We have a busy day of stakes action today so, without further ado, we will head straight to Santa Anita for a card that showcases two Grade 1 events, both over a mile and worth $400,000. One thing every horse racing at Santa Anita today will need is the ability to handle heat as temperatures are predicted to be in the high 90s.
The Vanity Mile for 3 year old and up fillies and mares on the dirt has a red hot favorite in the impressive form of Beholder. Her Morning Line Price of 1/5 looks mighty skinny but the quality of her form figures is beyond dispute. She has won her last 7 races and 16 out of 21 in total and has recorded Beyers in excess of 110.
In addition, one of her principle rivals, Taris, who was so impressive in the Humana Distaff, looks likely to skip the race in favor of the Triple Bend Stakes at the end of the month. The other danger, Stellar Wind (ML 3/1), has some top form against her name including a grade 1 win in the Santa Anita Oaks but has not raced since last October and the mile trip is a bit on the short side for her.
The other four runners look out of their depth at this distance and are, accordingly, double digit odds. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to look beyond the favourite, Beholder.
The other Grade 1 on the card is the Shoemaker Mile for 3 year olds and up on the turf. The winner gets a guaranteed fees paid entry to the Breeders Cup Mile.
Heart to Heart is the ML favorite at 9/5 and, if you are looking for an ultra-consistent horse that regularly returns Beyers in excess of 100, then this is the horse for you. He has only been beaten by one horse (Miss Temple City) in three starts this year and he was giving her 7 pounds and she is deemed good enough to contest the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Heart to Heart is a natural front runner so has the plum draw in stall one. Although he has yet to win a grade 1, that is a comment you can level at the opposition. If jockey Leparoux can control the fractions from the front, it is difficult to see beyond Heart to Heart. However, if there is hard competition for the lead from Midnight Storm and possibly Tourist, then Twentytwentyvision could pick up the pieces.
On to Penn National, which stages a fine card including four stakes races, which unusually comprise the first four races on the card (due to a track lighting issue). The highlight is the Penn Mile, a turf race for three year olds worth a cool $500,000. Seven horses face the starter for this valuable grade 3 event.
Mark Casse could well hold the key to this race as he saddles two of the fancied horses in Catch a Glimpse and Airoforce. Both are very talented individuals but they have had very different fortunes this year. While Catch a Glimpse is unbeaten in three outings, Airoforce has been the bookies friend, losing his three starts, each time as favorite.
With Catch a Glimpse facing the boys for the first time (and plenty short enough at an ML of 2/1) and Airoforce seemingly out of sorts (though may get the race run to suit), it may pay to look elsewhere. Beach Patrol looks to represent a bit of value. He has been running consistently well of late and his head second to Camelot Kitten in the American Turf is probably the best piece if form in the race.
In a classy undercard, Ben’s Cat will be making his fifth appearance in the Governor’s Cup, in which he has finished first, third, fourth and second respectively. Although he is now 10, age does not seem to have diminished his ability so far as he is unbeaten in his two starts this year.
Our last race under the spotlight is Belmont’s Pennine Ridge, a grade 3 race for three year olds over a mile and an eighth of the inner turf track. The Morning Line favourite among the 10 starters is Camelot Kitten at 8/5 on the back of his brave win in the American Turf. Following a few runs where it looked like he wasn’t putting it all in, blinkers proved successful in the American Turf and they are kept on today.
Camelot Kitten certainly has a great chance on Beyer ratings but he did get the run of the race in the American Turf with a very strong pace and there looks to be a shortage of that attribute on this occasion. At the ML price, he looks vulnerable and Hammers Vision looks a useful play at the ML price of 8/1. He is back against his own age group and ran better than the bare form suggests.