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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Gulfstream and Ocala Photos

For the third year in a row I decided to head down to Florida to kill some free time during my winter-lull (thanks to Dave Zenner for taking me in) to enjoy some racing and nice weather. As always, this meant hanging out at Gulfstream Park, but this year it included a new experience: the Ocala Breeders' Sales races. Gulfstream, as I have said before, is fantastic. You can't beat sitting in the sun by the walking ring with the racing form and enjoying the races. Ocala, however, was totally my kind of place. The card kicked off with seven Quarter Horse races, which of course is a major plus in my book, but the country atmosphere was fantastic. You walk up to the grandstand and you're greeted by a barbeque and a couple of women handing out free programs to anyone who wants one. The place was packed with horsepeople and locals who only have this one opportunity each year to go to the races unless they want to drive to Tampa or Gulfstream. With no Hialeah this winter, Ocala was also the only opportunity to watch legitimate, pari-mutuel AQHA racing in Florida.

     Armed with a new lens, I took plenty of pictures. Here are the highlights.

Gulfstream Park
Round the bend
The Dust Zone
2015 Prince of Wales winner Breaking Lucky schooling in the paddock in preparation for the Pegasus World Cup
Seven of Jack (#5) and Emisael Jaramillo win a $6,250 claimer
Working in company
Early Entry and Paco Lopez prevail over favoured Delta Bluesman in the Sunshine Millions Sprint
Personal favourite of mine. I don't know who this horse is, but here he/she is breaking from the gate in a workout. Dripping in a lather, bearing in when the gate opened, rider holding tight, just a perfect storm.
California Chrome in his final workout

Ocala Breeders' Sales Championship Races
Quarter Horses entering the paddock

Big crowd for the big day

Calimero, a former Ajax Downs runner, in the paddock

Early stages of a Quarter Horse race. Dash of Pride (#4, yellow silks) and Ubaldo Luna came out on top

Despite a less than perfect start, Silver Wings and Yordanis Amaro powered clear in a 220 yard open allowance

Convict Pike (#4) and Sailing Home (#5) turn for home together in the OBS Championship Colts and Geldings division. However, they were both overtaken by Master Plan in the stretch
Uncle B (#9) turning for home in his track-record setting win in the OBS Sprint Colts and Geldings division. He covered the six furlongs in 1:08 3/5, breaking the record previously held by Lady Shipman. Luis Saez had the mount.

As always, the trip was a blast. Like I said, you can't beat Gulfstream in the winter, but I am really happy I was able to go to the Ocala races. It was a unique experience that I greatly enjoyed. I'm already thinking about going again next year, maybe in conjunction with a trip to Tampa Bay Downs, so I can add the Oldsmar Oval to my list.

     Hope you enjoyed the photos!








Friday, 28 October 2016

Canadian Contenders in the Bank of America Challenge Championships

The Bank of America Challenge Championships are coming up on Saturday night at Los Alamitos, and between Ontario and Alberta, Canada has a handful of representatives entered. While none of the Canadian contingent will be favoured, most American handicappers have probably not heard of any of them and may be interested to know a bit about these runners, so I thought it might be fun to take a look.

Andreini Distance Challenge Championship
     Eight year old Kr Streakin Version, a Montana-bred gelding, is three-for-five this year racing in Alberta. His first two starts were both losses racing down the straightaway in Lethbridge, but he was a fairly easy winner in the Black Gold Insulation Classic going 770 yards at Northlands Park. Although he was given a 100 Speed Index for that race, I wouldn't trust the times. It was a hand timed race and the runner up, who was only 1 3/4 lengths behind, was apparently two seconds slower. He then went to Grande Prairie and won an 870 yard final by 5 1/2 lengths, going in a hand time of 44.319, a track record. He wrapped up his Alberta campaign with a win in the Distance Challenge at Grande Prairie which qualified him to this race. Unfortunately the company he has kept out west is not particularly noteworthy, he has been the clear cut best of the distance division out there for a while. He shipped to Lone Star for last year's Distance Challenge Championship, but had to check about 100 yards into the race and ended up finishing sixth by 8 1/2 lengths. He also raced in the 2013 Bank of America Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos, finishing tenth in a race that was topped by Vodka With Ice and Cold Cash 123. 
     Juno Dat Timber is a four year old Alberta-bred gelding, who qualified for this race off of a second place finish in the Will Rogers Distance Challenge. He is winless this year and has not raced in Canada since 2014, when he won the RG3 Alberta Bred Futurity in Lethbridge. 

Merial Distaff Challenge Championship
     L Bar D Sweet Fantasy is a four year old mare bred in Oregon. It's tough to consider her a Canadian campaigner as she has spent her career racing in the Pacific Northwest, but after finishing last in the Sun Downs Distaff Challenge as the 2-1 second choice, shipping up to Grande Prairie was her only other qualifying option. She made the ship and ended up winning in a dead heat with Im Hott Ur Nott, who will not be racing in this Championship. Im Hott Ur Nott has been a very tough runner in Alberta for a few years now. She has won 13 of her 27 starts, with four stakes wins and five wins in non-Stakes Finals. Like Kr Streakin Version, Im Hott Ur Nott made the ship to Lone Star last fall for the Merial Distaff Challenge, where she finishing eighth by 2 3/4 lengths. It will be tough swimming for L Bar D Sweet Fantasy, who just last December had been competing for $5,000 claiming at Portland Meadows.

