08/08/2009 12:42AM

Amazing Racing Weekend

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Off the cold dope, The Whitney and The Arlington Million look like two of the most competitive and best betting races of the year.  In both historic events, we have multiple classy campaigners that could win on their best day.  It truly should be a wonderful day, and weekend, of racing. 

For what they're worth, here are some selections:

Secretariat:  BLACK BEAR ISLAND, GIANT OAK, TAKE THE POINTS
No strong opinions here.  Black Bear Island is a bit inconsistent, and all-world trainer Aidan O'Brien is 1-30 over the last five years in North America, but the cutback from 1 1/2 miles, and addition of Lasix may be just what the doctor ordered. 
Giant Oak has loads of natural ability, but still doesn't have all the mechanics down. 
Take the Points may not be a true ten-furlong horse, but his good tactical speed usually puts him in a nice spot.
Reb knows where the wire is (three straight photo-finish victories), and can't be counted out.

Beverly D.:  MAD ABOUT YOU, POINTS OF GRACE, ALNADANA
Dermot Weld won last year's Secretariat with Winchester, and he has another intriguing European import in Mad About You.  She has kept top company throughout her career as she was third to Zarkava in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Lonchamp at two, then placed in the Irish  1000 Guineas in her three-year-old debut.  She is Group 1-placed at ten furlongs, and the recent seven-furlong race looks like a solid prep run for the Beverly D.  She's another Euro that will add Lasix for the first time. 
Points of Grace did all the running last time out at Woodbine stopping the teletimer for the nine-furlong Dance Smartly Stakes in a sizzling 1:45 2/5.  She doesn't necessarily need the lead, and may work out a good trip tracking Alnadana, Tizaqueena, and Dynaforce.
Alnadona went gate-to-wire in a Group 3 in France last time out, but that was at a mile, and she's a bit of a question mark at this trip. 
Pure Clan is extremely likeable and consistent, but she's never run particularly fast, and will take lots of money.

Arlington Million:  GLORIA DE CAMPEAO, PRESIOUS PASSION, CIMA DE TRIOMPHE
Honestly, I think they all have a good shot, and I can't back my top selection with total confidence.  Gloria de Campeao was a second-level performer (Group 2) in Brazil, and never made a mark in France and Dubai earlier in his career.  Someone had to finish second in this year's weak renewal of the Dubai World Cup, and he fit the bill.  He did impress in beating a bunch of fellow world travelers in the Singapore Airlines Cup last time out, and it will be interesting if he can pair up career tops at the ripe old age of six.
Presious Passion is one of the gamest animals in the sport, and figures to be wheeling and dealing on the front end once again.  He's always a threat when he gets brave on the lead. 
Cima de Triomphe beat Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit at this trip two back, then had a miserable trip when fourth to Sea the Stars, Europe's top racehorse, in the Eclipse Stakes.  He may be the invader to fear the most come crunch time. 
Einstein is one of my all-time favorite racehorses, and I'll be rooting for him, but he had to work especially hard to beat an exposed runner in Cowboy Cal two back.  I wonder if he's truly in his best form.
Gio Ponti, in my opinion, is the best turf runner in North America, and his race in the Man o' War was the best turf performance of the year.  He was wide every step of the way while tracking a soft pace, and still won with relative ease.  He's had three hard races in a row, however, and a regression could be in order.  Obviously, he wouldn't be a surprise.
What a race!  I wish I had a stronger opinion, though.

Test:  FIRST PASSAGE, CAT MOVES, ALL OF HER TWIST
First Passage made a smooth wide move on the turn in the Grade 3 Azalea on Summit of Speed day at Calder, and kept to her task nicely when confronted by the extremely-game pacesetter Kays and Jays in the stretch.  She would benefit from a solid pace up front, and it looks like the $1.2 million dollar yearling with the flashy pedigree has figured the game out. 
Cat Moves was aided by a quick pace up front to run her undefeated record to three in the Grade 1 Prioress.  She's tactical and logical.
All of Her Twist may work out a nice stalking trip, and her confidence should be sky-high after two wins over weaker at Monmouth.
Heart Ashley is very, very fast from the gate, but may be more effective at six furlongs. 
Flashing didn't look right when fatigued on the turn when whipped by Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose.  Expect her to stay away from a speed duel this time around.

Whitney:  TIZWAY, SMOOTH AIR, COMMENTATOR
As with the Arlington Million, I found this race very difficult with five or six legitimiate win contenders.  Tizway is a crazy longshot play as he's never run in a stakes race, and has the daunting task of having to chase Commentator, put him away, and then hold off the closers.  At least I'm getting a price on an upwardly-mobile Tiznow colt that has been pretty impressive running through his conditions. 
Smooth Air is simply a cool horse.  He's earned over a million bucks despite myriad physical problems, and should work out a beautiful pace-tracking, ground-saving trip from his rail post.  I don't like that he has a tendency to drift out in the stretch, however. 
Two-time Whitney winner Commentator looks like the controlling speed once again, but he hasn't proven much in 2009, failing in a tough comeback race going three turns under the lights at Charles Town before coasting on an easy lead against weaker New York-breds going one turn. 
Dry Martini ran an explosive race in the Suburban when rallying from well off the pace, and can't be counted out if he repeats that run. 
Macho Again is an in-and-outer, but he likes this track.
Asiatic Boy is hard-knocking, consistent, and overdue.  He may get lost in the wagering.
Just taking a shot here.

