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The $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes (G2) is set for this Saturday at Penn National, and a solid field of nine 3-year-old colts will line up to do battle in the headliner of a 12-race card that includes seven other stakes races, including the $200,000 Penn Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The Penn Mile is set for race 11 on the card and carries a local post time of 7:50 PM ET.
The top horse in this year’s running is A Thread of Blue, who comes into this contest off of a solid second in the American Turf Stakes (G2) last time out at Churchill Downs. Before that loss, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt had won three in a row at Gulfstream Park, including the Palm Beach Stakes (G3). Luis Saez will have the mount once again when he breaks from post 2.
Shipping in from New York is Forty Under, winner of the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park as a 2-year-old before finishing a decent sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G1) to round out the year. Last time out, he made his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct, where he finished second. The colt drew post 5 for this event, with jockey Manny Franco to ride.
The Al Stall, Jr., trainee Real News will be running off of just two weeks’ rest after finishing second in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico. He led when turning for home, only to be passed late in the stretch, losing by just a 1/2-length. This will be his second time going around two turns, and he has never finished worse than second in four lifetime starts. Ty Kennedy takes over the mount for this when he breaks from post 4.
The full field from the rail out: Moon Colony, A Thread of Blue, Casa Creed, Real News, Forty Under, The Black Album, Empire of War, Conative, and Fluminense.
#2 A Thread of Blue – This horse has been ultra-impressive all year long while facing horses that are better than what he’ll face here. That is not a knock on this field, which has come up tough, but this colt raced against much tougher last time out in the American Turf Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. He has lost just once in four starts this year, this 1-mile distance suits him perfectly, and he has proven that he can win from on or off the pace. That all makes him tough to beat.
#5 Forty Under – As a 2-year-old, this was one of the best horses in the crop, winning the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G1). After a long layoff, he finally returned to finish second last time out in the Woodhaven Stakes. He wasn’t great in that race, but it was clearly just a prep to knock off any rust. He will be ready to run much better here, making him dangerous in this spot. There is no doubt that he’ll show up with an improved effort.
#4 Real News – It will be interesting to see how this colt performs off of just two weeks’ rest. We know that he is very sharp when sprinting on the turf, but it is still unknown if he wants to go this distance. His effort in the James W. Murphy Stakes was fantastic, but he seemed to tire late in the race. After that effort, I figured that they’d shorten him back up in distance, yet here he is going two turns. He has enough talent that you must respect him in this spot; it will just be a matter of if he really wants to go this far.
#3 Casa Creed – His lack of consistency has been his biggest problem. He kicked off 2019 with a big upset at 12-1 in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes, but he was a well-beaten sixth next time out in the Dania Beach Stakes. Then he rebounded to run second in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) before running ninth in the American Turf Stakes (G2). The pace sets up fairly well for him here and he has performed well at a mile. He is due for a good race.
#6 The Black Album – Since coming to the United States, he is 0-for-3 with just one on-the-board finish, coming in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. Last time out, he was seventh in the American Turf Stakes (G2), though he was only defeated by 2 1/2 lengths. That gives him some here, and he also cuts back slightly in distance. He fits this field.
#7 Empire of War – This may not be a superstar for trainer Todd Pletcher, but his turf record gives him a chance to make noise. He won twice over the lawn as a 2-year-old, including the $100,000 Awad Stakes at Aqueduct, and he returned off of a long layoff last time out to finish third in the Woodhaven Stakes. He was beaten by over 9 lengths, but he should improve in his second start off of the layoff.
#9 Fluminense – There is no doubt that this horse has the breeding to run well on the turf, even though he has just one start on it, which resulted in a third-place effort at Woodbine in an allowance event. He made his 3-year-old debut last time out at Churchill Downs, winning an allowance event over the dirt in runaway fashion by over 4 lengths. Now he gets back to the turf, and he could be dangerous with what looks to be solid improvement from age 2 to 3. He has a chance at what should be a solid price.
#1 Moon Colony – The son of Uncle Mo returns off a layoff in a very difficult spot. He does have two wins over the turf, which at least makes him interesting if you want to play a price, but we are taking the “wait and see” approach in this spot. His performance here will directly factor how we play him next time out.
#8 Conative – This colt looks to be out-classed in a well-balanced field of runners. He is still eligible for a first-level allowance race, which makes him a real longshot against a group like what he must face in this contest.
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