10/09/2009 4:57PM

Beat the Chalk

Email

It's time for another edition of everybody's favorite game show...Beat The Chalk!

First Lady - Grade 1 (Keeneland - Race 7):
It's hard to root against an honest racemare like Forever Together, but it's possible that the champion has lost just a half a step over the past ten months.  She was outhustled to the wire by Diamondrella in the Just a Game at this distance on Belmont Stakes Day (although one could certainly argue that she had a far worse trip while bottled up inside).  Then, she had to work pretty hard to defeat a modest field in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.  And last time, she was upset by the previously unheralded Princess Haya at Woodbine.  Make no mistake, she's still plenty horse, but at even-money on the morning line, she offers no value. 
Perhaps My Princess Jess and the aforementioned Diamondrella are better plays.  I've been married to the former for most of the year, and she keeps kicking me to the couch, but her tactical speed should play nicely in this virtually paceless race (Tizaqueena expected to set modest fractions).  She spun her wheels when finishing evenly over wet going in the Ballston Spa, and may appreciate turning back to a flat mile.  Diamondrella received a great ride by Rajiv Maragh in the Just a Game.  While Forever Together was bottled up toward the inside, Maragh sent Diamondrella with a decisive five wide move to grab the momentum away from the favorite.  By the time Forever Together was clear, it was too late for her to make up the difference.  In her most recent start, Diamondrella looked uncomfortable over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.  Getting back to turf should help her chances, but she must prove that she's a two-turn miler.

Shadwell Turf Mile - Grade 1 (Keeneland - Race 9):
Justenuffhumor looms the horse to beat as he's reeled off six straight since being introduced to the turf by his shrewd mentor Kiaran McLaughlin.  The wily trainer has admitted that his talented charge is a bit of a knucklehead as it pertains to his pre-race manners, however, so it will be interesting to see how he handles a big crowd at Keeneland.  If Justenuffhumor goes off near his morning line odds of 5-2, then there's nothing wrong with backing him, but I think he'll get bet down to 8-5 or so. 
If that's the case, I'll try to beat him with another logical runner, Mr. Sidney.  The one-time $3.9M yearling is a perfect 4-4 at this mile distance on turf, and he won the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile during Keeneland's Spring Meet.  Throw out two of his last three races.  On May 25, he was ill-suited to the dirt surface in the Grade 1 Met Mile.  Last time out, he actually made the lead from Presious Passion turning for home, but simply couldn't stay the 10 furlongs.  He shortens up to his best game here for Bill Mott.

Frizette - Grade 1 (Belmont - Race 8):
Awesome Maria figures to take the lion's share of the wagering after beating a couple of these rivals last month in the Matron, but she looked like she was getting tired in the final furlong that day, and may be stuck between a rock and a hard place from a pace perspective.  Nonna Mia and Franny Freud may dispute the fractions with Awesome Maria right off of them.  The chalk may have to work hard to put away the two front-runners, and could be spent when the closers come calling.  Worship the Moon did not have an easy trip when third in the Matron, and figures to be somewhat of a wiseguy horse, but I'm going to take another look at Touching Beauty.  The $235,000 daughter of Tapit was working very well leading up to her debut at Saratoga, did not disappoint as the favorite, and then wasn't disgraced in her first start against winners in the Matron.  True, Touching Beauty didn't have the trouble that Worship the Moon experienced, but she did get dirt kicked in her face for the first time, and still doggedly battled on for the place. 

Goodwood - Grade 1 (Santa Anita - Race 7):
The classy Colonel John is listed as the tepid morning line favorite, but it's anyone's guess who will go off the public's choice at off time.  Mine That Bird's popularity soared after the Triple Crown series, and his synthetic campaign at Woodbine last year propelled him to a juvenile championship in Canada.  Richard's Kid's powerful win over several of these runners in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic should attract some attention as well. 
I'll take a shot with Parading, who made a premature move (like Colonel John) in the Pacific Classic.  He roared right up to Einstein in midstretch, but was turned away like a horse that wanted no part of that tenth and final furlong.  Turning back to this distance may be what the doctor ordered, and Parading may be the first one to attack probable pacesetter Tres Borrachos.  If you're feeling really adventurous, and remember last year's Breeders' Cup results, take a shot with Gitano Hernando, a horse that was scheduled to run in the Belmont Stakes before reportedly coming up lame.  He prepped for the Goodwood with a polytrack win overseas, and seems to have tactical speed.  First-Lasix shouldn't hurt.

Lady's Secret - Grade 1 (Santa Anita - Race 8):
They say all good things come to an end, but I'm hoping that Zenyatta's magical carpet ride keeps right on rolling along.  That being said, she may not be a good bet at odds-on.  With her running style, she can't afford to lose even a fraction of an inch off her best game, and her last race gave her many supporters quite a scare.  Do I want her to win by ten?  Of course, but I think Cocoa Beach may be a better play.  Although Cocoa Beach hasn't looked like the same filly this year that gave Zenyatta a fight in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, she did reportedly suffer from a hind-end problem prior to winning the De La Rose Stakes by a neck at Saratoga.  Like My Princess Jess, she didn't seem to accelerate over very wet going in the Ballston Spa so I'll give her a mulligan for that race.  Cocoa Beach will likely get the jump on Zenyatta.  We'll find out what she's made of in the last eighth of a mile.

Sorry that I haven't had time to answer questions, comments, and pp requests.  I've been swamped this week, and will get to them ASAP.

Tell me who you like this weekend.  I want to know.

Best,

Dan