Stitched, Dowagiac Chief seek cool pace in Mystic Lake Derby

Stitched wins the Caesars at Horseshoe Indianapolis on May 18 2022

Coady PhotographyStitched won the Caesars at Horseshoe Indianapolis in his last start on May 18.

If the pace in the Mystic Lake Derby turns as hot as the weather early this week in Shakopee, Minn., site of Canterbury Park, the two favorites in the featured race on a five-stakes card could be in trouble.  

Stitched, who’s 5-2 on the track’s morning line, and Dowagiac Chief, listed at 4-1, both have done all their best work racing from the lead. Two more horses, Magoo and Heaven Street, also show TimeformUS early pace figures over 100 – just slightly hotter than the forecast high temperatures for early in the week. By Wednesday, however, the extreme heat will have moderated, and by the time first post for the 10-race card rolls around at 5:10 Central, things should not be too unpleasant. 

Also hot: Entries in four turf stakes on the card. The $150,000 Mystic Lake Mile – race 8, the last of the stakes — drew a field of 10, while the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile got a dozen entrants and the $100,000 Lady Canterbury garnered 13. The $100,000 Dark Star Turf Sprint also attracted a baker’s dozen (plus two also eligible), as did the $100,000 Curtis Sampson for 3-year-old fillies. 

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One key horse who won’t start Wednesday evening is Two Emmys, who will be scratched from the Mystic Lake Mile to start Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course. 

Dowagiac Chief might actually be the speed of the speed in the one-mile Mystic Lake Derby. He’d be worth a play, too, if his odds stay anywhere close to the morning line, though one suspects he’ll go off closer to 5-2 than 4-1. Dowagiac Chief finished last of 10 in his most recent start, the American Turf on May 6 at Churchill Downs, but the colt raced on the lead that day – exactly the wrong place to be. No horse close to the front on May 6 or May 7 performed well on the new Churchill turf course, which was installed last year, quickly ran into problems, and is not currently being used.  

“I don’t even know what to make of this so-called turf course,” said the colt’s trainer, Tom Amoss. “You could not win on the lead the first two weeks of the meet. The horse has done well since; he deserves another chance.” 

On March 5, Dowagiac Chief won the Black Gold Stakes on the Fair Grounds turf by five lengths, following that a month later with a solid fourth in the Jeff Ruby Steaks over Turfway Park’s Tapeta track. Tawny Power, second in that race, returned to win the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, while third-place Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby in his next start.  

Reylu Gutierrez takes the mount on Dowagiac Chief, and his instructions will be simple. “We’re going to break and go,” Amoss said. 

Stitched, another Churchill-based horse, has won four of his five grass races, rising from a $30,000 maiden-claimer to win the $150,000 Caesar’s last out at Horseshoe Indianapolis. He’s been on the lead his last two starts, but take a close look at the fractions in those races: 25s to the quarter mile, 50s to the half. Thus, Stitched’s TimeformUS early pace number, 89, isn’t close to Dowagiac Chief’s 120. No matter, according to trainer Greg Foley, who doesn’t see Stitched as a need-the-lead type.  

“I think he’ll sit off another horse. Florent Geroux is going up to ride him and he loves the horse. We’ll let Flo handle it. We talked about this this morning,” Foley said Sunday while readying Stitched for his van trip north.  

Stitched worked a quick half-mile on June 13, clocking 46.40, fastest of 22 works at the distance that morning. “He did it the right way; the rider never moved on him,” Foley said. 

Xavey Dave didn’t have much of a trip finishing an even fourth in his most recent start, an April 29 Keeneland turf-route allowance. He stands to benefit from a quick, contested pace, while Heaven Street, who makes his first start for trainer Brendan Walsh, could get a decent tracking trip.  

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