$500,000 Penn Mile – Stakes Analysis for May 31, 2014

Matt Bernier, one of the stars of Horseplayers

Matt Bernier, one of the stars of Horseplayers

by Matt Bernier

The Penn Mile is the fourth race scheduled on a solid Saturday night card from Penn National, with post time set for 7:31 ET. A field of 8 three year olds are set to go a mile on the grass in a stakes event that is quickly becoming a main early season target for many of the quality three year old turf runners in the country. For a grass race, there appears to be a fair amount of pace set for this eight furlong contest, with many of the speed horses being quality runners.

Bobby’s Kitten was a strong third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after setting very swift early and middle splits, only being passed by the classy European runners Outstrip and Giovanni Boldini. Storming Inti has shown that he’s a game colt in many of his starts, the latest being the GII American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard. After setting honest fractions, this son of Stormy Atlantic reluctantly yielded the lead to another foe that he will be facing again in this spot, finishing a determined second.

While these two appear to be the quality front runners of the group, their chances may be equally compromised by a pace scenario which likely includes at least two other horses. Sing the Dream (stretching out sprint to route, dirt to turf), Laddie Boy (displayed speed in GIII Transylvania, as well as GII Kentucky Jockey Club last fall; first time turf), and Mr Brioni (first time turf after showing speed in the majority of his dirt races) have all demonstrated the willingness to be on or near the lead – something I believe hurts the chances of both Bobby’s Kitten and Storming Inti.

If you take away the two synthetic starts in Global View’s career, you’re left with a horse who has yet to run a bad race on the grass. In his latest start, this son of Galileo earned the best Beyer Speed Figure of his young career – an 89 when taking the American Turf on Kentucky Derby day, a race in which he bested another of today’s likely favorites in Storming Inti. He’s going to get an honest pace to close in to and has the looks of a strong contender, but in a race where you could make a case for any number of horses, I don’t want a short price.

My selection for the Penn Mile is Divine Oath. This Todd Pletcher trainee has shown supreme versatility through the first three starts of his career, displaying the ability to race on or near the lead, as well as come from well off the pace. Divine Oath will be making his second start of the form cycle, and Pletcher hits at a strong 27% with this angle. He should get a very nice setup from a pace scenario, and Chris DeCarlo should be able to put this son of Broken Vow anywhere he pleases. With a clean trip and a slight improvement second off the layoff, I like Divine Oath to win the Penn Mile.

SELECTION – Divine Oath, Chris DeCarlo; ML 6-1

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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