This week in horse racing: Turf stars at Penn National

By Jeremy Plonk  ( 

May 31, 2022 05:55 PM

Friday marks the biggest racing night on the calendar at Penn National in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The plush local turf hosts the $150,000 Penn Oaks and $400,000 Grade 2 Penn Mile. Six stakes will be offered in succession in Races 3-8 on an 11-race program that gets underway at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Jockeys Irad Ortiz Jr. and Flavien Prat are among those in town for the big races. Horses representing Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey are entered in the main events. 

For those betting Penn National’s Friday card, the Betmix database offers several handicapping pointers, dating to the 2013 season. 

Penn National stats 

Percentage of winning turf favorites: 36% 

Percentage of winning dirt favorites: 38% 

Percentage of winning stakes favorites: 41% 

Average stakes win odds: 3.2-1 

Penn National records for jockeys of note: Irad Ortiz Jr. (4-15, 27%), Paco Lopez (5-18, 27%), Kendrick Carmouche (17-109, 16%), Flavien Prat (0-0, 0%) 

Penn National records for trainers of note: Chad Brown (5-15, 33%), Todd Pletcher (12-40, 30%), Graham Motion (24-109, 22%), George Weaver (1-11, 9%), Shug McGaughey (0-1, 0%), Brian Lynch (0-1, 0%) 

What to Watch for This Week 

Belmont Stakes contenders will put in their final serious workouts this weekend for the mile-and-a-half test, set for June 11. The leading players include Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike and Wood Memorial champ Mo Donegal, as well as Grade 1-winning filly Nest and local Peter Pan victor We The People … The Maryland racing circuit shifts back to Laurel Park on Thursday after its Preakness stint at Pimlico … Gulfstream Park has a $467,553 carryover in its Rainbow 6 jackpot wager heading into Thursday’s weekly opener … Friday’s card at Belterra Park in Cincinnati features six stakes races in the Best of Ohio series for state-breds … The Saturday lineup at Churchill Downs includes six stakes races in preparation for the Stephen Foster Night card July 2. 

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

After a $13.20 winner in this space last week at Churchill Downs, let’s keep the momentum going this weekend. With heavy favorites likely in the Penn Oaks (Haughty for Chad Brown) and Grade 2 Penn Mile (Annapolis for Todd Pletcher), I’ll look to the supporting stakes for some prices. In the $100,000 Danzig Stakes (Race 7), give a long look to No. 6 Nimitz Class, who moves up in class and is 6-1 on the morning line. He’s in peak form and ran fast enough last time versus easier competition to win this race. Top Penn National rider Tyler Conner doesn’t ride for local veteran Bruce Kravets often, but they have a strong ROI when teamed. 

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week 

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage: 

— Mountaineer: 44%

— Canterbury Park: 44%

— Will Rogers Downs: 39%

— Finger Lakes: 39%

— Gulfstream Park: 38%

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.) 

— Mountaineer: 61% 

— Canterbury Park: 49% 

— Parx: 46% 

— Louisiana Downs: 46% 

— Penn National: 46% 

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher) 

— Charles Town: 6 

— Monmouth: 5 

— Indianapolis: 5 

— Belmont: 4

— Canterbury: 4

— Pimlico: 4

— Sun Ray Park: 4

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Juan Hernandez (9-19, 47%), Santa Anita 

— John McKee (6-13, 46%), Belterra Park 

— Florent Geroux (5-12, 42%), Churchill Downs 

— Lane Luzzi (5-12, 42%), Lone Star Park 

— Obed Sanchez (5-12, 42%), Will Rogers Downs 

America’s hot trainers last week

— Reid France (5-7, 71%), Golden Gate Fields 

— Jeffrey Englehart (5-8, 63%), Finger Lakes, Pimlico 

— Juan Pablo Silva (5-10, 50%), Mountaineer 

— Anthony Farrior (7-16, 44%), Charles Town, Pimlico, Penn National 

— Jon Arnett (6-14, 43%), Prairie Meadows 

Monmouth Contest Action in the Spotlight 

Handicapping contest players at can take part in the $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament Saturday. The $1,000 entry, $1,000 live-money contest features seats to the National Handicapping Championship, Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship and cash prizes. For details, visit 

Statistics courtesy of

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