John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship
     Rpainted Pistol, a gelded son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon, was a debut winner at Remington Park before being bought Milena Kwiecien of Ontario and sent to the barn of Jason Pascoe. He went two for two at Ajax, winning the Ajax Juvenile Challenge fairly convincingly, then won a QROOI Overnight Series Race. In both of those races he defeated Denali Teller Off, a stablemate, and Hickerson, who went on to finish 1-2 in the $119,150 Alex Picov Memorial Futurity. In the Juvenile Challenge he also beat a handful of American invaders, including One Fast Effort, who went on to win a maiden race at Indiana and then finished second in the All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity at Belterra, and First Down Money Pop, who later won a maiden race at Hazel Park and finished third in the Congress Futurity at Belterra. Although these aren't quite the kind of foes he'll have to face in the John Deere, they're almost all of the the best we had this year in Ontario. Since arriving at Los Al he has worked from the gate, going 300 yards in 17.60, under the lights between races on October 15.

Adequan Derby Challenge Championship
     Toughie, a Stel Corona filly, is eight for 10 in her career. She qualified to and finished sixth in last year's G1 Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos before coming to Lethbridge to win the G3 Canada Cup Futurity. She has gone four for five this year, defeating foes such as Angelles Baby Tnt, a Futurity Consolation winner who has since been moved to Ontario where she has gone two for two in some solid races, Er Cafe, who is three times Stakes placed in Alberta, and Flybye 109, who is six for 12 in her career and won the 2015 Alberta Stallion Futurity at Northlands. 
      Representing Ontario in the Derby Challenge is Country Boy 123, a Michigan bred gelding who is a cousin of Cold Cash 123. He has won six of his seven starts this year, all at Ajax Downs. including the AQHA Challenge Maiden, the Ajax Derby Challenge and the $116,100 Picov Derby. He has defeated several quality foes, including Alakzaam, who was on a six-race win streak heading into the Ajax Derby Challenge, Panther Hero, who won last year's $113,750 Alex Picov Memorial Futurity and finished a decent sixth at Lone Star in last year's John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (before being disqualified for interference.) Like Rpainted Pistol, Country Boy 123 got to work from the gate under the lights between races to get accustomed to night racing.

Bank of America Challenge Championship
     Four year old Cruisinfourabruisin, a son of First Timber, a stallion who stands in Alberta, will make his first start out of the province in the Championship, after winning 11 of 28 starts and earning over $115,000. He has three Stakes wins to his name, the 2014 G3 Canada Cup Futurity, the 2015 Canada Cup Derby, and this year's Evergreen Park Challenge Championship. In the Evergreen Park Challenge he bested Tiny Flying Corona, one of the toughest older horses in Alberta. Tiny Flying Corona is 16 for 37 in his career, a winner of three Stakes, six non-Stakes Finals, and a qualifier to the 2013 G2 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos. 
     Fantsy Pants, another runner who is not really a Canadian, made it into the final as an also eligible. She finished third in the Ajax Challenge Championship, but Fast Man Vic and One Famous Glass opted not to make the trip to California. Fantsy Pants, a Maryland-bred daughter of Splash Bac, has won only once, in a maiden at Ruidoso in June of 2015. She exits a non-threatening fifth in the Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge and doesn't look too hopeful in this race.


      I'm wishing the best of luck to all of the Canadian connections racing at Los Alamitos this weekend. The waters are deep, but it is great to see our country's Quarter Horse racing industry being represented on such a large scale. Hopefully we can have some luck and maybe bring one of these big races home!


Monday, 10 October 2016

Ajax Downs October 10 Thanksgiving Selections

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Ajax Downs! Happy Columbus Day to my friends south of the border as well! I have slacked posting my Ajax selections on here since racing has switched to Mondays, but today is a special card. Today we have 11 races, including two of our most important Stakes races of the year, the Alex Picov Memorial Championship for older horses going 440 yards, and the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity for two year olds going 400 yards. Both are worth over $100,000 and show off many of the best Quarter Horses racing in Ontario. The Championship goes as Race 7 and the Futurity is Race 9. It is sure to be a fantastic day, and it looks like the autumn weather is going to cooperate. Here are my selections for the card.

Race 1: 3-4-5
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Ajax Downs! #3 THE FLASH DRIVE raced very well against solid competition in his first two starts, but was one of several runners to be interfered with by Zoxtobeyou in an Alex Picov Memorial Futurity trial three weeks ago. He has caught a soft looking field and should be tough if he gets a clean run. #4 MAKE ME BODACIOUS exits a decent fourth place finish in a very nondescript maiden race two weeks ago. She did manage to qualify to the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity and does seem to be on the improve. #5 BAC IN FIRST looked very good in a gate workout on August 24, but lost his path at the start in his debut. He returned in Alex Picov Memorial trials, didn't break straight and appeared to be quite green throughout. He may be one to improve with more experience. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 2-5-3
This race begins the early Pick 3. #2 MIA GOT SPEED debuts here after several in company workouts. She has not looked particularly memorable in the mornings but is out of a Stakes placed mare and may be worth a look at a price. #5 SHEZ QUICK TO WIN had been racing in Indiana where she had run some solid races, then made her Ajax debut last week. She drew the rail, broke fairly well and was outkicked by some decent foes late. She cuts back in distance for her second local start. #3 FLEET SELECT finished second last week facing a group of Ontario Sired foes who I don't think were noteworthy. He has run several good races in his 13 race career and drops back in for $7,000 claiming where he had been a player earlier in the year.

