There are only four graded stakes races across America and none of them boast a particularly star-studded or deep field, but each is competitive in its own way. Let’s take a look at each of the four.
DISCOVERY (AQU) – Race 8, Post Time: 3:44 EST
#2 BAD ACTION has been on a nice little tear over the past few months and seems to run a good race every time he goes to the post. His late kick should be pretty sharp based on the expected pace scenario and he ran a nice race going this route two back over this track. His Pegasus effort was another strong one in that he raced wide around the far turn on a track that often has a golden rail. Look for him to move from the back today, especially if the pace gets solid. #5 GONE ASTRAY is a winner of two graded stakes races in a row and has now earned three 100+ Beyer figures in a row. He is another who will benefit from the expected pace scenario in here as he does his best running from the back of the pack. #3 BIRDRUN ran an extremely fast race last time out at Belmont as he tied the track record for a mile and a sixteenth on Big Sandy. He has a great deal of early speed and should come out swinging. His lack of experience is a bit troubling and the fact that he’ll have some company on the front end makes him tough to back for the top spot.
KENNEDY ROAD (WO) – Race 8, Post Time: 4:23 EST
#1 JUNGLE WAVE is proven over the synthetic main track at Woodbine and exits a solid 3rd place finish in the Nearctic on the turf. He made the first move into a pace that really fell apart in that event and his eventual 3rd place finish was quite strong given the race flow. He’s now drawn the rail, which could prove a bit tricky, but he has done well when going turf to synthetic in the past and his early speed is a definite asset. #7 BOGUE CHITTO outfinished the top pick last time out in the Nearctic and he made a strong move in mid-stretch after diving to the rail that afternoon. He is another who has run well on the Polytrack, as his most recent effort was a second place finish behind the freakishly fast sprinter Hollywood Hit. He looms one of the best of the horses who’ll get in the mix later in the race. #6 GRAZETTES LANDING is a winner of two in a row and now jumps up in class after clearing the first two allowance conditions. He has a good running style given the way this race should play out, so look for jockey Corey Fraser to employ stalk and pounce tactics.
CARDINAL (CD), Race 9, Post Time: 4:37 EST
The first question one has to ask themself about this affair is what they’re going to do with #3 ACOMA. She is a two-time graded stakes winner over this course and prior to her last outing she was 3 for 3 on the weeds. She ran horribly in the First Lady and one of the most troubling elements of that effort was that it followed another lackluster effort in the Delaware Handicap. She might have disliked the soft turf at Keeneland and was at a pace disadvantage in the Del Cap, so there are legitimate excuses. I’m going to look for a bit of a price with #2 TIZFIZ, who won two turf stakes prior to being thrown to the wolves at Keeneland. She has enough speed to be within striking distance from the start and the Churchill turf has played kindly to speed throughout the fall meet. #5 LONG APPROACH is returning off a long layoff for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who is notoriously one of the best in the game with fresh horses, specifically on the turf. She just missed in this event a year ago and her running style makes her dangerous in here given that she doesn’t have to be far off the pace to be successful.
HOLLYWOOD PREVUE (HOL), Race 8, Post Time: 7:05 EST
All eyes are on #4 AMERICAN LION, who wsa one of the more impressive two year-0lds to run at the Keeneland fall meet. He moved forward significantly from his debut and showed a powerful turn of foot down the lane. He should be close to the early pace in here and beyond the two Bob Baffert-trained participants, it’s tough to tell how much talent there is in this field. #5 MACIAS had a terrible trip in his debut and wound up finishing a game third despite all of the issues. He rebounded to take his second start with a nifty off the pace move and then he was put in to the race a little early last time out in the Goodman. He still held on but showed what could be construed as distance limitations. It would seem that his best chance will come with him racing off the pace, so look for jockey Rafael Bejarano to change tactics a bit this afternoon. #3 INDIAN FIREWATER is another fleet-footed Baffert trainee, and like his stablemate, he needed two strts to break his maiden. His first try against winners came in a N1X at Oak Tree and he was outfinished by a rival who enjoyed a good trip from off the pace. He should give a better account of himself but rates below his stablemate.
I’ll be back with thoughts throughout the day, specifically pertaining to the Twinspires.com Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever, as 25 spots to the two biggest horse racing tournaments in the country are available. Good luck!