January 24, 2022

Awesome Banner, Tommy Macho aim to get back in win column at Penn National

Awesome Banner is still looking for his first win of 2017 after placing in five of nine (Photo courtesy Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photography)

The $200,000 Fabulous Strike anchors Penn National’s three-stakes program on Wednesday night, aka Thanksgiving Eve. Stallwalkin’ Dude would be the one to beat in the six-furlong dash, but the David Jacobson charge is cross-entered to Thanksgiving’s Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct, where he’ll carry the top weight of 134 pounds. He was beaten a neck under the same impost in the 2016 Fall Highweight.

If last year’s pattern holds true once again (and Daily Racing Form‘s David Grening confirmed it on Monday), Stallwalkin’ Dude would stay home in New York and entrymate Chief Lion would represent the Jacobson barn at Penn. Third in last year’s Fabulous Strike, the seven-year-old gelding is still looking for his first stakes win. He’s been off form of late, with his best performance of 2017 being a second in the Tom Fool (G3) back in March. The coupled Jacobson entry rates as the 2-1 morning-line favorite thanks to Stallwalkin’ Dude, who’s placed in the Vosburgh (G1) and Bold Ruler (G3) in his last pair.

The 5-2 Blu Moon Ace has been on a roll of late, winning three of his past four including the Maryland Million Sprint in his latest on October 21. The Kevin Patterson trainee is a neck shy of a streak, having missed by that margin two back in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3).

Awesome Banner, the 2016 Swale (G2) and Hutcheson (G3) winner, has compiled several high-profile placings this season for new trainer Kenneth Decker. Runner-up in the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1) and Smile Sprint (G3), and a close third in the Maryland Sprint (G3) on Preakness Day, he dropped a photo to Whitmore in the October 6 Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland. Awesome Banner has also thrown in the odd subpar effort, most recently when a long-way last in the Bold Ruler, but a November 16 bullet half-mile at Laurel hints the 3-1 chance may be ready to rebound.

Also aiming to bounce back is Favorite Tale, hero of the 2015 Fabulous Strike when coming off a third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). The Parx-based veteran has been sighted only three times since then, however. The Guadalupe Preciado pupil was a fine second in the September 2 Banjo Picker Sprint off a 17-month layoff, and he may have felt the effects of that massive comeback when only 10th next time in the Phoenix.

Outsiders Flashy Kyem, Gold Man, and Twotwentyfive A round out the field.

In the $100,000 Swatara, the Todd Pletcher-trained Tommy Macho hopes that the stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles will help him snap a prolonged losing skid. Since his romp in the January 14 Hal’s Hope (G3) around Gulfstream Park’s one-turn mile, the son of Macho Uno has finished third in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2), Carter H. (G1), Metropolitan H. (G1), and Belmont Sprint Championship (G2), and he exits a fourth in the September 23 Kelso H. (G2). Tommy Macho did win over a route of ground earlier in his career, driving to a 4 1/4-length decision in the 2015 Discovery (G3) at Aqueduct, and the 5-2 favorite might want the added ground. The drop from graded company won’t hurt either.

Fear the Cowboy has enjoyed a productive 2017 campaign highlighted by victories in Gulfstream’s Skip Away (G3) as well as the West Virginia Governor’s S. at Mountaineer. Also second in the Maxxam Gold Cup, Evangeline Mile (as the defending champion), and Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, Fear the Cowboy comes off a slow-starting fourth in the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Defending Swatara champion Charitable Annuity thus has to beat off a couple of proper challengers to his crown. The West Virginia-bred was recently dethroned in his three-peat attempt in the A Huevo at Charles Town.

Not to be overlooked at 10-1 is Discreet Lover, judging by his third in the Mountainview over this track on June 3 to Matt King Coal and Page McKenney. He’s in good heart at present too, sporting a good-looking allowance score at Parx and a close second in the Richard W. Small at Laurel.

John Jones was in smart form at this time last fall, but disappointed second off the layoff as the 9-5 favorite in the Maryland Million Classic, and needs to move forward here. Let Me Go First shortens up for John Servis after trying the Greenwood Cup (G3) and Temperence Hill Invitational marathons, where he was a distant third and fourth, respectively. Johnny Jump Up would have to do just that on the class hike, and a similar comment applies to Sea Raven.

The stakes action kicks off with the $100,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies for state-breds. Bronx Beauty, winner of the off-the-turf Colleen after a Penn debut romp, suffered her first loss when fourth in the Mrs. Henry D. Paxson Memorial on the Presque Isle Tapeta. She is of interest on the return to dirt, and the addition of Lasix, but the 2-1 favorite is meeting a couple of solid maiden winners. Indian Beauty was positively flashy in her unveiling, dusting open company by six lengths here, and likewise adds first-time Lasix on Wednesday. Ms Teek wired a Pennsylvania-bred maiden over track and trip, and Dixie Serenade, although only 1-for-5, has done enough to top the field in BRIS Prime Power.