Rob's Picks and Analysis for July 12, 13, Preview of Derby weekend stakes
I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs dealing with “what ifs” and speculating on things that could happen three weeks down the road on Manitoba Lotteries Derby weekend.
Five stakes races highlight what will be a high handle, high attendance, and high energy weekend of live thoroughbred action. These include the $30,000 Winnipeg Sun Stakes, the $30,000 Graduation Stakes, the $30,000 R.J. Speers Stakes, the $50,000 Assiniboia Oaks and of course the $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby. Each race, in its own unique manner, has a different aura about it, and in all but one division is there no a clear standout, which makes the races even more intriguing. Let’s take a closer look.
The Winnipeg Sun Stakes is a 1 1/16-mile race for older fillies and mares on Saturday August 3, and is the only division that truly has a standout in the Jim Meyaard trained Lil Missknowitall. She won both the La Verendrye Stakes and the Canada Day Stakes by open lengths and has now won five races in a row stretching back to her Oaklawn Park and Fonner Park races.
Golden Stripe, who has finished second in the last two stakes to Lil Missknowitall, may have a choice of races on August 3, as the Distaff Trial allowance race is also that day. That $12,000 allowance most certainly will be a softer spot, and the winner of the Distaff Trial receives $1,200 more than the runner-up in the Winnipeg Sun Stakes. The Distaff Trial would be the first meeting between Golden Stripe and defending 3-year-old filly champ She’s Regal.
The decision on Golden Stripe probably comes down to how her stablemate Key to Glory runs in the R.C. Anderson Stakes on Saturday night. A good performance and she would probably target the Assiniboia Oaks on the same weekend. If she doesn’t run well, she’ll probably go in the Distaff Trial, leaving Golden Stripe to run in the Winnipeg Sun Stakes. That’s a nice option to have for Shelley Brown and K5 Stables.
As far as new contenders and invaders go for the Winnipeg Sun Stakes, it’s difficult to see any Northlands Park mares coming, as they have the $50,000 Mademoiselle Stakes the same weekend. The mares from Canterbury would probably prefer to run in rich allowance races at home rather than take on Lil Missknowitall in her current form. So the field will most likely be local and consist of Lil Missknowitall, Jilleah, City Splash, Hello, A.P. Diva and probably Golden Stripe. It certainly looks like Lil Missknowitall’s race to lose, but stranger things have happened.
The Graduation Stakes is for 2-year-olds going 5 ½-furlongs. The two strong local contenders at this moment definitely look like Maddie’s Gold who was ultra-impressive breaking his maiden, running a 63 Beyer in a lightning quick 53 1/5. Megatron Ruler ran second to Maddie’s Gold that day but did come back on Wednesday and win by open lengths under a hand ride. Those two look much the best for the locals, but we have only seen three 2-year-old races so far. Regal Silver for K5 Stables and Shelley Brown looked sharp in her 2-year-old win, but ran much slower than the top two.
Looking towards the west and south at Northlands Park and Canterbury Park there have been a few horses that might show some interest in a trip in for the Graduation Stakes. Greg Tracy is hardly a stranger to the ASD winner’s circle and he has won several 2-year-old races in Edmonton and Vancouver. Look for a horse like True Thought, who sizzled on Wednesday night at Northlands Park, to possibly take a shot at the Graduation Stakes.
Canterbury Park could offer Idiling for Don Schnell, who is another familiar name from years past. He has a handful of 2-year-olds and a few of them have had promising debuts. And who knows if Charlie Smith has another Miss Missile waiting in the wings. Wouldn’t that be a treat! The Graduation Stakes really is a guessing game right now, but Maddie’s Gold and Megatron Ruler sure were impressive.
The R.J. Speers Stakes became a race on the radar for trainers when Balooga Bull lost the Wheat City. Pleasant Closing obviously will be the favorite locally with normal contenders such as Gotatigerbythetail, Cherokee’s Goal and Ran the Man as definite possibilities. Balooga Bull is the question mark, but I would hazard a guess that he will be in the R.J. Speers and he very likely could turn it around. Remember he did lose his first route race last year as well, but do you remember what he did in the Manitoba Derby. How effective the Bull will be from a betting perspective will be a guess likely made in the paddock or post parade, but at this time last week was the best horse on the grounds. Does one start make him a write off?
