2023 Arlington Stakes, Blame S., Shawnee S. and Regret S. Odds

There’s a lot to take in at Churchill Downs on Saturday on both the main track and the weeds. The revitalized Rattle N Roll bids for a three-timer in the G3 Blame against main-track debutant Santin, while the progressive Frost Point takes on G1 winner Pauline’s Pearl in the G3 Shawnee. Over on the lawn, the solid and consistent veteran Set Piece meets younger rivals Royal Patronage and Classic Causeway in the 2023 Arlington Stakes, and Mission Of Joy and Papilio renew rivalry in the G3 Regret after finishing third and fourth here last month.

Blame Stakes

G3, $225,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+, 5.26pm ET

Two G1 winners on markedly different trajectories form the focus of the Blame, arguably the highlight of a stakes-heavy afternoon at Churchill Downs on Saturday, a day full of preps for the big Stephen Foster meet under the twin spires in four weeks’ time.

The horse on the up is Rattle N Roll (2-1), who won his G1 as a juvenile before failing to make it pay on the Kentucky Derby trail. He lost his mojo a little but has got it back now and is firing on all cylinders, and dusted off several of today’s rivals with a convincing victory in the G3 Ben Ali over a mile and three-sixteenths at Keeneland in April.

He was going away at the wire when beating rallying longshot Call Me Fast (6-1) by a length and a quarter, with Pioneer Of Medina (4-1) setting the pace until fading late for third, a half-length back, and Happy American (8-1) making little impact in fourth, another three lengths away. Rattle N Roll reinforced his redemptive arc when taking down the G3 Pimlico Special next time, finishing off strong over the mile and three-sixteenths to get the photo by a nose, and could move up again, although the two-week turnaround is certainly food for thought.

That was a career-best for Call Me Fast, who has yet to win a stakes, although the hope of further progress is tempered by his zero-for-four record at this circuit. Pioneer Of Medina and Happy American both won Graded stakes at the Fair Grounds this winter, but are generally inconsistent and the board seems the limit of their potential.

The horse needing to turn things around is the turf runner Santin (8-1), who makes his main-track debut after compiling an impressive record on the lawn that included two G1 wins over course and distance last summer.

However, he has disappointed in four starts – off the board each time – since winning the G1 Arlington Million and dropped away tamely when fifth in the G1 Turf Classic over course and distance last month. He needs a tonic, and if the surface switch provides that he has the class to rebound and would look a major overlay at the morning-line odds.

Sixth place in last year’s Kentucky Derby at 60-1 was a solid showing from Barber Road (6-1), but he was laid off after a poor effort in the Belmont and took time to get going again when brought back. He snapped an 11-race losing streak when scraping home in a Keeneland allowance last time and may move up from that.

Masqueparade (5-1) didn’t show much when sixth in a mile stakes here on his comeback from a nine-month layoff, while Cooke Creek (12-1) has lost his last ten and needs an easier spot.

2023 Blame Stakes Odds

Prediction  This may be a Hail Mary shot but turf runner SANTIN gets considerable class relief for his main-track debut and the switch could shake him back to form.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Rattle N RollBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+200
MasqueparadeCorey J. Lanerie+500
Barber RoadReylu Gutierrez+600
Call Me FastJulien R. Leparoux+600
SantinTyler Gaffalione+800
Happy AmericanJames Graham+800
Pioneer of MedinaLuis Saez+400
Cooke CreekAdam Beschizza+1200

Belmont Stakes Odds

Arlington Stakes

G3, $225,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 4yo+, 4.55pm ET

The time-honored Hollywood trope of the gnarly old-timer pitted against the perky young guns comes to life in Arlington, the pick of the races on the lawn.

The seven-year-old Set Piece (8-5) has a fine record at this circuit – four-for-seven – and holds his form pretty well, always coming up short at G1 level but very effective in this type of race. He showed that he was ready for another campaign when third in a mile stakes here last month, coming fast and late to show behind the classy Annapolis, with the front-running Get Smokin (6-1) a length and a half behind in sixth and Kentucky Ghost (8-1) a head away in seventh, and the best of his form last year reads very well here.

