Race 1: 5-1-2
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #5 FAVORITE LEADER raced four times last year, each time in the Speed Index ranks, winning twice and finishing second in the other two. In her final start of the year she was an easy winner over two of the rivals she faces today. She breezed on May 13 at Hazel Park prepping for this start. If she retains her 2015 form she will be very tough. #1 WILD BOYZ VICTORY made 10 starts last year, going winless but hitting the board five times. She raced on opening day in a NW2 allowance for Ontario Sired foes, finishing a good fourth behind dead-heat winners Cc Fire N Ice and Dm Aurora. She may be tough second off the layoff. #2 DASH FOR DM finished the 2015 season with back to back wins at the Speed Index level. Although the two fields he beat were not the strongest groups, his form showed a lot of improvement. He has worked twice in preparation for the season. Today's first race starts the Daily Double.
Race 2: 3-5-4
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. It is also the first of two trials to the AQHA Challenge Maiden. #3 FAST BUCK is a new shooter at Ajax Downs for trainer Tom Dunlap. He ran four times in the States last year, with a very close fourth in a maiden and a solid third in a Heritage Place Futurity trial at Remington. He then went to Lone Star, showing nothing in a Dash For Cash Futurity trial but then rebounding with an okay fifth in a Texas Classic Futurity trial. The class drop here is a big one. #5 PYC TRICKIE LADY broke well in her debut at Canterbury last year but failed to sustain her speed. She raced on opening day, breaking very well, dueling, but just being outkicked by Dashing Carter, who had a fitness edge after racing at Remington in April. She draws outside here and has every right to have improve off of an already very good effort. #4 MEMORY OF JAY started off a bit slow last year, but improved suddenly, finishing second behind Canadian Champion Panther Hero in an Alex Picov Memorial Futurity trial then finishing fourth in the final. He may need a start before a peak effort but this seems like the right spot to kick off his campaign.
Race 3: 5-4-2
This race is the second of two trials to the AQHA Challenge Maiden. #5 BUBBLES CARTEL GAL raced three times down at Hialeah this winter, qualifying to the Sunshine State Derby for Florida breds despite some traffic trouble in her trial. She broke fairly well in the final, bumped a few times early but actually wasn't too far beaten for third. Alberta-based jockey Ramiro Sanchez Castillo is named for the mount. #4 VALIANT STOLI TIME, another Jason Pascoe-trainee, raced four times down in Texas last year. In her start three back at Retama he broke very well to be third. Two back at Lone Star he bore in and bumped his inside foe quite hard but still ran respectably. He was a bit even last time, just holding on for show but actually ran his career best speed figure. He has worked twice from the gate in preparation for these trials. #2 COUNTRY BOY 123 debuted in the Ajax Juvenile Challenge, finishing a fair enough fourth behind Tres Sea despite racing greenly. In his final start, he ran a good second behind Alakazaam, who scored an easy win here last week. He posted a bullet work from the gate on May 11.
Race 4: 6-5-4
Race 4 is the start of the $.20 Pick 4. #6 SENATOR LOGAN comes in from Texas for the Dunlap barn. In his debut at Retama he broke very well but flattened out in the final 220 yards. He dropped in for $6,250 claiming and ran a respectable third, but was bumped a couple times after the start in his final start. He doesn't look like he has to beat any world beaters here. #5 RAINAS EAGLE wasn't particularly consistent but ran a few respectable races last year. Her best races were at the beginning of the meet, and she looks like she fits with this group. #4 BUSTER BRI finished second in four consecutive starts to close out the 2015 season. He has hit the board in 11 of his 15 starts with earnings of over $26,000, not bad for a maiden. He could break through today.
Race 5: 5-8-1
#5 CARAWAY BLUE is one of the most consistent, hard knocking horses in Ontario. He has 13 wins in his career and went three for five last year. His speed figures are quite a bit higher than most of his rivals today. I expect a solid effort from his for his first start as a nine year old. #8 CHANNELISLANDFLYER hit the board in eight of his 12 starts last year despite going winless. He raced on opening day, caught One Kool Wave in his return to the races and finished fifth, beaten 1/2 a length for second. He likes to knock on the door and pick up a cheque and there is no reason he couldn't do so here. #1 JJ MAXWELL is another very consistent, classy old gelding. He faced $7,000 starter allowance company on opening day at this distance, and although he had to work hard for it, he got up late to be up for the win. He looks for his 10th career win here and should not be counted out.
