June 3rd is set to boast a blockbuster card at Penn National with 7 stakes races anchored by the $500,000 Penn Mile, which will be contested as a Grade 2 for the first time. Among the 42 nominations for the Penn Mile are 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Oscar Performance, Transylvania (G3) winner Big Score and John Oxley's La Coronel who has snapped up two graded stakes this year.
Part of a strong west coast contingent nominated to the day's stakes and expected to make the trip is George Krikorian's Big Score who has only one off the board performance in his running lines, which came when he ran 5th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf to close out 2016. Since then he has taken the aforementioned Transylvania at Keeneland and ran 3rd in the American Turf (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
Trainer Tim Yakteen says they have had the Penn Mile on the radar for the colt.
“It's a good 60 days between the American Turf and the Belmont Derby so this fits perfect in the schedule. If he didn't come back well we would have skipped it but he came back great”.
Also expected to appear in the Penn Mile is Northern Spur Stakes winner Cistron, trained by John Sadler. Since the Northern Spur victory at Oaklawn, the son of The Factor checked in second in the Desert Code at Santa Anita, but Sadler was pleased enough with his out of town outing in Arkansas that he's not hesitant to ship his colt east.
“He went to Oaklawn and won and handled that nicely,” said Sadler. “We brought him home and just like his versatility. He is really blossoming and we are letting him tell us what to do race by race”.
Cistron is also the first horse who is owned in part by a Crowdfunding venture started by Little Red Feather managing partner Billy Koch who has been exuberant about the experience.
“We have been so appreciative of Kosta Hronis for providing us the opportunity to purchase a minority share in this horse and we have several crowdfunders who are planning to attend,” indicated Koch.
Bowies Hero kicked off the year in tremendous fashion with a solid score in the Singletary at Santa Anita. Stumbling out of the gate, he had to make a 6 wide bid to get the win, powering home much the best. Trainer Phil D'Amato was optimistic about sending the two time stakes winner on Wednesday saying “there's a good chance we'll go”.
This year's Kentucky Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher figures to be well represented on the day with Adorable Miss (Penn Oaks), Madefromlucky (Mountainview), Bronson (Penn Mile) and Firsthand Report (Lyphard), In the Mile, the well-bred Bronson will try the distance for the first time as he seeks his first graded stakes score. He won the listed English Channel at Gulfstream Park in his last start and would benefit from a clean trip. His previous tries in graded stakes company – the Sanford (G2) as a two-year-old and in the Spiral (G3) – were both riddled with trouble.
On the undercard, the $200,000 Penn Oaks closed with 37 nominations. Mark Casse, who took last year's Penn Mile with the filly Catch a Glimpse has Let It Ride Mom under consideration for the Oaks. It would be the first turf start for the daughter of Into Mischief who struggled in the slop last out with a tough trip in the Eight Belles (G2). Prior to that, the filly had never finished out if the exacta, including winning the Glorious Song at Woodbine to close out her two-year-old campaign.
The $200,000 Governor's Cup has 34 nominees which include not only the top turf sprinters in the nation but also graded stakes winning dirt sprinter Limousine Liberal, who won the Churchill Downs (G2) in his last outing. The $200,000 Mountainview closed with 35 nominations while a trio of $100,000 stakes for Pennsylvania-breds – the Lyphard Stakes, New Start Stakes and Danzig Stakes – closed with 26, 12 and 9 nominations respectively. The three Pennsylvania-bred stakes are appearing on the Penn Mile day program for the first time.
All told, purses for the Penn Mile card are worth over $1.5 million, while the program will also include an all-stakes Pick 4. Post time for the first race on Penn Mile day is set for 3:45 P.M. EST.
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