Raven Run (Grade 2)- $350.000 Purse
KEE- For Fillies Three Years Old
Seven Furlongs on the Dirt
October 21, 2023
While many trainers are beginning to think about the BC in a couple of weeks, there is still plenty of entertaining races to hold us over until then. This Saturday at KEE, we get one of those races as a generous $350.000 purse is being offered in the 19th running of the Grade 2 Raven Run. It’s the largest purse that we will see this weekend and sends three-year-old fillies seven furlongs on the main track. It’s the same amount that was offered last year, when Bella Chica picked up the second win in this race for Mb Stables, doing so by an impressive three lengths. Just two weeks later, she did make her way to the BC Fillies and Mares Sprint but was never a factor in the race. As a four-year-old, she has not won but does remain active. Perhaps the winner of this race can use it to follow Bella Chica’s lead into the BC? We shall see! Let’s meet those who will be heading to the track!
#1- Queen Evade Party (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by A Cedillo)- Last month, this filly ran in the Grade 1 Cotillion, and ran on or near the lead most of the way before fading in the stretch. Now, she will cut back on her distance to what she ran two months ago at the Grade 3 CT Oaks, for she finished in a much stronger manner, running second for that race’s $750.000 purse. She looks like a contender now, but she is going to have to deal with a familiar foe from the CT Oaks, and she won’t be able to get away from her in the starting gate. as well.
#2- Points Of Grace (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Silvera)- Who beat Queen Evade Party in the CT Oaks? Well, that was Points Of Grace, so now she will have her chance to do it again at the same distance, but not on a bullring of a racetrack. Her last outing was also at seven furlongs, coming three weeks ago in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney, where she might have picked up a fourth-place check, but it seems like the type of race that would have had Mb Stables disappointed. This is the trainer’s only entry in the field, so it’s his only chance to defend his Raven Run crown.
#3- Lysistrata (Royalty Stables, ridden by L Saez)- Makes her debut for Royalty Stables here, as the trainer picked her up last month with a $50.000 claim. Have to wonder if Riggins Racing was trying to “sneak” her in that one with a tag in an optional claimer, because she has had several stakes starts, including running second in the race that was immediately before that, the $125.000 ELP Turf. Despite the surface run on in that one, Lysistrata has primarily been on a dirt horse. The question for this one, though, is whether or not she can get back her form. She’s good enough to take part in a race like this but will need to reach back and find that version of her that ran in the spring if she wants to beat this crowd.
#4- Shadow State (Smokey Stover, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Winner of the FG Oaks in late March, and that sent her into the KYO, where she finished in the middle of the field. In the Raven Run, this filly will be running under a mile for the first time in her career, as not even her debut race was at a shorter distance. That shouldn’t really make much of a difference, and for a horse that’s been missing by a length every time since the spring, maybe a little thing like that can be what she needs. Her most recent races do not really excite me a ton, as they only registered SRF’s in the low 90’s and seemed to merely run even with the leaders in the stretch.
#5- Smokin Cara (Alydar Stables, ridden by G W Corbett)- Very briefly, she was on the KYO trail, but after running sixth in the Grade 3 Fantasy, the trainer made a couple changes which seem to be to her benefit. First, she would see her distance cut back to sprints, and secondly, would be the addition of Bute. She won her first two races with this combination after the Fantasy, highlighted by the Grade 3 Miss PS at PIM on PRK day, beating Lysistrata along the way. In her last race, she also had a strong effort, where she came from off the pace in the Grade 3 Dogwood to just miss at the wire, placing second to Siouxbiscuit. Looks to be one of the stronger contenders in this race.
#6- Loud Mouth (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by A Beschizza)- After struggling in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes, Loud Mouth was backtracked into overnights and began to see better results. She would run second three times before winning an optional claimer at DMR. That race sent her back into stakes company, and she was seen in the Grade 2 Bloom Handicap three weeks ago at AQU but didn’t beat any of her rivals in the muddy conditions. The weather is expected to be much better here on Saturday, and that’s probably good news for her.
#7- Wyldewood (The Freakshow, ridden by A Jimenez)- A horse that knows how to win, with five victories in eleven starts, but most of them come as a two-year-old. When not running in graded stakes this year, Wyldewood has been very consistent with getting a piece of the purse, but her two attempts to run at this level in 2023 have not been nearly as good. Having said that, she also ran in the $150.000 Audubon Oaks two back, a race that is also a seven-furlong event and was second. That field was solid, and every bit as competitive as a graded race, so I don’t want to dismiss Wyldewood as being unable to step up this year. This would be a great spot for her to get that graded win.
#8- Toppifiant (Our Athletes, ridden by P Lopez)- Like a few others in here, Toppifiant took a couple cracks at KYO preps, and she ran decently enough in them. However, it was not enough to get her into the big race, and she would instead run in the Eight Belles at CD that same day. That’s a race that the trainer would love to forget, and she’s bounced back well from it. At SAR, she was involved in a tight photo at the wire in the Grade 1 Test, placing third, then was fourth in the Grade 2 Prioress. Perhaps, she just needs to catch a break or two to come out on top, and there’s no reason to think it can’t happen here.
#9- Tarte Aux Pommes (Jerry Garcia Racing, ridden by F Geroux)- She’s only made seven career starts, but is going to need to start justifying this placement of hers pretty soon. In those races, she has one win and one second, but otherwise she’s not even near the race’s eventual winner. To try and turn those fortunes around, the trainer will run her less than a mile for the first time and for a filly that likes to be on the lead at the start, it’s a logical move. Meets some tough foes here though, but also has had about two months of rest. Maybe that will help.