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Juvenile Tracker (11/27-11/28)

The turkey is sliced up and ready for a week's worth of sandwiches.  The pumpkin pie is gone.  And the stuffing is packed into to plastic containers and shoved into the fridge.  Time to put Thanksgiving behind us and move on to what looks like will be a really nice weekend of races around the country.

Juvenile racing takes center stage at Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Hollywood, and several other tracks on Saturday.  Every race on Saturday's "Champions of Tomorrow" card at Churchill is written for juveniles, none are claiming races, and two are graded stakes events (Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club).  Over at the Big A, a couple of Maiden Special Weights lead up to two juvenile graded stakes - the Demoisel for fillies and the Remsen for the boys.  Hollywood Park will feature the Grade 3 Generous on the lawn, while Woodbine has a packed field for the listed Kingarvie on the Polytrack.

Day

Race

Track

Race

Dist.

Surf.

27-Nov

1

CD

MSW (f)

7.0

Dirt

27-Nov

2

CD

Alw N1X (f)

6.0

Dirt

27-Nov

3

CD

MSW (f)

8.5

Turf

27-Nov

4

CD

MSW

7.0

Dirt

27-Nov

5

CD

Alw N1X

6.0

Dirt

27-Nov

6

CD

MSW

7.0

Dirt

27-Nov

7

CD

Alw N1X (f)

8.0

Dirt

27-Nov

8

CD

MSW

9.0

Turf

27-Nov

9

CD

G2-GoldenRod

8.5

Dirt

27-Nov

10

CD

Alw N1X

8.0

Dirt

27-Nov

11

CD

G2-KyJC

8.5

Dirt

27-Nov

12

CD

MSW

8.5

Dirt

27-Nov

4

AQU

MSW

6.0

Dirt

27-Nov

5

AQU

MSW

8.5

Turf

27-Nov

6

AQU

G2Demoisel(f)

9.0

Dirt

27-Nov

7

AQU

G2-Remsen

9.0

Dirt

27-Nov

6

HOL

MSW (f)

6.0

Poly

27-Nov

7

HOL

G3-Generous

8.0

Turf

27-Nov

9

WO

Kingarvie

8.5

Poly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's take a look at some of the more interesting races on Saturday, starting with the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.

Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML

1

Prideofthechapter

Homeister, R.

Pitts, Helen

20/1

2

Santiva

Bridgmohan, S.

Kenneally, Eddie

7/2

3

Cane Garden Bay

Leparoux, J.

Arnold, George

4/1

4

Major Gain

Albarado, R.

Catalano, Wayne

4/1

5

Astrology

Gomez, G.

Asmussen, Steven

6/5

6

Enable

Baze, M.

Lopez, Angel

20/1

7

Halo's Thunder

Desormeaux, K.

McPeek, Kenneth

10/1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kentucky Jockey Club is an interesting race to keep an eye on given the fact that it's a two-turn race at Churchill over the main track.  But even though the race is run over the same track as the Derby, the Kentucky Jockey Club has produced very few Derby winners in its history.  Since the inception of the race in 1920, five horses have won the Kentucky Jockey club and also won the Kentucky Derby the following May: Super Saver (2010), Cannonade (1974), Twenty Grand (1931), Clyde Van Dusen (1929), and Reigh Count (1928). 

Steve Asmussen's 5-Astrology (6/5) comes into the Jockey Club in excellent form after winning the Grade 3 Iroquois in a one-turn mile at Churchill on Halloween.  This will be his first try at two-turns but that shouldn't be a problem for an A.P. Indy colt.  Perhaps the only pedigree question with Apart is on the dam's side (Quiet Eclipse by Quiet American) as she's yet to have a foal win going a distance of ground.  But like we saw with Yankee Kitten last weekend at Aqueduct, if she's going to throw a two-turn winner, it seems likely that the foal would be by a sire like A.P. Indy.  

The only negative with Astrology, and it's a bit of a nitpick, is the way he finished up in the Iroquois.  He ran the final quarter in 26.45 and, visually, he didn't appear to be a horse that wanted to do much more than that.  There's not a ton of early speed in this race so he may just be able to control the race from the start, but I've got just a hint of doubt about how he's going to hold up over the final furlong.

