#4 American Freedom – This lightly raced son of Pulpit has been both promising and frustrating so far in his career. He was a massive winner on debut in the slop at Santa Anita…a really bad 6th in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs…and then a very impressive winner of the Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness Day. So which American Freedom shows up today? I’m guessing the “good one” as this looks to be a the perfect spot for him to take the next step towards joining the big time horses in this crop. My only slight worry is the fact that both of his wins have come on off tracks, while his loss did come on a dry track. However, he just looks to be faster than the rest of these if he brings his “A game.” The sky could be the limit for this colt if he can continue to improve and progress.
#8 Hint of Roses – As I’ve stated in other previews for the Iowa Festival of Racing you have to keep an eye on Churchill Downs shippers, and they don’t necessarily have to have flashy resumes. Hint of Roses certainly doesn’t…he just broke his maiden last time out! However, he’s ran races that make him fast enough to compete here, and I like that Geroux is coming in to ride the horse as he has rode him the last three times in Kentucky. The Ramsey’s I’m sure have had high hopes for this Tapit colt so the expectations are there, and sometimes finally breaking the maiden can give a horse confidence. I’m worried this race might be a tad short for him actually, but at 10-1 he’s worth a shot.
#5 Synchrony – At one time I viewed this horse as a Kentucky Derby contender but he’s yet to live up to those lofty expectations. After a couple of average tries at Oaklawn Park in tough stakes company he shipped to Keeneland next and once again was just average as he finished third. That race was all the way back in April so I question how revved up he’ll be for this one. I still believe there is some talent there, but with the layoff and disappointment in my mind I can’t put him any higher than an exotic play. Look for him to make a belated run at the end to hit the board.
#1 Lookin for a Kiss – No doubt he’s been put in races a little too tough for him in his last two starts, but this should be more up to his speed today. The Pat Day Mile was an oddly ran race where hardly anyone except the winner ran well, and Lookin for a Kiss actually beat American Freedom in that one. However, I don’t expect him to do so today. This could be a nice confidence builder for the horse though, and finishing underneath is certainly possible. At morning line odds of 8-1 it gives you enough value to give him a shot in the place and show spots.
#3 Texas Chrome – Was absolutely shocked when I saw that he was favored on the morning line over American Freedom. There is little chance he’ll end up going off favored in this race, and as you can see I didn’t even put him in the “likely winners” category. Honestly I think his price will float up some which might make him playable. Last time out he finished third in the Matt Winn, but now wheels back in two weeks which has me questioning if he’ll be fully ready. The talent is there for him to be competitive, but is this too much too quick?
#7 Colonel Dan – One of two recent Churchill Downs maiden special weight winners, but I thought he was the least impressive of the two of them. Not totally illogical, but he’ll have to make a big improvement today.
#2 Catfish Creek – Very nice Oklahoma bred who did actually run big in the local prep race for this one to finish second. However, it seems he’ll be outclassed as this race is tougher than the prep by a good margin.
#6 The Rouge Diesel – Completely over matched in this spot. Hasn’t been close to winning since breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park in a maiden claiming event.