The Dixie Stakes (Grade 2)- $300.000 Purse
PIM- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
May 16, 2015
With all eyes on PIM this weekend, we take a look at a race on the PRK undercard, the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes. There has been a lot of fluctuation in the details of the race’s history, at one time being a mile and an eighth before Shift Of Power won in 2013. This led to a shift of distance in 2014, to its current mile and a sixteenth. Purses have been quite variable with five different amounts offered over the ten times that the race has been run. The 2015 edition sees a cut of $100.000 from last year’s purse, which was the highest in which it was ever run. Many great turf horses have won the race, include Bronze Sabre in 2010, but it’s not limited to him. Other greats, like Path of Perfection, Siberian Rhythm, Columbia River, and Seven Years have also won the race. None of them have ever won the race more then once, so the return of Seven Years in his effort to repeat is certainly the top story and will be a great accomplishment should he win. Bettors will want to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as there is presently an 80% chance of rain, so wet turf is a large possibility unless the storm system alters its track. Eight are scheduled to go to the gate, and now let’s meet the field!
#1- Mean Street (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E Maldonado)- Five year old horse by Silly Street who began hitting his best stride late in his four year old campaign. A second in the Baruch Handicap (G2) at SAR was followed up with a win in the Henry Championship (G2) at SA, and these results sent him to the BC Turf. In that race, he was a respectable sixth, having closed well at the end. Since then, Mean Street has a win in what was technically an open allowance, but a field, having the likes of Uphone and Kavorka, was much like any stake. He hasn’t won since, but has run well in both the CA Turf Cup Classic in January and Grade 3 Appleton in March, placing 4th and 3rd respectively. It will be another strong field here in the Dixie, but Mean Street can handle such a challenge. I’d like his chances to win much more if this race was back at its old mile and an eighth distance, but that’s not to imply I don’t think he can win at this distance as well. He will be a threat. The last time he ran on an off track is too far back now to still be relevant. Maldonado has been his rider in four of his last five races.
#2- Magic Matty (Chili King Stables, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Expect to see this gelding as one of the longest shots on the board until raceday, mainly because he does not have the resume as the others do. There have been a couple times where he has channeled some magic and run a big race, but other then one attempt at the SSM, where he finished last, Magic Matty has never been in a stake, let alone a race like this. His SRF’s seem to come up short, but a lot of weight seems to be put on his last outing, when he won a four horse statebred event. It earned a 97 SRF, which absolutely must be duplicated, if not exceeded, here. Off tracks have been hit and miss for him, but it seems like every other race he runs in has been on an off track, so PIM coming up anything less then firm will be par for the course. Note that he will wear blinkers for the first time.
#3- Seven Years (Alydar Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Last year at five years, Seven Years saw victory, something he wants to duplicate at six years. He wasn’t the favorite that day, but it didn’t matter as he went wire to wire for the win. So, what he has done since? Well, quite a bit. After that win, he won the King Edward BC Stakes at WO, and in September won the $1,000.000 Grade 1 WO Mile. That victory was the icing on the cake to send him to the BC Mile at SA, where he didn’t just participate, but would win the race. This champion racehorse by Social Reject also earned a win in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at SA back in March. So, everything is still going beautifully for Seven Years. In his last race, he was fourth in the G1 Makers Mark Mile, and beaten by Silver Bullet and Son of Ra, who he sees here, but that race was so close amongst the top four, that Seven Years can certainly extract some revenge on them here. Note that the Makers Mark was contested on soft turf at KEE, so that finish probably means well for the chances of all three of these returnees to run well if we get an off track here. My pick will be the one of history, and I will be back Seven Years in the Dixie to defend his crown.
#4- Nitro Chip (Nakamura Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The second entry out of Nakamura Stables is not quite as accomplished, but he is always competitive. Nitro Chip was purchased by his current connections from Alegria for $75.000 in the December auctions and has one optional claimer win in three starts since the sale. With Alegria, he was given a steady diet of graded and ungraded stakes, and while he has not one any of them, he was less then a length from victory in the G2 Seabiscuit Handicap at DMR, and the $125.000 ungraded Toronto Cup at WO. This will be tough competition for him to finally break through and get that graded win, but he can be a contender. If the great work that he had two weeks ago is any indication of his current form, then Nitro Chip can win this race. Like his stablemate, the last time he has been on an off track is too far back to be relevant.
#5- Swizzle Stick (Nj Vets, ridden by V Espinoza)- This four year old colt by El Che Guevara has been seen mostly in ungraded stakes, and has picked up victories in two of them. In August he won the $100.000 Better Talk Now at SAR, and the $75.000 Mr Light at GP last year. Nj Vets has tried to move him up into graded company in the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup, and he ran a game third against a couple of rivals who have won bigger. Despite that, he was dropped back into ungraded stakes again. Most recently, he won an open allowance at FG. Based on SRF figures, he will have to pick it up here to be competitive against the high caliber of opposition he faces here, but he showed the ability to step it up in the Jefferson Cup, and he can do it again. Note also that his win in the Better Talk Now was on an off track.
#6- Son of Ra (Sanny Village, ridden by R Bejarano)- Last year was the best year ever for this six year old gelding by Nineveh, getting the opportunity to escape free track claimers after a $15.000 purchase by Sanny Village. After a couple races of a feeling out process, his new trainer put him in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at SA, and he would be victorious. This punched his ticket to the BC Mile, a race in which he place seventh. At this point, you can look at Son of Ra in two different ways. The first is that of a horse that ran in the BC, and has been close in his past couple races to scoring wins, and earning impressive SRF figures. The other, far more pessimistic way, can be that of saying the horse still hasn’t won since the Shoemaker Mile, and maybe everything just went right for him that day. I will take the positive outlook, thanks to his third in the Makers Mark, which was on soft turf. Son of Ra is working well coming into race, and looks poised to have a big race.
#7- Silver Bullet (Joseph Racing, ridden by R J Albarado)- Back in November, we saw this five year old autogen gelding run in the BC Turf, but could only manage a ninth place finish. It was a bittersweet result for a horse that otherwise had a great 2014. Following the result, the trainer opted to give him a couple months off, and sent him to an open allowance at FG, where he was second. (Swizzle Stick was third in the same race). Another open allowance in March ended up in victory, and among the horses he defeated was Breiterate. Most recently, he showed his ability to be strong in graded company when he was second in the Makers Mark, defeating Son of Ra and Seven Years, as well as the likes of Pip Cozzene. As mentioned previously, that race was on soft turf, and the win in the March open allowance was on good turf. While I am picking him to finish in the top three, if this race comes up as an off track, I put him on top.
#8- Sri Lanka (Axeman, ridden by R Maragh)- This gelding may be six years old, but he has never been better then he has shown so far in 2015. In September, Axeman claimed him from Big Jd Racing for $35.000, and he was immediately rewarded with a pair of wins in high level optional claimers. Soon after, he was entered into the Grade 3 Bradley Handicap in January, and he pulled out a victory. In case anyone thought that was a fluke, he followed that up by winning the GP Turf Handicap, and scored an impressive 103 SRF in that win, a race in which he defeated Seven Years. Most recently, he was fourth in the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap, which may have been disappointing, but there is no reason to think he cannot bounce back from that. In the event of an off track, Sri Lanka has 3 wins and 3 seconds in his seven career starts.
Prediction: (Firm Turf): 3-7-6-8
Prediction (Off Track): 7-8-3-6
Categories: Grade II