Iowa Festival of Racing Preview

Iowa Festival of Racing Preview
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Thursday kicks off the fabulous 3-day Iowa Festival of Racing at Prairie Meadows. The Festival's 6 stakes races are worth over $1 million and the past performances are comprised with a plethora of graded stakes winners and with such names as Baffert, Pletcher, Asmussen and Hollendorfer. Here’s a preview of all the stakes action at the Altoona, Iowa oval for the holiday weekend.

The Festival gets under way with the Saylorville Stakes for fillies and mares sprinting 6 furlongs.  The field is headlined by Fioretti. A grade 2 winner last fall at Keeneland, Fioretti is winless in 2 starts in 2016, but looks to get back in the winner’s circle dropping from the graded stakes level. Not to be overlooked is Dr. Fager’s Gal from the powerful Jerry Hollendorfer barn. She was second last out in an allowance at Santa Anita and a minor stakes winner at Los Alamitos in the fall of 2015. Since her last effort, she’s had 5 workouts all spaced 7 days apart, so look for her to deliver a top effort. 7-year-old mare She’sabrees aired in the local prep by 6 ¾ lengths, but will be facing the toughest field she’s ever seen in career start #51.

The Iowa Oaks is a rematch of the Plum Pretty Stakes at Sunland Park, but will Family Tree turn the tables on Thrilled this time? Family Tree draws the extreme outside post for this, while she had a ground-saving, loose on the lead trip in New Mexico. The Todd Pletcher-trained Thrilled draws the advantageous #2 post. Martin Garcia rides the daughter of Uncle Mo for the first time in the silks of owner Michael Tabor. Ready to Confess and Alotta Skirt are live longshots who each won races at Churchill Downs last out.

On Friday, graded-stakes winner Super Majesty gets some class relief and looks return to her winning ways in the Iowa Distaff. Winless in 2 routes, Super Majesty will attempt to wire this field for trainer Steve Asmussen. Innovative Idea hails from the powerful Godolphin stable, but her only dirt triumph was an off-the-turf optional claimer at Hawthorne. Trainer Eoin Harty employs the skills of Rafael Bejarano for this spot. All Star Bub invades from California for Hollendorfer. Last out in the Adoration Stakes (Gd. 3) at Santa Anita, she finished 4 ¾ lengths behind multiple Eclipse award winner Beholder.

The highly-touted American Freedom returns in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby off his win in the Sir Barton Stakes, on the Preakness undercard, for trainer Bob Baffert. Without much early speed signed on here, look for Bejarano to take the initiative from the opening bell and wire the field. Longshot Lookin for a Kiss has not disgraced himself against much tougher in his last 2. He should be able to save ground, get good position and hit the board at a price. Texas Chrome and Synchrony are both very consistent, each only missing the board once, and pose a threat to the top spot.

The action Saturday afternoon kicks off with a wide open version of the Iowa Sprint. Storm Power cruised in the local prep under the expert tutelage of trainer Robertino Diodoro, and a repeat of that effort could get the job done here as well. W.B. Smudge, Wabel, Wilbo, Apprehender and Candip are all capable of winning should they bring their “A” game too. Winner of the 2013 Iowa Sprint, Gentlemen’s Bet, looks to regain his winning form after missing the board in his last 4 starts. Now at 7, he appears to have lost a step, but fired a bullet workout under the Twin Spires in preparation for his return to the Hawkeye State.

The Iowa Festival of Racing culminates with the Grade 3  Cornhusker Handicap for good reason. Cyrus Alexander makes another trip east from California for Hollendorfer after taking the Lone Star Park Handicap (G-3) over Midwestern stalwart Shotgun Kowboy in May. Grade 2 winner S’maverlous comes off a victory in the Mountainview at Penn National last out and is a major player. Code West earned a hard fought win over graded-stakes placed Domain’s Rap in the local Jim Rasmussen Memorial and both must be respected.

Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, Nebraska. From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10. Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for playing the races has risen to a new level. Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find cap horses in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charms 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race Ive seen was Tiznows first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giants Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch. My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping Pick 4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do. I encourage others to post picks they like, too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions. That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal. Best of luck.

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