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Scott Shapiro: Horseshoe Indianapolis Wednesday Stakes Analysis

by Scott Shapiro

May 14, 2024

The Preakness Stakes and the tremendous two days of racing at Pimlico are this week’s headliners, but do not snooze on Horseshoe Indianapolis’ Wednesday afternoon card. Four stakes races, including the $150,000 Caesars Handicap, make it a must play for horseplayers looking to get warmed up for Black-Eyed Susan Day in Baltimore.

The Caesars Handicap goes as Race 8 on the 11-race card (10 & 11 are AQHA races) in Shelbyville with a pair of spot plays leading up to the featured event.

Undercard Spot Plays:

Race 5: #9 Contemplation (8-1 ML) has been freshened up after a pair of efforts to kick off his career at Turfway Park for Michael Stidham. Toss his debut where he broke a half step slow from the inside, rushed up, and then lost momentum costing him all chance. He ran better in his follow up start going two turns with blinkers, but I like the cutback to a sprint here. He gets the weight break with bug boy Joseph Bealmear taking the call and should get a great trip from the outside.

Race 7: The Horseshoe Indianapolis Stakes drew a full field of 3YO fillies led by 5-2-morning line choice, #11 Pounce (pictured above). The Resolute Racing filly bypassed the Edgewood Stakes (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day to run in a softer spot after being caught wide throughout in the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland on April 6th. She is the deserving top choice, but the price on #6 Gavea is llkely to be too much to pass up. The Gleneagles filly ran huge in her Stateside debut, but then put in an absolute dud in her stakes try in New York. Trainer Al Stall, Jr. has given the German-bred filly plenty of time to regroup. Hopefully, we will see the same gal we saw at Churchill Downs last September.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

Race 8: Caesars Handicap:
Grade: B
Main Ticket: 4
Backups: 7


The Caesars was won last year by Steve Asmussen conditioned Gigante. The Not This Time colt went on to win the Secretariat (G2) at Colonial Downs and earn over $900K as a three-year-old. I doubt this group has a runner of that quality, but it is a competitive bunch nonetheless led by 5-2-morning line favorite #7 Twirling Point. The Jonathan Thomas trainee has talent, but has been his own worst enemy getting off to slow starts in 3 of his first 6 races. If he breaks well, he should be able to relax just off the pace from his outside draw and out finish this bunch. That said, he is going to be a relatively short price and there is not only risk of another slow start, but also could that he could get caught wide in an early battle.

#2 First World War, #6 Oscar’s World and #8 Depiction all exit the Transylvania (G3) run at Keeneland in early April. It was an oddly run race, but as a whole I was underwhelmed. I will let this trio beat me as well as #1 Camaro Z and #9 Aspenite who both should be forward, but are unlikely to have things easy on the front end given the presence of #3 Molly’s Town. The Indiana-bred has shown strong speed sprinting on the dirt and on paper appears highly likely to set the pace under veteran Fernando De La Cruz

This year’s Caesars feels like a great chance to take a shot given the likely contentious first-half mile and logicals that are far from unbeatable, so let’s take a swing with #4 Debt Paid. Michelle Lovell claimed this colt for $50K last fall at Keeneland and has won 2 of 5 with the son of Collected since. Both wins have come over the grass, including a career best performance when caught wide throughout yet trying hard to the wire in his win in New Orleans in late March. Look for Jaime Torres to save ground early and come with a big run late at a nice price.

Good luck!