Sunday, 7 May 2017

Ajax Downs Opening Day 2017 Selections

Well, yesterday was Kentucky Derby day but today is the real most important day on the racing calender: opening day at Ajax Downs! Quarter Horse racing returns to Ontario with a six-race card. Several stables have purchased U.S. imports, several which will be on display today. For the fourth year, my Four-Forty selections will be appearing in the live racing program, and I will still be posting them on this blog. Here are my selections for opening day.

Race 1: 3-4-5
Welcome to the 2017 live Quarter Horse racing season at Ajax Downs! #3 ARCTIC FAME had a very solid 2016 campaign, hitting the top three in seven of eight starts racing against some tough competition. He was a winner at 110 yards on August 14, then followed that up with a runner up finish to One Kool Wave at today's distance of 250 yards in the QROOI Sprint Series final. He worked well from the gate on April 24. #4 MS DASHIN CORONA was awarded a win via disqualification on October 17 last year. She had a good season in 2016 with plenty of close finishes behind tough foes such as Caraway Blue, Jj Maxwell, Cole Miner and Storytime Blue. She looks like a factor. #5 CHANNELISLANDSFLYER scored three wins out of 11 starts last year, two in optional claiming races and one in a Speed Index race. He fits in with today's level of competition quite well, but I think he is at his best going further than 250 yards. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 2-5-1
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #2 MAKE ME BODACIOUS started off 2016 in some tougher races, the trials and final of the the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity as well as a QROOI Overnight Series race and was in a bit too tough in those, but showed improvement as the season went on, wrapping things up with a win over Indiana invader Nex Favorite Bully. She shows a 220 yard workout at Hazel Park on April 29 in preparation for her three year old debut. #5 ICE N SNOW broke his maiden on August 11 in a tight photo over Grabin Awards, an eventual winner who remained competitive in NW2 races (see the October 3rd race won by Six Shootin Tex.) This gelding wrapped up the year with a close second behind Ifwisheswerefishes and by the end of last year was running speed figures that make him look like a top threat here. #1 HAMMER TYME broke his maiden via disqualification in his second start. He put in some solid races facing NW2, he finished just a neck behind Ice N Snow in the September 26 race won by Hal Bent. He will be the first starter for trainer Carol McIntyre, who assumes the training duties of horses owned by Big Dog Racing Stable.

Race 3: 1-4-5
The $.20 Pick 4 begins here! #1 MISS DOCK HILL spent her two year old year racing in Oklahoma and putting in some good runs, including a nosed-out second for a $15,000 claiming price at Will Rogers Downs. Although she is not the only American import in this field, I believe she is the one to beat. #4 TWO KOOL TO WAVE was a runner I advocated greatly for last year, and although he did not manage to break his maiden I stood by my conviction that he has some ability. His April 17 workout from the gate did not dissuade me from that opinion, he looked very good that day. He has to face open runners here as opposed to the Ontario-sired foes he has run with primarily but I see no reason why he shouldn't be competitive. #5 HELLO STOLI raced in Louisiana as a two year old and did not show much, with the exception of a third place finish at Delta Downs on June 4. He had a very easy, slow breeze on April 19 where he was not asked for much, then put in a decent gate workout on May 3.

Race 4: 6-2-5
#6 GHOST PINES was beaten a head by One Special Domino in her debut on August 21, the only start she made last year. One Special Domino went on to finish third in the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity. Also coming out of the August 21 race was Lummis First, who came back to win a maiden race and also qualified to the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity where he finished seventh. There is certainly potential based off of that one race. #2 FLIRT WITH THE BOYZ finished third in her debut, a good maiden race topped by Kona Corona and The Flash Drive. She then finished second in the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity trials behind Denali Teller Off before finishing ninth in the final. Denali Teller Off was the winner of the Futurity. She has certainly shown some class so far. #5 ADABOI KINGSLEY was a non-factor in his debut but progressively improved with experience. He was not far behind Flirt With the Boyz on August 28 and wrapped up the season with second and third place finishes. We'll see how he's progressed from two to three years old. The late Pick 3 starts here.

Race 5: 6-5-1
This race kicks off the Late Double. #6 VALIANT STOLI TIME had a solid 2016, with three wins including a Picov Derby trial victory over Panther Hero and No Cerveza for You. Even before he broke his maiden he was competing against the likes of Country Boy 123 and Memory of Jay. He worked very fast from the gate without being asked on April 19 and is worth a look as a longshot here. #5 ALBERTT scored three wins early last year, then returned from a gate-flipping incident in August to run three very good races at the end of the season. When he gets away clean he always gives an effort, and a horse like that who is spotted correctly is always worth consideration. #1 FISCAL FAST had two wins as a two year old in Alberta but did not have such luck last year. She kicked off 2016 qualifying to the Alberta Bred Derby in Lethbridge, then came out to Ontario and did not show a ton. In her final race of the season she finished fifth of six in a race won by her dam, Tres Seis Smooches. She is not an untalented mare and the drop into the Speed Index race is a reasonable one.

Race 6: 1-2-5
#1 ZING DYNASTY is one of several US imports in this field, by way of Los Alamitos. She broke her maiden in October of 2015, failed to win in NW2 Allowance races last year, and ended 2016 with a fifth place finish beaten a half length for everything in a $12,500 claimer. One of several logical choices. #2 UNOMASSENORSEABOLT raced in Louisiana as a two year old and broke his maiden when he made the drop into a $10,000 maiden claimer at Evangeline. He has made two starts this year, both at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. In the first he was crowded at the start, but in the most recent, a $6,250 claimer over a sloppy track, he was second by only a neck. Rain is in the forecast and this horse has done well over wet surfaces. #5 STEEL PATRIOT has raced in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. He broke his maiden at Retama Park last summer over horses named Gorab and Executive Rule, who both broke their maidens in their next starts. However, Gorab took 20 starts to get his first win and Executive Rule broke his maiden at the Gillespie Fairgrounds. He had an easy breeze on April 26 and will likely catch your eye in the paddock; he's a very good looking horse.
Good luck and thank you to everyone joining us today!

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