Race 6: 4-3-8
This race is the first of two trials to the Picov Maturity. #4 EMBRACE EXTRAVAGENCE is a terrific mare. She crossed the wire first in her first four starts, the fourth being the Picov Derby, in which she beat QROOI Horse of the Year Fiesty Icon, who went on to win the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. Her final start of the year, a QROOI Overnight Series race for Ontario Sired three year olds was a bit of a disappointment, but it certainly was not bad and it is very unrealistic to expect horses to put in monstrous efforts in each and every start. She has looked great in both of her workouts prepping for her return and I think she's the one to beat. #3 DEAL A FORTUNE is a gelding I've become a bit of a fan of. He finished second behind Embrace Extravagence in their Picov Derby trial before finishing seventh in final. He wrapped up 2015 with a very solid runner up finish behind First Down the Track (before being DQd to eighth) going 110 yards. He returned last week going 110 yards again, but took a stumble at the start, eliminating his chances at the super-sprint distance. If he breaks well he could definitely be a contender here. #8 THE FDD MAP was still as solid as ever last year, winning three of his six starts and never losing shamefully, running great behind horses like First Down the Track, Mitford and Sm Chicks N Garters. He has 11 wins and over $207,000 in the bank; he always has a shot to win, it's as simple as that. The late Pick 3 starts here.
Race 7: 5-7-2
This race is the second of two trials to the Picov Maturity. #5 FAST MAN VIC, al half brother to multiple Graded Stakes winner, Fearles Fred, may be the new 'big horse' here at Ajax Downs. This gelding campaigned down at Indiana last summer, qualified to three Derbies there, finishing second in one of those events, never embarrassed himself, but unfortunately had to deal with company like Seize the Win, Mavara Vegas and Parti Favor. Those aren't horses who are particularly easy to win against. He then went down to Hialeah and scored back to back to back wins in NW2, NW3 and NW4 company, beating G3 Harrah's Futurity winner Mayleen Pyc easily in the NW3. After the NW4 win, Full Circle Racing purchased him and gave him a try in the Miami-Dade County Stakes. In that field he caught Jessies First Down, already a Stakes winner and Graded Stakes placed runner who has since won the G2 Sam Houston Classic, and Grade 1 placed Rc Me Leaving You, who scored two wins in three tries at the Sam Houston meet after the Hialeah Season. Despite the terrific company, Fast Man Vic ran a very good third. I was there that day and was quite surprised at how well he ran. He had a gate breeze on April 27, not breaking perfect but immediately recovering and galloping out far. I like this horse. #7 FIRST DOWN THE TRACK might end up making me eat the paragraph I just wrote about Fast Man Vic; she is a monster in her own right. She has banked over $210,000 in her career, finishing first or second 21 times in 32 starts. She's a very alert breaker with a lot of class. She also breezed on April 27 from the gate; she looked tremendous as she always does and we got her slightly faster than my top choice. Very tough to discount her. #2 ONE FAMOUS GLASS defeated Sm Chicks N Garters in the Picov Maturity trials last year in his first start off the layoff before finishing a very solid third in the final over a sloppy track. He's a tough horse not to respect, 12 wins in 25 tries, a fourth place finisher in the Grade 1 Leo Stakes at Remington back in 2014, beaten less than a length in last year's Alex Picov Memorial Championship. He always warrants a long look, and he was successful in these trials last year. It wouldn't surprise me if the wagering public overlooked him a bit in favour of my top two. Late Double wagering is offered here.
Race 8: 10-6-2
#10 NO CERVEZA FOR YOU will debut here for the trainer/jockey combo of Don Reid and Brian Bell. She has worked twice this spring prepping for this debut, going in solid times in both breezes. Her dam, Cerveza For Me, won the Princess Futurity in 2010 by a full length. The outside will likely be a beneficial post position for a debut runner in a full field. #6 EYESA WILD BOY is a nephew of One Famous Glass' (R7.) This gelding raced five times last year and hit the board in four of those tries. He wasn't always a perfect breaker last year, but it was his first year on the track and it wouldn't surprise me if he has done some maturing from thee to four years old. He certainly would not surprise me here. #2 ALBERTT ran a very good second on debut last year. He made his second start on opening weekend going today's distance, breaking very well from the rail post but flattening out midrace. If he can break that well here but sustain the early momentum, he could pull an upset. That fitness edge may be all that he needs.
Good luck and thank you to everyone playing today!