Race of the Day, May 19, 2014
Hastings Racecourse, Vancouver, BC
Race 4, Maiden Special Weight, 6 1/2 furlongs, Fillies and Mares, Purse: $25,000
On a relatively quiet racing Monday, we take our first trip out of the United States to charming Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, Canada. Today is Victoria Day, a holiday up north, and what better way to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday with a a special racing card! We’ll focus the 4th race, a maiden special weight affair with 10 entrants. Maidens are horses that have never won a race. There are tons of reasons for this. Perhaps they’ve never raced before, or just aren’t very fast, or have been racing at too competitive a level. Or perhaps they’ve been growing and learning and are ready to break through today. These maidens are a higher class of maidens — the winner should be more than fast enough to win more races in her career.
Champagne Gold (#6, 5/2) is the morning line favorite. Trained by Troy Taylor, she is ridden by Mario Gutierrez, the jockey who guided I’ll Have Another to Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories. She’s making her first start, so we really don’t know how fast she will be. She’s well-bred as a sprinter, and, if she likes racing, has to be considered a factor. But even good horses don’t win their debuts, and if she is a very short price, there should be value elsewhere. Dig That (#1, 9/2) has performed well at this level in her previous five starts, finishing as close at 3 3/4 lengths a few back. She should improve making her second start of the layoff. She is piloted by apprentice Corrine Andros, who won four races the other day. Apprentice riders are given a break in the weight that they are required to carry. This gives them a slight advantage, and it encourages trainers to give unknown riders a chance. If the young rider just happens to be really skilled and on their way to multi-national prominence, this turns into a huge advantage. It’s too early to tell if Andros is that jockey, but she’ll be fun to watch today.
Fire Beauty (#8, 6-1) is quite similar to Dig That. She ran a solid second last time, and looks to improve second off the layoff for trainer, Mel Snow, who does well in this position. The outside post suggest a slightly harder trip. Flatter You (#9, 7/2) is another who ran well off the layoff last time, and should improve today. She’s a bit slower, but has every right to improve today. Island Rain (#2, 15-1) makes her second start after a solid debut. Her trainer, David Forster, usually doesn’t have his horses debut strong, so this one might show some potential today, especially with the extra half-furlong. Lady at War (#3, 15-1) ran a solid race in her return last time. She’s a hair slower than these, and would need some real luck to pull it out today. Far Niente (#10, 8/1) runs for trainer Craig MacPherson, who has won with 4 of the 5 horses he’s raced this year so far. The far outside post could cause some trouble, but an improved effort puts her right in the mix.
- How good (and ready) is Champagne Gal? There are other serious contenders here, and Champagne Gal would have to be really good to beat them all in her first race. They all have racing experience. Could it happen? Absolutely, but there’s always real risk with first-time starters.
- Which of the 2nd-time starters will improve? Island Rain and Far Niente very well could improve enough to win.
- Will Fire Beauty, Flatter You, and Dig That improve or regress off the layoff? It could have brought them better into condition, or it could have overworked them.
- Will Corinne Andros stay in the winning zone? While the jockey usually isn’t the controlling factor, a jockey with positive momentum might be more confident and take good chances.
Champagne Girl could win by 5 lengths, but she also may need a race or two, or may not even be that good. If you can get past her, you have a number of solid mid-odds choice. Fire Beauty and I Dig That and Flatter You are all intriguing, as is big longshot, Island Rain. It will be fun to see how the public bets this race, and whether there is good support for Champagne Gal, which could give a good betting opportunity. All Day Racing will be livehosting this race on twitter @alldayracing at 6:00 p.m. ET. See you this evening!