The Player’s Edge – August 2nd: Del Mar & Mountaineer Park

August 2nd, 2013


photo: Matt Carter

Del Mar - Clement L. Hirsch


Mountaineer Park - West Virginia Derby


Mountaineer Park – WV Senate President’s Cup


Mountaineer Park – West Virginia Governor’s

Del Mar - Clement L. Hirsch Grade 1 Fillies and Mares

The Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar has a rich history since it was run for the first time in 1967. Daystar II with the great Bill Hartack won the inaugural running and since then winners have included Princess Rooney, Fran's Valentine, Bayakoa, Paseana, Azeri and Zenyatta. Azeri won the race twice while Zenyatta took the Grade 1 race three straight from 2008 to 2010. Last year's winner was Include Me Out, who is back to defender her title.

Include Me Out has had a bit different prep schedule this year compared to her run up to the race last year, but this has been the target all along. The five-year-old mare has only run once this year winning the $77,000 Desert Stormer Handicap in mid-June at Hollywood Park. She has won two of three at Del Mar and is the mare to beat.

Include Me Out runs best from off-the-pace and, on paper, there appears to be enough early gas for a true race to be run. The two mares likely to be on the pace are 20-1 Sister Kate and 12-1 Great Hot. Great Hot won the Grade 2 Santa Maria in February at Santa Anita, but won't get an easy lead on Saturday.

Pressing the pace should be Include Me Out along with Byrama and More Chocolate.

Byrama looked like a good late-running sprinter in the fall of 2012, but then upset the apple cart in the Grade 1 Vanity at Hollywood Park last month. She was then third in the Grade 2 A Gleam and now returns to a route of ground. Gary Stevens once again has the call.

More Chocolate has seemingly promised more than delivered since breaking her maiden in style last year. She has shown greatness, winning the Grade 2 La Canada at Santa Anita, and also a tendency to run second or third. She looks to have been working well over the track in the mornings and the jockey who was aboard for that maiden victory, Rafael Bejarano, is up for the first time since.

Lady of Fifty has been favored in three of her last four starts, but is winless in those four with a second, two thirds and a fourth. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained filly will be running late, but may once again find one or two better than her.

Quiet Oasis, a pace player, and Sisterhood round out the field. Sisterhood exits a pair of second place finishes in Grade 3 stakes at Arlington Park and Keeneland and may hit the board at a square price. Beating Include Me Out; however, is a whole other ball game.

Post time for the Clement L. Hirsch is 8:40 pm ET.


Mountaineer Park - West Virginia Derby Overanalyze Looks to Rebound

The feature race on Saturday at Mountaineer Park is the $750,000 Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. The nine furlong race drew a field of seven led by the Todd Pletcher-trained Overanalyze, who is looking to get back in the winner's circle after two subpar efforts.

By Dixie Union, Overanalyze was a top two-year-old for Pletcher last year winning the Grade 2 Futurity at Grade 2 Remsen. As a three-year-old Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby then was 11th in the Kentucky Derby and seventh in the Belmont Stakes. Overanalyze drew post nine for the race on Saturday and picks up Rosie Napravnik in the irons.

Overanalyze is the class of the field; however, he really only has one decent start this year and that was against a subpar in Arkansas. True, Oxbow was in the race, but he was taken back early, losing all chance.

Betweenhereandcool and Departing are the top two choices to upset the favorite and both have races that would put them in the winner's circle.

Betweenhereandcool is a horse on the improve after taking a couple of months off after breaking his maiden at Oaklawn in April. The son of Unbridled's Song came back in early June to score an allowance win then was second, beaten just a neck, in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on June 29. This is a step up in class, but now is the time to try. Betweenhereandcool is trained by Steve Asmussed and owned by Jerry Durant, who teamed up to win the 2012 West Virginia Derby with Macho Macho.

Betweenhereandcool was bred by Claiborne Farm and Departing is part-owned by Claiborne Farm. Departing was foaled a month prior and you must respect your elders.

