HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 3, 2022 – Twas the week before the champion’s test and the pieces are coming together, not only for the Belmont Stakes but the glut of graded stakes to be run during Belmont Festival weekend.
But horseplayers no longer live by one circuit alone. There’s an interesting sprint at Gulfstream Saturday afternoon if the predicted Tropical Storm gods allow.
The Pennine Ridge in Elmont is a two-horse affair, but not an insignificant meeting, and a big day at Churchill Downs Saturday which will be the focus of our Tote Busters simulcast feature.
Race 7 at Churchill Downs is the six-fully Shawnee Stakes that while ungraded feature an impressive Grade 1 winner last out of the La Troienne, upsetting Shedaresthedevil. Why is she running here?
Throughout the weekend we will update continually to complete CD’s Late Pick 5. Here’s a look at the G2 Pennine Ridge and the Shawnee.
GRADE 2 PENNINE RIDGE Race 9
The Skinny: Not easy defeating Todd Pletcher when he aims for the perfect spot, especially when his charge looms lone speed, as does Emmanuel (5-2) who finished third after setting the Blue Grass pace last time out. But since he’s making his turf debut against proven turf runners—including a pair from Chad Brown—we’re not hesitant to look elsewhere in this 9-furlong turf test.
Unanimous Consent (8-5) has run thrice over three disparate courses and has yet to be defeated, another Chad turf star in the making. Mate Napoleonic War (3-1) is 2-for-3 including a win on the Elmont lawn, and price Shot Daunt (15-1) deserves a look for defeating half the 11-horse field in his recent three-year-old debut and is bred for today’s added ground. And why shouldn’t Limited Liability (6-1) improve further for Shug?
Ticket Toppers: Napoleonic War, Limited Liability, Unanimous Consent
Win-Value Play: Napoleonic War to win at 5-2 or greater
Exotica: Exacta box Napoleonic War, Limited Liability, Unanimous Consent. Superfecta wheel using the three exacta horses first with each other and with Daunt and Emmanuel second, third and fourth.
SHAWNEE STAKES Race 7
The Skinny: I reiterate, why run a Grade 1 winner in this spot for a “measly” $200,000? Certainly, it’s a bridge to somewhere and is being treated as a public workout. Chances are, Pauline’s Pearl will be in the neighborhood of 1-5 on the Stephen Foster Preview Day program. Ava’s Grace was a game third to “Pauline’ after stalking three-across throughout. Crazy Beautiful (6-1) has the look of a carefully pointed four-year-old here. Each non-favorite gets five pounds, 118 vs 123.
Ticket Toppers: Pauline’s Pearl (3-5), Crazy Beautiful (6-1)
Win-Value Play: Crazy Beautiful (6-1) to win at 5-1 or greater.
Exotica: Cold exacta, trifecta, Pauline’s Pearl over her two rivals above. Three-horse exacta box.
GRADE 3 ARLINGTON STAKES Race 8
The Skinny: This six-horse turf two-turner looks like a two-hose battle on paper. On class lines, Field Pass (5-2) deserves favoritism because he is the most accomplished and most likely winner. He’s done it in front, stalking and from off the pass. He’s won at Belmont and is a laudable 3-for-8 at the trip. Floriform (4-1) might have more incentive, seeking that first graded win, Bill Mott is on fire and his inside draw and tactical speed should give Tyler Gaffalione options. Keeneland score was deceptively decisive.
Ticket Toppers: Field Pass, Floriform
Win-Value Play: Floriform to win at 3-1 or greater
Exotica: Exacta Box Field Pass and Floriform. Trifecta Wheel the ticket toppers first with each other and adding Gray’s Fable (7-2) and Get Smokin (3-1) second and third.
ARISTEDES STAKES Race 9
The Skinny: The most contentious in a very contentious sequence. Several horses can take the lead but that would be break dependent. After that, several could be position stalkers, several are strong late kickers. Lots of educated guesswork involved here.
Ticket Toppers: Top Gunner (7-2), Bob’s Edge (3-1), Miles Ahead (9-2)
Win-Value Play: Top Gunner to win at 7-2 or greater
Exotica: Three-horse exacta box the Ticket Toppers. Trifecta and/or Superfecta Wheel: Three Ticket Toppers first with each other, and adding Bango (4-1), Necker Island (4-1), and Jalen Journey (10-1) second, third and fourth.
BLAME STAKES Race 10
The Skinny: You know how you can be sure that this ungraded 9 furlongs is a prep for the G1 Stephen Foster? You consider what Luis Saez is doing. How does he jump off G1 Cigar Mile winner 4YO debut-making Americanrevolution (8-5) for Proxy, yet to win a graded stakes and leaving a main client, Todd Pletcher, to tap Florent Geroux for the assignment? Proxy (9-2) is working very well, has pole position and tactical speed. More questions: Can Scalding (5-2) repeat his uber-sharp much-best G3 Ben Ali score at KEE to take his fifth straight in CD debut. How ready, or not, is Americanrevolution? Finally, did pace dependent Dynamic One (9-2) shake off enough cobwebs when a strong-finish Ben Ali second? Indeed, this race is much trickier than it appears.
Ticket Toppers: Scalding, Dynamic One, Proxy
Win-Value Play: Can’t decide–Either Proxy at 4-1 or greater or Dynamic One at 3-1 or greater
Exotica: Exacta Box the three ticket toppers. Trifecta Wheel Ticket Toppers first with each other and adding American Revolution second and third. Trifecta Key Proxy in all positions with all rivals listed above.
AUDUBON STAKES Race 11
The Skinny: Only fitting that this difficult sequence ends with the most open event of the day. Eleven have been entered and I can make a good-to-promising case for seven of them. But like the man says, you can’t use them all, so here are the three we find most interesting: Red Run (10-1) is getting big time class relief, has a run over the course and switches to Leparoux–2-for-3 for Asmussen of late. Summer Anthem (8-1) was only a maiden breaker last out but with excellent energy distribution whose tactical speed fits the dynamics here; Javier will know what to do. Spin Wheel (10-1) has also kept stakes company this year, exits key race with a good recent work, never had a chance trailing very slow pace in last, finishing with interest late, and Rusty has been on fire this meet.
Ticket Toppers: Spin Wheel, Red Run, Summer Anthem
Win-Value Play: Spin Wheel to win at 9-1 or greater
Exotica: Exacta Box the three Ticket Toppers. Trifecta Wheel three Ticket Toppers first and second and first and third with Speaking Scout (6-1), Tallahatchiebridge (10-1), Grand Sonata (7-1) and James Jones (9-2). [If inclined, can use the same approach for Superfecta Wheel].
Suggested wagers at minimums available; straight wagers in $2 units. When more than one horse is listed in a category, they are listed in graded order.
this live column will be updated throughout the weekend