He ran fourth in the G1 Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland, beaten two lengths when again producing his habitual strong rally, with Classic Causeway (4-1) four and a half lengths back in seventh. Set Piece should get pace to run at and will be doing his best work late, while Get Smokin was only beaten a head in this race 12 months ago, although it was a weaker contest and consistency is his issue.

Classic Causeway is one of the young guns looking to shake things up, and is likely to duel for the lead with Get Smokin. He’s had a chequered career, showing up well on the Kentucky Derby trail before finishing 11th on the big day, then being reinvented as a turf runner and winning the G1 Belmont Derby over ten furlongs, with Royal Patronage (3-1) a close-up fifth on his US debut.

He’s lost six straight since, though, with his last two starts back on dirt including sixth place in the high-class G2 Oaklawn when he couldn’t make the lead. Now he’s in the weeds again and it’s tough to know what to expect from Classic Causeway today, and his style of racing leaves him there to be shot at.

Fellow young gun Royal Patronage, a G2 winner as a juvenile in Britain, ran poorly in his two other starts ‘over here’ in 2022, but showed much more when winning a mile-sixteenth allowance at Keeneland in April on his first start for more than seven months. He saw the race out well and had two and a half lengths in hand over third-placed Tiberius Mercurius (10-1), and could move right up now he’s back in the groove.

Tiberius Mercurius boosted the form when beating Harlan Estate (10-1) by a nose after a sustained duel in an allowance here over a mile-eighth three weeks ago, although in their long careers neither has managed to win at stakes level.

2023 Arlington Stakes Odds

Prediction  This is an ideal spot for the late-closing SET PIECE, who has a class edge over his younger rivals and will be suited by the guaranteed fast pace.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Get SmokinRicardo Santana, Jr.+700
Kentucky GhostTyler Gaffalione+900
Classic CausewayBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+500
Tiberius MercuriusLuis Saez+1200
Harlan EstateDeclan Cannon+1200
Royal Patronage (FR)John R. Velazquez+225
Set Piece (GB)Florent Geroux+125

Shawnee Stakes

G3, $225,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 4yo+ females, 4.22pm ET

There’s an opportunity for Pauline’s Pearl (5-2) to make amends in the Shawnee, 12 months on from what at the time was the worst performance of her career in this race.

It looked a penalty kick last year, with Pauline’s Pearl coming on from victory in the G1 La Troienne over course and distance and trading at 2-5 to see off a short field, but she never fired at all and finished fourth.

That marked a watershed in her career – before that, she had finished first or second in six stakes races, after that she has won only the G3 Houston Ladies Classic over a mile-sixteenth at Sam Houston, splashing through the slop to beat long-time leader Hidden Connection (9-2) by a length and three-quarters, with Moon Swag (12-1) a no-show fourth, beaten five lengths, and Sixtythreecaliber (6-1), who has been way out of form in 2023, last of six as the favorite.

And the way she never checked in for this year’s La Troienne, running a flat sixth without ever rating a danger – although still ahead of longshots Soul Of An Angel (20-1), who has been off the board in all her six stakes starts, and Sixtythreecaliber in seventh and eighth – indicates that she could be on the decline. If not, she certainly needs to bounce back fast.

Her main rival is coming at the problem from a very different angle, as the late-maturing Frost Point (2-1) is only now hitting her stride at the age of five and ran a career-best last time.

She has moved through the gears on her last three starts, allowance win, stakes win, and then her Graded-stakes breakthrough in the G3 Doubledogdare over a mile-sixteenth at Keeneland in April, when she finished off with a flourish to run down the speed horse Hidden Connection and win by three-quarters of a length.

Now that Frost Point is rolling there is likely more to come; Hidden Connection will be a pace angle again but she has problems making it stick at this level.

