2YO Maiden Special Weight ‘Picks, Plays and Pontification’ – Churchill Downs, 05/19/2023

May 18, 2023

Churchill Downs, Races 1 & 3 – Friday, May 19, 2023

By 2YO EdgeMan

The 2YO EdgeMan is back atcha with two great baby races from under the sparkling Twin Spires…

CD1:051923 – 5f over the dirt.  We’ve got eight fillies set to get after it in Friday’s lid lifter.  A nice group of sires are represented in this one including two First-Crop Sires – Mitole and Catalina Cruiser.  Add to that, dudes like Honor Code, Munnings, Speightstown and Ghostzapper.  Some of the fine trainers who will be involved in this affair are Mark Casse, Cox, Asmussen, McPeek and John Hancock.  Half of the field have done this competitive racing thing one time; the others will be having their first go at it.  Let’s dig in…

#1 – George’s Honey (5/1) – This Jimmy Creed filly was a star at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale last fall when she purchased by her future trainer, Mark Casse (for Bg Stables), for $170K which was $50,000 more than the second highest selling yearling from the 30 sold by her sire in 2022.  Her dam by Bernardini was 0 for 5 on track, but has been a nice broodmare producing one that went 7/20 with $127K in earnings and another that is now a 3YO colt that has gone 2/5, banked $210K and won at first asking as a 2YO in June last year at SA (with an 80 EBSF).  Casse is 7 of 37 (18.9%) with FTS in 2YO MSW races at Churchill in the spring from 2018 thru 2022.  After an initial 3f work at Casse’s Training Center, this gal, who will be making her first start, has put in six morning efforts at CD with her most recent two being sub 48 seconds for a half mile.  Rey Gutierrez will be the reinsman.

#3 – Deboisblanc (2/1) – The Morning Line favorite will be racing for the first time and she’s trained by the hometown guy, Brad Cox (only 1 of 16 – 6.3% – in 2YO MSW races at CD over the previous five spring meets), and is sired by Munnings.  His owners picked him up in Ocala in March as a 2YO for $290K (6/23) which represented a pinhook after selling for $90,000 yearling as a yearling.  Mom was unraced and has foaled two others, but one is winless in eight tries so far and the other is unraced.  Cox had her stabled over at Keeneland where she put in five morning moves – her last there was on 5/2/23 (before moving down to work once at CD) when she went four furlongs in 47.8 from the gate earning a bullet from the other 29 that worked that distance on that day at KEE.  Chris Landeros gets the call to be her pilot.

#4 – Sapphire Nights (9/2) – Steve Asmussen will tighten the girth for the second time in the afternoon on this filly by 1CS sire – Mitole.  Her first try back on 4/19/23 at KEE was disappointing as she stalked in third until giving way to ultimately struggle home seventh, beaten by 13+ lengths.  But don’t underestimate Asmussen as he’s gone 9 for 36 (25%) with non-FTS 2YO at CD in the spring in Maiden Specials from 2018 thru 2022.  She is a homebred, from William and Corinne Heiligbrodt who bred Mitole to their Into Mischief mare (‘A’ rated TrueNick) who earned $80,000 going 3/7 on the track.  Steve’s given her three workouts since her last race, all over at Keeneland, but in typically Asmussen fashion, all at a somewhat slower than a 12 second clip per furlong.  The connections go with a rider change over to Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Pick – #1 George’s Honey – I’ve seen too many winners of our races that were the top seller in their class from their sire.  Additionally, Mark Casse can get it done in these affairs.  I like how he’s stepped her up to ½ mile drills and that she’s familiar and seems comfortable with the track condition at CD.  I don’t love the rail for these babies, but hopefully she can break clean and fast and build an advantage straight outta the gate.

