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    Colonial Downs Picks for Tuesday, August 31 Ft. Virginia Derby

    All the picks and analysis you need for the Virginia Derby, the Virginia Oaks, and all the other races at Colonial Downs this Tuesday.

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    Make sure to watch my preview video of the Virginia Oaks and Virginia Derby with Bri Mott (@BritMott) of Stable Duel and if you want to join the fun, download the Stable Duel app and play along on Virginia Derby Day!

    Race 1

    Post time: 1:45 PM ET

    Distance: 1 ¼ miles

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $50,000 

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: Kitten Tales (4-5) is appropriately the morning line favorite and the class of the field. However, I think you can find value in Rhythm and Power (8-1) who may not have had particularly great finishes but has improving speed figures and should be able to handle the increased distance. If you’re looking for a live long shot, look at Likehail (20-1) who has a successful jockey at Colonial, experience on the turf, and the best five-furlong workout of the field. The safest bet with the local flavor is Flanigan’s Cove (9-2) who has raced at Colonial twice before and has a great trainer-jockey combination. On the flip side, I don’t love the value for Alpha Zulu (6-1) though I do think she’ll improve significantly from her maiden.

    Prediction: 7 (Kitten Tales) – 2 (Rhythm and Power) – 1 (Likehail) – 4 (Flanigan’s Cove)

    Race 2

    Post time: 2:13 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Allowance $25,000 Optional Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up 

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Arabian Prince (9-2) has run against some of the biggest names of the 3-year-old circuit in the country (Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Mandaloun, and King Fury) and competed admirably. However, he’s coming off an eight-month layoff and taking a step back in distance. If he stays at 9-2, I like the value given his past competition. Guillaume (4-1) is a horse that is still trying to find the right distance but ran his best race last time out at a mile and beat morning-line favorite Belle Tapisserie (3-1) by a healthy margin. The difference is that Belle Tapisserie ran again ten days later at Pimlico and crushed the field. The difficulty in this field is that there is no obviously early speed. Maybe Shackled (30-1) or Abuelo Pops (10-1) get out in front early, but this is a race that should set up well for closers.  

    Prediction: 1 (Arabian Prince) – 8 (Belle Tapisserie) – 2 (Guillaume) – 6 (Abuelo Pops)

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    Race 3

    Post time: 2:41 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: Allowance $40,000 Optional Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: I see some value in this field as Positive Danger (8-1) and Elke Do Jaguarete (6-1) will take the early lead and I believe one of them will hold on to win. Enola Gay (7-2) is getting significant class relief and is coming down from Saratoga but has been regressing since winning the Grade II Appalachian Stakes last year at Keenland. La Babia (6-1) is another good value who is more of a mile specialist and will sit in perfect stalking position under the ride of Manny Franco. Meanwhile, I don’t love the current value of Classy Woman (4-1) who seems to not have her best at Colonial though the last time could be excused since she was taken off the turf due to wet conditions. If her value were to right to 6-1 or higher, then I think she brings something to the backend of exotics.

    Prediction: 5 (Positive Danger) – 6 (La Babia) – 3 (Elke Do Jaguarete) – 8 (Enola Gay)

    Race 4

    Post time: 3:09 PM ET

    Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $50,000

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: There is no overwhelming favorite in the field with Gravitron (4-1) being the lowest money, which provides betters a lot of value at the windows, and I have my eye on both 9-2 horses, By the Hour and First Kitten. First Kitten ran her best effort last time out at 5 ½ furlong with a new trainer and jockey, so I like for that trend to continue. Meanwhile, the husband-wife team of Brittany (trainer) and Sheldon (jockey) Russell may have a winner in By the Hour who finished third her first time out, but I’d expect to see an improvement and she demonstrates one heck of a closing kicking coming from 12 lengths back to finish in the money. Both horses know the Colonial turf, which is a huge bonus in my eyes knowing that not all turf horses take well to the distinct Virginia surface. Look for Fortes (12-1) as a hard-charging long shot who will add value to your tickets.  