If the price isn't right on Astrology (and it probably won't be any better than 6/5 come post time), then the 3-Cane Garden Bay (4/1) could be a decent option.  This colt has only two starts to his belt but he's got a bunch of things in his corner that could make him an attractive play.  His debut race at Saratoga back on September 2nd was pretty solid when you consider he gave the field ten lengths at the break in a 5 ½ furlong dash.  He then had to come about seven wide into the stretch and was only beaten by a long nose under the wire; not bad at all considering how much he had to do. 

Second, the second career start in a seven furlong Maiden Special at Keeneland not only saw him break his maiden fairly easily as the favorite, but he did it against a field that has come back pretty solid.  The show horse came back to score a Maiden Special over the lawn at Churchill on October 31st, and  the fifth place finisher won next out in an $80K Maiden Claimer, also at Churchill.

Finally, the stretch-out to two-turns and a mile and a sixteenth should fit his running style very nicely given the lack of speed he's shown in his first two races.  He doesn't look like a closing sprinter and he's shown ability over dirt so you can make a case that he should be at his best going a route of ground on dirt.

2-Santiva (7/2) is a colt that I'm going to be pretty leery of in this spot specifically due to surface questions.  He made his debut on dirt at Saratoga and had a lot of trouble throughout the 5 ½ furlong race.  He finished well back of the winner but did manage to grab the show spot.  He came back and won a Maiden Special on the lawn and followed that up with a well-beaten second to J.B.'s Thunder in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.  He's run well on both turf and synthetic and his lone dirt try, which wasn't too bad, was over a course rated as "Good".  If Churchill comes up "Fast" tomorrow, this colt will be a 'play against' on my line.

 

Grade 2 Remsen Stakes

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML

1

Buffum

Cohen, D.

Albertrani, Thomas

2/1

2

Pants On Fire

Castellano, J.

Breen, Kelly

20/1

3

Mountain Town

Velasquez, C.

Dutrow, Richard

6/1

4

Bandbox

Dominguez, R.

Jenkins, Rodney

12/1

5

To Honor and Serve

Velazquez, J.

Mott, William

6/5

6

Economic Summit

Maragh, R.

Violette, Richard

20/1

7

Mucho Macho Man

Coa, E.

Ritvo, Kathy

10/1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remsen is clearly one of the more important stakes races for juvenile horses in the country, even with the Breeders' Cup Juvenile running just a few weeks prior.  It's a 1 1/8 mile race, one of the few at that distance for juveniles, and it almost always features a up and coming two-year old looking to make an impact next spring.

If you look at the race from a purely speed figure perspective, this year's Remsen has a couple of really outstanding entries.  

1-Buffum (2/1) won his only career start in impressive fashion at Belmont in a one-mile Maiden Special over the main track.  He picked up a 97 Beyer off of that effort, tops in the field.

5-To Honor and Server (6/5) gets morning line favoritism off back-to-back 95+ Beyers in his last two races.  On October 2nd he destroyed an off-the-turf Maiden Special Weight at Belmont at a mile and a sixteenth and then returned to win the Grade 2 Nashua on November 6th as the 3/10 favorite.  There didn't appear to be a whole lot running behind him in the Nashua, but the Maiden field he beat saw the 2nd, 4th and 5th place horses came back to score next time out.  The track was "Fast" for the race, so it's not like he dominated a decimated field (although it was a field filled for a turf race).

I'm a bit perplexed on the morning line for the 3-Mountain Town (6/1) given the fact that last time out he finished 4 ¾ lengths behind Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo in the Grade 1 Champaign Stakes.  This colt ran a very good race that day and if Uncle Mo isn't in the field, he's probably got a Grade 1 win under his belt.  He was 9 ¾ lengths clear of the show horse that day and was clearly the next best horse after the winner.  6/1 could be an absolute steal in this spot.


