With two weeks to go before Breeders’ Cup, hope-to-be Grade 1 three-year-olds will try to break through in New York and in Bluegrass country, while the great state of Maryland will celebrate Thoroughbred racing on Jim McKay Maryland Million Day.
What could be better than that? Betting the winner of those events.
We’ll get to the A-B-Cs of that in short order, but first an overview of the events. At Belmont Park, the Grade 2 Hill Prince is an eclectic mix of graded stakes winners, those trying to be, and high class claimers that have gotten good looking to prove they belong, period.
But some things never change; Chad Brown will saddle the favorite, G3 Saranac winner Public Sector and Christophe Clement will give Joel Rosario a leg up on second choice Soldier Rising, looking for his first stakes victory of any kind in the U.S.
In the race before, fillies and mares will contest the Grade 3 Noble Damsel, where recent blowout restricted stakes winner Tamahere, Brown again with Irad Ortiz, who has been competitive at the Grade 1 and Grade 2 levels.
At Keeneland, the listed Perryville will mark the return of Soup and Sandwich, making his first start since finishing last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby, the start after he finished second to Known Agenda in the G1 Florida Derby.
Soup and Sandwich has been working regularly, and fast, for Mark Casse, with Keeneland’s leading rider Tyler Gaffalione in the boot.
Two races later, it will be three-year-old distaffers going the same 7-furlong trip in the always interesting Lexus Raven Run where Bill Mott will saddle the two overnight favorites, Obligatory who gets Grade 1 class relief in this Grade 2, and stablemate Caramel Swirl, who may wind up favored over her more fancied barn mate.
Either would be a very tough out.
Finally, at Laurel Park, Maryland horsemen will celebrate the 36th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program.
The day’s centerpiece is the Maryland Million Classic at nine furlongs open to both sexes but we found the Maryland Million Turf at the same distance more intriguing as a betting race and that will be our focus.
We will start posting the HRI A-B-C grids beginning early Saturday morning and all five events will be complete by 10:30 am. This is a live column which will be updated throughout Saturday.
G3 NOBLE DAMSEL Race 8
A: 5-Shifty She (9-2), 10-Tamahere (9-5)
B: 1-In A Hurry (8-1)
C: 4-Platinum Paynter (20-1), 3-High Opinion (3-1)
G2 HILL PRINCE Race 9
A: 11-Soldier Rising (3-1), 2-Slicked Back (8-1), 8-Sifting Sands (8-1)
B: 9-Public Sector (5-2), 10-Never Surprised (5-1), War Bomber (12-1)
C: 5-He’spurged (20-1)
MARYLAND MILLION TURF Race 9
A: 7-Street Copper (5-1), 8-Nick Papagiorgio (5-1), 1-Cannon’s Roar (2-1)
B: 5-Somekindofmagician (9-2), 11-Beltway Bob (15-1)
C: 4-Johng (10-1)
PERRYVILLE STAKES Race 7
A: 6-Pipeline (4-1), 1-Soup and Sandwich (3-1)
B: 5-Pickin’ Time (7-2), 8-Cool Quest (4-1)
C: 9-Runway Magic (12-1), 4-He’smyhoneybadger (6-1)
GE LEXUS RAVEN RUN Race 9
A: 13-Obligatory (3-1), 8-Caramel Swirl (7-2)
B: 2-Souper Sensational (4-1), 11-Miss Speedy (6-1), 7-Cilia (8-1)
C: 1-Shalimar Gardens (20-1)
When more than one horse appears in a category, preference is for the first horse listed though all are used in vertical and horizontal multiples. Handicappers can adjust ratings up or down as they see fit, only one class suggested.