The Monday Special – April 27

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Any other year, a $75,000 stakes in late April would barely contain Kentucky Derby – or any part of the Triple Crown series – implications. This isn’t an ordinary year.

Fourth on debut at Belmont Park last July, Dr Post was put on the shelf until the end of last month when he won at Gulfstream Park going 7 furlongs. Trainer Todd Pletcher obviously believed he had a good one on his hands, putting Dr Post in Saturday’s Unbridled Stakes in his next start.

While it would be easy to brush off Dr Post’s victory if looked at on margin alone, his trip tells another story.

The Quality Road colt broke well and settled a few lengths off the rail in the 1 1/16-mile race before he was shuffled back down the backstretch to run in the back of the tight field. That would almost prove to be his undoing as jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. tried to find his mount a way to find clear running in the turn with no relief in sight.

Once he found running room, Ortiz urged on his mount but it looked lie Dr Post may be empty until they hit the stretch. Dr Post handled a bit of bumping as he went for the lead but once he had the lead, it was clear he still had a lot of run. Ortiz needed only to wave his stick a few times to keep the colt focused as they crossed the line 1 1/2 lengths in front with ears pricked.

“He got through between horses and when he finally got through he just took off,” Ortiz said. “He’s still such a young horse. When he grows up a little bit in his mind, it will help him a little bit more. But he did everything right. I can’t complain.”

Pletcher admitted after the race that he was throwing the colt into the deep end in only his second start of the year but when the choices were traveling to Oaklawn Park for an allowance or running in a stakes, the route to go was clear.

“We had the option of taking him to Oaklawn for an allowance race, but I said, ‘we’re here and the horse is doing well, let’s take a calculated risk.’ For a lightly raced horse to respond that way and overcome some traffic, it was impressive. He got the win and got a good education. He showed a lot of talent and backed it up again.”

Out of Grade 2 winner Mary Delaney, it’s clear there has been a lot of hope for Dr Post since Day 1 with the colt selling for $200,000 as a weanling and doubling in price 10 months later at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Dr Post’s debut turned into a learning experience from the start with the colt stumbling in what proved to be a field full of class with winner Green Light Go taking a Grade 2 and placing in a Grade 1 in his next two starts and runner-up Another Miracle becoming a stakes winner before finishing third in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.

Pletcher isn’t sure where to go next with Dr Post.

“Like everyone else, we’ll wait and see what options we have,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, we’ll find out some news from New York when they’re thinking about reopening hopefully this week. By the time he’s ready to run we’ll have a better idea what our options are, but I was very, very encouraged by that.”

Stakes of the Week: Mares that sell for $2.4 million in the fall often don’t return for a full campaign the following year. That’s the path for Mia Mischief, who brought that big price at last November’s Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale last year and added her second win of 2020 in Saturday’s Carousel Stakes for Stonestreet Stables.

The 5-year-old daughter of Into Mischief came into the Carousel off back-to-back victories facing a tougher field than she faced in the 2019 edition. The field included fellow Grade 1 winner Bellafina and dual Grade 1-placed Amy’s Challenge with only one member of the eight-runner field not having at least a stakes placing to her name.

Mia Mischief’s job was admittedly made easier when Bellafina broke slow and had a tough trip but the mare proved to be a class above all comers when fending off a challenge from Amy’s Challenge in the stretch. It was easy from there, with only Amy’s Challenge finishing within 7 3/4 lengths of Mia Mischief and that runner-up finish coming 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

“Obviously, she’s a very talented mare,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “She’s a Grade 1 winner. She’s better now than she’s ever been and we’re very fortunate to train her for Stonestreet Stables. She’s very special. Hopefully, we can see her in the Breeders’ Cup this fall. With her ability, that’s the path she should be on.”

Maiden Winner of the Week: Crown Jewel rewarded her connections’ patience with a 6 3/4-length victory Sunday at Oaklawn. Off since finishing eighth in her debut last October at Keeneland, the 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly won for owner-breeder Peter Blum Thoroughbreds and trainer Steve Asmussen.

Crown Jewel is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Multiple Choice and stakes-placed Proposal. A fourth generation Blum-bred, Crown Jewel’s half sisters have already proven to show talent in the breeding shed with nine stakes horses descending from the line, led by Grade 1 winner Leofric.

Handicapper’s Report: The Saratoga Special’s handicappers returned for another Saturday card at Oaklawn and the race at the top tightened after a big day from Charles Bedard.

Charles picked four of the 11 winners Saturday, including the early double and Long Weekend in the Bachelor Stakes. He improved to 7-for-22 on the season, tied with John Shapazian and Tom Law for the top spot.

John picked three winners – Street To Indy in the fourth, Town Champ in the fifth and Sneaking Out in the eighth.

Tom, the Week 1 leader with five winners, only managed a pair Saturday in Town Champ and Long Weekend.

Rob Whitlock inched closer to the leading trio with a triple – Jimmy T, Street To Indy and Town Champ. He’s one back with a record of 6-for-22.

The Special’s quartet return this week with picks for Oaklawn, Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream, along with in-house handicappers from the lone U.S. tracks running Saturday. Their picks will appear in the debut edition of The 2020 Special