Race 3: 2-4-3
#2 WINNERS PROSPECT was bumped on both sides and pinched back at the start last time, leaving himself with far to much work to do, but appeared to have some late run when facing open foes. He gets back into Ontario Sired company and should be quite tough with a clean start. #4 TEXTMEJOHNNYANGEL exits a sixth place finish in the same race Winners Prospect exits. Although he finished sixth with a chart line reading "evenly," visually he didn't look to bad in that race. He's one to consider. #3 BUSTER BRI exits a third place finish in a maiden $7,000 claiming race behind Zoomin Zeus and Eb Encountered, who were both making their local debuts. Eb Encountered returned to win the race that my top two choices exit. This six year old has finished second or third in 15 of his 21 starts and could certainly grab another cheque today.

Race 4: 4-5-6
This race kicks off the $.20 Pick 4! #4 BDB GHOST TRANE, a maiden, has had no shortage of poor luck so far. Last time out when racing over a sloppy track she had a fairly clean run, just one minor bump shortly after the start, and finished up okay to be beaten less than a length. We'll see how she does here. #5 TTT KELLYS COPPERTWO exits a sixth place finish, 1/4 length in front of Bdb Ghost Trane. She was actually bumped on both sides at the start, but soon managed to advance to be on the front, weakening late. Her only win has come through disqualification but she does not have to beat a ton in this spot. #6 DREAMS ARISING had a pair of good efforts in weak Speed Index races on August 28 and September 12, but broke poorly in an allowance race last time out. Today she gets back into a weak Speed Index race and draws outside.

Race 5: 2-6-4
#2 EYESA ZOOMN has run big in all four of his starts this year despite not winning any of them. The most notable effort was two back when he was beaten only a head by the near-unstoppable First Down the Track in a QROOI Sprint Series race. He returned in the final Sprint Series race but was bumped at the start and rallied to be fourth behind One Kool Wave. He's one of the gamest old horses in Ontario and looks tough today. #6 TRES SEIS SMOOCHES had been a solid open allowance horse in Alberta for several seasons. She came out here this year and has run two good thirds, last time out being beaten by her very classy stablemate Angelles Baby Tnt after being a bit restless in the gate. Drawing outside could be beneficial. #4 FISCAL FAST is a stablemate of Tres Seis Smooches', making her second start at Ajax after a bit of an even effort in a decent NW3 allowance on September 19. She qualified and raced well in a few Stakes races in Alberta, and was actually only 0.037 seconds off of breaking a track record at Grande Prairie last summer. There's some class here.

Race 6: 3-2-4
This race is a 110 yard "Gridiron Gallop!" #3 CARTELS FAST MONEY is not a superstar, but when she's on her game she can break from the gate very, very fast, making her a personal favourite of mine. She was a winner going 110 yards last year over Eyesa Zoomin. We'll see if she gets out on top today. #2 COUNTRYS COMIN BAC exits a second place finish in the Picov Derby behind Country Boy 123, and will now make his 110 yard debut. The shortest race he has run in was 250 yards and he was a winner that day, and he certainly has class to his name. As always going 110 yards, it all comes down to the start. #4 EYES THAT TELL was a very easy winner going 110 yards back on July 21, then came back with a close second in a good optional claiming race. Her 110 yard win was very impressive and makes it tough to ignore her today.

Race 7: 6-7-5
Today's co-feature is the $100,700 Alex Picov Memorial Championship, going the classic distance of 440 yards. #6 FAST MAN VIC was a winner at this distance in the Bank of America Regional Challenge Championship two starts back. In his only other start going 440, a Stakes race at Hialeah, he was third behind Jessies First Down, who has since won the Grade 1 Refrigerator Handicap, the Grade 2 Sam Houston Championship Challenge, and finished second in the Grade 1 All American Gold Cup. Last time out in the All Canadian Classic, he had an empty gate to his inside, broke in to the open space and lightly bumped into a foe while First Down the Track had a perfect start down the outside. Beating First Down the Track will be tough, but I'm a big fan of this gelding and I think a 440 yard race is the best place for him to have a chance at the upset. #7 FIRST DOWN THE TRACK has had a remarkable 2016, with wins in the Picov Maturity, two QROOI Overnight Series races, and, most recently, an easy win in the All Canadian Classic. In last year's Championship she broke on top but flattened out, a bit of a theme in her 440 yard races, a distance at which she has never won at. However, she is the best she has ever been this year and it would be no great surprise to see her continue her streak of wins. #5 ONE FAMOUS GLASS was second behind First Down the Track in the All Canadian Classic and second behind Fast Man Vic in the Bank of America Challenge before that. He has done quite well going 440 yards, with five top-two finishes in seven tries at the distance, and should certainly not go overlooked. The Late Pick 3 starts here.

Race 8: 4-1-7
#4 HAL BENT has raced well against tough foes like Alakazaam, Speedocracy and Ice Fishn this year. He exits a win in a NW2 allowance race and looks tough taking the step into NW3. #1 EYE SAID IM NED was a NW2 winner three starts back over Six Shootin Tex and next-out winner Winner On a Lark. He came back with an even fourth in a five-horse open allowance for Ontario Sired runners, then ran a good fourth in a decent Speed Index race won by Bubbles Cartel Gal, who was long overdue for a win. He could be a factor here. #7 CARAWAYS JOKERS LANE was poor in his first two starts of the year but has been in solid form ever since. He exits a good third at this level and is one of several worth consideration in this race.

Race 9: 7-9-4
The second feature on today's card is the $119,150 Alex Picov Memorial Futurity. #7 KONA CORONA, a half brother to G2 winner A Plain Brown Rapper, was an impressive debut winner. He was bumped hard at the start in the trials, then bumped again as Zoxtobeyou veered sharply to the inside, looked to be weakening but rebid gamely to nearly get back up for place. There's a lot to like about this colt, especially if he gets a clean run. #9 HOME TO VEGAS is the undefeated two-year old sensation, already winning the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity in August. He set the fastest qualifying time to today's final, proving that he can handle the stretch out to 400 yards. The one to beat. #4 ONE SPECIAL DOMINO has not missed the board in her three starts. She broke her maiden second time out, then finished a very good third behind Home to Vegas in the trials, racing from the rail post. She gets off of the rail today and could prove to be a factor.

