Sunday, 25 May 2014

Road to the Queen's Plate: The Marine + Ajax Downs Selections

The Marine is an interesting prep for the Queen's Plate due to the fact that it's an open race, not restricted to Canadian breds. Today we have four Ontario breds facing off with two American breds. Is the Plate winner somewhere in this field?

     Originally a field of eight, we're down to six after Matador and Supermonic scratched. The scratch of Supermonic is quite significant for Brian Lynch-trainee Heart to Heart, who now looks to be the lone speed. He made his three year old debut going a mile on the turf at Keeneland, went straight to the front and drew off easily. Last year he raced exclusively on polytrack, and didn't seem to be as effective. Example, In the Coronation Futurity he made an easy lead but had nothing in the tank for the drive. Is he better now as a three year old, did he wake up om the turf, or was that win at Keeneland due to the fact that the turf really favoured speed for the first half of the meet? I think he'll take a bit of money as the lone speed in a small field, but how good is he? The favourite is the Coronation Futurity winner Asserting Bear, who exits a disappointing run in the Blue Grass. He drew the rail that day, looked like he was maybe going to make a move but flattened out. His previous effort in the Spiral was very good. Go watch the replay. This is easier competition and he deserves favouritism. I can't knock him. The other horse in here who looks good to me is the Florida bred Puntrooskie. He was claimed for $50,000 by Gonzalez, won a Florida bred Maiden two starts later, and then came to Woodbine to crush in the Woodstock. That was a super impressive win. He closed from last in that race, but stretching out to the route I see him being closer, maybe second behind Heart to Heart early. Casse has an interesting entrant here in the form of Conquest Top Gun, who broke slow, went pretty wide, and still managed to get up to win against Maiden company at Keeneland. He has three local works since then and they have been quite good. Can he translate that impressive win to Stakes company? Maybe. I can certainly see him being a factor. The last two are Tower of Texas and Ami's Holiday. Tower of Texas is a recent local Maiden winner against older, it was a soft field and he just doesn't seem fast enough. Ami's Holiday won the Grey Stakes last year, but in three starts since has not really been threatening. The way I see this race playing out, Heart to Heart goes to the front, with Puntrooskie and Ami's Holiday sitting a length or two off. The other three are at the back of the pack. Puntrooskie makes a move around the three furlong pole, while Asserting Bear and Conquest Top Gun begin gaining ground. I think in the end, Puntrooksie is the best horse in the race, he should win. Asserting Bear or Conquest Top Gun should be second, and you can give Heart to Heart and Ami's Holiday chances to round out the tri. Sorry to my Canadian breds, but Puntrooskie is my pick.

I also have my selections for today's card of racing from Ajax Downs. Some very nice races today.

Race 1: 2-3-4
#2 Ivy Switch debuts here for the red hot Kim Ito/Brian Bell combo. Her dam, Hidden Dragon, was a career debut winner who later won the RG2 New Mexican Spring Futurity at Sunland. #3 Yessir E Bob ran a decent fourth to end the 2013 season. He faces a softer group today. #4 Executive Dash has hit the board in five of six starts. His speed figures are a bit on the low side, but he does consistently run well.

Race 2: 3-5-6
#3 Ms Kool O Toole is another debut runner for Kim Ito and Brian Bell. She is out of a stakes winning dam and is a half sister to stakes winner Bye Me Kool Bud. #5 Everything Fast ended last year with two very solid runner up finishes. With a fast break he should be a factor. #6 La Push debuted in July with a decent fourth place finish. She could improve as a three year old, and could round this race out.

Race 3: 3-1-5
#3 Oh Gary isn't the winningest horse out there, but he lays over this field in the speed figures. He's run a very good race at 250 yard distance and seems logical to get the win today. #1 Wild Chanson raced last week. With some improvement second off the layoff he could run we here. #5 Eyescap was a narrow winner back in September, just getting up in the last stride. 250 yard may be a bit short but she should be able to hit the board.

Race 4: 4-6-7
The return of a star, #4 Mitford broke the track record winning the Alex Picov Championship last year, beating the best older horses in Ontario while still a three year old. He's been dominant since coming to Canada and should be able to beat this conditioned allowance field. Scott Reid's other runner, #6 Arctic Fame is two for three in his career. He was outworked by Mitford on May 5th, but still looks good to hit the board. #7 Cheever makes his Ontario debut after spending last year racing in Michigan. He's consistent, he's stakes placed, he has a quick workout, should run well.

Race 5: 7-5-3
It's tough not to like #7 Rockish, a 10 year old gelding who still runs at a high level. He's four for four at the 250 yard distance, has run we off the layoff before, and is simply one of the classiest horses racing here, with earnings over $300,000. #5 Carter's Secret was a star as a two year old but wasn't as effective last year. Getting into allowance company may help his chances as a four year old. #3 Flick Me a Corona is tough to totally toss considering he has hit the board in 14 of his 25 starts. He's a logical choice to round out your exotics.

Race 6: 3-6-5
Today's feature is an Ontario Sired Open Allowance. #3 Pegasos One Underpar had a great 2013, winning five of his 10 starts and hitting the board in a pair of stakes races. He worked well on May 5th and looks good to keep the ball rolling in 2014. #6 Reckless an Wild was great as a two year old, winning the Alex Picov Futurity and hitting the board in two other Futurities. If he's good enough against older horses, 7-1 would be a generous price on him. #5 Not Looking to Shake raced against my top choice a few times last year, and was usually not far behind. He loves the 250 yard distance and won off the layoff last year. It's a pretty competitive race.

Race 7: 2-6-1
#2 Wild Roze has a class edge over this group, she ran in two Futurities last year and was respectable in both. Nice May 12th work, she should be very tough. #6 Lil Shaz finished behind Wild Roze in both of her starts last year, but the fact that she qualified for the Ontario Sired Futurity makes me respect her more than the rest. #1 Another Shark was beaten a head in his last start of 2013, arguably his best effort to date. Most of this field is pretty weak.

Good luck to everyone playing today!

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