The week started with maiden claimers, shorter fields, and no Race o’….
- Two maiden races were on Wednesday’s card. The first, a $12,500 claimer on the main track, saw Rondas Back walk to a clear lead and then draw off for a nine-length win. In the last race of the day, maiden specials going a route distance on the grass, 2-1 favorite Smart Cash just edged 33-1 Stormy n’ Sly by a nose to get the money.
- Only two races drew 10-horse fields yesterday, both on the grass. Average field size for five dirt races was seven horses, with two races having just six.
- No Race o’ for yesterday, but in Saturday’s, Powder Mountain (“if he finds himself in striking range after three-quarters of a mile, his big finishing kick may get him home,” we said) wore down Pulpitarian (“[he] could win, but [his] odds feel too short”) to get the money. Powder Mountain paid $9.60 to win. The other two we liked — Syros (“will give an improved accounting of himself today”) and Mr. Handsome (“another with the right to improve today”) finished third and fourth.
For today’s Race o’, let’s turn to the ninth. It’s a $7500 claimer for horses three and up going a flat mile on the grass. It’s drawn a field of 10, plus one on the also-eligible list. Great Harbour (#9, 6-5) is the strong favorite here. His early zip may allow him to control this one throughout, and he’s led at the stretch call going longer in three straight before fading, so this flat mile may be to his liking. On the other hand, he’s lost two straight at this level, and while he more than fits here, anything like his morning line odds feels too short to me. I’d keep him underneath but generally would look to beat him at short odds. Safety Valve (#6, 5-2), on the other hand, may go off at a more appealing price and rates higher in my estimation than does Great Harbour. He’ll be making his second start off a six-week break, and he’ll be dropping a couple of steps into easier competition. He’s won an allowance race this year and run credibly against $30,000 claimers at Delaware — third by just over a length. Most recently he ran up the track after a wide trip at Delaware, against better than these, and the top two that day have returned to win. Our search for value leads us to Seattle Prospect (#2x, part of entry, 15-1). This one’s no world beater and has lost four straight since being claimed. But this son of Slew City Slew is returning to the grass, the surface on which he’s run his three best Beyers. The stretch out in distance may also help; in his most recent, sprinting on the lawn, he was outfooted early but ran on well enough late. He’ll get blinkers, and he’s won one of two wearing shades. All in all, he’ll need to step it up, but that doesn’t feel entirely out of range here. Some others – notably Wotan and Into the Wind — fit here, but I keep coming back to Arctic Cry (#8, 12-1), whose presence here is something of a mystery. The seven year-old son of Rahy has been an awfully nice horse in his career, notably finishing a close-up second in the G3 Appleton at Gulfstream — but that was all back in 2009. He raced twice, poorly, in late 2010, and then in April 2011 made an inauspicious debut over jumps. He’s back now after a nearly 18-month layoff, showing three moderate works, and who knows what to expect from him? On the other hand, trainer Tommy Voss has attracted one of the colony’s better grass pilots in Horacio Karamanos, and if the horse returns to any kind of form at all, he’ll be a handful in here.