Saturday plays: Noble Damsel, Hill Prince, Perryville, Raven Run

Saturday plays: Noble Damsel, Hill Prince, Perryville, Raven Run
Photo: NYRA

While everyone waits for the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in two weeks, both Belmont Park and Keeneland offer two stakes races each on Saturday.

At Belmont, there is turf action available with the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes and Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince Stakes. For bettors who prefer dirt stakes races, Keeneland offers the $150,000 Perryville Stakes and Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run Stakes.

Here are some thoughts on those four Oct. 23 races.

Belmont Race 8: Noble Damsel Stakes (G3)

Shifty She brings consistent form and good speed into this race.

In her most recent start, she was fourth in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3) and only lost by 1 ¾ lengths to Princess Grace.

Two starts ago, Shifty She set the pace in the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga before fading slightly to third. Even though she let Regal Glory and Hendy Woods pass her in the stretch run, those two runners are not entered in the Noble Damsel and Shifty She only lost by 1 ¾ lengths.

If Shifty She can match the Del La Lose effort, she could win.

Otherwise, Tamahere, High Opinion and In a Hurry are the other main contenders.

Tamahere crushed the field in the Violet Stakes on Sept. 25 at Monmouth by 7 ¼ lengths after setting the pace. She also faded to fourth in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) at Saratoga after setting the pace in that race as well.     

The fade in the Ballston Spa is forgivable. From watching the replay, Platinum Paynter pushes Tamahere to run faster than ideal early on.

In a Hurry won a local allowance race on Sept. 25 by 2 ¾ lengths. High Opinion was a closing second in the Ballston Spa and won an allowance race at Saratoga on July 31. Either filly could take advantage of a fast pace.

Top selection: No. 5 Shifty She (9/2)

Contenders: No. 1 In a Hurry (8-1), No. 3 High Opinion (3-1), No. 10 Tamahere (9/5)

Belmont Race 9: Hill Prince Stakes (G2)

The strategy is to play against the Saranac runners.

Sifting Sands did not run in the Saranac last time. Instead, he made use of stalking tactics to take the Better Talk Now Stakes by a head at Saratoga. He beat a familiar speed horse in Dreamer’s Disease, who led uncontested throughout the race.

Two starts ago, Sifting Sands also won an allowance race at Saratoga.  

Sifting Sands is drawn well in Post 8 for trainer Chad Brown and may enjoy a clear stalking trip under Manny Franco. He is the top selection.

Slicked Back and Soldier Rising both exit the local Jockey Club Derby Invitational on Sept. 18. While ungraded, the race was worth $1 million.

In the early stages, Slicked Back contested the pace of the Jockey Club Derby, before fading to third and 2 ¾ lengths behind the late rush of Yibir. Solider Rising did pass Slicked Back to earn second by a neck, but Slicked Back never stopped trying either when Solder Rising came.

The cutback should help Slicked Back. Soldier Rising broke his maiden at nine furlongs over in Europe and figures to adapt to the distance too.

Top selection: No. 8 Sifting Sands (8-1)

Contenders: No. 2 Slicked Back (8-1), No. 11 Soldier Rising (3-1)

Suggested play

Exacta box: 2,8,11

Keeneland Race 7: Perryville Stakes

The improving Pipeline brings a perfect stalking style into this race. Plus, he has shown talent in his two most recent starts, which were both in Saratoga maiden races.

Two starts ago on July 28, Pipeline stretched out to nine furlongs and almost led all the way, before a resilient Vindictive gradually caught him. Despite the narrow loss, Pipeline had 5 ¾ lengths on the third-place Cody’s Wish. Vindictive went on to win an allowance race at Saratoga. 

In his more recent start on Sept. 4, Pipeline used stalking tactics to break his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths in a seven furlong race. The visual impression from watching the race is more impressive than the margin itself. Cody’s Wish also finished third here, but he broke his maiden next time by two lengths at Churchill Downs on Oct. 2. 

Pipeline is worthy of single consideration.

For value underneath, think about He’smyhoneybadger, Ram and Runway Magic. All three of them show high Late Pace Ratings on TimeformUS.

Top selection: No. 6 Pipeline (4-1)

Use underneath: No. 3 Ram (15-1), No. 4 He’smyhoneybadger (6-1), No. 9 Runway Magic (12-1)


Keeneland Race 9: Raven Run Stakes (G3) 

To start off, it is hard to ignore the California Chrome-sired filly Cilla. She won the Prioress Stakes (G2) at Saratoga over Souper Sensational in her last start.

The value on Cilla based on the morning line is attractive. Cilla is listed at 8-1, while Souper Sensational is 4-1. Based on the Prioress results, there is no reason to believe Souper Sensational is any better than Cilla.

As a daughter of California Chrome, the stretchout to seven furlongs is not supposed to pose a problem either, although she needs to prove it.  

Cilla is the top selection.

Caramel Swirl also deserves respect based on her 10 ¼-length maiden win at Keeneland back in April and three-length allowance win at Saratoga in July. Forget about the fade in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) on the bullring.

Maybe Caramel Swirl loves Keeneland. With the right trip in this crowded field, she can rebound and break through in her third stakes attempt.   

Multi-race wager bettors might want to also use Souper Sensational, who was second in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and won the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) at Belmont in addition to the Prioress runner-up.

For a big longshot, consider Joy’s Rocket. This filly ran a lifeless eighth in her return race at Kentucky Downs, but perhaps it was only a warm up.

Last year, Joy’s Rocket flashed some talent in dirt sprints as a 2-year-old filly by winning the local Songbird Stakes and Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. Forget about the failed route attempts, as this filly is a sprinter.

Top selection: No. 7 Cilla (8-1)

Contenders: No. 3 Souper Sensational (4-1), No. 8 Caramel Swirl (7/2)

Live longshot: No. 2 Joy’s Rocket (15-1)


Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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