As for invaders, a horse like Inhisglory could try the R.J. Speers again. Greg Tracy also has Clear the Runaway and Bond James Bond, who have forms that would certainly make them competitive in the race. Up Jumps a Monster for Winnipegger Rob Chabot would also make sense, as he has been in a little tough at Northlands and could use a trip to the winner’s circle. I Am Awesome has been running without much success at Churchill and Lone Star and if Barry Arnason decides to send him back to Winnipeg he did run third in the R.J. Speers last year. So the invaders really are just familiar faces coming home. Since Balooga Bull got beat this looks to be a wide open horse race and that should make it a fun one for the fans.
The Assiniboia Oaks is another race that has yet to really take shape. Portales and Canaveral Leader both shipped in to run 1-2 in the Chantilly Stakes, but neither has really been tested going the one mile distance. Magical Powder, who ran third in the Chantilly Stakes for Gary Danelson, certainly looks like the local filly that will go the route of ground with the most ease. The two Manitoba-breds in the R.C. Anderson Stakes Saturday, TG Stable’s Arstar and K5 Stable’s A Key to Glory, could also be factors.
Other local contenders for the Oaks might include Two Barrel Tootie and Bubba’s My Name, but neither has seriously tried a route of ground before. The invaders could be tough again. Portales has every right to get better going a mile and Canaveral Leader, along with most of the other Alberta-bred fillies, will be avoiding Tell Me Lies for Greg Tracy. Tell Me Lies could also be considered for the Oaks after she runs in the Alberta Sale Stakes on July 19. She did win the Chariot Chaser over Canaveral Leader in June.
Tempe for Don Schnell was nominated for the Chantilly and Agent Scully for Robertino Diodoro was nominated to the Harry Jeffrey Stakes. She has not run since running second in the Scottsdale Handicap on the turf beaten a nose while carrying four more pounds than the winner. She has been working steadily at Canterbury Park and loves a route of ground. If she does run in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes against the colts next week I think she will be very live, and by extension she would be my pick for the Oaks at this moment. If not Agent Scully I’d lean towards Magical Powder right now.
The highlight of the weekend is the $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby. Convincingly won by Balooga Bull last year, it should be a wide open this year.
Smart Promotion was impressive for Robertino Diodoro in an NW1X allowance race Wednesday, defeating defending 2-year-old champ Jon Q. Smart Promotion won despite jumping a shadow in early stretch and racing greenly. Jon Q is looking for a pace setup and he might finally get one here.
The Harry Jeffrey Stakes next Wednesday should sort a few things out with regards to the Manitoba Lotteries Derby. Stormin Monarcho will probably be the overwhelming favorite off his Golden Boy Stakes win. He has been working well at Canterbury Park and would be a formidable contender. The Harry Jeffrey should also include Zaccheus, Stormin Along and Have it My Way, all of whom carry local hopes.
Invaders should be tough in the Derby, starting obviously with Smart Promotion and Stormin Monarcho, but Just Win Baby could be a name mentioned as B.E.A Holdings already has horses with Marvin Buffalo here and Just Win Baby will be looking to avoid Broadway Empire, who looks like he will horrify the Alberta 3-year-olds after venturing north from California for Robertino Diodoro. Just Win Baby did run second in the Ky Alta Handicap but he was beaten by 7 ¼- lengths.
The Manitoba Lotteries Derby could attract contenders from all over. Right now it looks like a wide open race to cap off a great weekend of stakes action that is only three weeks away!
Rob’s Best Bets and Weekend Longshots:
Record-to-Date: 8-5-2 from 29 starts
Wagered: $198.00 Returned: $142.20 Profit: $-55.80
Friday Best Bet: Race 5 – She’s Regal
Friday Longshot: Race 7 – Betterinthebahamas
Saturday Best Bet: Race 3 – A Key to Glory
Saturday Longshot: Race 5 – Moved to Perma
Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, 2013