10/31/2009 7:01AM

Beat the (Weekend) Chalk

Email

Once again, let's try to beat the chalk!

Bold Ruler Handicap - Aqueduct (Race 4)

Past the Point
is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in this evenly-matched sprint, and I don't really like him at all.  He's only won one of his last eight races, and while you can make legitimate excuses for some of his recent losses (he didn't like synthetics in the Phoenix, San Carlos, San Pasqual, Native Diver; he didn't like Rachel or Curlin in the last two runnings of the Woodward; the pace was too hot in last years's Meadowlands Cup), he didn't impress me when drifting out through the stretch of his 'n3x' victory to kick off this form cycle at Saratoga.  He's been a bit of a "reputation" horse since the Curlin race, and he may be ripe for the pickings this afternoon.  
I'll take a chance with Gold Trippi, a veteran that seems to do better on the smaller NYRA tracks (Aqueduct and Saratoga) than he does on "Big Sandy." (3-6 at Aque-toga while 1-8 at Belmont).  He wasn't disgraced in his last two races at Belmont, however (second to heavily-favored Biker Boy on October 17, second to next-out De Francis runner-up Ravalo on September 25), and he defeated Breeders' Cup bound Pyro (albeit a short Pyro) in the James Marvin Stakes at this distance during the Saratoga meet.  He'll need some pace help, but is capable on his best day. 
Sing Baby Sing (third start following surgery), Cherokee Country (possible lone speed, beat Biker Boy in track record effort two back at Philly Park), and Le Grand Cru (sharp for Allen Jerkens) are also possible alternatives to the favorite.

Before we move on, I'd like to mention an invaluable resource for Breeders' Cup handicapping.  It's the Keeneland Clocker Report at www.keeneland.com.  I've talked about it for the last few years now, and the clockers have been on several live runners.  I know I don't like Past the Point, but the October 26 report noted that he "went well on his own."  There aren't many negative workouts on the report, but a lack of a mention could be construed as a rather blah outing.

Princess Elizabeth Stakes - Woodbine (Race 6)

Ernfold
is the deserving 5-2 morning line chalk after finishing a troubled third on grass in the Grade 3 Natalma on September 19 but, as with Past the Point, I didn't like the way she finished up her previous race over polytrack (drifting out during the stretch of the maiden win). 
Perhaps Silent Wisper can make it two in a row for trainer Michael Keogh.  She prompted a moderate pace while three wide last time out, took over in upper stretch from the two path, and kept on in a professional maiden score.  A daughter of Wando, she's really picked up her game since being asked to go around two turns, and may work out a stalking trip in a race with several speeds. 
Roan Inish is a maiden, but she's shipping in from Europe following a Group 3 loss at 6-1, and may offer some value at 12-1 on the line.

Turnback the Alarm Handicap - Aqueduct (Race 9)

It's probably folly to play against Unbridled Belle, the 3-5 morning line favorite who just ran second behind Ladies' Classic-bound Music Note in the Grade 1 Beldame, but Unbridled Belle just hasn't seemed like the same mare over the 2008-2009 seasons that she was when she won the Beldame in 2007.  The folks at Team Valor reportedly tried to breed her twice to A.P. Indy during the spring, and brought her back when the matings didn't catch.  Aside from a big win over sloppy going in the Grade 3 Obeah at Delaware (arguably her favorite surface), she's lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in all of her races this year (albeit against much-tougher competition.  She's obviously the horse to beat, and if they leave her alone on the front end, they're all going to run for second, but if Weathered, who chased hot splits last week against males in the Empire Classic, decides to run with Unbridled Belle, the result could be interesting. 
Use Unbridled Belle in your multi-race plays, but take a chance as well with Way With Words, an improving New Jersey-bred trained by Mary Eppler.  She's won three of her last four dirt starts (only loss in the string came over sloppy going), and has previously used the turf-to-dirt move successfully (Eleven North Handicap win in 2008 came using the angle).  She's 10-1 on the morning line, and had to go pretty fast during the middle portion of the Politely Stakes two back while in the midst of a three-ply pace battle (albeit after chasing a very slow opening quarter-mile). 

Jack Goodman Stakes - Oak Tree at Santa Anita (Race 3)

Macias
is the 2-1 morning line favorite, and it looks like she has a good deal of ability, but I'll go with the runner that beat Macias at Del Mar. 
I'll go with Privilaged, a speedy John Sadler-trained ridgeling that wasn't disgraced in his first start against winners here three weeks ago.  After breaking a half-length slowly, Privilaged rushed up to prompt the pace from in between horses, and put both early rivals away before understandably faltering in the stretch.  He'll have to run and gun from the inside post under Joel Rosario, but he may be the speed of the speed, and is worth another chance. 

Bruno De Julio, the top-notch clocker in Southern California (his workout analysis from Today's Racing Digestis available on the DRF homepage), has been impressed with the favorite's recent workouts.  On October 11, he writes that he "loved the way he worked on the grass.  Went off real slow for the first 1/4 and stormed home in 22.4.  Huge, huge late run for two-year-old."  Two weeks later, Bruno noted that Macias "worked strongly and looks real good.  Loved the way he finished."

Fayette - Keeneland (Race 9)

Parading is the morning line favorite at 7-5 based on his solid performances against Grade 1 company in California as well as a big victory over course and distance in the Ben Ali during the spring meeting.  The veteran has done a lot of traveling though, and I wonder if he'll regress shipping back East after a pair of career-best Beyer Speed Figures.  The Keeneland Clocker noted that Parading "went easily, off in 13, and galloped out in 1:01." for the October 26 synthetic drill, but I don't think he's worth a very short price.
Second-choice Blame wouldn't be a big surprise after chasing Breeders' Cup-bound Regal Ransom through ridiculously slow fractions in the Super Derby.  Take what you will from the Keeneland Clocker Reports on Blame:

*October 14:  "Reserved early behind Dr. Hudson, responded when asked, and was well clear at the finish, Theriot up."

Dr. Hudson is a 2-year-old that ran third at 30-1 with a 57 Beyer Speed Figure on October 22.

*October 21:  "Good finish on his own, last eighth in 11 4/5, galloped out 1:26 2/5, and 1:41 1/5, Theriot up."

*October 27:  "Continues to train forwardly, was a neck better than Brazilionaire, both were in hand, Theriot up."

Brazilionaire is a three-year-old maiden claimer with a 62 Beyer top.

My selection to beat the chalk is Public Speaker, a former $50,000 claimer that has won his last two starts, is 4-5 on synthetic surfaces, and "is very sharp right now," according to the Clocker Report for October 18.  Last time out, in the slop at Hawthorne, he was involved in a three-ply pace battle while on the outside, hooked up through a fast middle portion of the race, and still grinded out the victory.  He may be the main speed breaking from the inside post.

On Sunday at Churchill, let's take a shot with Mr. Lukas and Decelerator in the Pocahontas, and Mr. Stidham and Comedero in the Iroquois.

More importantly, who do you like this weekend.  I want to know.

Congrats to Van Savant for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling.  Let's do the BC Classic this week!

Have a great weekend.

Dan