Best Pal Stakes (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
DMR- For Two Year Olds
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
August 13, 2023
On Sunday, we will get a chance to learn the more of the names of promising two-year-olds as the 20th running of the Best Pal Stakes takes place. It is held at DMR and features a mixture of juvenile horses that may have already had a big result in a stakes race and those that are making their debut at this level. Not every winner of the race will go on to bigger and better things, but we have seen some good ones end up with the Best Pal trophy. In 2006, a horse named Fusion showed up and won the first stakes of a career that would later see a KYD win. In 2014, Lukas Duke and Son of Laggy would finish in a dead heat and would each go one to have great careers themselves. Last year, a horse out of great mare Hanamaulu won the Best Pal and went to finish third in the BC Juvenile later in the year. That of course, was Forceamalu, who is still running for Arindel and was mostly recently seen running second in the Affirmed in June. As we would expect, the starting gate is full for this race. Let’s meet those that will be taking part now!
#1- Fayette County (Dmc Racing, ridden by J Bravo)- So far, this one has done everything right, with two wins in two starts, but he has not run for a particularly high purse as of yet. After a two length win a couple weeks ago with a sharp winning time, maybe he would have had more success for bigger purses. He’s getting that chance now, but he’s also going on a short rest. That doesn’t have to be a problem, but if this doesn’t go well, hopefully the horse gets an additional chance with more rest time.
#2- Chief Style Warrior (Williams9, ridden by R A Vazquez)- After running third in the $200.000 KY Juvenile, he was sold by Arkansas Elite for $55.000, which seems a little low after that kind of effort. Williams9 isn’t going to complain and led him to a win right away in the $150.000 Tremont. Last month, he was decent in the Bashford Manor but not quite good enough to cash a check. If starting from post 12 was an issue there, the trainer will be extra happy to have this post.
#3- Abyss (Fractious, ridden by Re Diaz)- Broke his maiden two starts back at CD, then hoped that would carry over into the Grade 3 Sanford at SAR last month. That did not happen, as he started in the middle of the field and never seemed to get going, being beaten by two lengths. Not something that needs to be a deterrent especially at this young age, and now Abyss will get another chance to show what he’s got.
#4- Alpha Inside (Barcelona Farms, ridden by V Espinoza)- Coming into the race on about a full three-month layoff. When we last saw him, he was picking up his maiden win at GG in what was his second career start. The trainer has been patient with him, and it looks like the adds see a minor change. Worked very well here on Monday, and if he can translate that into this race, he should be one of the top picks.
#5- El Gran Blue Jay (Rock Creek, ridden by J J Hernandez)- There is not much we have to go by with this one, as he only has one race and two public works. That lone race was a win on debut at EMD, where he went wire to wire at the start of June. The one work we can see since then is slower than most of his rivals here, but it just one work and you cannot put much stock into that.
#6- Test The Waters (Mb Stables, ridden by U Rispoli)- After winning on debut at WO at the end of August, Test The Waters would be sent to BEL to run in the $150.000 Tremont. He was only beaten by a length in the race, though it was merely good enough for a sixth-place finish. He’s had a couple of months to rest now and continues to be working well. No reason to think that he cannot be a contender here.
#7- Gold Vault (Fractious, ridden by A Ayuso)- All is well for this Chase My Tail Lights colt after three starts. Just one of them is a win, coming at CD in June, but I really like his effort last month in the Grade 3 Sanford at SAR. In that competitive race, he was second and only beaten by half a length. Gold Vault is just barely under $100.000 in earnings at this point, so clearly, he is doing something right. Plus, Fractious horses are a good bet right now.
#8- Ribeye (Waldo, ridden by J Couton)- Made the first two starts of his career at SA, and would hit the board in both of them. That was not enough for Waldo, however, and Ribeye would be gelded after that second race. Perhaps it played a role in breaking his maiden at WO at the start of July, though perhaps his form was good enough regardless to where that would have happened anyway. I’m not sold on his recent work in comparison to the rest of the field, but with two-year-olds, you can’t worry about a couple tenths in a work.
#9- Holiday In Cambodia (Riggins Racing, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Won on debut at the start of April in a CT maiden, and after falling short in a stake at TUP, Holiday In Cambodia captured an allowance at PRX last month. That would lead to him being sold, where Riggins Racing picked him up for $150.000. Works are a little inconsistent (which can be expected), but he did have a nice one here on July 20th, about a week after the sale.
#10- Max Party (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by A Cedillo)- Took on fellow CA-Breds in his first two races and ultimately broke his maiden in late May. Three weeks later, he remained at SA to take on an unrestricted crowd in the $100.000 FT Futurity. Not only did he win the race, but the 96 SRF that he earned is the highest that any horse in this field has been able to attain in any of their races. If that doesn’t convince you that he is a contender here, check out his most recent public work.
#11- Bing Bang Boom (Rock Creek, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- One of the more unheralded runners in this field. He’s made three starts and broke his maiden last month at ELP. Nothing was wrong with the effort, but others have been in stronger fields. There is not much that we can go by with this horse in terms of works as he only has three of them since his debut race, and two of them are at three furlongs.
#12- Neon Anoush (Big Guns Stables, ridden by A Espinoza)- Made his debut north of the border at FE against fellow Canadians, and finished in the middle of the field. A month later, he went to the bigger track up north, and got the win at WO in a come from behind manner. Now, he makes his stake debut hoping to make a name for himself and his work at the end of July is quite promising. The question with him will be more about the post, but it seems as of late that this has not been as much of a detriment as it once was.