Burgart Blog: Grants Pass Championship and Hipodromo Derby

Burgart Blog: Grants Pass Championship and Hipodromo Derby

Get handicapping tips for the Bank of America Grants Pass Championship Challenge and Challenge races at the Hipodromo.

A blurry photo of a racehorse competing. PHOTO: Bee Silva

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By Ed Burgart

CM Boom Shakalaka, clearly the field's classiest runner who is proven at 440 yards, is my choice to capture Monday's $40,000 Bank of America Grants Pass Championship Challenge finals at 440 yards.

And in Sunday’s regional Challenge races at Hipodromo de las Americas, I look for Executive Temptation to easily capture the Adequan® Hipodromo Derby Challenge, while Bombay Temptress and Moonin Corona tower above their opponents in the John Deere Hipodromo Juvenile Challenge event.

The regional winners for all these races earn berths in their respective divisions on Bank of America Challenge Championship night October 23 at The Downs at Albuquerque.

CM Boom Shakalaka drew Post 8 in the nine-horse Bank of America Grants Pass Championship Challenge and looms a very short price. The long-striding gelding is the only one of the field's nine runners to have won at 440 yards, a distance where he has two victories and one second in three tries. He is also a win machine, having captured 13 of 32 starts. Additionally, he posted a handy 1-length allowance victory over the Grants Pass oval three weeks ago and previously dropped a neck decision to JL Rebel, who returned to defeat Arizona Favorite by a neck.

Arizona Favorite is one of the runners CM Boom Shakalaka must defeat Monday. But Arizona Favorite has never attempted the 440-yard distance, His last victory one year ago at Los Alamitos came in a 330-yard allowance. However, he has shown ability versus stronger fields than the one he faces Monday. He was third in a 350-yard overnight handicap two years ago versus Tequila Sangria, who eventually won the Grade 1 Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap at Los Alamitos.

The horse I think CM Boom Shakalaka must defeat is L Bar D Genuine Red, who drew the adjacent No. 7 post. He was only 1/100 behind CM Boom Shakalaka in a third-place stakes finish at Grants Pass six weeks ago and showed he could handle 440 yards with a neck runner-up setback in an Emerald Downs race two years ago.

Other outside threats are CM Once Ina Bluemoon and DF Storm Tales, however, CM Once Ina Bluemoon has achieved his best efforts at 660 and 870 yards. He is plenty fit for the 440 yards, however after dueling for the lead throughout in a neck loss at 600 yards one month ago.

DF Storm Tales never mustered a rally after a clean start in his 2021 ninth-place comeback at Sunray Park six weeks ago. But DF Storm Tales relishes the Grants Pass oval, where he recorded two wins and one third in three 400-yard attempts last year. He also was awarded victory through disqualification when dropping nose photo at 440 yards in Wyoming last August.

Thus, my selections are No. 8 CM Boom Shakalaka, No. 7 L Bar D Genuine Red, No.5 DF Storm Tales and No. 6 Arizona Favorite. 

At Hipodromo de las Americas, Executive Temptation is the lone multiple winner in the Adequan® Hipodromo Derby Challenge regional race. Bombay Temptress has been second in all three Hipodromo starts and looked strong when second in a quick 300-yard clocking of :15.41 three weeks ago. He drew Post 5, while top contender Moonin Corona breaks from the outside Post 6 slot. Moonin Corona hesitated slightly at the start of his runner-up debut from Post 1 at Hipodromo and has room for much improvement while getting an advantageous post switch.

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