Race Previews

Iowa Festival of Racing 2018 Preview: Churchill Shippers Invade Prairie Meadows

High North Winning the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park (Credit: Coady Photography)

The Iowa Festival of Racing is set for this Thursday and Friday night at Prairie Meadows Rack Track in Altoona, IA. Thursday is Ladies Night, as three stakes races for fillies and mares will be contested, including the Saylorville Stakes, the Iowa Distaff, and the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks. On Friday, the males take center stage with the runnings of the Iowa Sprint Handicap, the Iowa Derby, and the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap. Here is a closer look at each race with Top Choices, Long Shot Picks, and Analysis of each night of the festival.

Thursday Races

Race 6: $100K Saylorville Stakes

Top Choice: #7 Golden Mischief

Long Shot Pick: #3 Swing and Sway

Analysis: The big question here is which Golden Mischief will show up? She has been wildly inconsistent throughout her career. At her best, she will cruise against this group, but if she fails to show up with her best race, then it will become wide-open. Honey Bunny comes into this race off of four straight wins, including the local prep race for this one last time out. Swing and Sway and Defy ship in from Churchill Downs along with the defending champion, Dreamin. However, Dreamin has yet to win since that victory last year.

Race 7: $100K Iowa Distaff

Top Choice: #7 Mended

Long Shot Pick: #4 Girl Power

Analysis: Mended ships into Prairie Meadows after three solid races at Santa Anita this season. In her last two starts, she was defeated by Fault, who was on her way to a monster year before getting injured. Larry Jones ships in Jenda’s Agenda, who looks to rebound after a poor performance in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes last time out at Keeneland. Dreamcall and Girl Power, the recent 1-2 finishers of the Jack Bishop Stakes here, return to run in this spot and could provide value in a race that looks to be a bit top-heavy.

Race 8:

Grade 3, $200K Iowa Oaks

Top Choice: #4 She’s a Julie

Long Shot Pick: #5 Cosmic Burst

Analysis: Steve Asmussen’s She’s a Julie will also be interesting in this spot after winning an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs last time out. Cosmic Burst and Sassy Sienna are two fillies that had success during Oaklawn Park’s 3-year-old filly program and should play major factors in this loaded spot. A logical long shot could be Shes Our Fastest who comes into this race off a blowout win last time out at Lone Star park last time out in a small going one mile.

Friday Races

Race 6: $100K Iowa Sprint Handicap

Top Choice: #5 Wilbo

Long Shot Pick: #4 Eurobond

Analysis: A field of nine will do battle in this race, with six horses shipping in from Churchill Downs to take on three local horses. The headlining shipper is Wilbo and he has been competitive against tougher company all year long. The Boyd Caster-trained Westfest will also be well-backed in this race after two straight victories against allowance optional claiming company. Local hero Apprehender will try to defend his home turf after two straight victories over the local track, while Eurobond could take this field wire to wire if he is left alone on the front end.

Race 7: $250K Iowa Derby

Top Choice: #1 High North

Long Shot Pick: #2 Battle at Sea

Analysis: It is hard to find a headliner in this field, which means that it should be a competitive group. The Brad Cox-trained High North is back running a distance at which he excels and takes a class drop after finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. Dale Romans ships in recent Churchill Downs maiden special weight and allowance winner Mr Freeze, while Peter Miller sends in Cool Bobby for his first start of the year after breaking his maiden impressively at Del Mar last fall. Finally, the $50,000 Golden Circle Stakes winner The Tabulator is back at Prairie Meadows after finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes in his last start.

Race 8: Grade 3, $300K Cornhusker Handicap

Top Choice: #5 Thirstforlife

Long Shot Pick: #2 Matrooh

Analysis: With trainer Bob Baffert scratching heavily favored Dr. Dorr it makes this race wide open. Thirstforlife comes into this race off of two straight wins at Churchill Downs against allowance company. McCraken is another entry that people will know very well and is entering off of a failed attempt in the tough Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park. Last year’s Iowa Derby winner, Hence, is back to try to make it 2-for-two at Prairie Meadows. He has not won since the Iowa Derby.

Get more Prairie Meadows picks HERE.

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