$500k Grade II Penn Mile highlights Saturday card

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From a national standpoint, the day-to-day racing product at the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course draws minimal attention. However, many horseplayers will have eyes and their wagering dollars focused on Penn National this Saturday.

Highlighting the card, which has eight Stakes races, is the $500,000 Grade II Penn Mile. The Penn Mile is a one-mile grass race for three-year-olds, and with 47 horses nominated, a good field size seems likely and that will give the players many wagering options.

The main contenders figure to come out of the Grade II American Turf held at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4.  Digital Age exploded late to post an 8-1 upset that day, catching A Thread of Blue nearing the wire.  Social Paranoia (third) and Henley’s Joy (eighth) could also show up in the Penn Mile.  

Other leading contenders may include Clint Maroon, who was an easy wire-to-wire winner of the Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct in April over a yielding surface.  He has won three straight for trainer Todd Pletcher and can handle firm turf just as well. The highly regarded Value Proposition won his April 27 debut at Belmont with ease and would be getting tested for class for trainer Chad Brown, who knows a thing or two about top grass horses.

Given his excellent tactical speed, proven ability to handle different turf courses, and cutting back to the one mile distance, A Thread of Blue looks like the right option in a good gambling race. 

The $200,000 Penn Oaks could feature a rematch of The Mackem Bullet and Regal Glory — the top two finishers in the Gr. II Appalachee Stakes at Keeneland.

The Mackem Bullet used a perfect trip to win the Apalachee, while Regal Glory rallied into the teeth of a slow early pace to grab place money. Regal Glory has a big chance to turn the tables with a more legitimate pace scenario.

Other Stakes races at Penn National Saturday include the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, the Penn Ladies Dash, the Chocolate Town Sprint, the Susquehanna Stakes, the Danzig Stakes, and the New Start Stakes. It is a card worthy of inclusion on your Saturday wagering game plan.

Choose wagers wisely

It pays to keep a close eye on the cost (i.e. takeout rates) on the different types of wagers at tracks that may not be a regular part of your wagering menu.

Since Penn National is not a track I play on a regular basis, I took a good look at the takeout rates on the different types of wagers and some of the numbers were startling.

Here is a comparison of the takeout rates at Penn National and at Santa Anita:

The wagers at Penn National that jump out in a negative way are the Trifectas with a takeout of 31 percent and the Superfectas with a takeout of 30 percent.  Those takeout rates are among the highest in the nation.

On the other hand, the Exactas have a very reasonable 20 percent takeout. Looks like I will be aggressive trying to make a score playing Exactas in the Penn Mile, the Penn Oaks, and the other Penn National Stakes this weekend.

Santa Anita update

After six weeks of racing and training (and over 7,000 published workouts) with no catastrophic injuries, the tough nine-year-old gelding Kochees became the third equine fatality in nine days when he suffered a suffered a fractured sesamoid during last Saturday’s sixth race.

Surgery was performed on Sunday in an effort to save Kochees, but the damage was too severe and he had to be euthanized.

The total number of equine fatalities since December 26 now stands at 26.  California Senator Dianne Feinstein on Monday again called for racing to be halted at Santa Anita.

“I once again call for an immediate moratorium on racing at Santa Anita,” Feinstein said in a statement. “We need a thorough investigation of practices and conditions at the track before any more races are held.”

Whether it is right or wrong, Santa Anita remains in the national spotlight in a negative way with a constant watch from many media outlets that do not cover racing on a regular basis. 

The sensationalism being generated with the help of organizations like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has given the public a distorted view of how the horses at Santa Anita are cared for and the conditions under which those athletes are trained and the medical facilities available to keep those athletes is the best condition possible.

Maybe Senator Feinstein should come down to Santa Anita herself to learn about the precautions being taken.  I’d be happy to show her around.  

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday race 2: Breezy Bee (No. 6).  Long-time Maiden finally figured out how to win May 17.  She gets plenty of pace to set up her late run and once these types of horses learn how to win, they often come right back when properly spotted vs. winners.

Look for jockey Kent Desormeaux to get her covered up early and make the last run.  

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About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

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