The big Belmont Stakes weekend of racing happens next weekend and that’s chock-full of graded-stakes races. This weekend we’ll focus on some solid stakes races for three-year-olds at Penn National on one of their biggest days of their racing year. Let’s get started.
Penn National – Race 4 – The New Start
The New Start is a sprint stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6-furlongs. Our morning line favorite is Ultimate Mo who’s coming off a sloppy-track win at Churchill Downs. Her only other win also happened on a sloppy track and I think she’s a bad bet at 5-2 because it’s unlikely she’ll catch another sloppy track on Saturday.
After taking a long look at this speed-laden field, I LOVE Gotta Be Strong at 9-2 morning line. Gotta Be Strong is running for the red-hot trainer Jamie Ness who’s winning at a 53% rate at Penn National this season and more-importantly cuts back in distance from her last start. In addition, she’s got the strongest closing speed figure and at 9-2 I think is worth a long look.
Penn National – Race 5 – The Danzig
The Danzig is the male-counterpart to the New Start – a 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-old colts and it drew an interesting field from graded stakes sprinters to first-time-starters. Call Paul is our morning line favorite and will be tough to beat off his races in graded stakes company and I’m not going to try to beat him here. I do have some interesting horses to complete the exacta and trifecta though.
Puttheglassdown is 12-1 and coming off a November layoff for trainer Jerimiah Englehart who is having a solid year. He’s been working strongly and his trainer wins 23% of layoff races. I like him to play a factor in the outcome here.
Penn National – Race 10 – The Penn Oaks
The Penn Oaks is a rare $200,000 ungraded stakes race and for that kind of money you’d think it would’ve attracted a stronger field. Our morning line favorite is Regal Glory for super-trainer Chad Brown and I don’t see anyone here strong enough to run with her. She’s had more success running in graded stakes races than any others and the others simply don’t look as classy.
Afleet Destiny is an interesting horse to add to your exotics wagers. She’s turf-bred and has a nice closing kick. If she ends up taking to the grass, 12-1 should offer some nice value.
Penn National – Race -11 – The Penn Mile (Grade 2)
This is the marquee event of the night and of the racing season at Penn National. Our morning line favorite is A Thread of Blue at 5-2 for Kiaran McGlaughlin and I don’t like him here. While he’s been consistent lately, his trainer has a knack for failing in big spots and there are others I feel are coming into the race with similar figures who should offer more value. He received no pace pressure in his most recent race and he’s going to get some here.
I like Casa Creed at current odds. Casa Creed exits the same race as A Thread of Blue but as the latter walked on the front end, the former had no pace to close into. He’s coming into this race second off a layoff and he should be primed for a top effort for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Junior Alvarado who are a formidable duo.
The Black Album (Fr), exits the same race and was also compromised by a lack of pace. Anything close to 15-1 is a great bet on this closer. Empire of War races for trainer Todd Pletcher and I wouldn’t be surprised if he changes tactics a bit. He has the ability to win from off the pace and actually defeated A Thread of Blue last fall in the Awad Stakes at Aqueduct.