Departing has won four of his six starts with his only poor effort coming in the Grade 1 Preakness. Orb also faltered that day and the track was not at its best. Off since then, Departing comes back with solid works and can mow them down late. Trainer Al Stall has sent five horses previously to Mountaineer and has come away with two wins. This is his second starter in the West Virginia Derby; My Pal Charlie finished fifth in 2008.

The long shot play is Say Ow, the Langfuhr gelding that is making his first start outside California. Previously trained by Julio Canani, Say Ow is now in the barn of Charles Kieser, but is still owned by The Premae Company. Say Ow has won his last two races, but his form on dirt has yet to be determined. The positive is that he has had two drills over the track and no doubt Julio Canani shipped him fit. Say Ow needs to learn to switch leads and if he does; it may be the knockout punch.

Shaler, Ruler of Love, Mi Sto Divertendo, Ledokol and Stratocruiser will be battling it out for the fifth spot.

Post time for the West Virginia Derby on Saturday is 5:45 pm ET.


Mountaineer Park – WV Senate President’s Cup Start of the Late Pick 4

The pick-4 at Mountaineer on Saturday that ends with the West Virginia Derby starts with the West Virginia Senate President’s Cup on the turf. The $100,000 race drew a field of nine with two horses that will take the majority of the wagering action, Prissy and Soft Whisper.

Prissy is a front-running filly that has won three of her five career starts. On turf her record is even better, three-for-four. She has won on three different turf courses and should handle this turf course. One thing that is not in her favor, the pace scenario.

Soft Whisper has run 17 times in her career with four wins, one second and two thirds. She is winless in her last two starts, but did finish fourth in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs in June. She too is a front-runner and that may set things up for the closers. In last year’s President’s Cup, Soft Whisper faded to be seventh, beaten over 10 lengths.

Ask Me Anything started her career off running from off the pace, but her last two races have been run with her on the pace. Not sure which tactics the connections will try on Saturday though so she is bit of a question mark. From the rail jockey Ricardo Santana may choose to send.

The true closers in the field are Revelstoke and Proenza, two five-year-old mares with nine combined wins.

Revelstoke is the class of the two running in high level allowance races and stakes for the last couple of years. She ran sixth in the President’s Cup last year and now trainer Jim Corrigan takes the blinkers off. On the morning line, Revelstoke is 6-1 and Proenza 10-1, but Proenza just beat Revelstoke by three lengths in a turf allowance race at Indiana Downs. Go figure.

Proenza won two straight prior to that second place finish at Indiana Downs, both wins coming on the Mountaineer turf. She loves the surface and will be running late in a race that flatters her style. The morning line may not be her actual post time odds.

Hennyville is another long shot worth considering picking up Rose Napravnik in the irons. Hennyville is the stablemate of Revelstoke and both like to come from off the pace. Hennyville may have a bit more speed than Revelstoke; however, and could get first run entering the stretch.

Lead Me Not and Karola’s Dance look like the two longest shots on the board while Bourbon Best is maybe worth including on the ticket if the pockets are deep. The daughter of the Irish-bred Seeking the Best has yet to be tested in her first two starts and now gets the acid test.

Post time for the President’s Cup is 4:00 pm ET.


Mountaineer Park – West Virginia Governor’s Wide Open Field of Seven

The second leg is the Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial and that looks like a slam dunk for Gentlemen’s Best, the crack sprinter from the Ronald Moquett barn. Gentlemen’s Best is also entered for a race at Saratoga on Sunday and if he goes there focus on Tend and Russell Road.

Moving right along to the West Virginia Governor’s, a mile and one-sixteenth stakes race for three-year-olds and upward. Morning line favorite for the $200,000 race is the Todd Pletcher-trained Percussion.

