Penn National Picks & All-Turf Early Pick 4 Analysis for May 28

Trainer Mike Maker sweeps into Penn National with a strong group of runners. See what his chances look like, especially in the Grade II Penn Mile. (photo courtesy of Coady)
Trainer Mike Maker sweeps into Penn National with a strong group of runners. See what his chances look like, especially in the Grade II Penn Mile. (photo courtesy of Coady)

There are several signature North American turf events that range from the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland to Woodbine’s Mile to Del Mar’s Matriarch. Each marks the opportunity for Thoroughbreds to showcase their talent for handling a surface that is world-renowned for exhibiting traffic, late turns-of-foot, and breath-taking finishes. Any jockey can ride on the dirt, but they cannot all do the same on the grass.

This Friday Night, the turf watching intelligentsia turns its attention to Penn National Racecourse as they once again put on an All-Turf Early Pick 4 that brings some significant wagering opportunities. Check the forecast before making any of your bets, since rain appears in the forecast. Have a read, as our turf-man, J.N. Campbell, constructs a tasty group of selections below …

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks


LEG 1: (Race 1: Turf, 1 1/16th, Lyphard S., $100k, F&M 3+)

The 1st Leg of this P4 sequence has some interesting PA breds, but one is more than a head in front. At the top of the M/L odds mountain is Mike Maker’s Ujjayi #3 who is a seasoned 5-yr-old mare with major ability. Her name is a Sanskrit word meaning “one who is victorious.” She may well be … especially against this lot with Kendrick Carmouche aboard. “Singling” Maker’s entry based on her back class seems in order. A few races back she came to Houston for the Grade III Ladies Classic, and she ran a nice 2nd to a superstar dirt router named Letruska. That effort was impressive, and though her conditioner shipped her into Turfway Park for a 100k race that did not go well (12th), she has the opportunity to bounce back this time around. Big chance … even though her odds will be pretty low. It is deserved …

Selections: 3 (Single)


LEG 2: (Race 2: Turf, 1 1/16th, With Anticipation S., $100k, 3+)

The next portion of this journey is another 100k event on the grass. This time it’s at the same distance, just for older males. Once again, the race favoritism goes to a Mike Maker entry. He is so proficient and then some, when it comes to spotting runners. He knew that if he could shape and form some PA breds, that pointing them to these types of spots would be the plan. In here, he sends Someday Jones #10 to the grass for the first time. Primarily a dirt router, the connection to sire Smarty Jones, who is a PA legend, makes this a promising proposition. With Carmouche in the saddle, he gives the Kentucky-based conditioner a chance for another victory as the stable comes to town. Maker comes to play with a quiet confidence.

If there is an antidote to Maker, then it might be the runner who is drawn to the outside. Mike Trombetta is an accomplished Mid-Atlantic trainer who has a strong outfit. Based at Fair Hill, he has access to what has become over the years, the premier training facility in the region. His entry, the longwinded Extrasexybigdaddee #11, has some upside. The 3-yr-old gelding already has a triforce of 100k events under his belt, most recently in the James W. Murphy @PIM. None yielded wins, but the effort was there. First-time aboard jock, Junior Alvarado was riding well on the grass at the beginning of the year, and that shows growth. If he can work out a trip from afar, then it might result in a tasty score. I am unsure if he will hover around his M/L odds of 10/1, but you never know. Trombetta has the ability to get them ready. This is a lateral move, and that is pretty exciting. Two-deep should get it done in here.

Selections: 10/11 (2-Deep)


LEG 3: (Race 3: Turf, 1 Mile, Penn Oaks, $100k, 3F)

Cross the halfway point, the ticket turns to a pair of signature events. The first, the Oaks, pits a group of young fillies against one another. Mike Maker once again holds the ace in Amalfi Princess #6, who has had her turf moments along the way. The strong conditioner has had her on dirt most recently, and she was a double-digit price in the Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland. Coming in 3rd was not a bad finish, so it will be interesting to see if she can put her class to the test in this spot. Three Diamonds Farm easily equals Maker’s prowess, and over the years they have paired for some impressive victories. I am not sure if it is a foregone conclusion that this 3-yr-old out of Temple City is a “Single.”

I say that because Christophe Clement has come to town as well. The well-known shipper sends Honey Pants #4 into this one, and do not be surprised if she takes the prize. Johnny V is here, and he just keeps defying all the odds when it comes to time, place, and surface. This daughter of Cairo Prince faced some good turf opponents down at Gulfstream Park, and she is an invader who has progressed well. I like her style, and maybe her price will not be too low. Then again, Clement always attracts attention. Once again, going with a pair of runners will allow us some room in the finale. Maker v. Clement … nothing better!

Selections: 4/6 (2-Deep)


LEG 4: (Race 4: Turf, Penn Mile (G2), $300k, 3)

The final portion of this Penn layout is no walk in the park. Favorites will most assuredly be Bill Mott’s Annex #3 and Wesley Ward’s Outadore #7. Both have some quality class comps under their belts, and with Junior Alvarado and Irad Ortiz riding, they will be in good/great hands. I will be honest … I do not really care for either of them.

The former was shown to be pedestrian against that American Turf (G2) field on Derby Day. I mean, a Baffert turf horse owned partly by his wife, bested him … Huh? Baffert doesn’t train many grass-ites. Obviously, he earned respect going 3/3 at Gulfstream, but what if he is one of those GP types that cannot do much outside of South FLA? As for Ortiz’s mount, sure, he did run 3rd behind Fire At Will last fall at Keeneland in the BC Juvenile Turf (G1), a major accomplishment. But let’s not forget that was awhile ago, and maybe he is more of a sprinter after running out on the front in a 65k “Non-G” at Turfway last time. The jump up into this spot may not be as easy as you might think.

I am willing to leave both of these runners out, and go with the rest of the entries instead as a mass show of force. I like Maker’s Chess’s Dream #4, whose result in the Am. Turf (G2) was poor, but I like some of his efforts before that (i.e. Soph.Turf 110k @TAM). Kendrick Carmouche is going to have a number of early winners on this card riding for this trainer, and this one could be a square price. I also fancy a pair of symphonically-named colts by the name of Gershwin #1 and Sibelius #6. The first of these 2 gets Jersey Joe in the saddle for the Godolphin-owned router, and though he does not have any turf experience, his bloodlines are thick with grass runners. The other “composer” is trained by Jerry O’Dwyer who never gets his due in my estimation. This son of Not This Time comes through Giant’s Causeway, and that means green royalty. Last out at Keeneland in one of those super competitive MSW79k races, the gelding acquitted himself well by going wire-to-wire. Now, with Sheldon Russell in town to ride from Pimlico, he has the chance to flip the script on his lesser odds foes. I like both of these because of their prices, and they have what it takes to win the day.

Let’s spurn the overpriced faves, and really go for the gusto. We will save cash, and give ourselves more than an even chance to score!

Selections: 1/2/4/5/6 (5-Deep)


$1.00 EP4 TICKET COST: $20.00

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