Race 10: 1-5-4
This race is the start of the Late Double. #1 DAYTONA 500 exits a pair of runner up finishes, first against next out winner Faster Than U and then against the classy Hal Bent. She was second in last year's OSS Futurity and appears to be in her best form. #5 GRABIN AWARDS caught a soft field two back and was the only horse to break cleanly, causing him to score an effortless win. However, he came back in a NW2 and ran third behind Six Shootin Tex and Ittakestwotootango, both respectable horses. He hasn't missed the board yet this year and could prove to be a serious factor again. #4 PASSUM LANE put in his first even effort of the season last time out behind Hal Bent and Daytona 500. In all of his other starts where he has broke cleanly he has been very game, and you should get a big price on him exiting that last effort. He could turn his form back around.

Race 11: 4-2-6
#4 MAKE ME A MIRACLE finished fifth in a fairly tough optional claiming race three weeks ago. She won a Speed Index race three back and ran a good fourth behind Cartels Fast Money, Im Pretty Fames and A Phenomenal Chick two back. Getting back into the Speed Index ranks should be good for her. #2 BUBBLES CARTEL GAL showed a bit of promise at Hialeah but didn't exactly pan out as hoped when she got up here. She dropped into a Speed Index race two weeks ago and got her first career victory, and remains at this level. We'll she how she does first off the win. #6 MEMORIES TIMES SIX has faced very tough foes all year and now takes a very significant drop in class. Last time out he was last in a Starter Allowance topped by Cole Miner, Arctic Fame and Storytime Blue. He was a Picov Maturity trial winner earlier in the year. The class drop should help him.
 
Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today! Have a great holiday Monday!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Ajax Downs Selections September 5 Labour Day

Yesterday at Ajax Downs we had a trio of Picov Derby trials, highlighted by Country Boy 123 following up on his Adequan Derby Challenge win to set the fastest qualifying time. Today we have our End Of Summer Bash at the track. The card features the finals of the QROOI Sprint Series going 250 yards and the QROOI Distance Series going 440 yards. They will go as the final two races on today's eight-race card. Here are my selections.

Race 1: 5-3-1
Happy Labour Day from all of us at Ajax Downs! #5 ARISING MIRACLE finished a close second behind Home Ice in the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trials before finishing seventh in the final. He returned with a solid fourth behind One Special Domino. He doesn't appear to be facing any world beaters today. #3 MOUNTAINS ECHO qualified to the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity with a well beaten fifth place finish behind Home to Vegas, then finished sixth in the final starting from the outside post. He gets in easier here. #1 EYESA DEXTER debuted on August 11 but got a rough break and was no threat. He may improve second time out with a clean trip. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 3-2-6
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #3 PYC TRICKIE LADY exits a good third behind Valiant Stoli Time and Eyesa Wild Boy, who returned to win. She is a very sharp breaker and the cutback to 250 yards should benefit her. #2 BDB GHOST TRANE finished sixth in the same race Pyc Trickie Lady exits. She showed a bit of run in spite of some trouble in an August 7 race that produced next out winner Cr Party With Corona, and doesn't have many tough looking foes to deal with here. #6 TRICKLUCK is a five year old first time starter. There is nothing worth noting about his pedigree other than the fact he is out of a Thoroughbred dam. He shows a quick gate workout at Hazel on August 23 and might pull a surprise.

Race 3: 5-3-2
#5 SOXY N I KNOW IT won her first two starts of the year in Speed Index races, then ran a very good second behind Rockin Miss Kitty in a conditioned allowance race. She looks like a factor dropping back into the Speed Index ranks. #3 JESS WANNA HAVE FUN ran a good dead-heat second behind Itoldyouilikeroses on May 29. She returns off of the layoff here and looked very good in her workout on August 31. I don't mind her at all at a price. #2 FLY FAST FOR KAYLEY has two wins at the Speed Index ranks this year and several other very good races. He didn't offer much in a QROOI Overnight Series race for non-stakes winners last time out but he was due for a bounce at some point and that was tougher competition. He looks very competitive.

Race 4: 2-6-1
This race is the start of the $.20 Pick 4! #2 ITTAKESTWOTOOTANGO was fractious behind the gate in his debut but still managed to finish second, then came back to rally into a second place finish behind Eyesa Wild Boy. He's clearly got some ability and I think the extra little bit of distance is good for him. #6 FLEET SELECT finished fifth behind Ittakestwotootango in the Eyesa Wild Boy race after a bump at the start. He had been knocking on the door in the claiming ranks with speed figures that look competitive with this group. #1 WINNERS PROSPECT had been running okay, then put in a good second place finish behind Dees Winner on August 21. His speed figures are okay and there isn't a ton of talent in this field.

Race 5: 8-1-2
#8 SELECTIVE MEMORY has been facing very tough company this season and hasn't been doing too bad. Last time out he was beaten a half length in a race topped by Runaway Cause, Speedocracy and First Element. He gets an easier assignment here. #1 CARTELS FAST MONEY didn't fare well in her first two starts of the season but raced an okay fifth behind First Down the Track in a QROOI Sprint Series race then came back to win a Speed Index race last time out. When she gets out well she is usually the one they have to run down. #2 A MERE OUTLAW makes her first start of the year here. She had a solid 2015, hitting the top two in half of her eight starts including a win at Hialeah. She had a good breeze on August 17 prepping for her return.

