LOOKING AHEAD: TODAY’S RACING
Midlantic-breds in graded stakes
- Mor Spirit, the Pennsylvania-bred ranked second among three-year-olds in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll, is 12-1 on the morning line for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby this afternoon. The Bob Baffert trainee will have Gary Stevens in the irons.
- Tom’s Ready, another Pennsylvania-bred ranked third among three-year-olds on that same poll, is 30-1 on the Derby morning line. The Dallas Stewart runner is slated to have Brian Hernandez up.
- Pennsylvania-bred Spelling Again is 15-1 on the morning line in today’s Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. Trained by Brad Cox, the daughter of Awesome Again will have Luis Saez aboard.
- Bred in Virginia, American Dubai is 20-1 on the morning line for the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile (formerly the Derby Trial) at Churchill Downs this afternoon. The sophomore E Dubai colt is trained by Rodney Richards and will be ridden by Francisco Torres.
Stakes in the region
Trainer John Servis has already had a terrific weekend. His Cathryn Sophia romped to a decisive win in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks Friday, silencing her critics and reestablishing her position among the top fillies of her generation.
It could get better. Back at his Parx Racing base, on Saturday, he’ll send out the favorite in one stake and the second choice in another, as the track celebrates Kentucky Derby weekend with a trio of added-money events.
The most intriguing of the three stakes, the six furlong, $100,000 My Juliet Stakes, has drawn eight betting interests, including two entries. Servis’ Four Inch Heels earns the nod as the 5-2 morning line fave. The Afleet Alex filly enters with five consecutive wins, including four since Servis claimed her. She’ll have Frankie Pennington up in what will be her first start since December.
Joshua Navarro, who rode her in three of those wins, will be aboard Hey Kiddo (7-2), a Ramon Preciado trainee who won the Roamin Rachel over the strip last October but has not raced since December. Other contenders include Nellie Morse winner Love Came to Town (5-1); Disco Chick (4-1), recently runner-up in two Laurel stakes; and She’s Hot Wired (10-1), winner of two of three.
One race prior, Servis will send out Miss Inclusive (5-2) in the $100,000 Parx Oaks at one mile 70 yards. The sophomore Include filly recently defeated allowance foes over the strip.
Her top rival — in fact, the favorite — is ultra-impressive Eighth Wonder (8-5). The Dee Curry trainee won the first three starts of her career by a combined 22 lengths but has not raced since winning the restricted Donna Freyer Stakes on November 15 and has never raced beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. Curry scratched the Pioneerof the Nile filly out of a recent allowance test, but bringing her back off a long break to travel a route distance is no easy task.
Servis will not be represented in the $100,000 Parx Derby, also at one mile 70 yards, which goes as race five. The favorite in that event will be Abiding Star (7-5), who certainly figures best. The Ned Allard trainee won the Private Terms at Laurel Park impressively, prompting his connections to supplement to the Triple Crown with an eye towards the Preakness, only to have that dream dashed by the ongoing equine herpesvirus outbreak, which placed the track under quarantine. Just under a month ago, Abiding Star faced his elders for the first time in an allowance test and romped to an eight-length win, running his win streak to four. J. D. Acosta will ride.
- Jerry Robb trainee Anna’s Bandit made short work of her rivals in a $40,000 maiden special weight test for two-year-olds Friday at Laurel Park. The West Virginia-bred Great Notion filly, ridden here in her debut by Eric Camacho, pressed the early pace of Next Street before disposing of that one and romping to a six-length win. Running time for the 4 1/2 furlongs was 53.48 seconds over a sloppy, sealed track. The win was one of two on the afternoon for Robb.
- The drop from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company did the trick for Zen’s Land, who romped to a 10-length win under Angle Cruz in race three. The Mizzen Mast gelding, trained by Larry Murray, had lost his first three starts, but kicked away nicely in the lane to win in a solid 1:40.46 for one mile. Trainer Jane Cibelli claimed him for $40,000 out of the race.
- New York shippers enjoyed a productive afternoon at Laurel. Special Treat, a Phipps Stable runner trained by Shug McGaughey, broke her maiden with a half-length score in a $40,000 maiden special weight test in race eight, and Linda Rice’s High Ridge Road won off by nine at 3-10 odds in a $45,000 allowance contest in the ninth.
- Jockey Wilmer Garcia enjoyed a productive evening at Penn National, scoring three times. He took the opener when piloting odds-on choice Go Go Romeo to a score in claiming company. Then he took race six, guiding Anita Marie to a front-running, six-length victory, and race seven with Precious Franca. Garcia is eighth in the colony with 23 wins so far in 2016.