    Prediction: 11 (By the Hour) – 1 (First Kitten) – 9 (Gravitron) – 5 (Fortes)

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    Race 5

    Post time: 3:37 PM ET

    Distance: 1 3/16 miles

    Type: Allowance $25,000 Optional Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: Another race that should be good at the betting window. Rohrbacher (7-2), Tapwood (6-1), and Huge Bigly (9-2) should set the early pace that might speed up the early fractions that would bring the deep closers into the race. Quid (5-1) has seen his speed figures improve the last several times out and won over this same Colonial Downs turf last month. Cantakeitanymore (15-1), who is coming in from Charles Town, is an X factor worth betting on. He’s making his turf debut but likes the slop (a good indicator for transition to turf) and has won his last three races with improving speed and different distances.

    Prediction: 2 (Quid) – 12 (Huge Bigly) – 9 (Cantakeitanymore) – 4 (Rohrbacher)

    Race 6

    Post time: 4:05 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Old Nelson Stakes

    Age: 4-year-olds and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: A very evenly matched race that kicks off the stakes races at Colonial Downs on Tuesday. Nearly every horse in the field presents something to like. Bramble Queen (8-1) has done her best running recently and can handle the distance. Turned (5-1) won most recently at Colonial Downs at the distance and is under the guidance of Jose Ortiz. Bellagamba (8-1) is coming in from Argentina where she’s run in four consecutive Grade I or Grade II races, winning two of them. Tightly Twisted (9-2), like Bramble Queen is running her best races right now and had a nice stakes tune-up before coming to southern Virginia. Meanwhile, Drapes (6-1) is taking a slight step up in distance and has won three out of four races in 2021. On the outside, both Market Rumor (3-1) and Our Bay B Ruth (7-2) are running well but had higher speed figures last year. If I was only looking for value, I’d make sure to have Bramble Queen or Ballagamba on nearly all my tickets as I think they both hit the board. I think this will be a competitive stretch run, but I like Tightly Twisted to keep rolling.

    Prediction: 5 (Tightly Twisted) – 1 (Bramble Queen) – 3 (Bellagamba) – 7 (Market Rumor)

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    Race 7

    Post time: 4:33 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Kitten’s Joy Stakes

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: I love a good 2-year-old race and the Kitten’s Joy Stakes features some nice young colts. Tiz the Bomb (3-1) Has the best speed number in the field, and while it was on dirt, it’s hard to ignore the 14-length margin of victory. Epic Luck (7-2) broke her maiden with a 10-length victory at a mile but has turned in some erratic workouts lately. Wow Whata Summer (5-2) and Gold Heritage (7-2) both have had nice workouts leading up to the race but are taking a significant step up in distance from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. In these types of races, I tend to like early speed so a young horse can set their own pace and not have to deal with a lot of traffic, which has me leaning toward Epic Luck and Tiz the Bomb.

    Prediction: 4 (Tiz the Bomb) – 3 (Epic Luck) – 5 (Wow Whata Summer) – 1 (C My Meister)

    Race 8

    Post time: 5:01 PM ET

    Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

    Type: Rosie’s Stakes

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: What’s better than one 2-year-old stakes race? Two! This one is a more tiered field but still offers good value. The metrics would indicate that Wish Me Home (5-1) will fold under a fast pace, but if he’s able to set the pace then he might be able to hold on and he’s won before on the turf at Colonial Downs. Meanwhile, Big Boss Ben (3-1) can withstand a faster pace and will likely be pushing Wish Me Home the whole way around. I really like the value that Swift Dancer (10-1) provide as he’s been showing strong speed in his workouts and has finished in the money his last three times out under an assortment of distances, conditions, and surfaces. I’m not sure Swift Dancer has a path to victory, but I think his best chance is to be the early speed and then hold on for a place or show finish. Tejano Twist (5-2) won last time out and is training at Colonial Downs, so he’ll be a local favorite. In many ways, this race is going to come down to the first furlong and which horse grabs the early lead and how they decide to set the pace. I tend to favor pure speed, so I think Swift Dancer goes out early and it’s going to come down to who has anything left in the tank at the end.