Race 6: 1-8-6
This race is the start of the late Pick 3. #1 HOPE RAMBLES ON nearly beat Alakazaam in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby trials, but got a very rough break in the final and finished sixth of seven. She came right back to win a NW2 in spite of some trouble. I don't see why she couldn't double up here. #8 FAMES WINNER was an easy winner of Memory of Jay two back, then came back to run third behind Eyesa Speedy Simon and R Zooming Lady after a bump at the start. He's finished no worse than fourth this year and certainly looks competitive with this group. #6 CC FIRE N ICE last raced on July 10, where he was beaten only a neck by Albertt. He has some ability and should be ready returning off the layoff.

Race 7: 5-3-1
Today's co-feature is the QROOI Sprint Series going 250 yards. #5 EYESA ZOOMN exits the last Sprint Series race going 220 where he was beaten only a head by the razor-sharp First Down the Track. If he can duplicate that effort, he will be tough to beat. He's a very consistent runner. #3 ONE KOOL WAVE kicked off the year with a win in an optional claimer, and has hit the board in the first two legs of the Sprint Series. He was beaten only a head after a less than perfect start in the 110 yard race, then was third by a neck behind First Down the Track and Eyesa Zoomn. He has had a terrific career, 20 wins in 34 starts is incredibly impressive, and seeing him win here should come as a shock to no one. #1 COLE MINER won his first three starts of the year, then finished a good third behind the very live Storytime Blue last time out. I don't think he really rivals my top two choices, but he has every right to pick up a cheque. Late Double wagering is offered here.

Race 8: 7-6-2
Our other co-feature is the QROOI Distance Series going the classic distance of 440 yards. #7 FIRST ELEMENT has two wins and two seconds in six starts at 440 yards. Last time out he drew the rail post going 400 and was beaten only a neck by Runaway Cause. I think drawing outside will help him here. #6 RUNAWAY CAUSE missed by only a head to Fast Man Vic in the last leg of the distance series going 400 yards. Fast Man Vic returned to win the Bank of America Regional Challenge Championship, and this mare came back to win a QROOI Overnight Series race for non-Stakes winners over Speedocracy and First Element. She will be going 440 yards for the first time here. #2 BOLD SIX LOVE has made two starts at 440 yards, in the trials and final of last year's Alex Picov Memorial Championship. He didn't do very well in those races, but they were very tough fields. He exits a sixth place finish behind Runaway Cause and First Element, but he was only a 1/2 length off of the win. I don't think he minds the extra 40 yards at all.
 
Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ajax Downs Selections September 4 2016

Double the fun this long weekend at Ajax Downs as we have racing today and tomorrow for Labour Day! We have seven races today, highlighted by a trio of trials for the Picov Derby, with all of our three-year old stars looking for a spot in the final. The trials go as Races 2 through 4. First post is 12:55 ET. Here are my selections for today's card.

Race 1: 3-1-6
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #3 ITSALLABOUTRAMBLIN had a pair of runner up finishes on July 10 and July 31 but got a rough break last time out, finishing a non threatening sixth. He's been pretty consistent at the Speed Index level and can be a factor with a clean start. #1 WINNER ON A LARK was disqualified from a Maiden win three back but came right back to win in a Speed Index race. She exits a close third in a NW2 allowance and looks like a big threat here. #6 CATES PURDY BUFFALO has been on the edges a lot this season. He exits a good third behind Winner On a Lark on August 7. Earlier in the season he ran an alright third behind Kool Kinda Ivory and Dm Paid In Cash, respectable competition. It wouldn't surprise me to see him break through at any time. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 1-6-2
This is the first of three trials to the Picov Derby. It also kicks off the early Pick 3. #1 SPEEDOCRACY has missed the board only once in his nine race career. He ran a very good third in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby three back, then came back to win a QROOI Overnight Series race for Ontario bred three year olds. Last time out he was a very close second facing older foes in a QROOI Overnight Series race for non-stakes winners, which featured some solid competition. He's a very sharp young horse. #6 SEIS ZOOM has been no worse than fourth in her five starts this year. She raced a very good third in the Adequan Derby Regional Challenge trials, then finished a close second in the final behind Country Boy 123. She has been racing well against good horses all year, it's tough to fault her. #2 COUNTRYS COMIN BAC was a winner over Seis Zoom in his first start of the year, then followed that up with a game second behind Cole Miner on June 12. He was a bit even on July 24, finishing sixth behind Speedocracy, then broke poorly last time out. He does have some ability and if he breaks well he could hit the ticket at a bit of a price today.

Race 3: 7-6-1
This is the second of three trials to the Picov Derby. #7 ICE FISHN was a winner of an Ontario Sires Stakes Derby trial but was a vet scratch from the final on July 3. She returned in the QROOI Overnight Series for ON-bred three year olds on July 24 and finished a good fourth. If she's at her best she's a contender. #6 COUNTRY BOY 123 is the obvious one to beat here. He has won four of his five starts this year with one close second behind Alakazaam. The lowest speed figure he has run is a 70. He's exiting a win in the Adequan Derby Regional Challenge. He's just in top form and he has yet to show any signs of slowing down. #1 SUGARMANS DELIGHT was beaten only a nose by Alakazaam in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby three starts back. He followed that up with a good third behind Speedocracy in the QROOI Overnight Series race that Ice Fishn finished fourth in, then won an open allowance for Ontario Sired runners facing older foes, including Reckless n Wild and Im Aquicktrick. He has done well from the rail post in previous starts.

