10/09/2010 11:20AM

Belmont, Keeneland, Oak Tree (Super Saturday 2)


The winding road to the Breeders' Cup leads through the usual major stops this holiday weekend.

At Belmont Park, there will be three Grade 1 races with much of the focus landing squarely on Uncle Mo, arguably the most impressive juvenile winner of the Saratoga meet. Uncle Mo will be a prohibitive favorite in the historic Champagne Stakes, a Grade 1 event at a mile and an important prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

At Keeneland, underrated mare Proviso and dual champion Gio Ponti head the First Lady and Shadwell Turf Mile, respectively.

And at Oak Tree at Hollywood, the West Coast's top sprinters will attempt to sort themselves out in the Ancient Title at six furlongs.

I must admit that I don't have any strong opinions at Belmont this afternoon, but I'll take a shot with some horses in Kentucky and California.

SHADWELL TURF MILE (Keeneland - Race 10)

The Shadwell Turf Mile drew a nice field with dual champion GIO PONTI turning back in distance following a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Arlington Million at ten furlongs. Gio Ponti is proven at this one-mile distance as he won the Grade 3 Hill Prince, the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort (on Pro-Ride), and the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Handicap over this trip. He's obviously the horse to beat and he'll be very tough if he gets some pace to work with up front.
COURAGEOUS CAT hasn't been out since Dubai and trainer Bill Mott has mentioned that the horse was sidelined with some physical problems. He ran some nice races before being laid up, but this is likely a prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile, and I'd rather play against him at short odds following the long, injury-induced layoff.
If Gio Ponti doesn't get pace, that means GET STORMY will be relaxing on or near the front. Trained by Tom Bush, Get Stormy has won his last seven races around two turns and draws a comfortable inside post for the Shadwell Turf Mile. While he may have been aided somewhat by that speed-favoring Saratoga turf course when winning the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, it was positive that he rated kindly off the leader before pouncing when the real racing began. If a longshot, such as stretchout sprinter ACTING ZIPPY or Lava Man's little brother, ENRICHED, decide to make the front, Get Stormy can sit a little. He'll likely get the jump on Gio Ponti and Courageous Cat turning for home, and may have enough in the tank to hold them safe.
Selections: Get Stormy, Gio Ponti, Courageous Cat

SPINSTER (Keeneland - Race 9 - SUNDAY)

For the most part, the Spinster over polytrack features a group of good turf horses with a smidgen of synthetic experience. I'm not enamored with the favorites so I'll try for a longshot. HOT CHA CHA is a very useful filly that fires when she receives a good setup. When the scenario isn't ideal or the trip not extremely good, she has a tendency to find one or two better. FUNNY MOON has only raced once on synthetic, and she was outfinished in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare here during the Spring meeting. She chased Life At Ten over speed-favoring tracks in her last two races, and should appreciate the class relief, but has never really shown much explosiveness throughout her career. TIZAQUEENA is a courageous mare, but her synthetic win came after setting fractions of 25.44, 51.53, and 1:16.62. I'm expecting that she'll have to work harder in the Spinster. ZARDANA has been away since June and I'm not convinced that Rinterval will stay the trip.
Instead, I'm going to go with ASKBUT I WON'TTELL, a filly that put up a whopping 107 Beyer when defeating only three rivals in an off-the-turf, restricted stakes race at Arlington on May 15. I'm going to take that number with a grain of salt as she rallied from last over a closer-friendly track, but it's still nice to know she can run fast. She then had a terrible trip when fifth in the paceless Arlington Matron behind Tizaqueena, and then may have been overmatched by the ill-fated Tuscan Evening in the Modesty on grass. Last time out, she mid-moved into moderate fractions, put away the stubborn pacesetter in midstretch, and battled gamely to the wire only to be necked by Biofuel, who returned to win the Grade 3 Selene at 3-10 odds with a 94 Beyer. The fourth-finisher at Woodbine that afternoon, Hooh Why, returned to take the Grade 3 Seaway at seven furlongs with a 93. Askbut I Won'ttell should get some pace to attack in the Spinster and will offer betting value.
Selections: Askbut I Won'ttell, Silver Reunion, Funny Moon

ANCIENT TITLE (Oak Tree at Hollywood - Race 8 - Saturday)

As was the case in the Spinster, I have some questions regarding some of the favorites. I didn't like the way COST OF FREEDOM finished up on turf last time out, and am beginning to wonder if Father Time is catching up with the speedy seven-year-old. He's fast enough to get the lead, but SMILING TIGER figures to be hounding him from the get-go. As for the three-year-old, Smiling Tiger, he's good when he makes the front, but last time out, he didn't get the top, and he wasn't very good. E Z'S GENTLEMAN should receive a better setup than when he was third in the Bing Crosby, but it's possible he's more effective at seven furlongs than at six.
I did like SUPREME SUMMIT's return to the races at Del Mar on September 5. Although he was helped from a good inside-out trip under Rafael Bejarano, he won under nothing more than a strong hand ride, and can get a similar trip today. Supreme Summit has been working bullets for his second start back and that allays fears of a bounce. Injuries once derailed his promising career. Perhaps new trainer Mike Puype has him back on the beam.
Selections: Supreme Summit, Smiling Tiger, Cost of Freedom

BREEDERS' FUTURITY (Keeneland - Race 9)

A wide-open race for juveniles so I'll take a stab with BRICKYARD FAST despite the surface and distance change. Trained by Joe Petalino, and underrated guru with young horses, Brickyard Fast was involved in a multi-horse pace scrum in the early stages of his optional claiming victory at Remington Park on September 15. He split rivals three wide on the turn and gamely battled back along the inside to outfinish the runner-up. This is obviously a major test for Brickyard Fast, but he's in form, and the price will be right.
Selections: Brickyard Fast, Maybesomaybenot, Major Gain

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

Back Tuesday with questions, comments, and past performance requests.

Enjoy the weekend.