05/28/2009 4:18PM

"2009 Racing" for $800, Alex


The Answer is: Einstein, Informed Decision, Rachel Alexandra, Stardom Bound.

The Question: name the only four horses who have won two Grade 1 stakes races so far this year.

Here's the Grade 1 tally to date, with the schedule through the end of June:

Bobby Frankel leads all trainers with three Grade 1 victories so far, and five jockeys are tied with a trio apiece: Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, Julien Leparoux, Mike Smith and John Velazquez.

By my count, we're at 114 109 Grade 1's this year with the cancellation of the Pimlico Special. So that's 25 down, 89 84 to go.

--Here, according to a Belmont Park press release today, are the "likely players" for the four Grade 1's there on Belmont Stakes Day, listed in alphabetical order:

Belmont: Brave Victory, Charitable Man, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Flying Private, Luv Gov, Miner's Escape, Mine That Bird, Mr. Hot Stuff, Nowhere to Hide, Summer Bird. And "maybe" Rachel Alexandra. 

Manhattan: Better Talk Now, Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, Gio Ponti, Grand Couturier (GB), Interpatation, Lauro (GER), Premium Gold.

Acorn: Be Fair, Devotee, Doremifasollatido, Dream Play, Funny Moon, Just Jenda and Justwhistledixie.

Just a Game: Captain’s Lover (SAF), Carribean Sunset (IRE), Diamondrella (GB), Forever Together, Modern Look (GB)and My Princess Jess.

These are hardly set lineups nine days out, just known likely starters. You can find the complete nominations for these races by going to the NYRA homepage and clicking "Stakes Nominations" under "Horsemen" in the left-hand column.

--Real lineups and pp's are up for Saturday's Belmont card, where the $350,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 (which handled $490k last Saturday) comprises a firster-heavy statebred maiden race, the restricted Mckaymckenna Stakes for older turf fillies, the G2 Sands Point for 3-year-old turf fillies (including Gozzip Girl and Magical Affair), and an open maiden turf race. 

Hounds052809 In the Mckaymckenna, I'm intrigued by Shadiyna, who was entered and scratched from last Saturday's much tougher Sheepshead Bay. She's still eligible for a N2x, but her lone American start was much better than the lowly 76 Beyer it earned -- she was first off a six-month layoff and dead last early behind a ridiuculously slow pace. That she was even nominated and entered for a graded stakes makes me think she's eligible to improve quickly. She's the same 12-1 ML Saturday that she was a week ago and deserves consideration at anything near that price.

--Commenter dale_tillotson: Does the photo at right answer your question?

Popeye(left) and Dondo are resting up for Saratoga, which opens in 62 days. If Dondo is looking a bit more robust since his arrival, well, it turns out that retirement, and extra-crunchy Cheetos, agree with him.