by Dustin Fabian
May 31, 2018
It’s another superstar Saturday in horse racing, with horses like Unique Bella, Paradise Woods, Pure Sensation, Analyze It, Morticia, Hogy and Vale Dori scheduled to race, you can bet this is going to be a great weekend. Nearly all of North America’s top tracks are in action - Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Laurel, Churchill, Woodbine, Belmont, Golden Gate…you’ve got them all to choose from this weekend.
Plus, there are seven stakes races at Penn National on Saturday, headlined by the Grade 2, $500K Penn Mile. They’ve got an All-Stakes Pick 4 (Races 6 – 9) and an All-Stakes Penn Pick 6, which covers races 3 – 9. They both look like great bets.
And speaking of betting, this Saturday is the perfect day to try and boost your bankroll for next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. I’ve identified five horses I can’t wait to bet from across the country (and no, I’m not using Unique Bella as a ‘free bingo square’). Check them out:
Belmont Park (Race 7, 4:46PM ET) - #6 Ascender (9/2)
Belmont’s seventh race kicks off the Late Pick 4 and I see a horse that could be worth singling in Chad Brown’s first-time-starter, #6 ASCENDER. Brown is obviously well adept with all types of horses, but continues to seem to excel most with turf routers. This field doesn’t seem to be overly deep – the favorite is #11 NEW PASS at 3/1, but she is stuck in an outside post (#11) and loses her last-out rider (Castellano) to ASCENDER. Note that a portion of the NYRA jockey colony (Irad Ortiz, John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, Manny Franco, Jose Lezcano, Tyler Gaffalione, Kendrick Carmouche) will be at Penn National, so don’t be alarmed if those guys are off horses they regularly ride at Belmont.
Santa Anita (Race 4, 5:00PM ET) - #6 Kona Coast (7/5)
KONA COAST broke his maiden last out going this trip at Santa Anita and he was claimed out of that race for $50,000 by Doug O’Neill, who does a phenomenal job with horses in their first off the claim (27%). Rafael Bejarano picks up the mount and in a small field, this horse just looks too tactical and too talented for these other horses to hang with him. And since I expect a small move-forward off the claim, I think this is a serious horse you can key in the Players’ Pick 5, which starts with Race 1.
Belmont Park (Race 9, 5:50PM ET) - #4 Analyze It (4/5)
The Pennine Ridge Stakes (Gr 3; $200K)
If Chad Brown has a big afternoon at Belmont, there’s a good chance I do too. I like his first-time-starter in the seventh, but I really love ANALYZE IT in the Pennine Ridge Stakes. To me, this horse is a budding turf superstar that is ready to explode. He’s 3-for-3 in his young career, including 2-for-2 at this Grade 3 level, but no horse has ever finished within 4 ¼-lengths of him. That said, this is the best field he’s ever faced. #3 CATHOLIC BOY and ##6 UNTAMED DOMAIN are very serious racehorses and #2 HAWKISH was also impressive in an Aqueduct allowance in April. They’ll give ANALYZE IT a run for his money, but ultimately I think ANALYZE IT stretches his record to 4-for-4 on Saturday.
Penn National (Race 7, 6:40PM ET) - #1 Classy Dancer/#1A Thewayiam (2/1)
The Penn Oaks Stakes ($200K)
Two for the price of one? Sign me up! I’ve liked THEWAYIAM throughout the first five-plus months of 2018 – she made me a lot of money at Gulfstream – and I think she’s far-and-away the most likely winner of this race. And on top of that, she’s coupled with CLASSY DANCER, who beat older fillies in a Gulfstream Park allowance race in April and was runner-up in the Honey Ryder Stakes last month. TREASURING is light on speed figures but won the Senorita Stakes at Santa Anita last month, her first win since last August. GOODTHINGSTAKETIME was 1 ½-lengths behind THEWAYIAM they finished 2nd and 3rd behind Rushing Fall in the Edgewood. Bottom line – the competition here doesn’t seem on par with THEWAYIAM.
Penn National (Race 8, 7:10PM ET) - #3 Oak Bluffs (5/1)
The Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes ($200K)
This bet is for a firm course only. OAK BLUFFS doesn’t do much on a wet course. In fact, I’ll be a little surprised if they run him if it rains. But here’s my thinking. This horse can close and close quickly. And with the likes of PURE SENSATION, RAY’SWARRIOR and MIDTOWNCHARLYBROWN in the bunch, they’re sure to go fast early. If they tire themselves out, look for OAK BLUFFS, who has the advantage of an inside post, to put in a big move late. He’s 9-for-23 at this distance and has been knocking on the door all season. He finished fourth in this race, beaten less than a length, at odds of 29/1 last June.