A blockbuster card at Penn National will run Saturday, with seven stakes races anchored by the $500,000 Penn Mile, contested as a Grade 2 for the first time.
Among the entries for the Penn Mile are the Grade 3 Transylvania winner Big Score and the Christophe Clement-trained Frostmourne.
Part of a strong west coast contingent, George Krikorian’s Big Score has only one off-the-board performance in his running lines, coming when he ran fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Since then, he has taken the aforementioned Transylvania at Keeneland and ran 3rd in the Grade 2 American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
Trainer Tim Yakteen said that they have had the Penn Mile on the radar for the colt.
“It’s a good 60 days between the American Turf and the Belmont Derby, so this fits perfect in the schedule,” Yakteen said. “If he didn’t come back well, we would have skipped it, but he came back great”.
Also travelling from California will be the Northern Spur Stakes winner Cistron, trained by John Sadler. Since the Northern Spur victory at Oaklawn, the son of The Factor checked in second in the Desert Code at Santa Anita, but Sadler was pleased enough with his out-of-town Arkansas outing that he’s not hesitant to ship his colt east.
“He went to Oaklawn and won and handled that nicely,” said Sadler. “We brought him home and just like his versatility. He is really blossoming, and we are letting him tell us what to do race by race”.
Cistron is the first horse owned in part by a crowdfunding venture started by Little Red Feather’s managing partner Billy Koch, who has been exuberant about the experience.
Local post time for the first race on Penn Mile day is set for 3:45 PM.
#8 Frostmourne – I debated whether or not to put him on top before feeling like I was wrong if I didn’t. This lightly-raced horse, trained by Clement, made his first start of the year a nice one, finishing second in the Woodhaven Stakes to a solid horse in Secretary of War. That effort showed improvement from age 2 to 3, and with another slight improvement, he can definitely win this race. Big Score’s the deserving favorite in this race, and depending on how the odds shake out, he could be a solid bet. Big Score’s odds may become too low to play, which will make Frostmourne too appealing to put second. In Clement We Trust!
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers
#7 Big Score – He was a classy horse as a 2-year-old and came back just as classy at three. Two races back, he shipped to the Midwest and won the Grade 3 Transylvania over a tough field, then last time out, he was a solid third in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day. Both of those fields were much tougher than what he’ll line up against here, so he’s a deserving favorite. There’s no reason not to play this horse on all tickets, and if the price isn’t a too low, then a win bet makes sense, too.
#6 Holiday Stone – Draw a line through his effort last time out in the American Turf. He didn’t appear to care for the softer course that day. If he can get back to his Keeneland form, when finishing second to Big Score in the Transylvania, then he will have a shot to turn the tables today.
#4 Cistron – This solid horse keeps improving with each start. He shipped to Oaklawn Park two races back with a mostly turf form but ended up winning the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes on dirt by a length. He returned to California and the turf last time out and finished a solid second in the Desert Code Stakes. He’s running in his first graded stakes in this spot, which will be a challenge, but so far, he’s handled everything that they’ve thrown his way. It’s hard leaving this versatile runner off of any tickets.
#1 Shiraz, #1A Bonus Points, and #1X Prize Fight – A three-headed monster: two Pletchers and a Mike Maker horse! The problem with this “monster” is the fact that none of them have shown much. Bonus Points is the classiest of the three, but his turf efforts leave a little to be desired. Both he and Prize Fight are also entered in the Pennine Ridge Stakes on Saturday, so it’s unclear if they’ll run here. Prize Fight has just one career win, which came in a maiden claimer, and Shiraz’s only win in ten starts came eight months ago. Respect the connections enough to play underneath, but not on top.
#3 Time to Travel – This lightly-raced horse has a small bit of back class to lean on, but he’ll be trying turf for the first time here, making him the field’s major question mark. His dirt speed figures put him into contention against this group, so he does have that going for him. We saw him just two weeks ago on the Preakness undercard, finishing second in the $100,000 Sir Barton to No Mo Dough, who’s turning into a really solid horse. Hopefully, Time to Travel can repeat that type of effort on the turf.
#5 Mo Maverick – He always shows up with a solid effort, but this will be a tough class test. Last time out, he showed a little something when finishing third in the $100,000 James W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard, but he’ll need to show more here to win.
#2 Bronson – He’s most likely going to take a little money because of his connections, but he hasn’t shown a good enough race to warrant much interest here. He’ll need to improve.