Although the Bashford Manor (G3) is the feature race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, I was drawn to the Debutante, which is the seventh race on the closing-day card and features a field of eight 2-year-old fillies after the scratch of War Ballad.
Below is a horse-by-horse look at the field:
Comments: Wired the field while setting a ho-hum pace at Presque Isle Downs in the second start of her career. This is a big jump in class.
Comments: Broke her maiden by 7 ¼ lengths at Belterra Park last time and, while I love the improvement, she’s going to need to take another big step forward to be competitive on Saturday.
Comments: This daughter of Paynter intrigues me primarily for one reason — trainer John Ennis. I know what you’re thinking: Why would a trainer with a lifetime win rate of less than 10 percent interest me? Well, I’m always on the lookout for trainers that repeat winning patterns and that is exactly what Ennis is attempting to do here.
On April 18, Weiland, a colt Ennis both owns and trains, made his debut at Keeneland, where he flashed some speed and finished fifth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths at odds of 39-1. A little more than two weeks later, Weiland was inexplicably entered in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes — and he won, paying $41.40. (He’s entered in the Bashford Manor later on the card, incidentally.)
Now, take a look at the past performances of Payntermaniac. Notice the similarities? Two bullet works after that solid lifetime bow just add to the appeal. Oh, and the breeder? Some guy named Bob Baffert.
Comments: Larry Rivelli trainee was impressive in her debut, as she bested Agi’s Cait by 1 ½ lengths, with Princesa Blanca another eight lengths back in third.
Agi’s Cait came back to break her maiden — in a very quick time — on June 22, while Princesa Blanca was beaten just a length as the 7-5 favorite in her next race. O’Keeffe also drilled three furlongs in a ridiculously quick 33 1/5 seconds just a few days ago.
Click HERE to get the latest odds on the Debutante
The one thing that does concern me, though, is the increased distance of Saturday’s race. O’Keeffe is bred to be a sprinter and drifted out in her first race at 4 ½ furlongs (which is often a sign of fatigue). This makes that three-furlong drill a lot less impressive too, as sharpness is clearly not the issue.
Comments: Morning line favorite earned a good Brisnet speed figure (81) and a solid late speed ration in her debut. The only drawback is the price.
Comments: Pace figures were good in her maiden-breaker, but her speed figures are a different story. I need to see more before I can back her with any confidence.
Comments: This one reminds me a little of My Wynter Rose, except she’s faced a little better competition. That said, she’ll need to take another step forward on Saturday, although her running style is appreciated in a race that features a lot of early zip.
Comments: Really like the positive Pace Profile (83) this gal earned in her career debut, as she went pretty fast early, yet still closed very strongly. What’s more, Hay Dilly’s dam has had six other runners to make it to the races — all of them won and one was a stakes winner.
Trainer Kelly Rubley also has a positive ROI of 11 percent in non-graded stakes. I give this filly a big shot at what promises to be a square price.
Comments: Strong effort last time, but the outside post and paltry morning line odds have me looking elsewhere.