July 21, 2024

Pace scenario could favor Annex in Penn Mile

Annex wins the Palm Beach Stakes (Coglianese Photos)

Penn Mile (G2) — Race 4 (7:46 p.m. ET)

After a one-year-hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the $300,000 Penn Mile (G2) will be renewed for the first time since 2019 at Penn National on Friday evening, and the early favorites in the grass test for three-year-olds offer contrasting running styles.

The Wesley Ward-trained Outadore, 8-5 on the morning line, tends to set or press the pace. Although his third in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) over a mile will be looked at positively, the son of Outwork’s two stakes wins have been over a much shorter 6 1/2-furlong trip and and abundance of other speed is signed on for this race.

Besides Outadore, the pace might be enhanced by the likes of Gershwin, Original, The King Cheek, and Sibelius.

Annex, 9-5 on the morning, lacked his typical punch in the stretch of the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 1, finishing eighth as a lukewarm favorite. However, the closing son of Constitution turned in fine kicks to narrowly win a pair of Gulfstream stakes over the winter, and the strong likelihood of a contested pace in Friday’s race might aid his cause significantly. Also, Annex will race with blinkers for the first time in the Penn Mile.

Another who likes to rally from the back is Chess’s Dream, the only prior graded stakes winner in the field, courtesy of his two-length score in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) in late January. Third to Annex in the Palm Beach S. three starts back, he out-finished that rival when finishing seventh in the American Turf last time.

The other open stakes race on Penn National’s Friday program is the $100,000 Penn Oaks for fillies, also at one mile on the turf. Leading contenders in there are Midnight Obsession, Honey Pants, and Amalfi Princess.