Wednesday, July 29
Race 2: Claiming $25,000 at 6 furlongs
1 – Hannibal Lecter
After having gone off form last summer, HANNIBAL LECTER (#1) has gradually been cycling back to his better efforts in recent starts. Three back he set a very fast pace before being run down by an in-form Star of New York, and two back he split One More Night and Attractive Ride, both of whom would be major players in this race. His last race at Parx is a little better than it looks on paper since he was racing in an uncomfortable position between horses for much of the way before getting shut off at the top of the stretch.
I love the switch to Javier Castellano, who should use this horse’s speed from the inside post position. Unless Bellamy Brew regains his early zip, there really isn’t a confirmed frontrunner in here. I expect Hannibal Lecter to be involved from the bell and think he has a chance to spring the mild upset.
$15 Win 1
$2 Exacta Key Box 1 with 2,3,4 (Payout: $19.00)
Race 3: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf
6 – Magical Connection
The two horses to beat in the second race are Ackerman Road, who drops out of tougher maiden special weight races, and Horsetailspeedster, who actually faced a decent field at Ellis Park in his debut and is a half to a couple of talented turf runners.
However, both are speed types and there is no shortage of frontrunners in this race. For that reason, I’ve gone in a different direction and will take first time turfer MAGICAL CONNECTION (#6) .
Magical Connection also drops out of tougher maiden special weight races, albeit on dirt. He can rate, and made an eye-catching middle move last time before falling apart late. There is some turf pedigree to be found here since he’s a half-brother to a turf sprint winner and his full sibling never won on turf, but preferred it to dirt. He had a solid turf workout a couple of weeks ago and I think this one is set for an improved performance today.
$15 Win 6
$4 Exacta Key Box 6 with 1,3
Race 5: Starter Allowance $50,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
12 – Hail Cornell
This race is pretty wide open, but I believe that if my selection shows up with her best effort and gets the right kind of ride, she’ll be tough to hold off.
HAIL CORNELL (#12) is a horse that absolutely hates the whip, and she reacts negatively to it by slowing down rather than running faster. I think Junior Alvarado is an excellent rider, but he never seemed to understand that whipping Hail Cornell was actually preventing her from giving her best effort. Watch what happens when Junior starts to hit her in the stretch of each of her last three races to see what I mean. Her most recent race is perhaps the best example since she was probably going to win had he not aggravated her with the whip in the final eighth of a mile.
Obviously, I don’t mind the trainer switch to Joe Sharp, but what really interests me is the switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr. Irad is a rider who is very economical with his use of the whip and often doesn’t resort to it at all if his mount is giving its best without the need of more encouragement. If Irad has watched tapes of Hail Cornell, I’m confident he’ll see exactly what I saw and refrain from whipping her. If that’s the case, I believe she’ll win. There’s pace in here to set up her late kick and her good races make formidable.
$15 Win/Place 12
$2 Exacta Key Box 12 with 3,7,9,11
Race 8: Allowance N1X at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for NY-breds
8 – Raffies Bay
My thinking here is that, while RAFFIES BAY (#8) might not be the most likely winner, he will offer significant value at a price of 10/1 or greater. He has had traffic issues in two of his last three races and I don’t believe he’s any less likely to win this race than Jax Heritage, who will be a much shorter price. Raffies Bay is not the easiest horse to ride, but if Junior Alvarado can work out a trip, I believe he’ll have a shot to upset at a price.
$10 Win/Place 8
$2 Exacta Key Box 8 with 1,4,9