National Racing Rundown
Monday, February 26, 2018
by John Piassek
After all the hoopla of last Monday, Presidents’ Day, this Monday will feature three thoroughbred tracks, running a combined 25 races. Those races feature an average field size of 8.84…not too shabby.
TRACKS RACING MONDAY
MAHONING VALLEY RACE COURSE: 8 races, 70 horses, first post time 12:45 PM EST
PARX RACING: 9 races, 77 horses, first post time 12:55 PM EST
TURF PARADISE: 8 races, 74 horses, first post time 2:55 PM EST
MAHONING VALLEY RACE COURSE (YOUNGSTOWN, OH): 52*F, Sunny
PARX RACING (BENSALEM, PA): 57*F, Partly Cloudy
TURF PARADISE (PHOENIX, AZ): 70*F, Sunny
SPOTLIGHT RACES OF THE DAY
PARX RACING RACE 6
POST TIME: 3:10 PM EST
This race is a fairly interesting group of eight starter allowance horses going 5 1/2 furlongs. From a speed figure standpoint, the 1, Easy River, has the edge over this field. He ran an 88 last out, the best last-out figure in the field by one point. He ran a 90 and an 89 in the two races prior, making him the most consistent member of the field. Last out, he ran third against similar company going six furlongs, in a race where he broke slowly. Usually, he rates just off the pace. Expect him to show a similar style with a clean break.
The 3, Conquest Harlequin, jumps up from the $12,500 claiming level. He ran a huge 98 when winning first off the long layoff two races ago. Last time out, he ran down a loose leader and battled in the stretch to finish third. This will be his first start off the claim for trainer Miguel Penaloza, who is 17% off such an angle, and has been hitting at a 25% rate at the meet so far.
The morning line favorite is on the outside, is the 7, Ebo Strong. He’s lost at this level three times in a row, and his figure has declined in each of those races, going from a 93 three races ago, to an 86 last out. At 8/5 on the morning line, he could be a very vulnerable favorite.
The final horse to be spotlighted is the 4, Versed. He’ll make just his second-ever start on dirt; he was upset in his first race on the surface back in early 2017. He’s got good grass form, having won three times over the lawn. Last out, he showed speed and faded against starter allowance company going a mile on the turf at Gulfstream Park. It seems as if he prefers running over shorter distances, so cutting back around one turn should help him out.
TURF PARADISE RACE 2
POST TIME: 3:22 PM EST
One of two turf races anywhere in the country on Monday, this is an open $10,000 claiming race at one mile on the green stuff. The 8, Eleven Zip, is the 3/1 favorite on the morning line. He enjoys racing over the turf at Turf Paradise, with four victories from nine starts over this surface. Last out, he tried n/w2x allowance company on dirt, but was a non-factor after racing wide, and lost by fourteen lengths.
The 5, Be My Shadow, should be the primary speed in the field. In his last race, he wired an $8,000 claiming group at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Now, he takes a slight step up in class and stretches out a bit. The Nebraska-bred has won two times from five starts over this surface.
The 6, Tribal Money, is the 7/2 second choice. He stalked the pace last out, but flattened out late and finished fifth, beaten two lengths. He won at this level three races ago, grinding down the front-runners to win by half a length. It’ll be a risk to see if that style will work here.
PARX RACING RACE 7
POST TIME: 3:37 PM EST
We’re heading back to Parx for an open $10,000 claiming race at one mile. The 1, Cheddar Chub, is coming in in hot form, having won three out of his last four races. Last out, he closed from 12 lengths out of it to just get up for a half-length score. Expect another attempt to close from far out of it here.
The 4, Unpredictable, has been in great form lately, running his two best figures by far, 89 and 91, in his last two starts. He took the field gate-to-wire two races ago, and rated just off the pace to finish a close third last time out. Frankie Pennington will stay aboard. The 6, Silver Dagger, is a first-time gelding stretching out from six furlongs. It was not a great effort there, as he dueled on the early pace and flattened out badly. He raced primarily on grass last year, but ran on dirt twice, and ran sharp figures of 86 and 88 in those two races. He’ll make his first start for the Michael Pino barn, which has been a 24% outfit at this meet.