Ashland Stakes Picks: Moon Swag a live long-shot

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks stops off at Keeneland for the Grade I Ashland
The Road to the Kentucky Oaks stops off at Keeneland for the Grade I Ashland

The $400,000 Grade I Ashland Stakes is firmly in the sights of trainer Kenny McPeek once more. A field of six three-year-old fillies has been entered for this one.

Our turf-man takes point on this one as he previews the race and offers up an Exacta wheel bet...

J.N.'s Take...

For the Ashland, a race I have witnessed several times in person, there are a number of angles to examine. This is not a huge field, and for that reason, we have a similar situation that we had with the Appalachian Stakes. When you have a ton of parity, it makes it difficult, especially sans a definitive opinion. I know Moon Swag #4 is one of my top selections, as Brendan Walsh continues his hot streak. This filly may not look like much, but she has made superb progress since her debut back last year with Todd Fincher out in New Mexico. I shudder to think what she would be like if she had remained with his outfit.

The transfer to Walsh was an interesting move, and I think her work down in Louisiana, graduating through a 3-yr-old series, yielded a 3rd Place finish in the Rachel Alexandra (G2). This daughter of Malibu Moon has way more ability than you might see… don’t let her results speak for themselves. Adam Beschizza just completed a resurgence of riding ability during the Fair Grounds Meet. I am hoping he can keep it going with his arrival in Central KY.

The rest of the field is worth including, just in case Walsh’s charge cannot get the job done. Todd Pletcher brings a strong filly, Malathaat #5 in, who happens to be 3/3. She will take a ton of money with Rosario aboard. Don’t count out Kenny McPeek, who is stellar with these types. He has Simply Ravishing #3 racing from off the bench. Last fall, she failed when she should have won in both the BC Juv Fillies (G1) and the Golden Rod (G2). Luis Saez has the ability to right the ship.

Finally, don’t sleep on Jon Court’s mount, Will’s Secret #6 because she has major ability. Talk about a nice win streak that includes scores at both FG and OP. The Honeybee (G3) was her raison d’erte when it comes to favoritism. Major ability…

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box: 3/4/5/6


Sean's Take...

The G1 Ashland can pretty much be boiled down to Simply Ravishing (#3) and Malathaat (#5), a pair of talented juveniles that are making their 3-year-old debuts, with impressive recent maiden winner Pass the Champagne (#2) sprinkled in. While Malathaat and Pass the Champagne have plenty of ability, my preference in this race is Simply Ravishing. This filly did tail off in her 2-year-old finale in the G2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs, however prior to that she was excellent in 2020, especially at Keeneland, where she won the G1 Alcibiades and finished a close fourth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. If she returns in similar form, and based on her recent works it seems like she will, I don’t think the others can touch her.

Malathaat certainly appears like she’s every bit as good as Simply Ravishing, however I have some doubts about the quality of her latest win in the G2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct. The filly she beat in that race, Millefeuille, has been very disappointing in a pair of subsequent starts, and also consider that she won the Demoiselle over a sloppy track, which is not going to be the case on Saturday.

If Pass the Champagne is going to be a similar price to the two favorites, I have even more misgivings about her. This filly was impressive last out in breaking her maiden, but I’m not sure that race is as good as the 86 Beyer she earned makes it out to be considering the runner-up regressed rather sharply in her next start despite winning. You also need to take into account that Pass the Champagne must ship from Florida for this race and run without Lasix as she faces winners for the first time, so I don’t know that I’d want to accept a short price on her, though the future is bright for this daughter of Flatter.

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