Stakes are back! Another big weekend ahead of us here with stakes going a mile for the first time in 2017. We also have the first two year old race of the season, where the field looks like it may have a few stars in it.
The fillies and mares are first on Friday, so let’s have a look at them first.
Race 4 – $50k Red Smith Handicap
The race starts with RUFFENUFF – what decision do you make with her. She hasn’t been beat to the wire in her six race career, but looked vulnerable for the first time in her latest. The pair of SAVEITFORARAINYDAY and MISTY DO IT were getting to her in the final 16th after she posted quick opening fractions. It is possible she is long gone stretching back out, but at a very short price it may be worth having a look at some of the other options in the field. O’MAGGI looked electric when she kicked in at the head of the lane when she broke her maiden at the end of May. She is bred to handle the added ground without a problem, and should get a decent pace to try and run into. ANSTRUM looks like a live shipper from Hastings Racecourse for Monica Russell. She has never been worse than 4th, and has only missed the board once through seven starts. She was third going a route of ground in the $75k Fantasy in 2016, and now making the third start of her form cycle, should be in top shape for this one. DUMONT is an interesting shipper from Golden Gate with a trio of wins to her credit. She laid down a bullet work in her last morning drill, and appears to love the mile distance. Don’t sell her short.
Race 7 – $50k John Patrick
As the other started with RUFFENUFF, this puzzle begins with ONESTARATATIME. She does deserve a pass for her last as she may not be the best sprinter, but the jump from three to four can be tough on a lot of horses. She has three wins from four tries going a mile, but should face some legitimate pace pressure today with RAISE A DANCER in the field. I’m heading the same way as I did in the other race, and trying to beat a short price, yet logical, favorite. SMART FIX ran a good race while 4th in the Wild Rose. She was at the rear of the field early, had to wait on the turn and when she had clear sailing got up for 4th. SMART FIX has great tactical speed, and should receive an ideal trip behind ONESTARATATIME, RAISE A DANCER and CLASSYSHADESOFGREY. QUALITY LANE won the Wild Rose, and could take another step forward with the added ground in this one. She won the John Patrick in 2016.
Race 5 – $50k Ky Alta
Do you take the local horse who loves the track, or the one who just won in California on a tougher circuit for $50k? THE ALL BUTTON ships in for Peter Redekop into the barn of Monica Russell. These two sent out Annie’s Candy who won the first older stake of the season, so expect this one to be very live as well. THE ALL BUTTON has won two of three starts going this far, with the other finish being a 2nd. He is battled tested up front, pressing quick fractions and still finding more in the lane. If someone does end up taking some of the sting out of ‘BUTTON, watch for TROOPER JOHN from just off the pace. He closed smartly to win the Western Canada, getting up between horses in the shadow of the wire to score. TROOPER JOHN has proven he can handle the distance with a smashing win in the Canadian Juvenile at a mile last season.
Race 7 – $50k Spangled Jimmy
What a race this is. You can make an honest case for any horse in the field of 7. Let’s start down on the inside with KILLIN ME SMALLS. Maybe not ideally drawn next to the fence, with speed outside of him as he may have to be on the pace, and not stalk it. He does get better as the races get longer, so don’t be surprised to see him bounce back. BLUE DANCER showed that the performance at Hastings was a throw away as he race a huge race to unfortunately get topped just a half at the wire. Can handle any distance thrown his way, but will need to be quick out of the gate to find a spot. HEMLOCK CHANNEL set a track record for 6 ½ furlongs last time out, getting up in 1:15:1 to nail BLUE DANCER and Private Money Game. He is a multiple winner at seven furlongs, and has won going 1 1/16th miles – he should get a perfect trip just behind the speed today. ROYAL WARRIOR got hot last season and reeled off back to back stakes wins at Northlands. He will be hoping all three to his inside go so they can bring him into the race late. This is his season debut, so he may be a step behind in that regard. READY INTAGLIO won the Canadian Derby in 2016, and stamped himself as a legit contender for the race when he won the Ky Alta going a mile. You can likely put a line through the Journal being a sprint race, and look for him to improve. Another horse who should be in a stalking position is HOLD THE GIANT. Always shows up and gives a big effort, and comes into this one with a blazing five furlong drill under his belt. ANNIE’S CANDY won the Journal, but has never won past six furlongs in his career. Granted, he was taking on tougher in California, but there may be some distance questions here. Walcott vacates to ride the track record holder.
It should be a stellar two days of racing here at Northlands Park Racetrack and Casino, so come down and join us! First post Friday is 6:30pm, Saturday 1:00pm.