This week, I’m venturing out to Erie, Pennsylvania for the Presque Isle Mile on Sunday and the Presque Isle Masters (G2) on Monday. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@rogueclown) for live notes, pictures, and Periscope streams!
Today’s feature at Presque Isle Downs is the Presque Isle Mile, and this piece features analysis of that race. Analysis of the Presque Isle Masters will follow in a separate piece.
Race 6: Presque Isle Mile, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the Tapeta, post time 7:40pm EDT
Selections: Gigantic Breeze (1), Ghost Hunter (4), Western Elegance (5)
Longshot: Tale of the Nile (2)
The race drew an intriguing field of eight — most of whom have Tapeta form at Presque Isle, Woodbine, or both, though interestingly enough morning line favourite War Correspondent does not. He does have some back synthetic-track form at Woodbine, but that came in its Polytrack era. With no commanding reason on pace or speed that makes War Correspondent the one to beat, “can he handle Tapeta?” is not a question I’m keen to pay to answer at a short price, and I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Though Gigantic Breeze has not visited Erie yet, he has been excellent on the Tapeta at Woodbine this meet. The son of Giant’s Causeway has turned a corner from ages three to four, going from a mid-to-high priced N2L claimer last year to a bona fide graded stakes horse this year. He finally stops having to chase around old Woodbine stalwarts Melmich and Are You Kidding Me in this spot. And, the pace versatility shines — he has done some good work from right on the pace, but with so much early speed in this race, his ability to rate and rally should come into play. Gigantic Breeze can even do so from the inside, a big plus given his rail draw in the Mile. This Woodbine invader will be a fair price with the likes of War Correspondent and Ghost Hunter taking money, and he looks to be the right horse in the right form.
Defending champion Ghost Hunter threatens once again. Yes, he lost as the favourite in the prep allowance, but he was coming back just sixteen days off a try in the Arlington Million. He did make some ground up late, and should get a more lively pace to chase in this outing. Ghost Hunter has never been one who needed to take his track with him, but his 10: 8-0-1 record at Presque Isle suggests he feels right at home in Erie. If he comes back to his best here, he may prove tough.
Another who should be rallying off the pace is Western Elegance. An Arlington invader with impeccable polytrack form, he has run well enough in a pair of graded stakes tries at Woodbine to suggest that he can run on the Tapeta, too. A mile is on the long side for him, as he usually does sprints and extended sprints. Yet, he has enough good races going two turns on the grass to suggest that he has a chance at this two-turn mile trip. And, with his connections being people not especially well known outside of Chicago (trainer Liane Davis and rider Santo Sanjur), you’ll likely get a nice price on the consistent Western Elegance.
With so much speed in this year’s edition of the Presque Isle Mile, I focused on off-pace types for the longshot spot — so, basically, either Tale of the Nile or Bugle Barry. Yes, Bugle Barry gets the feather-light 110-pound impost, but Tale of the Nile only carries 113, and should be closing a bit better than Bugle Barry. Tale of the Nile comes in off a victory in the course and distance prep allowance, a race in which he defeated Black Tie Event and Ghost Hunter. He will have to take a step forward from that effort, between the shippers and the fact that Ghost Hunter should be tighter for this effort. But, Tale of the Nile has a beautifully consistent record at Presque (7: 5-1-0), he likes going a mile, and he has some license to improve with this being only his fourth start of his four-year-old year.