2023 Bessarabian Stakes & Maple Leaf Odds

Distaffers are in the spotlight on the all-weather track at Woodbine on Saturday, with Midnight Stroll leading the way in the G2 2023 Bessarabian Stakes against last year’s winner Our Flash Drive and Loyalty, while the G3 Maple Leaf features a clash between G3 winners Millie Girl and Solo Album, who take on last year’s one-two Il Malocchio and Angelou.


Bessarabian Stakes

G2, $175,000, 7f all-weather, 3yo+ females, 5.12pm ET

At first glance the Bessarabian, the highlight at chilly Woodbine on Saturday, is wide open, a 14-runner field of sprinters spread across the track, but quantity is not matched with deep quality as only four horses have single-figure odds on the morning-line.

The market points to Midnight Stroll (3-1), who served up a career-best last time on the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs, coming late on the scene to hit the place in the G2 Masters over six and a half furlongs, race run in a fast time with odds-on favourite Loyalty (7-2) two lengths back in fourth. That level of form puts her right in the picture here and she gets Lasix for the first time.

Twelve months ago Our Flash Drive (8-1) hosed the field in this race, drawing right off to score by five and three-quarter lengths just outside course-record time, with Loyalty another head away third, Awesome Treat (20-1) another neck back in fourth, and 2020 Bessarabian winner Artie’s Princess (20-1) a no-show sixth, a length and a quarter further back.

Trouble is that Our Flash Drive has lost her way in the second half of 2023, missing the board in three starts with even a return to Woodbine failing to rekindle the spark. She was only seventh in the 2023 G3 Ontario Fashion over six furlongs behind longshot Spun Glass (10-1), who snapped a nine-race losing streak when beating Awesome Treat – running by far her best race since last year’s Bessarabian – by a half-length with Loyalty three-quarters of a length back in third, so Our Flash Drive is hard to recommend at present.

Freshness is a positive for Miss Dracarys (6-1), who has only run twice this year and took the scalp of champion Moira when going gate-to-wire in the 2023 G2 Dance Smartly here over a mile-sixteenth on turf.

Unfortunately she was well off that level when last of six in the 2023 G2 Canadian here over a mile-eighth last time, and the sharp cutback and switch to synthetics give her difficult questions to answer as she bids to rebound.

It is a similar story for Love To Shop (15-1), who won a stakes here over a mile on the lawn before making little impact in a stakes over a mile-sixteenth on the all-weather. It might have been the surface causing the downturn, and the cutback is another potential negative.

Ready To Venture (10-1) – sixth in the Ontario Fashion behind Spun Glass et al – had previously taken down the 2023 G3 Seaway over course and distance when making the most of a dream run up the fence. The seven seems to suit her better than six, as she lacked a kick in the Ontario Fashion.

Loyalty’s barnmate Dolce Sopresa (20-1) comes here on the back of two allowance wins here, most recently over six furlongs on turf, when Awesome Treat was three lengths back in fifth and Owen’s Tour Guide (20-1) never in the race, finishing ninth. It was encouraging and Dolce Sopresa deserves another crack at stakes level.

2023 Bessarabian Stakes Odds & Racing Picks

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds from Jazzsports
Spun GlassLuis Contreras+1000
Our Flash DrivePatrick Husbands+800
Ready To Venture (GB)Rafael Manuel Hernandez+1000
Baby No WorriesWillie Martinez+2000
Dolce SopresaRyan Munger+2000
Time for an AngelLeo Salles+3000
LoyaltyKazushi Kimura+350
Owen’s Tour GuideSofia Vives+2000
Miss DracarysSahin Civaci+600
Artie’s PrincessJuan Crawford+2000
Collecting FlatterDaisuke Fukumoto+3000
Awesome TreatJose Luis Campos+2000
Midnight StrollTrevor McCarthy+300
Love to ShopJustin Stein+1500

The in-form MIDNIGHT STROLL may be the safest option in a tricky affair, as she is proven on the surface and stretching back out should suit.

Maple Leaf Stakes

G3, $150,000, 1m 2f all-weather, 3yo+ females, 4.03pm ET

It has been a very slow burn of a career, but Millie Girl (3-1) is on fire at the moment and is a worthy morning-line favourite in the Maple Leaf, the highlight of the undercard.

Millie Girl was unraced at two and three and did not do a whole lot in allowances last year, but she has blossomed in 2023, holding her own in Graded stakes and finally making her breakthrough in the 2023 G3 Ontario Matron here over a mile-sixteenth with a buzzer-beating finish.

She got up to steal it by a head from Angelou (8-1), who led every step of the way apart from the last step, with Il Malocchio (5-1) a half-length back in third and Ephrata (20-1) well back in fifth. Millie Girl has hit the board in all her nine starts and races as though she will be suited by the extra yardage today.

Il Malocchio and Angelou are old rivals, having filled the exacta in this race 12 months ago when separated by a length, Il Malocchio coming through late to claim the spoils. Two starts ago they again ran one-two, this time in the 2023 G3 Trillium here over a mile-sixteenth, separated by just a head with Batyah (30-1) well back in seventh – although Angelou was demoted to third by the stewards. There will not be much between them again.

Three-year-olds do not have a great record against their elders in this race, but Solo Album (4-1) could defy the stats. She romped by six and a quarter lengths in the 2023 G3 Selene here over a mile-sixteenth in July, and was a convincing winner of the 2023 G3 Ontario Derby here over a mile-eighth but had her number taken down by the stewards for interference at an early stage.

That was a harsh decision. Solo Album seems suited by setting the fractions and her trainer Mark Casse has won this four times, including two of the last three. Her barnmate Talbeyah (12-1) has missed the board in all her starts at stakes level and looks out of her depth.

This is class relief for Ready Lady (15-1), fifth in the 2023 G2 Canadian here over a mile-eighth on turf behind such stars as Moira and Fev Rover, and as long as she handles the return to the all-weather could outrun her odds.

Ever Smart (6-1) crosses the border, which is always a good sign, but is some way off stakes-class given her overall profile. She won a mile allowance at Santa Anita in June, but comes off the turf now and needs a big step forward.

2023 Maple Leaf Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds from Jazzsports
Indy ChampagneJustin Stein+1500
InventingLeo Salles+2000
Talbeyah (IRE)Patrick Husbands+1200
Il MalocchioKazushi Kimura+500
State of MindSofia Vives+2000
Ready LadyJose Luis Campos+1500
Ever SmartTrevor McCarthy+600
AngelouLuis Contreras+800
Ephrata (GB)Daisuke Fukumoto+2000
Solo AlbumSahin Civaci+400
Millie GirlRafael Manuel Hernandez+300
BatyahEswan Flores+3000
Lady BrewRyan Munger+3000

The progressive SOLO ALBUM was victim of a harsh DQ last time and can gain compensation, with the extra yardage likely to bring further improvement.

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