Burgart Blog: Texas, Oklahoma Challenge Races
Get handicapping tips on the final Challenge stakes in Texas and Oklahoma.

© Scott Martinez
Burgart Blog: Texas, Oklahoma Challenge Races

By Ed Burgart

Q-RACING—OCTOBER 1, 2021—Expected heavy thundershowers in Texas and Oklahoma provide handicapping challenges for Bank of America Championship regional finals on Saturday at Lone Star Park and Sunday at Will Rogers Downs.

While I still use video-tape replay observations and proven class as key handicapping factors, I also upgrade chances for horses that have performed well over prior wet surfaces.

This weekend’s Challenge qualifying finals begin with the $27,676 Q-Racing Video Lone Star Distaff Challenge Saturday at Lone Star Park.

Then on Sunday, Will Rogers Downs feature the $25,000 Q-Racing Video Will Rogers Distaff Challenge, the $25,000 Distance Challenge, the $30,000 Adequan® Will Rogers Derby Challenge and the $30,000 John Deere Will Rogers Juvenile Challenge.

The winners of the aforementioned five races earn starting berths in their respective finals on Bank of America Challenge Championship night October 23 at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Q-Racing Video Lone Star Distaff Challenge

I like the chances of Jess Agree to defeat Tempting Violet and Hot Lady Returns in the 400-yard regional final.

At 20-1 on the morning line, I certainly think Jess Agree outruns her odds. She missed the break and lost her path when a better-than-looked eighth in her last All American Oaks (G1) trial outing. She finished with good interest from between horses while beaten 1 1/2 lengths for second. The 4 3/4-length winner was Whistle Stop Cafe, the 2020 world champion. In her prior outing, Jess Agree dead-heated for victory in a Rainbow Oaks trial.

Tempting Violet was only beaten a neck for third in her last stakes outing won by Valiant Tiberias, recent winner of The Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship (G1). And Hot Lady Returns was third two outs ago in the regional Adequan® Sam Houston Derby Challenge finals. Hot Lady Returns was steadily bumped from both sides early in her most recent out, finishing eighth in her Sires Cup Derby trial.

AQHA Will Rogers Distance Challenge

Highly effective over a wet surface, Ms Esther gets my nod as the most likely winner in a talented group that includes Viva Le Don, Dance The Dust Off and Higher Flyin Eagle.

In addition to posting three wins and one second in four off-track efforts, Ms Esther also relishes Will Rogers Downs, where she has recorded four wins and one second in five outs. She is a stretch runner who should benefit by a likely early pace battle between speedsters Viva Le Don and Higher Flyin Eagle.

Dance The Dust Off moves to the No. 2 post after starting from posts 6 and 8 in his last three tries, two of which were runner-up efforts.

Viva Le Don and Higher Flyin Eagle have impressive win credentials at 870 yards but have not won in six prior wet-track tries.

Q-Racing Video Will Rogers Distaff Challenge

Lynnder 16 is a total standout on class and should easily outrun her five opponents.

With lifetime earnings of $733,825, Lynnder 16 easily surpasses the field's next-wealthiest runner in First Lucy Lark at $74,901. Lynnder 16 is also seeking her third consecutive stakes victory and has won both of her wet-track tries.

Adequan® Will Rogers Derby Challenge

Quorumm is my tepid selection to defeat JC Wild King and All Red No Blue in the 10-horse field.

I was impressed with Quorumm's neck trial win over JC Wild King. Despite a sluggish start, Quorumm displayed big strides midway to catch JC Wild King, who broke nicely from the far outside post.

JC Wild King still looms dangerous based on his half-length win two outs ago in the Speedhorse Derby at Fair Meadows where he also proved he could handle an off track with a 1-length sloppy trial victory three outs ago.

All Red No Blue didn't break alertly and rallied nicely for a head loss in his trial setback to finalist Charlies Fast Man.

John Deere Will Rogers Juvenile Challenge

I look for Awesome View to reverse his runner-up trial outing to fastest qualifier Valentino Pete. Others I fear are Gheto Cowboy and VF Kiss Me Quick.

Making only his second start, Awesome View didn't break alertly while getting bumped before rallying for a half-length setback against Valentino Pete, who broke nicely from the outside post. In his Remington Park debut last May, Awesome View was third while only a neck behind winner One Famous Candy, who since won the Prairie Meadows Gold Futurity.

Gheto Cowboy broke super from the outside post in a 1-¼ ength trial victory while VF Kiss Me Quick was third two outs ago against Whizkey Glasses, who since captured an All American Futurity trial and was fifth in the All American Juvenile.

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