In Focus: Presque Isle Mile
Ghost Hunter. Photo by The Racing Biz.
The MATCH Series three-and-up dirt route division reaches its conclusion in this $200,000 event. But none of the runners here have started in enough prior Series races to qualify for bonuses.
In fact, the lone divisionsal runner to have made the requisite three starts in MATCH Series races is Page McKenney, who will finish with 22 points to earn divisional honors. Page McKenney, trained by Mary Eppler for Adam Staple and Jalin Stable, won the Salvator Mile, ran second in the Iselin Stakes, and was third in the Monmouth Cup, all at Monmouth Park.
Page McKenney currently is tied for third with Oak Bluffs (one race left) in the overall standings, behind Jessica Krupnick (34 points, division completed) and Laki (23, one race to go). But several other runners with nearly as many points still have a race to go, so he is not likely to finish in that spot.
RACE 6 – PRESQUE ISLE MILE
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 6 (7:30pm EDT), $200,000 guaranteed purse for 3yo and up, 1 mile (synthetic)
1. Ghost Hunter (KY) – 10/1: Veteran campaigner owns 19 career wins, nine of ’em on the synthetic… Was a well-beaten runner-up in this event last year and enters here with a couple of local losses in which he was second and third… Won a G3 on the turf last year but recent stakes tries don’t rise to that level… Ness trainee will need to step it up here
2. Decorated Soldier (KY) – 3/1: Ran a big one in last, taking ’em gate-to-wire to win the G3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine… Has won two straight and three of four but likely to be one of several in the early pace mix here
3. Beyond Smart (PA) – 15/1: Was up late to win the PA-bred Leematt S. three back… Ability to close, including that day into slow early pace, a major plus in a race with plenty of early types… Couldn’t quite get it done in last vs. optional claiming types but is showing a couple of zippy 3f works in the interim
4. Gigantic Breeze (ON) – 6/1: Dominated this event a year ago and followed that up with a G2 win… Recent efforts haven’t been bad but haven’t quite been good enough though… Veteran jockey Mario Pino, who’s done well here in very limited racing this year while focusing on DEL, comes in for this event – and followed this runner to Woodbine for latest… Pace projects to be strong early, which could play to this one’s strengths…
5. Don’t Be So Salty (FL) – 8/1: Tiz Wonderful gelding loves PID (six wins from nine starts locally) and has had a super-productive local 2018, with five wins and a second from six starts… He’s won three straight by a combined 11+ lengths… Has been thriving at sprint distances, and with other speed signed up, this looks like a tough spot to try first two-turn race in over a year… Jock-trainer combo has been lethal — 41 percent in the last two months…
6. Mr. Buff (NY) – 12/1: SCRATCHED
7. Matrooh (KY) – 9/2: Formful sort has made just a single start on synthetic, but that one worked out pretty well: a rallying win in the G3 Hanshin at Arlington… Has continued to run well since, including a show effort in the G1 Stephen Foster, and looks likely to get a pace scenario favorable to unleashing his late kick.. Regular pilot Santo Sanjur makes the trip for a runner showing a bullet five-furlong move 10 days ago in preparation…
8. Black Tie Event (FL) – 30/1: Successful local runner is another who’ll be forwardly placed but looks to be up against it in this field
9. Tale of the Nile (KY) – 30/1: First off the claim for this Pioneerof the Nile gelding for trainer Nick Caruso, who’s one-for-20 with first-time claims… Winless thus far in ’18 and has finished behind several of today’s rivals… Did run fourth in last November’s G2 Autumn at Woodbine, behind #4 in here…
10. Pioneer Spirit (KY) – 4/1: Pricey son of Malibu Moon makes his first start on synthetic in this spot, entering off a win in a $100k stake at IND… Formful sort is one of several in here with early zip; he’s been on the lead at the first call in nine of 10… Has run well on dirt and turf, suggesting synthetic might work too…One of two mounts on the card for Florent Geroux… Trainer Brad Cox is having a big year and is 29 percent with horses in ungraded stakes…
11. Coltrane (KY) – 20/1: SCRATCHED
12. Nipigon (ON) – 12/1: Woodbine shipper has won two straight locally but stakes tries on the page suggest this will be a heavy lift… Bested #1 and #11 in here last out… Trainer Rachel Harden has made just 31 starts this year… Just fourth start of the year for this son of Niigon… Will need a big one
13. Carissimo (KY) – 30/1: Set to draw in after two scratches… Trainer Lance Stokes has been tearing it up at the meet (28 percent winners with a positive ROI)… Runner has won three of four going two turns on synthetic and with just eight starts under his belt still has some upside… The bad news: regular pilot Gallardo picks #1 in here… Will likely be looking to run on late in this event… He’ll need to take a big step forward to contend here, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he outran long odds
- #7 Matrooh (9-2): Strong recent form and figures to get congenial pace scenario
- #10 Pioneer Spirit (4-1): Somebody’s gonna have to emerge from the early pace tussle, and the presence of Geroux here suggests this guy might be the real deal
- #4 Gigantic Breeze (6-1): Recent form not quite up to ’17, but presence of vet Pino in the irons a good sign; plenty of early types will give him his best shot to run on late
- #13 Carissimo (30-1): Overcame dawdling early fractions in latest; will need best effort