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Beat the (Weekend) Chalk
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.
Lots of talk about whether to bet the BC, whether it's really a championship or not, etc. so here's what it is to me. It's one of the 2 weekends a year (along with Derby weekend) where a lot (I didn't say all) of top horses and a lot of top jocks come together to compete, and it's a weekend where one ticket can make for a profitable weekend-(Orthodox's race on Oaks day paid for my Derby trip with a tidy profit with the exacta, tri, and pick 4 and a win bet) It's a weekend where with blogs like this, our party at Hawthorne with people who love this sport can all go back and forth about who's going to win what race and then "trash talk" (all in fun) when they happen to be right, and it's a weekend with lots of food and way too much alchohol! With that said: Here are contenders for the Saturday races I've looked at so far BREEDER’S CUP SATURDAY CONTENDERS (alph. Order) JUVENILE TURF- BRIDGETOWN-is prime 3rd among NA horses and could be the controlling speed. If Euros wait too long to move this guy could surprise a bit CODOY-improved dramatically out of nowhere last and at 2 who’s to say there’s not more improvement possible. Must consider at least in gimmix. INTERACTIF-looks like a versatile sort who may be the best North America has to offer. Should consider sitting closer to the pace than he did in last. KING LADLEY-don’t be put off by lack of wins-already has over ¼ million in earnings this year, will get lasix and has been in US since Mid-October getting acclimated LONG SHOT SPECIAL! POUNCED-lightly raced Euro seems to be the pick of handicappers so far and will be fresh yet have a prep. Logical contender SUMMER MOVIE-just broke mdn. For some reason I think this horse has a chance to be competitive but just can’t put my finger on why. VALE OF YORK-could be part of gimmix I guess but bothered by so-so efforts when paired with other Stakes horses VISCOUNT NELSON-like the fact he’s lightly raced and has a brief freshening for this. TURF SPRINT CANNONBALL-only one win this year but ran well in England and that win was in his last race-feeling that he’ll run well here and prime 5th DESSERT CODE-won this race last year at 36/1 and race pattern coming in is eerily similar DIAMONDERELLA-won 5 grass sprints in a row at one time and in top form-race sets up well for her and she must be considered a contender FLEETING SPIRIT-appears to be coming up to the race better than last year when she was 4th as the favorite. Could be the one to beat GOTTA HAVE IT-prime top has never lost on downhill course and will be another with a big shot here at a square price LETHAL HEAT-has run very well at this distance and could definitely be a factor is this is where she ends up LORD SHANAKILL-notes said came back lame after last but works like problems have been solved. Will get medication and if indeed he’s physically good to go he has a big shot here at a big price SILVER TIMBER-prime 3rd has run extremely well for this barn and looks to have a shot here STRIKE THE DEAL-in great form for this-has had gate problems but at 6 ½ F it may not matter. Another with a big shot to win this race DIRT MILE BULLSBAY-layoff a bit of a concern but see no other reason he can’t be a factor here. COWBOY CAL-grass mile listed as first preference but I think this guy will be a factor wherever he ends up! FURTHEST LAND-will need some defections to get in but if he does, this guy fits off that last race at a HUGE price. GIROLAMO-could sit right off the speed (including his stable race) and win this thing! (Surprised he’s only prime 7th) MASTERCRAFTSMAN-there’s no such thing as unbeatable in a horse race but this guy comes close MR. SIDNEY-first preference listed as the grass mile but bred to like this surface and is the kind of horse that leads to huge gimmix every year. Gonna try to find a spot on my super ticket for him if he ends up here QUALITY ROAD-could be America’s top hope if he ends up here but a little bit concerned about the surface REGAL RANSOM-runs well fresh and would be very nervous about any ticket without his number on it JUVENILE (dirt) AKENITE-form does appear to be headed the right way off big effort at Keeneland. ASPIRE-ok races on dirt but breeding says he could really jump up on an artificial surface. BEETOVEN-has had a long year and could be a tired horse, or do you use the experience as a plus. Tough call but not ready to eliminate from my gimmix just yet. D’FUNNYBONE-is he a dirt sprinter or a very special horse? I guess we’ll see Saturday, at best will end up on my gimmix. ESKENDEREYA-this guy is improving and should handle the surface. Price shot could be something special if he gets in (which he should) LOOKING AT LUCKY-has a win over the track over 2 turns and is prime 2nd-Probably the logical choice but the problem is that I’m not a logical person. NOBLE PROMISE-improving sort has won 3 in a row but as I look at the race, I see at best the bottom of the gimmix. RADIOHEAD-jumped up to run a huge race last. Like many others the surface will be a question mark. VALE OF YORK-fringe player at best was 2nd in Italy. Still not gonna leave off my list until I see who ends up in the race.