Race 4: 7-1-2
This is the third and final trial to the Picov Derby, as well as the start of the $.20 Pick 4. #7 NO CERVEZA FOR YOU has soared through her conditions and now steps up into these trials. The waters do get a lot deeper here and I wouldn't want too short of a price on her but it wouldn't surprise me if she's good enough. #1 ALAKAZAAM won his first five starts of the season including the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. His streak came to an end in the Adequan Derby Regional Challenge, where he broke out and bumped into Panther Hero, recovering to miss the win by only a neck, but was disqualified for the interference at the start. I can't find a way to fault him. #2 PANTHER HERO won his first start of the year, then ran a good third in the Adequan trials behind Alakazaam and Country Boy 123. He lost at the start in the final when Alakazaam gave him a solid bump, finishing sixth placed fifth. He was terrific as a two year old and it wouldn't be a shock to see him return to that form at any time.

Race 5: 6-7-2
This race is a 110 yard "Gridiron Gallop!" #6 DEAL A FORTUNE finished second at this distance last time out. Last year in his first try at 110 yards he finished a very good second behind First Down the Track but was disqualified for interference. He looks like the best horse in this field, he just needs to break well. #7 DM KING CITY makes his first start at 110 yards here. He has won three of his eight races this year, including a 220 yard race on opening day. He should have no troubles with the short trip. #2 FAST FERDINAND is another who his making his initial 110 yard start here. He exits a second place finish in an optional claimer behind Channelislandsflyer. It's tough to say how he will like 110, all of the races on his form are 300 yards or further, but he has some talent and wouldn't be a total surprise. Late Pick 3 wagering is offered here.

Race 6: 1-5-4
The Late Double starts here. #1 LOOKIN AT LUCY scored a maiden win here last September. She didn't fare well in a start at Remington in May then returned here to run a well beaten fifth (placed fourth) in the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity trials. She takes a big drop in class here and may go overlooked in the wagering. #5 JUST CHASE ME finished a good third behind No Cerveza For You three back. Last time out he benefited from a clear path the second the gate opened and drew clear. It's not likely that everything will go his way at the start like that again, but he's got some run and looks like a factor. #4 IM SPEEDY was a winner three back, had a tough trip on July 17 then ran a good second behind Winner On a Lark on August 7. He's not always a great breaker but if he does leave well he's a contender.

Race 7: 5-8-6
#5 BAC IN FIRST has shown steady improvement in her workouts. She worked 250 yards from the gate on August 24 in 13.74, looked good doing it and galloped out very well. Hopefully she breaks well here. #8 LUMMIS FIRST exits a good third place finish on August 21 behind One Special Domino, who was coming off of a good second place finish behind Denali Teller Off. This grey colt is well bred, by champion First Down Dash and seems to be on the upswing. #6 DASH TO MIAMI was a well beaten fourth on debut in the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trials, then ran a respectable fifth in the final when starting from the rail post. He gets to face easier foes here and has yet to have a sharp break. Getting out well could make a big difference for him.

Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ajax Downs Selections August 28

We are back again with another Sunday card of racing at Ajax Downs. The race office was buzzing this week as we have nine races today. The features are Races 5 and 7, a QROOI Overnight Series for two year olds and an open allowance for Ontario Sired runners respectively. Lots of good racing to enjoy this week. Here are my selections.

Race 1: 7-2-1
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #7 YAWLPLAYINGWITHFIRE finished third behind Home to Vegas and Later Tater in the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trials, but had a troubled trip in the final and finished eighth. He draws outside for the first time today which could be beneficial. #2 THE FLASH DRIVE was a close third on debut behind Denali Teller Off, who already had two good races including a troubled third in the John Deere Juvenile Regional Challenge, and stablemate One Special Domino, who returned to win last week. He overcame a stumble at the start on debut and could be very dangerous if he gets out well. #1 KONA CORONA is by multiple G1 winner, million dollar earning, 2006 Champion of Champions winning sire Wave Carver, and is a half brother to A Plain Brown Rapper, who was a Grade 2 winner at two. He was a vet scratch on July 24 but posted a bullet gate work on August 17. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 2-4-1
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #2 ZEES PYC debuted for $10,000 claiming at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico in June but broke outwards from the far outside and offered little. She gets to face easier foes here and may improve with experience and a better break. #4 CR PARTY WITH CORONA showed little in three U.S. starts but ran a respectable third in her Ajax debut. She was DQd to last for interference but is a serious contender if she can stay straight today. #1 PUNCH BUGGY CHESTNUT debuted on August 11 with an even run. He may have needed a start, he could get a clear path along the inside in this short field and is out of a dam who qualified to a G3 Futurity at Arapahoe Park. He'll likely be a long price and probably isn't totally impossible here.

Race 3: 4-3-2
#4 STREAKING EYE OPENER makes his first start of the season with two works down at Fort Erie in preparation. In his 2015 season debut, he was a very close second behind Bold Six Love. He spent most of last year facing very tough horses and looks quite threatening against this group if he's at his best. #3 MARTHAS JESS GOLD finished third behind Storytime Blue and Channelislandsflyer last time out, both who have come back to win their next starts. She had a pair of wins last year and now takes the drop into $3,000 claiming. #2 THATSALOTOFSUGAR was okay in her first two starts of the year but was a non-factor last time out. She drops in class from Ontario Sired NW2 allowance into $3,000 claiming and may be a factor with a clean trip.