Bing Crosby Handicap:   Zensational, Talkin to Mom Roo, Delta Storm
Clement L. Hirsch (Sunday):  Zenyatta, Life Is Sweet, Patricia's Gem

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Hey Dan!
Seeing tough old claimer Cardashi win the Governor's Cup reminded me of another tough old claimer, one of my favorites:  Shigamba
He raced out west in the late 80's, and was very tough to pass when hooked.  Helped forge my love for this sport.  Can you post his PP's if you've got 'em?
Scott

Here they are:

Download Shigamba

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Hello all,
Love reading about your picks.  Still I can't let go of Claiming Crown day at Canterbury and noticed one of the great claimers popped up in my stable mail today.  Sugar Booger!  Dan, could you post his lifetime PP's.  He really has been a great runner for some time now
Mike Savage

I haven't forgotten about you, Mike, but the DRF system crashed just as I was going to post today's blog.  I'll try to post Sugar Booger's past performances on Monday.

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Dan, I have a question if you look at sundays Form 8-2-09 in the 4th race at Saratoga the 5 horse {Talkhouse} in his pps on 8-17-08 he ran on a gd turf Alw 5000 if you go across his running line there is a small symbol before Espinoza's name,what does that symbol mean ?
luxor704

That little symbol signifies that the horse in question finished in a dead-heat.  Talkhouse dead-heated for sixth-place in the August 17, 2008 race.

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Dan, can you explain why there weren't Beyer's available for the Santa Rosa stakes?
Ian Lozada

They weren't recorded into the DRF system by the time I posted the blog on Monday.  The Beyers for the respective stakes races are:

Joseph T. Grace:  SHEM - 87
Cavonnier Juvenile:  OUR MINESWEEPER - 73

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I know it's off topic but will the DRF ever publish trainers/jockey's stats for BC races in the PP's on BC day? I'm sure it's possible to do this now and info like that is much more helpful then seeing Andre Fabre's record at current Oak Tree meet...appreciate your work as always...
Brian in SoCal

It's a good idea.  I'll float it to the powers that be, but be forewarned.  They're notoriously stuck in their ways.

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An oh by the way kind of question.  What happened with Bennie Stuts(?) and Smooth Air.  That was such a nice story last year.  Why doesn't he have the horse anymore?
Lawduck07

From David Grening's article posted on drf.com on May 26:

"Unfortunately for 71-year-old trainer Bennie Stutts, his ride with Smooth Air came to an end on Tuesday when owner Brian Burns transferred the horse to New York-based trainer Chad Brown.
Burns said he plans to campaign the horse in the Northeast this summer and didn't feel shipping back to Calder, where Stutts is based, was wise. Brown, in whose barn Smooth Air was stabled when he arrived in New York, is a former assistant to Bobby Frankel.
"It wasn't an easy decision, because Bennie's done such a phenomenal job with the horse," Burns said Tuesday afternoon. "I had to think about all the travel with the horse. It would be a little hard on Ben to keep traveling. I talked it over with the family and we decided it was silly to fly him back to Florida and then ship up to Monmouth or Saratoga."
Burns said two races he is considering for Smooth Air are the Salvator Mile at Monmouth on July 4 and the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 8.
Stutts admitted that Smooth Air belongs in New York, but was leery to speak any further about losing the horse.
"The horse belongs up here, he really does," Stutts said. "He doesn't belong in south Florida; there are no races for him. But I don't really want to talk about this anymore."
Stutts achieved great success with Smooth Air, guiding him to 6 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds from 15 starts, and amassing purse earnings of $1,052,200. Under Stutts, Smooth Air won the Hutcheson, Ohio Derby and Gulfstream Park Handicap - all Grade 2 events - and also finished second to Big Brown in the 2008 Florida Derby. In his only two off-the-board finishes, Smooth Air finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic."

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Congrats to bobc for finishing first in this week's HandiGambling contest.  In a very generous display, he passes the prize to second-place finisher terry, and terry gets to select this week's race.

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Enjoy the great racing this weekend.