Percussion started off this year in style, winning four of his first six and three for five for Pletcher. Then came the Grade 2 Suburban and time finally caught up with the five-year-old gelding. Percussion made the early lead then after four furlongs retreated to finish last, beaten just under 11 lengths. If he runs back to his second in the Brooklyn, an amazing race won by Calidoscopio, then Percussion wins for fun. If; however, he bounces further; anything is possible.

Second choice on the line is Taptowne, the five-year-old grey gelding for trainer Tim Glyshaw. Since the barn switch this year, Taptowne has one win and two seconds in a pair of graded stakes. He is another speed horse as is Eighttofasttocatch.

Eighttofasttocatch knows one way to go and that’s to the lead. The seven-year-old gelding has 12 wins in 42 career starts for earnings of over $700,000. Know him early, but the pace may get to him late.

Mordi’s Miracle is the 4-1 fourth choice and finally we have a horse that can rate. The best win of the Lawyer Ron colt’s career came when sitting off the pace in an allowance race on the inner dirt this winter at Aqueduct. Mordi’s Miracle is also trained by Todd Pletcher and the two Pletcher horses have run against each other before. In March Percussion got the better of his stable mate by a neck. Perhaps Saturday the tables will turn.

If there is an absolute pace collapse and it’s possible, then Son of a General is the right horse to back. The five-year-old Mineshaft horse has been in-the-money in 13 of his 21 career starts and has finished fourth in his last three. One of those came in the Grade 3 Ben Ali behind Successful Dan, Boisterous and Richard’s Kid. This spot is just a bit easier.

Ojos de Heilo, a Texas-bred by way of Panama, actually has the second best last out speed figure, earned in a neck defeat at Lone Star Park. In Panana, Ojos de Hielo was second and third in two Group 1 races. Not sure how that or the Texas-bred stakes race translates here and he is another speed horse.

Looks like a pace meltdown one race before the West Virginia Derby.

Post time for the Governor’s is 5:12 pm ET.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on

Saturday– Aug 3
  • Mountaineer:  West Virginia Derby - G1, $750,000, 3yo, 9f
  • Mountaineer:  West Virginia Governor's Stakes, $200,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Mountaineer:  Senator Robert C. Boyd Memorial Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Mountaineer:  West Virginia Secretary of State Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 6f
  • Mountaineer:  West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 4.5f
  • Mountaineer:  West Virginia Senate President's Cup Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8f 70y turf
  • Mountaineer:  Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes, $100,000, 2yo, 6f
  • Mountaineer:  Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes, $100,000, 2yo f, 6f
  • Del Mar: Clement L. Hirsch Stakes - G1, $300,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f
  • Canterbury Park:  Mystic Lake Derby, $200,000, 3yo, 8f turf
  • Canterbury Park:  Northbound Pride Oaks, $100,000, 3yo f, 8f turf
  • Canterbury Park:  Shakopee Juvenile Stakes, $100,000, 2yo, 7.5f turf
  • Monmouth Park:  My Frenchman Stakes, $60,000, 3yo & up, 5.5f turf
  • Woodbine:  Seagram Cup Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Woodbine:  Nandi Stakes, $125,000, 2yo, 6f
  • Calder:  Naked Greed Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 7.5f turf
  • Calder:  Cyrstal Rail Stakes, $75,000, 3yo f, 7.5f turf
  • Charles Town:  Robert G. Leavitt Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 7f
  • Finger Lakes:  Genesee Valley Breeders' Handicap, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Northlands Park:  Fred Jones Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Santa Rosa:  Robert Dupret Derby, $50,000, 3yo, 8.5f turf
Sunday – Aug 4
  • Del Mar:  Best Pal Stakes - G2, $150,000, 2yo, 6.5f
  • Woodbine: Wonder Where Stakes, $250,000, 3yo, 10f turf
  • Monmouth Park:  Tyro Stakes, $60,000, 2yo, 5f turf
  • Emerald Downs:  Angie C Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6f
  • Santa Rosa:  Joseph T. Grace Handicap, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f turf