Race 4: 8-7-5
This race kicks off the $.20 Pick 4! #8 ITTAKESTWOTOOTANGO debuted on August 14. He was a bit fractious behind the gate then acted up a bit while waiting for the start. Despite that, he raced a good second behind Just Chase Me, who had a clear lead right away and was never getting caught. If this gelding keeps himself composed at the gate, he could improve enough to be a big player here. #7 EYESA WILD BOY is on a streak of four consecutive runner-up finishes. However, he has been very narrowly beaten in his last two tries and drops from open to Ontario Sired company today. The last time he faced Ontario Sired runners, he was second behind No Cerveza For You, who has won two more races since then. To see him score the breakout win today would come as no shock. #5 EYE GOT YER BACK was a fast closing second behind Passum Lane last time out. He came back to be a good third in a fairly tough NW2 allowance. This gelding looks very competitive with this group in the speed figure department.

Race 5: 7-1-4
Today's co-feature is a QROOI Overnight Series race for two year olds. #7 DENALI TELLER OFF was a troubled third in the John Deere Juvenile Regional Challenge behind stablemate Rpainted Pistol, then returned to score a maiden win over One Special Domino, a well bred filly who came back to win last week. She may end up going a bit overlooked here but she's certainly got some talent. #1 HOME ICE was a winner on debut in the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trials, then ran a very close second in the final. I'm always a little leery about young horses with the rail post but he seems to have class and classy horses often aren't bothered by these kind of things. #4 RPAINTED PISTOL broke his maiden on debut at Remington Park in March. Although he was a non-factor in his second start, he returned here with a decisive win in the John Deere Juvenile Regional Challenge. He did benefit from avoiding the trouble that plagued most of the inside runners in that race, and he did lug in a fair bit, but it's tough to fault him too much for a Stakes win. He's the class of the race, I'd say.

Race 6: 5-7-1
#5 PASSUM LANE took a big early lead and held on to win at this distance two starts back. Last time out he finished a game third behind Hope Rambles On, who was taking a big class drop. If he breaks as well as he did in his win he has every right to be a factor here. #7 FASTER THAN U qualified to the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby where he finished a well beaten fifth (placed fourth.) He returned to break his maiden by a narrow margin. He has the highest average speed figure of this group. #1 IAMASWEETMAN exits a pair of respectable races, a fourth in a decent Speed Index race and then a third behind Fames Winner and Memory of Jay at this level on August 11. He could grab a piece of the action here.

Race 7: 4-5-1
The second co-feature today is an Ontario Sired Open allowance race. #4 FIESTY ICON overcame a stumbling start to win the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity over Jesskissmytexas last time out. He has eight wins in his 15 race career including two Stakes wins. He's certainly the one to beat today. #5 CRUWYSN THE ARCTIC was last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity winner. So far this year he has had quite a bit of poor luck. However, last time out he was a game third in the QROOI Distance Series behind Fast Man Vic and Runaway Cause. Both of those runners returned to win their next starts, the former winning the Bank of America Challenge Regional Championship. He's a solid horse who may offer a good price. #1 DM PAID IN CASH was non-threatening at 110 yards last time out, and before that was in very tough in the QROOI Sprint Series behind First Down the Track, Eyesa Zoomn and One Kool Wave, but had great form in her previous starts. She was a winner four back and finished third behind Sign It Down and The Fdd Map after that. She's another longshot who isn't completely impossible. The Late Pick 3 begins here.

Race 8: 6-2-8
Late Double wagering is offered in this race. #6 MS VICTORITA made her Ajax debut on August 7 with a game third behind Rockin Miss Kitty and Soxy N I Know It, who have been in good form throughout the season. Prior to that she was a close second at Hazel, where she has had all of her previous success. If she happens to improve in her second start over the local surface she could be quite tough. #2 MS DASHIN CORONA has been racing primarily in Starter Allowances and facing tough competition. Jj Maxwell, Cole Miner, Caraway Blue, Panther Hero, Storytime Blue, these are all very tough horses, and she has been very respectable facing them. This group looks easier and she looks like the one to beat. #8 TTT KELLYS REGAN kicked off the season with a runner up finish behind Country Boy 123. He did not fare too well in the Rockin Miss Kitty race that Ms Victorita exits, but raced well in a 110 yard race last time out, finishing third behind Arctic Fame and Deal a Fortune. He deserves a look in this spot.

Race 9: 2-11(AE)-1
#2 ALBERTT has won half of his six starts this year, and has had trouble in two of his three losses. He's proven himself to be a nice little horse and doesn't have to beat any world beaters today. #11 FOOL ON FIRE has drawn on the also-eligible list and will need an early scratch to participate today. He was a qualifier to last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. In his most recent start he was an okay fourth (placed third) behind Jj Maxwell despite some trip trouble. He will get the outside post if he draws in which could help him get a clean run. #1 ARCTIC LAKE was fourth beaten less than a length in his first start of the season, which came at this level. He had a decent run from the rail post last year and may improve a bit second off the layoff.
 
Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Ajax Downs Selections August 21

Happy Sunday! We have an eight-race card today at Ajax Downs. For the on-track fans, it is Family Day, so there is sure to be a big crowd with lots of activities to enjoy between the races. Our feature today is Race 8, the Bank of America Regional Challenge Championship going the classic distance of 440 yards. We also have a QROOI Overnight Series race for horses who have never won a Stake, which features some talented runners. Here are my selections for today's card.

