Our pick-4 play on the Memorial Day NY-bred card at Belmont hit for $232 so let’s come back with the Penn Derby Pick-4 today at Penn National.
Race 6 – Penn Oaks ($200k) – 3yo fillies, 1 mile, turf – #2 Dynatail (8-1) has run some pretty good races in fast paced heats – the Florida Oaks and Hilltop both fell apart and she was on fast fractions. Last time, she held in pretty well to just miss, two weeks ago at Pimlico. She might have to sit off #3 Romantic Music (15-1), but Dynatail is a contender that figures to be overlooked going out for under-the-radar trainer Mike Dini. #4 Party Boat (3-1) for Graham Motion won the Memories of Silver last time (defeating Dynatail) and has a versatile running style that should lead to her getting a good trip. The horse she beat was seventh in the Soaring Softly last Saturday at Belmont. I thought Party Boat’s race on March 4th in the Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream was ok but she was aided by a clean trip in a race where others had trouble. #7 Adorable Miss (2-1) looked beaten on the turn in a small stakes at Gulfstream on May 6th, but swept by in the last furlong to win going away. She quickened late to beat those rivals, but being by Kitten’s Joy out of a Mineshaft dam, she might want more ground than this flat mile. But she was impressive. #6 Spanish Harlem (8-1) has one turf start, a soft-turf second to stakes-caliber Sophie Germain (who hasn’t been out since that debut for Chad Brown). They wanted to run Spanish Harlem on turf last time but got rained off but she’s by More Than Ready and is sneaky enough in an open race to use. Finally, #1 Noble Ready (5-2) ran ok for second behind Adorable Miss last time and the flat mile versus the 8.5 furlongs of the last one might help her. She’s second off the layoff and her two year old races were good enough to give her a shot.
So we just listed all the contenders (thanks for nothing!). How to narrow? Our top three are Dynatail, Party Boat, and Adorable Miss. We’ll use the other contenders as Cs.
A – 2, 4, 7
B – none
C – 1, 6
Race 7 – Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup ($200k) – 5 furlongs, turf – This race features two of the top turf sprinters in the country in #2 Richard’s Boy (2-1), winner of the Turf Sprint at Pimlico two weeks ago, and #7 Rainbow Heir (5-2), second in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on the Pegasus undercard January 28th. #1 Ready For Rye (5-1) has some back races but hasn’t run since November and likely needs one. #9 Bold Thunder (8-1) would have been contender here two years ago, but wasn’t the same horse last year.
The top two are tough to separate, but it will take both running poorly for an upsetter.
A – 2, 7
B – none
C – none
Race 8 – Mountainview ($200k) – 9 furlongs, dirt – #1 Madefromlucky (2-1) is a grinder that adds blinkers for Todd Pletcher. He was ridden hard early in his last two starts, both at Oaklawn. We’re just not big fans of this horse though he is a contender. #5 Page McKenney (9-5) is a likable veteran gelding (18-47) who tuned up for this winning an allowance race at Parx. He ran well two-back when inexplicably ridden hard up a bad rail at Laurel but missed a start in the Charles Town Classic, where he was second last year. He should get a good trip stalking the pace and had three wins at the distance, but can he get back to the 100+ Beyer Speed Figures he was running last year, which might be required to win this race? And do you want to find out at 9-5? Our top pick is #4 Matt King Coal (7-2), who probably won’t be 7-2 but even at 3-1 is a fair price. He ran an enormous race last time in the Charles Down Classic, forging a super-fast pace which fell apart. He was just caught late by Imperative, who had a perfect trip. We think he might be a touch better going 8 or 8.5 furlongs, but he has a versatile style and can win at nine, which he’ll be asked to do here. Our backup will be #2 Virtual Machine (6-1) for Dave Cannizzo. He ran a big race in the Westchester last time, pressing a pretty strong pace and led into the lane before being inhaled by Connect, who would have been favored in next Saturday’s Met Mile (he was unfortunately injured and will miss the race). Nine furlong is a question (though he is by Drosselmeyer out of an Aptitude mare), but if they let him go, maybe he gets brave. Still, we’re mostly all in on Matt King Coal.
A – 4
B – none
C – 2
Race 9 – Penn Mile (G2) – 3 yo, 1 mile, turf – #3 Time to Travel (8-1) is our top selection. He makes his turf bow for Michael Matz and is bred to love the grass, being by Hard Spun and a full sibling to Hard Not to Like, a turf grade 1 winner for Christophe Clement. He ran very well in two fast-paced races – the Lexington and Sir Barton – on dirt. He should improve switching to grass and getting back to a flat mile here. #7 Big Score (5-2) is the horse to beat. He ran well to win the Transylvania two-back and ran fine in the American Turf on the Derby undercard last time. This is an easier spot. #8 Frostmourne (3-1) is a talented runner for Clement who was on the pace in the Woodhaven at Aqueduct last time, just missing to Secretary at War in a good stretch battle. He can rate, and will probably have to do so here with speed to his inside. Those are the main three, but we’ll use a little bit of #6 Holiday Stone (12-1), who perhaps didn’t handle the going at Churchill last time, but has other races good enough, especially the Kitten’s Joy and Columbia over the winter when he had wide trips from poor posts. He’ll be overlooked in the betting.
A – 3, 7
B – 6, 8
C – none
Here’s the play (DRF Ticketmaker):