Let’s go north to Canada where Woodbine will run two key Breeders Cup prep races – the Summer for juvenile turf males and the Natalma for juvenile turf fillies. Both are one-turn miles on the sweeping Woodbine layout.
Summer Stakes – Race 6 – This race features a few horses stretching out in distance after winning sprint races near the front end and should feature pretty contested pace. Even if a few of the potential speeds rate, which is possible, we’ll still prefer a horse that has experience over a route of ground. That horse is #8 Empirically (8-1) for trainer Roy Lerman (who is looking for his first win of the year). Empirically probably wants even more ground than this – his half-sister Evidently is a solid turf-marathoner. His debut race was solid, though he had a very good trip inside and was DQ’d when coming out in the last furlong. Still, we expect today’s race to set up well for him and he should be a better price than the other logical closer, #1 Untamed Domain (7-2). He’s been a deep closer, but could be closer today adding blinkers. He had some tricky trips in his first two starts but had a pretty clean run in the With Anticipation last time. He was OK in there but it wasn’t a great performance by any stretch.
Natalma Stakes – Race 9 – It’s not too often where you can get Chad Brown at 6-1 and we’ll try #1 Dooder (6-1) in here with that in mind. Dooder is a New York-bred, who ran very well to win her debut race at Saratoga on August 10th against fellow NY-breds. In there, she made the first move while wide after the favorite, then had to wait for a bit in the lane, finally diving back inside and got up to win. It was a pretty solid effort. Our question revolves around the fact that the horses to come out of her debut win to run back did so and saw their figures drop – the runner-up Codrington won a race 15 days later and saw her figure drop 15 points. That is a bit of a concern, but that was on short rest, and visually we still liked Dooder’s race. She’s our pick. The horse to beat is #3 March X Press (5-2) for Todd Pletcher. She was sensational in the Bolton Landing at Saratoga last month – she missed the break, then got bottled up in the stretch, finally got a late seam, and flew home to get the win. The only question is the distance, and even if she’s not a two-turn horse in the future, this one-turn mile feels like it’s in her scope.
These races are sure to send a few to the Breeders Cup and both came up pretty fun tests.