The Azeri – Grade II
OP Race #1 1 1/16m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $350.00 For Fillies And Mares Four Years Old And Upward.
This race sets up as the race of the season so far for the fillies and mares as we see arguably two of the best routing females in the game go head to head. This is going to be a great race for sure so lets just hope we don’t see some of the shenanigans that has gone on in recent weeks and we get the spectacle that this race promises to be.
Can anyone upset the big two? Well lets have a look and see.
1 Fashionable Mb Stables Hernandez C J
When this one raced from gate 8 in the Pegasus World Cup it wasn’t only the fact that she was a mare that made her an unlikely winner there was a whole host of things. The draw was tough, the fact that she went the first half mile in 44 and 3 and the fact that her form, whilst pretty good against her own sex, just didn’t stack up against the boys. However we all know what happened as she made all and held them off by a half length in possibly the first of these unlikely all the way winners using the race engine to perfection. Purely on that effort in the Pegasus you would expect an easy lead from the one gate and yet another big win but let’s not forget the peculiarities of the new race engine, maybe she will break slow and trail the field today! What we see is that scenario is very unlikely as she has been starting well and up on the pace in all of her recent runs so lets bypass the imponderables and concentrate on whether she can win today. I guess my biggest concern is how much that effort took out of her and of course second up can also draw out a slightly below par run so this isn’t as black and white as it seems. Back on level weights she could easily prove good enough here but i feel that she may just find one of the others too good.
2 Toothless Night Rider Stables Castellano J J
She is a mare that has always looked better than a horse that has only managed four wins and there is no doubt the ability is in the locker she just tends to find a few too good every time she runs. From the perfect draw i expect her to run another decent race but to see her beating any of the top 4 is tough on bare form. Maybe her best hope is that someone goes and contests the lead and she can find a nice sit in behind them, if that’s the case she may get some of the purse.
3 Tenrikyo Smokey Stover Maldonado E
The KYO winner of 2019 was second in the Distaff in the same year and at that point looked like she was going to be a force in the years after. To be fair to her she has maintained a high standard but she has yet to find the same success she found in that three year old season. The trainer gave her a couple of allowance runs recently to try and sharpen her up and get her used to winning again and she followed those up with a decent second in the Royal Delta last time. Look, if we see the best of her she could win but it has been a while since we have seen the very best and i wonder whether this will be her last hurrah before going to the shed.
4 Notorious Return TwinTowersRacing Ryan S
If ever there was one to upset the apple cart it always seems to come from this Wiley old trainer who can get great performances out of their horses when it matters. Although a winner only three times she was second in the grade one Test and a very close third in the BC Dirt Sprint so she clearly has the form to compete at this level. The biggest question mark is the fact that she has never won a route race and against these top level rivals that may be a hurdle too big.
5 Dirty Storm Arindel Saez L
This four year definitely looks the odd one out here but she could also turn out to be the spoiler in an intriguing race. The possibilities are endless these days, will she go out in 22 seconds and lead them home, will she be the first to reach them if two or more go and cut each others throats. On form and works alone she look like she is up against it but this trainer has proved they can produce a winner or two and maybe they have a trick up their sleeve.
6 Wbf No Regrets TwinTowersRacing Lezcano J
It is not often we see this trainer with two in the same race so it makes me very nervous to talk about the likes of Naples and Fashionable as the likely winners. This one is right up there with over 2K in prize money and five graded stakes wins including a very near miss in the BC Distaff last year. She ran a bit below par on her seasonal debut but probably needed the blow out and she will be ready for this challenge. A good sprinter before she became a router she should have the pace to run with anything and would be a very good top three chance.
7 Naples Arindel Pereira T J
Her incredible run ended with a win in last years BC Distaff and at that time she looked pretty much unbeatable in the fillies and mares ranks. Two runs since then however have resulted in two seconds which have removed that invincibility air about her although she remains one of the best race horses at HRP. She should be ready to go here with the only fly in the ointment being the wide gate but with a stable companion inside her the trainer will be working hard to negate that disadvantage.
What a contest this looks with Naples and Fashionable going head to head. The result however will not depend on the best horse in this race but in the best use of instructions so whilst it is a mouthwatering equine challenge it is also something of a gaming challenge. I wouldn’t mind betting though that all the principles out think each other and we see one of the lesser lights shine, maybe Toothless or Wbf No Regrets will offer great value for the punters.