by Jeremy Plonk
September 1, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
August 24-30, 2020
MVP: Sleepy Eyes Todd
Owner: Thumbs Up Racing LLC
Trainer: Miguel Silva
Jockey: Carlos Delgado
Performance: Sleepy Eyes Todd led every step of the 1-1/8 miles Grade 3 $600,000 Charles Town Classic on Aug. 28. How good was he on the front end? His early two-three pursuers wound up last and next-to-last, including 5-2 favorite Mr. Money. Sleepy Eyes Todd has become America’s king of the bullring racetracks, also winning the Bosselman Gus Fonner in Nebraska in April. On the mile ovals, he’s been runner-up in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park and in the Lone Star Park Mile.
On Tap: Perhaps Sleepy Eyes Todd may fit better in the Breeders’ Cup Mile division than a run toward the Classic at 1-1/4 miles. He could conceivably look that route without a prep to early November. The Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill on Sept. 26 could be a good spot, or perhaps the fellow 1-turn mile of the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont on Oct. 3. The 1-1/8 miles Grade 2 Fayette on Oct. 10 at Keeneland would provide a 2-turn opportunity.
Honorable Mentions: At Saratoga, Win Win Win sling-shot from far back in last to motor by the field in the Aug. 29 Grade 1 Forego. He proved to be a bona fide contender in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile divisions. Channel Maker took advantage of a paceless race in the Aug. 29 Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga and never looked threatened in a nearly 6-length victory. The Bill Mott trainee may have run his best race at age 6. Selflessly ran down Sweet Melania by a nose in a thrilling Aug. 29 rendition of the Grade 3 Lake George for 3-year-old filly turfers. Jack and Noah opened up an unfathomable 8-length lead in a Saratoga turf sprint Aug. 26 and coasted home easily in the $85,000 Mahony Stakes. The Mark Casse trainee covered 5-1/2 furlongs in 1:01.28 while never in doubt. At Gulfstream Park, Breeze on By advanced to 3-for-3 with a blowout win in the second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series on Aug. 29. The Ralph Nicks trainee could earn a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile date with a stretch-out score next in the FSS.