CD3:051923 – The ladies again take center stage as nine KY-bred fillies are entered to compete in this one.  The same two 1CSs as the race above have gals set to go in this event – Mitole actually has two and Catalina Cruiser has one in.  Munnings has two entered, along with one each from Practical Joke, Nyquist and the late More Than Ready.  As far as trainers – Asmussen, Arnold, Rivelli, McPeek and Norm Casse will be some of the top conditioners that will bump heads.  Five have one race under their young belt and four do not.

#1 – Tx Women For Arts (7/2) – Kirk & Judy Robison plucked this Practical Joke filly out of the Keeneland September Yearling sale last year for $55,000 (30/72).  She is the first foal from a Flatter mare that went 1 for 4 on track ($53,000), but her lone win was as FTS in her 2YO year in September at Belmont.  As per usual, the Robisons have entrusted the training duties for this FTS to the aforementioned Steve Asmussen and he’s put four workouts into her, all in Lexington at Keeneland.  Her last two have been very snappy – on 5/2/23 she traveled three panels from the gate in 36 flat (1/25) and then a week later she stretched out to ½ mile and had no issues with that completing it in 47.0 (1/32).  Asmussen goes with his trusted rider – Ricardo Santana, Jr.

#2 – Hi’iaka (10/1) – Munnings sired this FTS and she’s trained by the crafty Rusty Arnold.  He is always dangerous with the babies and actually has won four times from six 2YO MSW races at CD at the Spring Meet over the previous five years (although all four wins are with non-FTS).  She went for $175K at the KEE Sept Yearling sale (33/91) and her mom was one for two while racing, earning $21,000.  This gal has worked seven times, the last six were down the road at KEE – all solid, but none spectacular.  

#3 – Cheetah Miss (3/1) – Larry Rivelli’s FTSer has been installed as the tepid Morning Line favorite.  The first of two entered by Mitole, this gal is from a Spieghtstown dam who went 1 for 3 ($74,000) as a runner with her score coming in May of her 2YO campaign at Belmont.  The hammer fell on today’s runner at $175K at the Ocala March 2YO sale (14/32).  Rivelli has worked this filly six times up in Illinois at HAW and her next to last effort was a dandy, speeding four furlongs in 47 flat from the gate (1/20).  He looks to his riding comrade who he nearly teamed with for Derby glory – Jareth Loveberry – to guide this youngster. 

#4 – V V’s Dream (9/2) – The second of two Mitole runners was our pick back on May 11 at CD before this filly was scratched from the first race that she was ever entered.  She sold well as a yearling when she brought $190K which was 15th most by her sire of his 116 yearlings that sold by him last year.  Her dam (by Tapit) was a fine race mare winning three of her 15 starts on the track and banking $213K.  Kenny McPeek is the conditioner and she’s shown some promise in the mornings with seven total workouts – the last five here at CD (the most recent four at 4f).  Her last two workouts were strong; she covered the half mile in 47.8 seconds (2/17) on 5/3/23 and then last Saturday she motored 4f in 47.6 (3/65).  Brian Hernandez, Jr. gets tapped to climb aboard.

#7 – Vibe Check (8/1) – Another First-Time Starter, this Catalina Cruiser filly is trained by the fine young trainer, Norm Casse.  He has been phenomenal with FTSers at CD in the spring having won 7 or 12 two-year-old MSW races from 2018 to 2022.  This gal brought a big number – $110K as a yearling (11/82) and is from an unraced dam.  She’s worked six times – the last four were 4f at CD.  Norm has secured James Graham to pilot this filly.

Pick – #1 Tx Women for Arts – Well, as I said above, I don’t love the fence for these youngsters, but here I go again picking the horse starting from the gate closest to it.  I’m encouraged by the fact that the dam won at first asking and if you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a huge fan of Asmussen.  Further, her last two morning drills have been outstanding and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think this filly could be something special.  

Have fun with these two excellent races, my Edgie besties.  They should be dandies.  Then, please be on the lookout for my ‘Sum Up and Learnings’ for these two affairs – good luck!

“I enjoy the fresh take and straight shooting from Jonathan Stettin in his Past the Wire column.”

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