Race of the Week – Iowa Oaks & Derby

prairie meadows logoI realize that there are grade one events that we could focus on around the country on Saturday but a face we know is making an appearance this weekend at Prairie Meadows, so let’s see how he looks…

Iowa Derby

Kale’s Courage is the aforementioned familiar horse, and he’s taking a BIG step up into the Grade 3 Iowa Derby. He built a small win streak in Minnesota by taking an older cast for a walk in an off-the-turf optional claimer, but will not see a similar pace scenario Saturday night. Glenn Corbett takes this mount back as Ry will ride Stormdriver for his father, a contender for a piece with his set of races in New Mexico.

Kale will have to revert to his stalking tactics with Manando in the field, but they served him just fine in breaking his maiden and non-2 condition. Both races weren’t the fastest in the world though, so a big improvement is necessary to crack the tri in here. Our Double Play will try to sweep the three-year old stakes for the McPeek barn off his wire to wire score in the Prairie Mile, but he too may be compromised by the presence of Bob Baffert’s Manando.

Manando should be heavily favored in here off his third in the Grade 3 Affirmed at Hollywood, but this horse is often used as a rabbit for his stablemates and has only come up with victories against allowance types thus far in his career. Baffert’s rabbits can no doubt win races wherever they go, but he is not the slam dunk he will surely appear to be on the board. He’ll have to battle with someone, right? Our Double Play was making his first appearance around two turns in the Prairie Mile and should not be far behind, and same goes for Betweenhereandcool. The latter was stuck racing behind two huge longshots in his most recent start but showed good tenacity in staying on despite being boxed and drawing off at the end. He was switching leads in deep stretch but paid a little more attention when tapped a couple of times with the whip.

In this handicapper’s perspective, Bashaar stands to get a pretty perfect setup. The runner-up from the Prairie Mile, he looked like he was going to sail right by Our Double Play around the turn. ODP was allowed to slow down each fraction as he ran though, and had something left for the drive. That may not be the case come Saturday and with that breather gone from his arsenal Bashaar could sustain that rally past them all. Use those classy speedsters in second and third, but I’m looking for a rare last-to-first victory in the Derby.

Iowa Oaks

Of course the headliner in the Oaks is California import Fiftyshadesofhay, but will the outside post significantly hamper the daughter of Pulpit? It wouldn’t seem so, and while she’s won two of her last four the defeats in between have come at the hands of two-year old champion filly Beholder. She has good tactical speed but that fits the bill for many of her opponents in the 1 1/16 mile event. Two of her three wins have come basically wire to wire and the Black Eyed Susan score was the first displaying any real sort of closing ability. The west coast fillies have been beating each other up behind Beholder for the most part too – so could anyone make an impact from elsewhere?

The local prep for the Oaks, the Panthers, went Ken McPeek’s way with Hitechnoweenie (nice name), who’s done most of her running on turf thus far in her career but has managed to reel off two in a row on the dirt. She’s taken some pretty big steps forward in the figure department in her first three starts of the year – is another in order? Sure, that field in the Panthers wasn’t the best but it was full and showcased the improvement in this corner from two to three years old. So Many Ways has handled sprints of all distances just fine, but couldn’t handle the Fair Grounds Oaks on the front end. Losing to Unlimited Budget isn’t a shameful act, but she also lost to Seaneen Girl in the process. The latter is a contender but is a little dependent on pace. Is she the same filly she used to be? SG seems to be to be one of those sorts that comes to hand so early that when the rest catch up she comes back to earth. She’s talented, no doubt, but not one that you fear in this spot. I’ll be using her underneath.

I’d use Hightechnoweenie as the main threat on top to upset the apple cart, but use the favorite in all plays considering the history of this barn in Iowa. So Many Ways will probably get overbet as well but could find herself a little tired at the head of the stretch. The other real weirdo you could use underneath would be Cloudy Vow, who’s shown flashes of class mixed in with some real stinker – But she obviously needed her last and could be the best value on the board.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.

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