure in the process. She should take care of business versus these with a similar effort. When there is a giant carryover like there is on Saturday, it’s more about simply surviving than it is about fishing out big prices in any given race.
The penultimate leg of Saturday’s Single 6 Jackpot mandatory payout sequence is the Bashford Manor (G3) at six furlongs on the main track. The horse to beat is PHANTOM BOSS (#1) (9-5), who has been impressive in two starts so far at Santa Anita, including a career debut second behind eventual stakes winner Fore Left, followed by the maiden win, which was another impressive outing to finish easily ahead of next-out winner Pas de Panique. Tough to see him getting beat, but if he does it will probably be by ROWDY YATES (#10) (7-2), a Steve Asmussen first-out winner last time who was geared down in the stretch. There’s no telling how good it could be.
If you are fortunate enough to still be alive into the final leg of the Single 6 Jackpot, you should plan on covering a lot of horses in the finale. Four horses should do it starting with ALFONS WALDE (#5) (4-1), who stalked the pace and held on well for second last out in a 10-horse field at 1 1/8 miles. He tired late in the race so the one-mile distance of this contest should be just perfect. If not, ICON (#9) (8-1) looks like a live Steve Asmussen first starter by Tapit with some good workouts. BIG BEAUTIFUL WALL (#11) (9-2) has established turf form that makes him a legit contender. Finally, ZIP YOUR LIP (#4) (6-1) is an x-factor in the race who stretches out and tries turf for the second time after appearing to handle this surface in a turf sprint. He’s shown enough to date where you’d kick yourself if he won and you didn’t have him on your ticket.
The SINGLE 6 JACKPOT ticket ($76.80) for Saturday, June 29: