When I looked at the stakes races today, no doubt all the big action is at Aqueduct. However, I happen to like the favorites in each of those races. I can't see Hansen losing, and I'm a big fan of It's Tricky and Caleb Posse, so my view would be slanted. That leaves us with the Sam Battaglia Memorial $75,000 stakes race at Turfway Park. The track was closed yesterday due to bad weather, but as I write this the weather looks good for today, so I'm going to go ahead and analyze this event.
It's the 10th race on the card going a mile and sixteenth for 3YO. There is a field of five entered, and while they are not the highest ranked 3YO for the Derby trail, it's still a competitive race, in fact, maybe too competitive! When you look at it, I can see realistically four of the five winning it. So here are my top three picks ...
#2 Ill Conceived ML 7/2
This 3YO had a solid 2YO campaign by hitting the board five of six times with two wins. His last outing in a stakes race at Laurel was solid and has been working well. I like that his Beyer's have been improving over the last two outings, and looks like the added distance may help. The angle I'm playing here is a track switch coupled with a jockey change, and toss in a stretch out in distance.
#6 Mr. Prankster ML 9/5
He will be looking for his third in a row here at Turfway, his last two stakes wins ($50K). His Beyer's bumped up dramatically from a 78 to a 88 when he stretched out to a mile. You have to like the Michael Maker/McKee connection and the added distance should work well for this 3YO. He has shown he likes this track and has no problem going wide to win. The pace might be a touch quicker today, and that does make him vulnerable to his racing style.
#4 State of Play ML 2/1
This 3YO is ranked #60 at Horse Racing Nation for Derby Contenders and certainly deserves the favorite slot for this race. Hard to argue against this lightly race 3YO with a G2 win under his belt at this distance over turf. This will be his second effort over dirt, his last was at Tampa where he finished seventh in a G3 affair. He had a nice workout and Graham Motion puts the track leader, LeBron in the irons. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back or is he a more of a turf horse. One thing for sure, the price will be miserly.
I didn't include a dark horse or Bombs Away due to the small field, it is obvious the dark horse would be the #1 Dynamical entered by Mark Casse. Overall, I think this is going to be the best race of the day.
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