Looking for a Price in the Penn Mile

Gambling
Eclipse Sportswire

The field for the sixth running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes consists of eight horses, four which are stakes winners on grass. Among that group, last month's Grade 2 American Turf Stakes winner Maraud gets first mention, having won the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in March. He's Bankable won the English Channel Stakes last month when leading from start to finish and is the likely early leader once again, while Therapist hasn't been seen since the end of March, but won the Cutler Bay Stakes in his most recent race at the distance of the Penn Mile. Then there's Encumbered, who returns from seven months off and was last seen finishing 13th in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf but won the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes last summer. Coltandmississippi tried turf for the first time last month in the Bridgetown Stakes at a shorter distance and rallied fast in the stretch for third. Hawkish was a non-threatening fourth behind Maraud in the Palm Beach, his only stakes try to date, but then won impressively so may be ready to take another shot at the likely favorite. Way Early finished fourth behind Therapist in the Cutler Bay, his only previous try in a stakes race, similar to the third-place finish by Smart Remark this past March in the Columbia Stakes, his only stakes try on the turf.

Encumbered makes his first start since finishing 13th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and although it may be tough to return off a seven month layoff and run well enough to win a graded stakes race like the Penn Mile, I believe this colt can do just that. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Encumbered broke well to secure a good spot in third shortly after the start and held that position just outside eventual winner Mendelssohn before tiring with less than a quarter mile to go. Ignoring his poor try on dirt prior to that against Bolt d'Oro in the Frontrunner Stakes, Encumbered proved himself at the level, winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes in September after breaking his maiden in his first turf route. Those two efforts earned 98 and 97 Equibase Speed Figures, respectively, which are better than any of the figures likely favorite Maraud earned during his 2-year-old campaign. Working like clockwork since his return to the track in April, Encumbered also may have the benefit of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf being a "KEY RACE" as six of the other 12 horses won their next starts, four of those in either March or April and off long layoffs like the one Encumbered is returning from. Trainer Callaghan has also shown the ability to get horses to win running turf routes off long layoffs, having done so a couple of times in the past two years, with one of those having come off a layoff to win a stakes race. Much more physically mature than when last seen in the fall, Encumbered may be tough to beat in this year's Penn Mile Stakes.

It must be noted Hawkish is also entered to run in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont the same day as the Penn Mile but if trainer Toner chooses this race, the horse must be taken very seriously. Sent to post at 3-to-1 odds in the Palm Beach Stakes in March in only the second start of his career, Hawkish finished fourth of seven and three lengths behind Maraud who was sent to post at slightly lower odds of 5-to-2. Given six weeks off, Hawkish returned on April 15 to dominate a field of seven at this mile trip on turf, winning in a hand ride by nearly five lengths to earn a career-best 105 Equibase speed figure, as good as Maraud earned winning the Palm Beach. The race Hawkish won in April turned out to be a "KEY RACE" as well, with both the runner-up and fourth finishers flattering the horse by winning their next starts. With perhaps the best closing kick in the field (22.4 seconds for the last quarter mile in his most recent race), Hawkish is definitely a contender in this race.

Maraud has won three of his four races this year, including two stakes races. He won the Palm Beach in March with a 105 figure before a poor fifth-place effort in the Transylvania Stakes in April. Maraud redeemed himself last month with a strong win in the American Turf Stakes with a career-best, and field-high, 113 figure. That type of effort can win the Penn Mile if repeated and if none of the others improve, but he is likely to the prohibitive favorite and as such may not offer good return potential for win bets.

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Coltandmississippi (96), He's Bankable (97), Smart Remark (100), Therapist (106), and Way Early (95).

My selections:
Encumbered
Hawkish
Maraud

2018 Penn Mile S.
June 2nd, 2018

Winning Time: 1:35.16
  • Purse: $500,000
  • Distance: 1 Mile
  • Age: 3 yo
  • Surface: Turf
  • Winning Time: 1:35.16
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
6 Hawkish
$4.80
$3.40
$2.80
2nd
5 Way Early
$13.00
$6.00
3rd
1 Coltandmississippi
$7.20
4th
3 Maraud
5th
2 Encumbered
6th
4 Therapist
7th
8 He's Bankable
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
2-3-6
2-3-6
$48
Pick 4
1/6/9/11-2-3-6/7
1/6/9/11-2-3-6/7
$112
Daily Double
3-6
3-6
$23
Exacta
6-5
6-5
$48
Super High Five Jackpot
6-5-1-3-2
6-5-1-3-2
$895
Superfecta
6-5-1-3
6-5-1-3
$47
Trifecta
6-5-1
6-5-1
$159
Payoff
Pick 3
2-3-6
2-3-6
$48
Pick 4
1/6/9/11-2-3-6/7
1/6/9/11-2-3-6/7
$112
Daily Double
3-6
3-6
$23
Exacta
6-5
6-5
$48
Super High Five Jackpot
6-5-1-3-2
6-5-1-3-2
$895
Superfecta
6-5-1-3
6-5-1-3
$47
Trifecta
6-5-1
6-5-1
$159

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