Mickey, As far as Einstein, I said sometimes I think he's awesome, other times he reminds me of Prading. Using Parading was a metaphor. I should have said Parading Like. I surely don't think Einstein compares to Parading, their isn't much of a comparison. "C" I'm sorry, thought that was my point, by running in the Classic the Gio Ponti folks secured his title, because if Conduit wins, they only have their records to go by and on that they would more than likely give it to Gio Ponti. By running in the turf, they could have possibly shot themselves in the foot by losing, which I think was more than likely. Mike A
Stephen Taylor OH, I saw Tatum Girl win (on TVG)...I didn't know she was one of yours! She won Strongly..now on my Horse watch list. When I saw her name the first thought in my head was Tatum O'Neal in the movie Paper Moon...any connection? Congratulations on your win.....and at a price, too! 25.80 / 7.40 / 4.80 SR Vegas
Mike A: The 2$ Barbaro-Bluegrass Cat exacta was $589.and change I had a 21$ straight 8-13. Why 21$ it was all I had left on my voucher. With a pocket full of money I never thought to play an 8-13-all in the tri, of course I'd drank enough till that point to float a battleship.
Mike, If Conduit were to beat Gio Ponti in the Turf, he'd get turf male this year, sure. But he won't be facing Gio Ponti in the Turf. If Conduit wins the Turf, Gio Ponti will still get the turf male award, guaranteed. Conduit only has 1 other win overseas this year. The King George and the Ponti-less Turf will not be enough to take the title from Gio Ponti this year. Count on it.
Chicago Gerry, I wasn't at Hawthorne. May have to wait for the Illinois Derby to revisit the scene of that crime! hahaha Katie and I, along with her sainted husband had dinner later.......I had trick or treaters and a sick hubby to care for.
Steve, Give some examples of how "east-coast" turf writers have been unfair to west-coast horses. Mickey, By your own rules, why should Gio Ponti win best turf male? He's not "showing up" in the Turf, he'll be running on something, as you say, is another form of dirt, and he's never faced Conduit. Maybe he's avoiding him :>
Steve, Secret Squirrel....haha, it reminded me of something. Back in the late seventies I had a second job for an air freight company at JFK. We'd work all day loading freight on pallets and in containers and then drive it over to the airlines. One of the airlines was Lufthansa, as we had a charter to Munich, Frankfort and Dusseldorf and Hamburg every Saturday. It was after the big Lufthansa heist, the one they had in Goodfellas. Big deal back then, I think they got 5 million or so. Anyway the robbery was planned at a bar we used to go to after work called the Owl, it was at the intersection of NY and Farmers Blvd. So anyway after the robbery, Lufthansa hired special watchman to patrol the building, especially the dock area where we would unload the freight we brought over. There was one guy, he always wore a long trench coat and a fedora. He was all of 5'-2" tall. He'd come over and ask for our manifests....I'd laugh my ass off. I'd say "You vant to see mine papers", the guys would all laugh. He carried a 44 mag in a shoulder holster under his coat, I swear he used to lean to one side it was so heavy and he was so little. One day, I decided to give him a name and it stuck, everyone called him by that name....and it was " The Secret Squirrel" LOL!!! Mike A
Steve T. To call Curlin (The highest North American money earner) the Ultimate Plodder...you should probably take the lens cover off your telescope. Debating that Zenyatta should have been HOY last year is one thing, but to call Curlin a plodder is a little disrespectful.
Annie, I have a general idea of some throwouts. I could be (and probably will be) wrong on a handful of those. But, as an overall guide, that's how I would go: SoCal first, specifically SA, then Europe, then everybody else. But pinpointing the actual winners is another story. I have little confidence in that department because of the track. It's too much of a guessing game for me because so many of the horses in each field will be racing on it for the first time. As Dirty Harry said, a man has got to know his limitations.