The all-weather surface at Woodbine is where the action is on Saturday, with two distaff contests headlining the day. A competitive group of sprinters, including previous winner Artie’s Princess, go to the gate for the feature G2 Bessarabian Stakes, while three interesting US routers stage a cross-border incursion to take on the locals in the G3 Maple Leaf.
G2, $175,000, 7f all-weather, 3yo+ females, 4.55pm ET
In the calm after the storm of the Breeders’ Cup there are thin pickings on the stakes schedule, but Woodbine steps into the breach on Saturday and the feature Bessarabian is a very competitive contest.
There’s a previous winner in the field, with Artie’s Princess (5-2) seemingly back in the same sort of mood as she was when toughing it out to win this race by a head in 2020. She evidently had problems after that, running just once in 2021, but she has regained her equilibrium and comes here off victory at little Presque Isle Downs, where she comfortably won the G2 Masters over six and a half furlongs on the synthetic surface.
Her barnmate Allworthy (8-1) was a late-closing third, beaten three and three-quarter lengths, and last weekend’s shock G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Caravel was back in fourth. That form isn’t gospel, but it stacks up nicely in this company, and they both get Lasix for the first time today.
Artie’s Princess will face stiff opposition from Hazelbrook (3-1), four-for-five this year and once runner-up, who has never raced anywhere else but Woodbine and produced a career-best last time, staying on strongly over six furlongs to win the G3 Ontario Fashion by a head from Beyond Mybudget (8-1), who is winless in 2022. Moving back up in distance won’t be an issue and she could well be still on the upgrade.
Beyond Mybudget has a better-fancied barnmate in Our Flash Drive (7-2), who is three-for-five here and was only just collared in the G3 Ontario Matron here over a mile-sixteenth last time, beaten half a length with the third horse some way back.
The cutback in distance isn’t guaranteed to suit, though.
Another in-form contender is the lightly raced Loyalty (6-1), four-for-five lifetime and bidding for a three-timer after winning stakes races at Presque Isle over six furlongs and then over course and distance, when she beat subsequent stakes-winner Super Hoity Toity by an easy length and a half. Further improvement is likely.
It’s hard to quantify what Lorena (15-1) brings to the table, as her stakes victory here two starts ago was over five furlongs on turf, and although she has won on this synthetic surface she was last of seven behind Hazelbrook in the G3 Hendrie here in July.
It took Awesome Treat (20-1) seven tries to break her maiden and she takes a huge class hike by going straight into Graded company, while British import Sweet Enough (20-1) has been off the track since her US debut in April, when she ran last of ten in a Keeneland allowance.
Bessarabian Stakes Free Betting Pick
Previous winner Artie’s Princess has claims but this is best left to HAZELBROOK, who is coming off a career-best win here and may find further improvement.
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Artie’s Princess||Jose L. Ortiz||+250|
|Sweet Enough (GB)||Emma-Jayne Wilson||+2000|
|Lorena||Rafael Manuel Hernandez||+1500|
|Beyond Mybudget||Declan Carroll||+800|
|Our Flash Drive||Patrick Husbands||+350|
|Awesome Treat||Jose Luis Campos||+2000|
Maple Leaf Stakes
G3, $150,000, 1m 2f all-weather, 3yo+ females, 4.25pm ET
The Maple Leaf has been going since 1892, but it has lost a good deal of prestige in recent years and this edition is a weak affair, illustrated by the fact that the first two in the betting have never won anything better than an allowance race.
That pair does bring form from below the border, though, which can be a crucial advantage against the local talent. Morning-line choice Transient (3-1) made a late start to the year, only returning in September, but turned in a decent performance last time in an allowance at Aqueduct on turf, finishing off well over a mile and three-eighths for a comfortable score. She has been placed on the synthetic track here and the booking of Jose Ortiz takes the eye.
Laurel Park allowance winner Creative Cairo (7-2) could never get to grips with the all-the-way winner on turf at Aqueduct last time but did well to keep second. This is her first start on a synthetic surface and she has shown very little on the main track, so she comes with a question mark attached.
California shipper Charges Dropped (4-1) showed improvement at Presque Isle Downs last time, drawing off to win an allowance optional claimer by three lengths over an extended mile on her first start on an all-weather track. She took to the surface well and that’s a big positive in this poor contest.
The best of the home team may be Munnyfor Ro (6-1), fourth in last year’s Queen’s Plate and winner of three stakes here on turf and synthetics, including the Woodbine Oaks over a mile-eighth, when she had Il Malocchio (12-1) – who is riding an eight-race losing streak – a length and a half back in third. Munnyfor Ro is winless in four this year, though, and showed so little when last of nine in the G1 EP Taylor here at this distance that today’s class relief may not make that much difference.
Her barnmate Angelou (12-1) wired the field in an AOC here over a mile-eighth two starts ago, but was then lost without trace in the G2 Canadian here on turf – two places and six lengths behind Munnyfor Ro – and although the return to synthetics may help, further improvement is required.
Crystal Glacier (15-1) was fifth in this race 12 months ago but has run very poorly in two starts since and there’s no obvious reason why she should improve on that showing, while Peace Seeker (12-1) was sixth in last year’s race and has done little of note since then. Last time out she finished a weary ninth in the G3 Ontario Matron here over a mile-sixteenth – three and three-quarter lengths behind seventh-placed Silent Causeway (12-1) – and makes little appeal.
Maple Leaf Stakes Odds
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Crystal Glacier||Eswan Flores||+1500|
|Owen’s Tour Guide||Leo Salles||+2000|
|Charges Dropped||Kazushi Kimura||+400|
|Il Malocchio||Sahin Civaci||+1200|
|Munnyfor Ro||Justin Stein||+600|
|Peace Seeker||Slade Jones||+1200|
|Creative Cairo||Rafael Manuel Hernandez||+350|
|Silent Causeway||Patrick Husbands||+1200|
|Transient (GB)||Jose L. Ortiz||+300|
Maple Leaf Stakes Betting Prediction
A weak race that won’t take much winning. CHARGES DROPPED seemed to improve for her first taste of synthetics and that could give her the upper hand.
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