Race 1: 1A-2-3
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #1A ROUGE RIVER CARTEL had a solid two year old campaign. In his third start he finished third behind Alakazaam and Ice Fishn. Those two foes finished one-two in an Ontario Sired Open for three year olds last week. Neither of them are shameful horses to get beat by. He qualified to the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity and raced a respectable fourth. Since last fall he was purchased by the Picov Cattle Co. and moved into the barn of Joe Tavares; we will see how he performs for the new connections. Entry-mate #1 Kinda Likea Lovesong also warrants respect here. #2 BA LUCKY PENNY raced nine times last year and hit the board in nine of those tries. She qualified to the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby, qualifying to the final and racing a solid third behind Feisty Icon, who was named the QROOI 2015 Horse of the Year. She prepped for her season debut with a 220 yard breeze in 12.63 on May 25. #3 CARAWAYS ZOOMTO FAME has raced twice already this season, neither have been great efforts but they haven't been awful either. He took 22 starts to break his maiden but he does like to grab a check and could be a factor if manages to get out alertly. This race begins the Daily Double.
Race 2: 6-1-3
The early Pick 3 kicks off here. #6 ALBERTT debuted last year with a runner up finish behind Kool Kinda Ivory, who was an easy winner in last week's opening race. He did not race again last year, but came back on opening week with an even race. On May 22 he caught a big field of nine including the well-meant first time starter No Cerveza for You, but broke great and proved best. This doesn't appear to be the toughest Speed Index field in the world. #1 IZA JAZZ GAL was my choice in a race a couple weeks ago, but she got fractious in the gate, flipped and had to be scratched. She worked from the gate in 13.52 on May 25. I've thought this filly had some run since her early breezes last year, we'll see if she can keep it together in the gates today. #3 MOMMYSSWEETSECRET finished second by a head behind Perrfect Storm (who is also entered here) on May 15. She throws in plenty of clunkers but she has hit the board in eight of her 15 career starts, and somebody has to round this field out.
Race 3: 1-3-4
#1 GRASSHOPPER FLATS is another horse I picked a few weeks back who had to be scratched at the gate. He has knocked on the door a few times and has raced with some respectable horses, especially when compared to a lot of his competitors here. I really have to think if he keeps calm enough in the gate he will break on top, he'll just have to keep going to the wire after that. #3 BUSTER BRI is the textbook "professional maiden," racing 16 times so far and picking up nine seconds. Despite never winning a race he has earned nearly $30,000. There's not a lot to say about this horse, he almost always runs good. It just comes down to when he will finally grab the maiden win, and how short a price are you willing to accept on him. #4 FLEET SELECT raced in the Purrfect Storm/Mommyssweetsecret Speed Index race on May 15, breaking straight and fast but coming up short late. That race was against winners and he now drops in to face maidens again. We'll see if he's able to sustain his speed better now that he's had a start this season.
Race 4: 2-3-1A
This race race is a 110 yard "Gridiron Gallop" and it also kicks off the $.20 Pick 4! #2 IM AQUICKTRICK is probably one of the most underrated horses here. She has qualified to four Stakes events. In last year's Picov Derby she finished fifth in what was unquestionably the toughest three year old put on here last year, and she later finished second in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. She made her first start of 2016 in a QROOI Open for mares and she broke perfect, very quick and dead straight, dueled the whole way and was just outkicked by Sign It Down, who's a super honest runner. I think she can break well enough for 110 yards. #3 A PHENOMENAL CHICK tried 110 yards a few weeks back but stumbled, came out and bumped at the start, costing her that early momentum you need to win one of these races. All in all she still race fifth beaten a half a length. I know she is capable of better breaks, it wouldn't surprise me to see her win at all here. #1A RANDOM AUDIT also raced in the 110 yard dash on May 15. She broke very straight but was bumped by her inside rival which caused her to lug out but she still raced great to be second by a head by Lexia, who was completely untroubled that day. Her fifth place finish behind First Down the Track going 110 last year was also a respectable effort. She has a solid chance here.
