HHR’s 2 Year Old Stakes Watch- Labor Day

2 Year Old Stakes Watch for Labor Day

Sweet ReasonIt’s Labor Day, horse racing fans and today we have several 2 year old stakes to handicap, but first, let’s recap yesterday’s 2 year old results. We had 2 two year old stakes races at Canterbury with the Northern Lights Debutante and the northern Lights Futurity. In the Northern Lights Debutante, She Can Ski ran away with a 3 length victory as expected. In the Northern Lights Futurity, both of HHR’s value plays hit the board with Appeal to the King beating You Be Gator Bait by a nose. I played both of these horses personally, but was sick when I skipped out on the exacta which paid $107.20 for a $2. Even worse was that if you had boxed those 2 with the favorite, A P Loose, the $2 trifecta paid a fat $536.60. Again, I’m kicking myself over this one! At any rate, I did get win/place bets on Appeal to the King and You Be Gator Bait, so I was very pleased with those results! At Monmouth there were 2 two year old stakes as well, starting with the Sorority Stakes.  Our value play, Miss Behaviour, rallied over the field by 8 ¼ lengths and brought in $8.20 for the win. In the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth, Dunkin Bend beat out Yes I’m Lucky by 1 ¼ lengths. But in the big race of the day, HHR’s value play Sweet Reason dominated the field in a commanding 5 ¾ length win in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga. Today we have several to handicap, so let’s get cracking!

Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes

Finger LakesThe $100,000 Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes is the 7th race on the card for Labor Day and will host a field of 6 two year old colts and geldings foaled in New York travelling 6 furlongs. The 3/2 morning line favorite is Fox Rox.  Fox Rox, like every other horse in this field, has yet to break maiden, but he does have 2 races under his belt at Saratoga where he finished 4th in the last one and 2nd in his first one. He has a host of bullet works and should do fine in this company. He will also have the blinkers on today. The second favorite on the ML is Blue Collar Cat. Blue Collar Cat has had 4 outings so far where he finished 4th twice, 3rd once and 2nd in his most recent race at Saratoga. He will also have jockey John Davila, Jr. onboard as an added advantage. The rest of this field will be first time starters. I have to say, it’s tough to pull out a value play here, because the 2 experienced horses do have the advantage. But one thing they both like to do is stalk the pace. What I need from one of these first timers is a little lone speed, lol! It’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m going to go with Television Too, especially since he will be racing with the blinkers on. From a workout stand point, he has some decent works and he doesn’t appear to be over worked like some of the others. Again, it’s a longshot, but if I bet against Fox Rox and Blue Collar Cat, Television Too would be my play.

Lady Finger Stakes at Finger Lakes

Irish SweepstakesThe $100,000 Lady Finger Stakes is the 8th race on the card and will showcase a field of 7 two year old fillies foaled in New York travelling a distance of 6 furlongs. The morning line even money favorite here is Irish Sweepstakes. Irish Sweepstakes broke her maiden at Saratoga in a straight maiden 70k by 7 ¼ lengths under a hand drive. Make no mistake, this should be a breeze for Irish sweepstakes! The next horse in the morning line is Bossanova Lady who is at 7/2. She won a straight maiden 20k at Finger Lakes by 1 length on August 10th. She has a nice jockey/trainer combo in jockey Simon Husbands and trainer Charlton Baker and might have what it takes to surprise Irish Sweepstakes. For my value play here, I like Alwaysinstilettos. Alwaysinstilettos has yet to break maiden, but she did run 3rd in a straight maiden 70k at Saratoga. She has a string of bullet works backing up her potential and she’ll be receiving first time Lasix in this race. Based on her speed figure, she might just give Irish Sweepstakes a run for her money.

Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies

Del MarOn race 6 at Del Mar is the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Stakes. A field of 10 two year old fillies will travel a mile over the turf. The morning line 5/2 favorite is Clenor. This Irish filly came to the states and won her first race at Del Mar over the turf by 2 ½ lengths. She has the only turf experience in this field and should prove tough to beat. Pleasant Miss could give some serious competition to Clenor. Although lacking turf experience, she has some stakes experience where she has finished 3rd in the Landaluce and 2nd in the Cinderella at Belmont. What does concern me is that Rafael Bejarano has been on her the last three starts, but has jumped over to Clenor for this race. Corey Nakatani will be onboard Pleasant Miss, though and is fully capable of leading her to the win. Tiz the Key is another potential challenger here. She ran 4th in her debut, but picked up a nice speed figure in doing so that is comparable to every other filly here. As an added advantage, she’ll have Gary Stevens along for the ride and that’s always a plus. For my value play, I have to go with E Equalsmcsquared. E Equalsmcsquared fell just short of capturing the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood and ran 4th in the Sorrento. Garret Gomez picks up the mount here and has been performing well at Del Mar lately. For a longshot, I like Perched. She has yet to break her maiden, but she has some consistent speed figures and some solid works that have to be considered. Look for a strong late run from this filly!

I’m Smokin Stakes

Del Mar Race TrackRace 5 at Del Mar is the $150,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for California bred or sired two year olds. This field of 8 will gun it out over 6 furlongs. The 5/2 morning line favorite is Aotearoa. Aotearoa is fresh from an August 4th win at Del Mar in his career opener where he won a straight maiden 75k by 4 ¾ lengths. Gangnam Guy is another top contender in this race. Each race that he has been in his speed figure has improved leading up to his 3rd place finish in the Graduation Stakes. His workouts are solid and with Rafael Bejarano in the irons and the blinkers on, Gangnam Guy has a very good chance of winning this one. For my value play, I like Better Bet. Over the course of 6 races, this horse has improved his times consistently. He ran 4th in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, but I believe he is going to improve here and give us a show. With Gary Stevens in the irons, he should do well. For a longshot, I like  Ashleyluvssugar. Ashleyluvssugar has yet to break his maiden, but he ran 2nd in his career debut in a straight maiden 75k at Del Mar missing first by a nose. In the process, he earned a speed figure that contends with nearly every horse in this race. I think he’ll be sorely overlooked by the public and should make his way into the money at a very nice price.

Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga

Wired Bryan & CorfuOur final race to cover today will be the $300,000 Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. A field of 10 two year olds has entered the Hopeful and will travel 7 furlongs. This will be the 9th race on the card today at Saratoga. Many are looking at this as another match race between Corfu and Wired Bryan, and although these two speed burners are certainly worth considering, you have to wonder if the length of the race might be too much for them. In their last race, Corfu barely hung on to beat Wired Bryan by a nose in the Saratoga Special, but both horses had ran at blistering speeds throughout the race and were pooped by the end of it! Between the two, I believe Wired Bryan will have the edge because he gained ground down the stretch. With the extra ½ furlong, Wired Bryan should be able to pull this off. But honestly, I believe both horses will have trouble today if they speed duel early. Most of the horses in this race like that early lead and because of their competitive spirits, the horse that wins this one won’t do it wire to wire, in my opinion. My first value play here is King Cyrus. He’s got the top Saratoga jockey on board with Javier Castellano and is backed by trainer, Todd Pletcher (the top trainer at Saratoga for this meet.) With a jockey/trainer combo like that, this two year old is in great hands! He also likes to stalk the pace and should be able to make his way to the finish without burning out. My longshot play here is Southern Blessing. He was second in the Sanford, but has been working towards this race since then and should be ready. Look for Southern Blessing to make a late charge and pass up tiring foes at a healthy price!

Be sure and check back with us on Wednesday for more 2 year old stakes action!




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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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