Race of the Day: Ellis Park Turf Stakes

We may take a few weeks off of handicapping full race cards, but we will offer a race or two of our favorite races on certain days. Obviously, we did handicap 10 races on Saturday. We had three winners, but we hit big with Athena in the Belmont Oaks at Belmont Park. The Aidan O’Brien trainee returned $44.30 for just $1 across the board, and we touted the exacta, too, which paid a handsome $137.25 for just $1 wager.

Today’s select race is the 8th at Ellis Park — the Ellis Park Turf Stakes, going 11/8-miles over the Pea Patch sod. It is an interesting event, and here’s how we score it:

  1. I Remember Mama (6): This one sports a 8-1 ML odds, but I don’t think it will stay there, by any stretch. Still, she could be a longer shot on the board and I think may not only be one of the best bets in the race, but our “Upset Special.” This 4YO daughter of Ghostzapper (and you know how much we love that sire) is lightly raced. She has just four career starts in her resume, with only one time in the gate this year before today. But she has never been worse than third, and that loss came by a grand total of a half-length. There are three things to like about her today, IMO: a) She broke her maiden over this same grass course a year ago, so she obviously has a liking to it; b) She is coming off a nice win at Churchill Downs on June 8 in her first start of the year; c) She has a nice closing pace, in a race that is loaded — it appears — with front end speed candidates. Trained by a guy who is winning with .32% so far this year with 60 starters, and he hits with .39% of those making the second start off a layup. Watch out here.
  2. Bonnie Arch (8): This 5YO Regal Ransom mare won her last time out at Churchill Downs on June 14 in a much tougher race than our preferred choice. She stalked the pace that day and came running at the wire to grab the win with Chris Landeros in the saddle. Like the top pick, she has a win over this track and she got off to a great start to her career — hitting the board in 4 of the first 5 starts and the lone miss was a fourth. After a little rough patch, it looks like she may have found her best stride again in the last out. Trainer hits with .17% of those returning after a win and with .13% on the grass.
  3. Burma Road (7): This is another from the barn of Ian Wilkes, who just finished a very nice meet at Churchill Downs. Had a Stakes winner this week out at Prairie Meadows with his son-in-law/rider Landeros, too. This one has been running against much tougher foes, facing Stakes caliber types in four of the last five tries. Had a win two back in the lone allowance appearance. This is another one who likes the front end, and she gets Calvin Borel back in the saddle. They teamed up to win two back. Ran fourth, tiring late, in this race a year ago.
  4. Dubara (1): This 4YO filly will be making her NA debut for a trainer who hits with .25% of those making the but with the trainer, and with .18% of those shipping to the U.S. Hasn’t run since last fall, but did have some nice appearances at Newmarket in English Stakes company. If she can come off the bench and duplicate the races two and three back, she will be salty in this spot and could certainly contend in this field. Gets Lasix for the first time and an English rider, to boot.

I bet the 6-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 6-1 over/under the 7-8 in two more.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean