Horseshoe Indianapolis’s loss was Penn National’s gain.

Eight of the 3-year-old fillies in Friday’s $150,000 Penn Oaks at one mile on turf were entered in the Horseshoe Indianapolis Handicap on May 15, but heavy rain forced the cancellation of that program.

Thus, the Penn Oaks features a full field and is one of the better betting races on an 11-race card that includes six stakes.

Pounce is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for trainer Mark Casse, who purchased a half-share in the filly for $10,000 before she made her debut. A winner in two of her first three starts, Pounce then sold for $370,000 at public auction to John Stewart’s Resolute Racing.

Stewart opted to retain Casse as Pounce’s trainer, and the decision proved fruitful when she rallied from last to capture the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on March 2 at Gulfstream Park. In her most recent start, Pounce finished 11th of 12 as the favorite in Keeneland’s Appalachian on April 6.

“I was expecting big things out of her, but the ground had some give to it, and she just didn’t show up,” Casse said. Jockey Javier Castellano “said she never gave him the same feel that she gave him at Gulfstream.”

Casse scratched Pounce out of Churchill’s Grade 2 Edgewood on May 3 due to concerns over wet going before the Horseshoe Indianapolis Handicap was abandoned.

“I think she can do big things,” he said. “We just want to get her back on a winning track.”

Living Magic also re-routed from Horseshoe Indianapolis. Trained by Phil Schoenthal, Living Magic won stakes on synthetic and turf last year, but is winless from three starts in 2024 with some excuses.

Schoenthal described Living Magic’s trip when seventh in the Appalachian as a “horror show.” Living Magic then placed fourth in Aqueduct’s Memories of Silver on April 28.

“The plan was to go to the lead,” Schoenthal said of the Memories of Silver. “She hopped at the break and cost herself all chance to be towards the front. Even though it was a short field, she seemed like she was in tight in between horses the entire way and was shuffled back a little bit. When the running started, she had too much to do.”

Poolside With Slim cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Regret at Churchill but runs here, according to trainer Rusty Arnold. A maiden winner over Gulfstream’s Tapeta, the Irish-bred filly next finished fourth in Tampa’s Grade 3 Florida Oaks before fading to fifth in the Appalachian after setting the pace.

“It was a fast pace,” Arnold said. “She’s been unfortunate to draw the one hole in her last two starts, and we’ve been forced [to get close to the pace]. I don’t know if she has to be running that fast, and the soft turf kind of took its toll. Hopefully, we don’t have to have the lead and won’t be going that fast.”

Nice as Pie stretches out around two turns after having a four-race synthetic winning streak snapped with a rallying fourth in the Mamzelle at Churchill, her turf debut on May 11.

“She kicked the gate before she broke at Churchill and missed the break,” trainer Kelsey Danner said. “I think stretching out she should be okay. [Jockey Adam Beschizza] was impressed with her kick on the turf. I think it was a little bit better race than it probably looks.”

Pink Polkadots won her first two races in gate-to-wire fashion at Fair Grounds, then was off the board on synthetic in the Bourbonette Oaks before finishing seventh in the Edgewood.

“She didn’t like synthetic,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “She had a great trip last time. [Jockey Tyler Gaffalione] said that when he took her home, he thought he was a winner, but when she went to dig into that soft turf course, she couldn’t accelerate.”

Sharp believes that new rider Jaime Torres will place Pink Polkadots on or near the lead.

J Rivers makes her turf and route debut for trainer Arnaud Delacour.

“I always wanted to run her two turns this winter,” Delacour said. “It didn’t work out because we had a bit of an issue and had to back off. Penn National is a little bit of a speed-favoring track, in my opinion, so if there is one to try and stretch, it’s a good place to do so.”

Neom Beach faced excellent competition on dirt over the winter and spring at Oaklawn and looks for that form to translate to turf.

Takemetothebeach, Grade 3-placed Buttercream Babe, stakes winner Crown Imperial, Photo Finish, and Dazzlin’ Dictator complete the field.

With Anticipation

Delacour sends out A Western Yarn in the $100,000 With Anticipation for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Unraced since a runner-up effort at Monmouth on Sept. 9, the Eastwood colt was stakes-placed last year at Tampa.

“We wanted to give him time off,” Delacour said. “He’s a lightly framed type of horse that doesn’t need a whole lot of work. Delacour originally planned to run A Western Yarn in a first-level allowance on May 12 at Monmouth, but that race was washed off the turf.

Crisper finished third in this race last year off the layoff and makes his seasonal debut after winning a first-level allowance on Oct. 28 at Laurel.

Fletcher, third in last year’s Grade 2 Penn Mile, returns to grass after winning an off-turf allowance race restricted to statebreds on May 16 at Penn National.

Gordian Knot attempts two turns on turf for the first time for trainer Jamie Ness.

“I just got the horse this year,” Ness said. “He trains like a turf route horse.”

Fabulous Strike

Ness sends out the likely favorite in the $50,000 Fabulous Strike at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up that have started at Penn National and not won a stakes race since Oct. 25, 2023.

Get Set popped a 97 Beyer Speed Figure when dominating an optional-claiming group on March 29 at Laurel, and a repeat of that speed figure would make him very tough.

Ness mentioned that Get Set emerged from that big win with a “little foot issue” and that he might be coming into this race “a work or two short, but he worked really good last week.”

Meet Me At Mundis, Downtownchalybrown, and Tudox Opportunity look like prime contenders if Get Set falters.

◗ In a Spin, third in last year’s Lyphard for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, looks to go two better in the 2024 edition with uncoupled stablemate Lady Outofthe Blue and Anoint also looking live on paper.

◗ New Hire gets class relief in the $50,000 Penn Ladies Dash for fillies and mares at six furlongs. In her most recent outing, she finished fifth behind Morning Matcha, who has earned $954,940.


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Cover Photo Credit to Lauren King

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