Race 1: 5-2-1
Welcome to Family Day at Ajax Downs! #5 UPPER CANADA was a winner against maidens for this claiming price in October. So far this year he has caught some tough fields at higher levels, including horses like Alakazaam and Do U Zoom. Last time out he finished fourth behind Hope Rambles On, Six Shootin Tex and Passum Lane, a respectable group. He gets a class drop and a small field here. #2 SENATOR LOGAN exits a maiden win on August 7 where he overcame a stumbling start. The fields he has been facing have not been the greatest so the drop in for $7,000 is sensible. He has a solid chance to repeat. #1 PAPPA TRICK won for this tag against maidens to kick off the season, and had a second at this same level on June 19. He is not particularly consistent but appears to fit in with this group. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 2-1-4
This race begins the early Pick 3. #2 TWO KOOL TO WAVE is by multiple Graded Stakes winning sire Wave Carver, who won the 2006 G1 Champion of Champions. His dam, One Kool Bud, was a multiple Stakes winner in Ontario who was not far beaten in the G3 All American Congress Futurity at Beulah Park in 2005. He had a good gate work on August 10 and certainly has the breeding to be a runner. #1 GRABIN AWARDS was much the best in his August 11 race but was bounced around at the start which cost him the race. A clean break would have left him an easy winner. He was knocking on the door last year and should be more than capable of a win. #4 DEES WINNER caught tough fields in his first two starts and failed to threaten but has been competitive in his most recent tries. It's tough to say how this field compares to his recent competition but he doesn't look outclassed at all.

Race 3: 6-1-5
#6 R ZOOMING LADY has had trouble leaving the gate but consistently puts in a good run. She had a pair of nice wins last year and a fourth behind First Down the Track, The Fdd Map and Sign It Down. Last time out she had the rail post but today she gets outside and goes 400 yards, a distance that should aid her late running style. #1 EYESA SPEEDY SIMON has qualified to both Maturities run so far this year and exits a second place finish at this level. He has serious class to him, he was a Stakes winner as a two year old, but has been a bit win shy. Regardless, a serious contender. #5 COUNTRYS COMIN BAC won his first start of the year then followed that up with a very game second behind the very sharp Cole Miner. Last time out he faced a tough group of three year olds in a QROOI Overnight Series race and was a bit even, but comes down to a conditioned allowance race here. He should be able to fare well.

Race 4: 6-5-3
This race kicks off the $.20 Pick 4! #6 SIX SHOOTIN TEX had three very good runs last year wrapped up by an easy maiden win. He made his return this year with a very good runner up finish behind the class-dropping Hope Rambles On, who nearly beat Alakazaam earlier in the season. There aren't any world beaters here and this colt has been very consistent in his limited starts. #5 EYE SAID IM NED had an okay third behind No Cerveza For You two back but was in way too tough last time out when entered in the QROOI Distance Series and broke poorly. He drops back in to the NW2 condition where he looks like a factor. #3 CARAWAYS DASH N FAST had a pair of respectable third place finishes to kick off the season but has been a bit more even in her most recent tries. She has had some good races behind Six Shootin Tex but probably needs a peak effort to win today.

Race 5: 5-7-1
#5 ITSALLABOUTRAMBLIN exits a pair of runner up finishes at this level. He's consistently moved forward in his four tries this year and was a winner at this level last fall. #7 CHARTED TO WIN is not a super consistent type, but kicked off the year with a win and finished second behind No Cerveza For You three starts back. His last two runs have not been great but he's not incapable of being competitive in this group. #1 JJ MAXWELL had no excuse when facing a soft field last time out, finishing a weakening fifth. It's tough to justify that effort but he is the classiest runner in this group and could possibly turnaround his form.

Race 6: 7-4-6
#7 ONE SPECIAL DOMINO debuted on July 31 with a close second behind Denali Teller Off, who already had a start under her belt. She is a well bred filly and has run the fastest speed figure of all those who have started in this group. #4 ARISING MIRACLE finished a close second behind Home Ice in the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trials but failed to threaten in the final. Home Ice maintained his form with a very close second behind Home to Vegas. He could turn things around here. #6 LUMMIS FIRST is by the great First Down Dash out of a respectable mare, but has been disappointing in his two starts thus far. He returns after a five week layoff and may improve with more experience. Late Pick 3 wagering is offered here.

Race 7: 3-4-1
This race is a QROOI Overnight Series race for horses who have never won a Stakes race. #3 SIGN IT DOWN exits back to back wins, beating One Kool Wave at 110 yards two back then holding off The Fdd Map last time out. She's yet to miss the board this year and looks very competitive with this group. #4 RUNAWAY CAUSE had a big early lead last time out in the QROOI Distance Series but was run down by Fast Man Vic in the final yards. When she can get out well she has tremendous early speed, the question is always whether or not she can hold. 8-1 off of her last effort is a playable price. #1 FIRST ELEMENT won with a closing move going 440 yards two back but broke poorly last time out in the QROOI Distance Series race. He is an on-and-off type but if he runs his best effort he can be competitive. The Late Double begins here.

Race 8: 3-5-2
Today's feature is the $54,720US Bank of America Regional Challenge Championship. #3 FAST MAN VIC seems to need every inch of this 440 yard distance. Although he won at shorter distances in Florida and he exits a close 400 yard win, he has been breaking mid-field and closing late consistently since coming to Ajax. His lone start at 440 yards had him third behind Jessies First Down and Rc Me Leaving You, two very nice horses. I really don't think this gelding has shown his best since he's come here. including that win last time out. We'll see how he does here. #5 THE FDD MAP has had two close seconds this year, once behind First Down the Track and another closing late behind Sign It Down. He is remarkably consistent, 11 wins and 23 top three finishes in 39 starts, and has had success at this distance. Always one to consider. #2 ONE FAMOUS GLASS kicked off the year with a win in the Picov Maturity trials then finishes a good second in the final. Last time out in the first QROOI Distance Series race he finished third behind First Down the Track and The Fdd Map. In his 24 starts at Ajax Downs he has won 12 and hit the board in 21, so it's very tough to argue he shouldn't be right there today.
 
Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today!