Penn Mile stakes snippets

Friday will mark the ninth running of the Grade 2 Penn Mile, which this year has a purse of $400,0000. The card is Penn National’s biggest of the year and also features five other stakes races, topped by the $150,000 Penn Oaks.

The stakes action kicks off in race 3. Here are some thoughts on the four turf stakes on the docket:

Lyphard Stakes

> $100,000, PA-bred fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles turf

The favorite in the Lyphard for PA-bred fillies and mares is Love in the Air (2-1), and what makes that most interesting is that she’s 0-for-3 on the green stuff. Her speed figs are up there at the top of this group, and we’ll have to have her on the ticket. But she’s one you can try to beat… You’ll want to keep an eye on the odds and be wary if they get much below the morning line, but if you’re willing to draw a line through her last, Maldives Model (5-1) is an interesting runner. Last fall she won an allowance on the grass and then just missed in the Maryland Million Ladies. She hasn’t seen the grass since, and her last, which was her first of the year, was a mess: wide throughout on a sloppy, sealed surface she may not have liked, she stopped and was not persevered with. Another way to look at it: maybe it was just a useful six-furlong work under race conditions. She then zipped a bullet five-eighths May 20, and back on her preferred surface, she can make amends here…

Funwhileitlasted (5-2) just missed in a couple of NY-bred stakes last summer, and if she can recapture that form, she’ll likely win here… Wildcat Cartridge (8-1) hasn’t seen much of the turf in recent years, which is too bad. She’s done arguably her best work on the grass, including a second in this event three years back…

With Anticipation Stakes

> $100,000, PA-breds 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles turf

He hasn’t raced since last November, but Missin the Big Dog (8-1) has some pretty decent efforts on the turf, and he’s 3-for-8 on it. He’s a bit below the top contenders on class. So why mention him first? Because he’s coming off a 180+-day layoff, and in the last five years, trainer Anthony Farrior is a preposterous 13-for-28 with horses off similar breaks – and an even better 12-for-22 the last three years…

Bad news for Buy Land and See (9-5): he’s finished second to Chad Brown trainees in two straight races. Good news for Buy Land and See: Brown doesn’t have a horse in the With Anticipation. This one has the best Beyers here and has kept the right sort of company and should be in a good spot here with Flavien Prat up… Wait for It (5-1) swept up to the lead before tiring to second last September in the Alphabet Soup, but it was a solid effort, and we’ve made some hay betting horses with that profile back. This guy made his first start since September in the Page McKenney April 25 at Parx, and while he didn’t have any answers, that was a rugged group. He can move forward here…

The horse who beat him in the Alphabet Soup was You Must Chill (2-1), who raced mostly on turf before switching into the Jamie Ness barn. Since, he’s run primarily on the main track, winning on both. HIs last three are among the best outings of his career, and if he brings that form back to the turf, he’ll be a handful…

Penn Oaks

> $150,000, 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile turf

The $150,000 Penn Oaks looks likely to be Haughty’s (4-5) race to lose. The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Empire Maker ran third – beaten less than a length – in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She hasn’t raced since, but if she’s right, she figures to be a handful in this spot… Brown has a pair here: also on the roster is Customer List (5-2), who’s apparently been working in company with Haughty. Customer List won at first asking last September at Monmouth but has not raced since. Interestingly, one of Brown’s go-to guys, Irad Ortiz, has the mount on Customer List, while it’s Flavien Prat who has the call on Haughty…

Belacqua (5-1) for trainer Graham Motion offers intrigue: she’ll make her first North American start in this spot. She won two of three on the synthetic in Great Britain… Trainer Mike Dini, who won this race in 2017 with Dynatail, sends out stake winner Alittleloveandluck (8-1), who took the Ginger Brew Jan. 1 at Gulfstream Park. She just missed in her last and retains pilot Paco Lopez…

Penn Mile

> Grade 2, $400,000, 3-year-olds, 1 mile turf

> Penn Mile: Hoping for a godfather-godson exacta box

You can take a shot against the chalk in the Grade 2 Penn Mile and might find yourself rewarded. The deserving favorite is Grade 2 winner Annapolis (9-5), who won the Pilgrim at Belmont last October. The Todd Pletcher trainee will have Irad Ortiz up – Ortiz is here for two mounts – which certainly is an endorsement, and has been training well enough for a barn that can get them ready to win first time off the bench… At double-digit odds on the morning line, 12-1 shot Witty presents an attractive alternative. This one has won three of four in his career, all on the main track. His last, a dominant win by almost eight in the Spectacular Bid at Laurel, might be even better than it looks: four of the runners he crushed that day won their follow-ups, and two have since won stakes. But will Witty turf? His sire Great Notion has gotten plenty of good turf runners, and this one’s half-sister Caravel is a Grade 3 winner on the lawn…

The lightly raced Fort Washington (7-2) has been second and third in two recent stakes tries for trainer Shug McGaughey, most recently second behind the undefeated Unanimous Consent, who’s 8-5 on the morning line in the G2 Pennine Ridge Saturday. You’ve gotta think a stakes win isn’t far off for this guy… He may be a touch below on class, but if pace makes the race, the speedy Uncaptured Spirit (10-1) could have something to say about the outcome. He ran a better-than-it-looks fourth in the Jimmy Murphy, winning the speed duel but losing the war. He could go farther here if the early fractions are easier…


  • Moon Colony and Julien Leparoux slipped through inside and proved best in the Grade 2 Penn Mile. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Hawkish won the Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Frostmourne led them home to win the Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Catch a Glimpse led all the way in the Grade 3 Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Force the Pass following his win in the G3 Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • A crowd watches as Bobby's Kitten makes his way to the track for the Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Stephanie, William, and Jeff Ramsey smile for victorious Bobby's Kitten after the Penn Mile. Photo by The Racing Biz.