Three wins on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park this winter, including her stakes breakthrough over a mile-sixteenth, seemed to pigeonhole Idiomatic (5-1), but she went back to the main track last time and moved up again when runner-up in the G2 Ruffian over the Belmont Park mile. Admittedly, she has beaten five and a half lengths, but she lacked a change of gear, will be happier stretching out again, and is still on the upgrade. 

Churchill Downs has been a happy place for Travel Column (15-1), three-for-five and a solid fifth in the G1 Kentucky Oaks in 2021, but she has struggled for form of late and was beaten a city block when last of six in the G1 Derby City Distaff here over seven furlongs last month.

2023 Shawnee Stakes Odds

Prediction  The progressive FROST POINT produced a career-best last time, likely has further improvement in store, and can stretch her winning streak to four.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Soul of an AngelAdam Beschizza+2000
Travel ColumnCristian A. Torres+1500
Pauline’s PearlTyler Gaffalione+250
IdiomaticFlorent Geroux+500
SixtythreecaliberEdgar Morales+600
Frost PointJunior Alvarado+200
Hidden ConnectionReylu Gutierrez+450
Moon SwagLuis Saez+1200

Regret Stakes

G3, $225,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo fillies, 2.45pm ET

The rematch is on in the Regret, with four of the six runners coming on from the G2 Edgewood here last month, with a little extra yardage today to sweeten the pot.

The circumstances of the mile-sixteenth Edgewood – the first two on the tote board finishing last and second-last, and the winner getting a freebie on the lead – mean that it’s tough to be dogmatic about the value of the form, but that aside, Mission Of Joy (9-5) came out best of this bunch when third, keeping on well through the closing stages and beaten only a length at the wire.

She was a head better than the weakening Papilio (2-1) in fourth, with Girl Named Charlie (5-1) a length and three-quarters back in sixth after getting a difficult trip and longshot Sabalenka (12-1) a no-show eighth.

How will it pan out this time? Mission Of Joy had previously completed a Tampa Bay Downs hat-trick with a narrow victory in the G3 Florida Oaks over a mile-sixteenth, again doing her best work late, and that Edgewood effort was evidence of a filly who remains on the upgrade.

The Irish import Papilio was also coming off a narrow win, this one in the G2 Appalachian over the Keeneland mile in which she finished ahead of the Edgewood winner Heavenly Sunday, with Sabalenka again out with the washing in sixth.

Perhaps that suggests Papilio doesn’t want to go longer, that she faded in the Edgewood through lack of stamina, and it’s a fact that her best form in the old country came when runner-up in a Tipperary stakes at seven and a half furlongs.

Girl Named Charlie was making her Graded-stakes debut in the Edgewood after two wins at the Fair Grounds, the most recent being her stakes breakthrough over a mile when she dug in gamely to win by a head.

She would have been closer in the Edgewood but for being blocked repeatedly in the stretch, although she didn’t pick up that well when finally getting daylight. However you cut it up, there isn’t a whole lot between this trio.

Gulfstream Park maiden winner Mrs Astor (4-1) was favourite on her stakes debut at Horseshoe Indianapolis but got going too late and was nearest at the finish in fourth. This is clearly a class hike but today’s extra furlong appears a positive.

Miss Riddler (6-1) rolled gate-to-wire when breaking her maiden over a mile at Keeneland, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be sent forward at this much higher level. She evidently has ability but this might be too much too soon.

2023 Regret Stakes Odds

Prediction  It could be a case of different day, same result, as MISSION OF JOY remains on the upgrade and can confirm previous track form with her old rivals.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Miss RiddlerLuis Saez+600
Girl Named CharlieEdgar Morales+500
Mission of JoyTyler Gaffalione+180
Mrs. AstorJohn R. Velazquez+400
Papilio (IRE)Javier Castellano+200
SabalenkaRicardo Santana, Jr+1200

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