Other Juvenile Races

 

  • The fifth race at Aqueduct on Saturday is a competitive Maiden Special Weight on the lawn at a mile and a sixteenth but there really doesn't appear to be any clear standouts on paper.  That might open the door for one of the firsters to grab win honors in their debuts. 

     9-Hothersal (9/1) is a first time starter by Smart Strike out of a Theatrical (IRE) mare (Steel Shed), and if (for me) the most intriguing of the debut horses.  Trainer Set Benzel is 1-for-16 with two-year-old first timers on the turf in the last five years ($2.45 ROI), so there's not much of a record to go on.  Hothersal should be available at a decent price and might make sense as a horse to include in the any exotics.
  • The Demoisel drew a thin field of six horses but only five betting interests due to the coupled entry of 1-Dixie City and 1a-Summer Laugh (9/5).  Between the entry and the 5-Believe in A.P., it's going to be tough to find much value in this race.
  • Race four at Aqueduct on Saturday is a very nice looking Maiden Special at six furlongs with eight of the nine horses making their career debut.

    1-Crossbow [Bernardini  - Forest Heiress (Forest Wildcat)]
    2-Assured Victory [Victory Gallop - Lady Sucree (Miner's Mark)]
    3-Rum Row [Broken Vow - Pretty Sweet (Fusaichi Pegasus)]
    4-Escort [First Samurai - Guide (Pulpit)]
    5-Star Harbour [Indian Charlie - Snug Harbour (Boston Harbor)]
    6-Best Act [Pulpit - Mepanache (Deputy Minister)]
    7-Rocking Out [Include - Elusive Sugar (Elusive Quality)]
    8-Correct Response [Vindication - Search Party (Seeking the Gold)]

    The morning line has pegged Crossbow as the first timer to watch in this race (5/2), and that makes a lot of sense when you take a look at the pedigree along with his solid work from the gate over the training track last week.  McLaughlin is solid with juvenile first timers over the last five years (30-for-174, 17%, $1.63 ROI) and I wouldn't be surprised if those numbers are a bit better when he's running out a Darley horse, as he will in this spot.

    While the morning line makes a lot of sense on Crossbow, it's a bit of a head scratcher on Escort, a first time starter by First Samurai.  At this point in his young stud career, First Samurai has yet to sire a horse to win in their debut race.  And while Pletcher is obviously strong with the debut horses, even a 20% success rate means he's losing 80% of the time.  When you combine the lack of win early pedigree with a second choice morning line of 3/1, it seems clear that value might best be found elsewhere.
  • I doubt there will be much value in the play, but I'm interested to see how 6-My Shepherd Girls runs in the third race at Churchill on Saturday.  This filly by former Breeders' Cup Mile champion Artie Schiller just missed winning her debut race at Keeneland over the Polytrack in a seven furlong, $80k Maiden Claimer.  She did all the dirty work that day after setting the early pace and dispatching all the stalkers in mid-stretch, but was run down on the wire by a deep closer.  The pace should be a bit more forgiving this time and I would think that the surface switch should help her produce a top effort.
  • Race five at Churchill has a nice looking first timer by Speightstown out of a Well Decorated mare (Decadent Designer), 12-Ballyclough (8/1).  There is nothing blazing on the work tab and the sire is about average with first timers (as is the trainer) but the wide draw should keep this colt out of trouble in the early stakes and I think he might have a bit more tactical speed than the morning moves suggest.  8/1 seems like a nice price on a colt that just might be ready to pop a solid race right off the bat.
  • I like the looks of the 4-Surrey Star (IRE) in the Grade 3 Generous at Hollywood on Saturday, although his 5/2 odds are a bit on the low side.  This colt was only 1-for-8 over in Europe but he ran a couple of decent races against Group 2 and Group 3 company.  If he takes to the firmer courses over on this side of the Atlantic he could produce a strong effort.

    Another "first time North America" horse is the 7-Dominator (GB) (12/1) who scored a win in his debut race at Ayr and who's probably as good of a bet to finish first as he is to finish last.  Unlike Surrey Star, Dominator displayed a bit of speed in his previous race, something that will likely be necessary in this spot.