    Prediction: 7 (Tejano Twist) – 6 (Swift Dancer) – 1 (Big Boss Ben) – 3 (Mr. Mox)

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    Race 9

    Post time: 5:29 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: Virginia Oaks

    Age: 3-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: This is not an overwhelming morning line favorite in this very competitive field at the Virginia Oaks with Por Que No (4-1) leading the way and I admit to liking the filly quite a bit. She’s won five of seven career races and run against some big-time competition in the form of Con Lima. While she’s stepping up in distance, her runaway victories at 1 1/16 miles make me less concerned about the prospect of her not handling it well. However, she’s not run at Colonial before and the turf there can be difficult for new shooters. On the flip side, Belle Belisa (6-1) may only have one career race, but it was at Colonial and the 1 1/8-mile distance, and she came from well off the pace to win with Charlie Marquez aboard. I really like her value and trajectory for this field. Flippant (8-1) should add value on exotics as she’s won the last two times out and keeps improving. Gold for Kitten (9-2) has won all her races and has a trainer (Brendan Walsh) who has won 75% of his races at Colonial Downs this season, albeit with a limited number of entries; however, I’m concerned about distance seeing at 1 1/16-mile victories have been squeakers and there are plenty of other horses in the field that can stretch out.

    Prediction: 7 (Por Que No) – 6 (Belle Belisa) – 3 (Flippant) – 8 (Gold for Kitten)

    Race 10

    Post time: 6:14 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: Virginia Derby – Grade III

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Turf (outer)

    Overview: I absolutely love Search for Truth (8-1) in this race and think he provides outstanding value. He’s a lightly raced horse, only making his third career start, but has improving speed numbers, won at the distance, and, perhaps more significantly, won by 11 lengths last time out. Slicked Back (12-1) is another horse that fits my profile for value as he’s been improving, and his one hiccup can easily be excused and written off based upon poor paddock and gate behavior that has seemed to be an issue in his other two races. He’s taking a step up in distance and class, but I like the value to hit the board. Wotton Asset (5-1) has big-time connections with Graham Motion and Jose Ortiz, but he’s not really accomplished much since winning his first two times out overseas. From a pure speed standpoint, he doesn’t seem to have enough to win in this field. A horse that also has strong connections is Experienced (7-2), who I’m a little surprised at his status as the morning line favorite, but he does have a lot to like. My one concern is that he ran the same speed number in his first two races and typically I’d like to see at least modest improvement. That said, I’m not worried about distance, and I think with better initial positioning he’ll be a significant factor. There is also a LOT of value with Draft Capital (15-1) who has a great pedigree (Uncle Mo) and a jockey who is familiar with Colonial Downs (Sheldon Russell) so I think he provides great opportunity on the backend of exotics. Finally, Hidden Enemy (8-1) is a horse that’s run against monster competition but never stood out and hasn’t had particularly appealing workout figures. Don’t get sucked into the big names and graded stakes experience.

    Prediction: 1 (Search for Truth) – 4 (Slicked Back) – 11 (Draft Capital) – 7 (Experienced)

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    Race 11

    Post time: 6:42 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: $16,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: Our last race of the day features some fillies and mares trying to get on a roll and capture that second victory. Favorite Oil on Canvas (7-2) is a nice horse but hasn’t done much to impress since breaking her maiden second time out. Additionally, her best finish since that victory was a third place in a race that was taken OFF the turf. I like the value in Running on Entry (5-1) who has had a nice Summer 2021 with a win, a second, and a third in three races. Distance won’t be an issue and her speed figures have remained consistent throughout. Not far behind Running on Entry is Independence Law (6-1) who has done well this summer and the mile distance likely suits her best. Lazy Summer Day (5-1) and Dare to Try (6-1) have both shown ability at the distance and are solid bets to hit the board.

    Prediction: 7 (Running on Entry) – 9 (Independence Law) – 1 (Lazy Summer Day) – 3 (Dare to Try)

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