The arrival of September brings with it the final days of racing at Saratoga and Del Mar, but it also signals the start of a new challenge for 2-year-olds. After competing at sprint distances in graded stakes, longer tests like the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs offer an initial glimpse at how juvenile fillies will handle the rigors of racing around two turns and can also provide valuable insight as to what awaits the youngsters when they turn three in 2020.
The Pocahontas is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
1. Shadilee (10-1): She was claimed by trainer Mike Maker for $75,000 out of a 3 ¼-length victory in her career debut. That was at 5 ½ furlongs, so there are some concerns about how she’ll handle stretching out around two turns, but she’s well-bred for the distance and she should benefit from a ground-saving trip from the rail.
2. His Glory (20-1): She won her debut by daylight at Indiana Grand, but was no threat on a wet track in the Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga and then finished six lengths behind in third in the Ellis Park Debutante. Off those last two efforts, she’ll need to step up her game to be a contender here.
3. Portrait (3-1): Turned in a masterpiece last time in her second start as she pressed the pace from second then pulled away to romp by 12 ½ lengths in an Ellis Park maiden race. That was her first start on dirt after finishing third on turf in her debut and, based on her quick time of 1:22.63 for seven furlongs, she will be hard to beat if she can duplicate that effort.
4. Lazy Daisy (8-1): Ships in from Del Mar after finishing a distant fourth behind the victorious Bast in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante. On a positive note, she won her debut nicely by a half-length and was only a half-length behind the runner-up in the Debutante.
6. Morning Gold (3-1): Makes an interesting switch to dirt after starting on turf in her first two outings and winning her last race by 5 ¼ lengths. She put in a promising work on the main track last weekend and, considering how there’s a Breeders’ Cup race for juvenile fillies on grass, her connections must believe she has a future on dirt.
7. British Idiom (4-1): In plain English, she earned a spot in the starting gate by registering an impressive 3 ½-length win in a Saratoga maiden race. She beat Miss Marissa, who came back to break her maiden last Sunday at Belmont Park, which bodes well for her chances. She has plenty of speed but will have company on the front end, which could make life easier for the closers in the field of nine.
8. Lotta Ott (8-1): Took a nice step forward in her second start at the Spa as she pressed quick fractious and prevailed in a photo finish. Looks like she will also be on or near the lead and will need some racing luck to avoid a wide trip.
9. Addilyn (15-1): She needed three cracks to post a maiden win but was never worse than second in those three starts. Her final times are on the slow side and likelihood of a wide trip also weakens her appeal.
THE PICK: Portrait
LIVE LONGSHOT: Shadilee