And on the second day of the meet:
- Race two brought us the longest shot of the young meet, as 33-1 Madalyn’s Choice ran away and hid from a field of $5,000 claimers by almost six lengths. She paid $69.20 to win and keyed a $273 exacta and a $1906 triple. Nice work if you can get it — of course, to get it you had to bet on a horse with two wins from 34 career starts. Ten pound bug Silvia Zapico, newly arrived from Finger Lakes, earned her fifth win of the year.
- Shorter fields — dirt races averaged 7.4 horses while grass races were just under 10 — and, to my brief eyeball test, a bit lower wagering.
- One seemingly positive development is field size in pricier races. There are always plenty of horses everywhere to fill cheap maiden races and bottom claimers. But in recent years, as Maryland’s purses lagged behind others in the region,
the better races — two- and three-other-than allowances, money allowances — often went to post with short fields. But yesterday a second-level allowance — nine furlongs on the turf — drew a full field of 10. And two turf allowances today — a second–level and a third-level — have a combined total of 31 (!) horses entered.
- A nice $730 super in the fourth if you boxed up our Race o’ selections. Changingoftheguard — about whom we said she “dusted cheaper maidens two back, ran credibly in her first try against winners, and with only six starts under her belt, has the right to improve” — got the money at 11-1, followed by Brightcopperkettle (“she should compete well here”). Favored Our Favorite ran third, and Gator Gone Wild was more mild than wild, finishing an even fourth.
For today’s Race o’, let’s look to the ninth, the third-level allowance mentioned above. Bad Debt is a deserving, if lukewarm, 5-2 favorite for trainer Mike Trombetta and our pals at RFL Racing. The five year-old son of Grand Reward is a check-cashing machine: 16 consecutive in-the-money finishes, dating back to 2010, and 20 of 22 grass tries in the money. He likes to win — 12 times in his career, including a 10-for-22 mark on the lawn — and he finished third, beaten just a couple by turf ace Little Mike, in this year’s Sunshine Millions. He’s wheeling back on short rest after a third-place finish in a money allowance at Delaware and figures to run well in this spot. I think Silver Tie Affair (12-1) will likely run a good race today; he does his best running on firm turf, was beaten just three in the Colonial Turf Cup two back — a race which produced five next-out winners, four of them stakes winners — and made up some ground in the lane in his last after spotting the leaders more than 20 lengths and having to pick his way through traffic in the lane. I’m also intrigued by Thunder Lord (6-1). The son of El Prado has been in the money in seven of nine starts, and stakes-placed twice. His two grass tries are only so-so, but they were the first two of his career, and he’s a better horse now than he was then. His immediate female family is not grassy, but El Prado’s offspring do enjoy the lawn. One other to consider — which may not run — is Schoolyard Dreams. Schoolyard Dreams (3-1) will likely be compromised by his outside post, if he draws in at all. But he finished second in his one turf try to date, and trainer Rick Dutrow doesn’t ship to Maryland lightly: he’s won over 40 percent of his starts in the state over the last five years.