I like the #9 Cointreau. He’s been running on the weeds for most of his career, but did romp in a $25,000 claimer on the Keeneland Polytrack last October. He’s been very consistent against similar competition all year, and with Bejarano up, you know he’ll at least get the chance to make a run. Not far behind is the #2 Skippy Due, who has done no worse than 2nd in his last 6 career starts. Locally trained by Phil Sims (no, not the one with the girly sons), he’s very adept on the Poly. Takes a minor step-up in class this trip, but his consistency is too strong to overlook. If you’re looking for a price, take the #3 Sweet Grass Creek.
Darley, and their lovable owner Sheikh Mohammed Al Something or Other, couple two talented 3yo’s in #1 Sahara Heat and #1a No Reply. Both horses are impeccably bred and look to be poised to make a move here. You’re getting a 2fer here, so that’s good, but the even money morning line isn’t. #5 Highest Degree finished 7th in the G2 Lane’s End at Turfway his last time out, and this dramatic step down in class might be enough to get him the winner’s circle. Still, at 2-1 I’d be hesitant to play. There’s not much else here, but put the #1 and #2 over a longshot in a tri-box and hope for the best.
#5 Pulpit Talk has been wildly inconsistent of late, but his bullet work last week shows he’s ready to improve in his second start off a layoff. I would be remiss if I didn’t make a push for Perfect Drift, who at the age of 8 is the statesmen of this bunch, and is one of my all-time favorites. He’s a no-nonsense colt with enough career earnings to buy his own private horse jet...which is cool in theory, and he’s been running against the best in the world his whole career. Dropping down to an allowance is peculiar (think Celtics Bill Walton), especially one on the grass, but he’s still the one to beat.
Race 6-Jenny Wiley Stakes
Like the theater in Prestonsburg which bears her name, the Jenny Wiley Stakes is playing host to the best fillies and mares in the world. With only six horses to choose from, a good price might be hard to come by. #2 Wait a While trots out of the Pletcher barn with ace jock Garett Gomez at the reigns. She’s one of the fastest mares in the world, and a clean trip would prove disastrous for the others. If the #2 doesn’t happen to feel like running, then another even money lass, #4 My Typhoon will be there to strike. Trained by the King of Turf Bill Mott, she should be ready in her 2nd start from a layoff. #5 Mauralakana is another Biancone/Leparoux combo, with plenty of experience against similar competition. She hasn’t raced since finishing 7th at the Breeder’s Cup last year, and this might be too tough a test coming off that long of a vacation.
Race 8-Commonwealth Breeder's Cup
Like the Jenny Wiley, the Commonwealth Breeder’s Cup will showcase a plethora of Breeder’s Cup quality colts in the Sprint division. I’m going with the #4 Steel Light. He’s proven himself worthy against top competition, and gets the benefit of Gomez steering the ship. Not well versed on the Polytrack, but I look for him to come from off the pace and stretch out for the win. Standing in his way is the super quick #7 Midnight Lute from the Bob Baffert stable. Longshot: #10 Gin and Sin. Come on, you know you like the name, just bet it.
Race 9-Toyota Bluegrass Stakes
1- Zanjero–a lethal combo of Asmussen and Gomez makes him sexy enough on paper, but this colt can run. He’s won on this course, and the simple fact of the matter is, he’s yet to run his best race. Might this be it?
2- Dominican–Plenty to like here: coming off an impressive triumph in Turfway’s Rushaway Stakes last month on the same surface, earning a 109 Beyer speed figure. But this is a step-up in class, one that may prove to be too much.
3- Love Dubai–If betting on who finished last were playable, then this would be a sure thing. The justification for this horse to be in this race is just not there.
4- Street Sense–I’ve been hailing him as the 3yo champ all year for one simple reason: the reigning 2yo champ is 1 for 1 as a 3yo. While there is very little to not like here, his 4-5 ML kills any excitement. As dominant as this colt has been throughout his career, trainer Carl Nafzger believes he’s yet to run his best race…will be shocked if he doesn’t hit the board.
5- Time Squared–Gets a nod for bloodline (Fusaichi Pegasus) and connections (Biancone), and has some really nice works of late. Taking a monstrous step up in class, and his only previous attempt at a graded stakes yielded an uninspiring 7th place finish. If the pace is hot early on, he could come on late and hit the board, but I’d look elsewhere.
6- Teuflesberg–Has found the board in each of his last 5 races, including 3rd in the Rebel Stakes last month. Prado aboard is a huge plus. Very capable of big things, but this big…not so sure. Is a player, but I would only play him in the exotics if his price is decent.
7- Great Hunter–If there’s anyone who can rival Street Sense in class, it’s this west coaster. This colt can do it all, and looks to be moving into top form at exactly the right time. He’s been facing the best of the best his whole career, and hasn’t faired any worse than 3rd. Put him on top with #4 in any exotics.
If I were a bettin man: tri-box 1, 4, 7