For horses who never tried the distance before, stretching out from one mile to nine furlongs is a significant leap. Even if both race configurations involve two turns, the extra panel will weed out most milers and help the true routers stand out.
In Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita Park, there are a couple of short-priced fillies attempting nine furlongs for the first time. This opens up the chance for a double-digit entry with a pedigree suited to go long.
That filly’s name is K P Dreamin, and she leads off the five Saturday selections across Santa Anita Park, Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park.
Santa Anita Race 7: Honeymoon Stakes (G3)
At first glance, K P Dreamin is a consistent loser with one victory in seven starts. But she brings some class as the third-place finisher in last year's Chandelier Stakes (G1) and Starlet Stakes (G1).
K P Dreamin might enjoy a nice career on turf. She tried grass for the first time March 22 in a local allowance optional claimer and closed for a third-place finish, only 3 3/4 lengths behind the speedy Parkour.
Parkour is entered in this race as well. But Parkour gives the impression of a need-the-lead type who only fires if left alone up front. In all likelihood, Mike Smith plans to gun Parkour, but she faces company from Laura’s Light in Post 5. As long as Laura’s Light remains in the race, she can give Parkour enough pressure to weaken them both.
K P Dreamin will receive pace help from those two fillies. Plus, she is bred for nine furlongs with Union Rags on top and a Point Given dam on the bottom side. Union Rags won the Belmont Stakes in 2012, while Point Given took the marathon race in powerful fashion in 2001.
Expect jockey Victor Espinoza to position K P Dreamin closer than in her turf debut, when she initially lagged 16 lengths behind Parkour.
At double-digit odds, K P Dreamin is a worthy longshot option.
Santa Anita Race 1: Allowance Optional Claimer
Swing Thoughts enters this one-mile turf race for Cal-bred fillies and mares on a nine-race losing streak. But her past performances stick out for two good reasons.
For one, Swing Thoughts has been claimed three times in a row. This filly's popularity at the claim box signals that she is healthy.
Also, Swing Thoughts displayed a Z pattern in the local optional claiming effort May 22. After starting well, she suddenly ran last and eight lengths off the lead before closing for second and 3¾ lengths behind the winner Cheap Cheap Cheap.
Ignore the fade March 21, as nine furlongs proved too far. Despite three losses at one mile, this is a good distance for this filly. At a one-mile pace, she could sit in the stalking range around third or fourth.
Swing Thoughts is 8-1 on the morning line, and that is a value price as she wheels back one week later.
Churchill Downs Race 9: Allowance Optional Claimer
I’llhandalthecash deserves a look here in this turf sprint for fillies and mares, especially if she stays at her 10-1 morning line odds.
After flopping in her career debut, I’llhandalthecash ran well in six starts afterwards, all in turf sprints ranging from five to seven furlongs.
Even I’llhandalthecash’s recent sixth-place finish March 7 is a good effort. It took her a while to tip outside and straighten out. But once I’llhandalthecash got into the clear, she made up significant ground in the stretch to only lose by 2½ lengths.
I’llhandalthecash also shows a minor Z pattern, as she fell back to six lengths behind at one point before closing the gap in the last moments.
Expect I’llhandalthecash to hit the board against this easier field.
Churchill Downs Race 10: Allowance Optional Claimer
Gun It is one of the most frustrating horses to bet on. Even after 10 starts, this 4-year-old colt refuses to switch leads in the stretch.
Based on class, though, he deserves a look. In the Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, he ran second by 3/4 of a length to Silver Dust. Three starts ago, he also ran third in the Louisiana Stakes (G3).
Gun It finished seventh most recently in the New Orleans Classic (G2) after fighting Ricardo Santana Jr.’s rating tactics in the early stages.
Despite his faulty mechanics, the drop into an optional claimer in this spot will help him. Also, Joel Rosario figures to secure a good position.
Without By My Standards or Silver Dust present, expect Gun It to perform well. He owns good tactical speed and should fire.
Gulfstream Race 10: Allowance Optional Claimer
Unconquered Lea enters this nine-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds in good form with one win and one second in two recent turf starts.
Locally, he broke his maiden by five lengths in a one-mile maiden race Feb. 22.
Then Unconquered Lea stretched out to nine furlongs in a March 27 optional claimer, and turned in another good race by running second by half a length. The winner Gufo returned to win the English Channel Stakes on May 2.
Given his proven experience at the distance and tactical speed, Unconquered Lea is the choice at 3-1 on the morning line.