Take care,

Dan

brandx652 More than 1 year ago
Dan, you had a list of babies to watch at Del Mar. Could you please list them again? Thanks
tonykelso More than 1 year ago
Formblogger Million Day Meeting: My friend Mark (he doesn't post on this board) and I would like to say thanks to Midwest Ed for grabbing that large table. It really came in handy for everybody. It was great to see PGM (Paul), Chicago Jerry, Ed and TurnbacktheAlarm (Kathy). They are all great people. And honestly, if we would have been smart enough to combine picks and/or hunches in trifecta bets we could have had the trifecta in the Secretariat, the Beverly D., the Million, and an allowance race late in the card....Note to self - next time look at constructing trifecta tickets (by nature I am a horizontal player). So excellent handicapping ideas came from everybody. I learned my early handicapping lessons at Arlington International (now Arlington Park) in the early 1990's, when it could have been argued I should have spent more time working on my Masters' Degree thesis (I was a grad student at Northwestern University then). It was great to be on site for another Million Day. I have to make a correction on Turnbackthealarm's earlier post - I didn't hit all of my wagers, and playing Saratoga on Saturday via simulcast was an abject disaster. BUT thanks to DYNAFORCE and hitting several Polytrack sprints I was able to eke out a profit on the day. I hope to make it back to AP in September. I checked my calendar, and Sept. 5th will not work because I have to be at a wedding. Closing weekend perhaps? I will try to work something out.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Alan, Thanks for the pix! Clever disguise by Blue. LOL With TBTA's post, it appears that Formbloggers were keeping things hopping both in New York and Chicago this weekend. Good times, I'm sure. Annie
SpartanTom More than 1 year ago
Dan, I remember watching on satellite the old NYRA racing show featuring a "young" Harvey Pack, and a young writer Steve Crist. On one show Harvey talked about a filly out west who ran a "hole in the wind" beating Snow Chief among others in a stakes race from Hollywood; the filly was Melair and I know they now have a stakes named after her, but I do not remember seeing any of her offspring race. Is she still alive? Any information and her lifetime pp's would be appreciated.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
SPA PLAY OF THE DAY: 4th Race: 1&1/6th turf route. #6 VICTORY ASSURED drops in for a tag here for Hennig (who just won with Cozeene's Destiny in a mile dirt run for a price yesterday at Monmouth). This Victory Gallop gelding looks ready to go, and Kent Desormeaux thought so too: ML 5-1. Good luck! Yesterday, the far outside post might have hurt Groomedforvictory's win chances a bit, but he was a solid Place Wager payoff: got beat by loose on the lead 30+ to 1 shot/just can't see those coming!
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Annie: I did good Saturday. Posted somewhere on 1st page: had Buyllsbay over Macho Again, and had him across the board. Like you, I played Asiatic Boy in his last two: but I played him Win and 3X multiplier Place wagers which is my usual mo. Had Take The Points, had Dynaforce on my Pik 3, but had ommitted Gio Ponti due to too short odds. But, came away a good winner for the day. I see #1 MY DEAR ANNIE is going forward in the 1st at the Spa today for David Donk, Coa rides: 5-1 ML. But watch out for the two Cryptoclearance horses there, #3 Got Clearance (5-2ML entry) and #9 One in a Romp (8-1 ML). Good luck! Keith
turfruler More than 1 year ago
Gio Ponti has been consistent in his past races on the grass, he was consistent in the Million (when he took the lead in that race, where was eveybody else) and he will run a good race in the Breeders Cup Turf. Continue to believe that he is not good enough and his odds will be higher than *$1.50-1
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Lawduck07, Many times you will hear a trainer say "I owe alot to ( so and so ) for breaking this horse right and sending him/her to me ready to go". The folks who break the yearlings and get them jogging under tack are the most important folks in the developement of young horses. The better ones send you horses ready for the rigors of training. The trainers get them ready for the rigors of racing. As I said yesterday, racing is a whole different animal, no thoroughbred I know of goes threw any type of "discipline" training. Though I'm sure steeplechasers do to an extent. The guy to ask, if you could possibly get Dan to help out would be Jonathan Sheppard. I have a very short list of trainers who I hold in very high esteem. Not that I don't like the others, it's just these guys are the cream of the crop. Bill Mott's one, Mr. Clement is another and Mr. Sheppard. There's more but it doesn't matter for this. There's an excellant book out there about training race horses, unfortunately I can't remember the name of it. I will though and pass it along, I recommend it to anyone who bets race horses. Sorry, my blood sugar must be low, I need to eat something. When my brain is back up and running I'll get back to you. Maybe Dan could help, the book was advertised in the form I believe. TTY later, Mike A
Mike A More than 1 year ago
I was trying to think of who Zenyatta reminded me of. While I'm not comparing the two,and I'm certainly not saying one was better than the other, so please no one get their dander up...I'm only saying style and will to win here. Anyway she reminds me of Forego. Mike A
C More than 1 year ago
"NYRA and the NY stewards should be taken to task for the outrageous non-disqualification of Cocoa Beach. She knocked Matz's filly a path and half over, yet was not DQ'd." Tinky, Actually, I thought it was Modern Look (#5) that caused the problem by turning outside and bumping Matz's filly into Cocoa Beach. Modern Look was second to last anyway, so a DQ was not in order. Looked like Cocoa Beach kept a fairly straight path to me on the head-on. Bad break for Matz because there was nobody to take down to move her up. Good, but unfortunate, non-call.