Race 5: 4-1-8
#4 LA WANDA is a first timer with a bit of pedigree. First off, she's by Fdd Dynasty, a two-time Grade 1 winner who banked over $1 million. Her dam, Turning Tricks, raced only twice, both times at Ruidoso Downs and finishing second in both tries, including an All American Futurity trial. Her second dam, Stardust Dash, qualified to the consolations for the Rainbow and All American Futurities. In the Rainbow Consolation she was beaten by a 1/2 length. She had a good gate work on May 18 and I'm willing to take a shot with her to win at first asking. #1 NO CERVEZA FOR YOU made his debut two weeks back. She drew the outside post, came in and exchanged a couple bumps early in a bit of a crowding incident but got rolling nicely to be second behind Albertt (R2 today.) I like this filly, she seems to have talent and I'm expecting her to be targeted for the Derbies later in the season. She looks like she could be tough again today. #8 LIME KILN LANE is another first time starter by the successful Ontario sire Wild Boyz out of Quick Six Lady, who is by Tres Seis. He has three breezes in preparation for this race, one 220 breeze and a pair of gate works, all of which have been solid moves. He draws near the outside so he will be loaded later than most, a positive spot for a first time starter.
Race 6: 10-5-1
This race is the first of two features on today's card, the $25,296 AQHA Challenge Maiden. #10 VALIANT STOLI TIME showed some kick in a few starts down in Texas as a two year old. In his trial for this race he veered inwards in front of a slow breaking rival and bumped into Country Boy 123, dueled, but came up second best. It wouldn't surprise me is Country Boy 123 is just a better horse, but I'm willing to give this gelding a shot to turn the tables. He could break better from the outside and he makes his second start over the surface. We'll see if he improves any. #5 COUNTRY BOY 123, as previously mentioned, was bumped by Valiant Stoli Time at the start of their trial, but kept a clear path down the inside and proved best. He showed that he might be a horse to watch last year when finishing a close second to Alakazaam. He was very impressive in the trial win and certainly can't be counted out today. #1 MEMORY OF JAY finished a close second to Panther Hero last year before finishing fourth in the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity. He won the other trial to today's race but was DQd for interference after veering in sharply in the early stages. Regardless, he was impressive and went in a quick time. Hopefully drawing the rail post discourages any inward moves. He is not without a shot here. Late Pick 3 wagering is offered here.
Race 7: 8-3-6
This race begins the Late Double. #8 SHARPE DRESSED MAN reached a bit in class level last week, facing Reckless an Wild and Charted By Dm, both better than the competition he faces today. He broke great, dueled, couldn't keep up with Reckless an Wild and was just outnodded for place and show. He missed show by the dirtiest of noses. He can get out straight and he gets to class drop for his second start off the layoff. What's not to like? #3 CC FIRE N ICE was a dead-heat winner on opening day with Dm Aurora, who also shows up here. He's a decent enough gelding, he won a QROOI Overnight Ontario Sired Maiden last year which picked up a pretty good cheque for a maiden. He's not always on but his best effort could be enough to win this. #6 ITZ ALL GOOD raced in the May 15 110 yard race, bumping into a rival at the start but still finishing a solid fourth. He had two wins last year, both for the $5,000 claiming tag. His breeze on April 27 was a good looking move and he has shown run in a lot of his starts. It never surprises me to see him hit the ticket.
Race 8: 7-4-10
Today's main feature is the $56,800 Picov Maturity! #7 FAST MAN VIC is a horse I talked about extensively on trial day. In summary, he qualified to three Derbied at Indiana Grand, then went to Hialeah where he won three races in a row and finished third in a Stake behind Jessies First Down and Rc Me Leaving You, who are really nice runners. In the trials he could have broke a bit quicker, came in and brushed a foe very early in the running and looked like he kept trying to lug in but eventually got rolling and finished a head behind One Famous Glass and First Down the Track. He makes his second start over the surface, and if he runs straight I expect him to be very tough. #4 FIRST DOWN THE TRACK was very unlucky not to win the trial for this race, she broke great and was just nosed out at the wire by One Famous Glass. I bring this up every time she runs but her record really just speaks for itself. 32-10-12-3 with over $212,000 earnings. Any time she gets out of the gate well, she's going to make her competition work for it. It's as simple as that. #10 ONE FAMOUS GLASS managed to nose out First Down the Track for the win two weeks back. He's another one who's all class, 13 wins in 26 starts, he's raced very well in a Grade 1 in the past. He's looking for Picov Maturity redemption here; last year he won a Picov Maturity trial but was bumped at the start in the final and had to settle for third. He's got as good a shot as anybody coming into today's race.
Thank you and good luck to everyone joining us today!