03/07/2009 2:17PM

Big 'Cap Day


It's the biggest day of racing so far this year, with three Grade 1's at Santa Anita and an unusually strong Gotham Stakes as part of a double-carryover in New York:

Some thoughts on the local events:

The Carryover: Much as I hate to pass up a double-carry into a Saturday, this one's too tough for me and I think there's a reasonable chance of a triple-carry into Sunday. The two stakes are wide open and intriguing but I'd have to go 3-to-5 deep in both, and it's further complicated by a buried, firster-loaded maiden race as the third leg. If I have a change of heart and play, I'd take my shot largely singling Mike From Queens in leg 2, where he turns back to a sprint off two good tries behind Haynesfield.

The Aqu Pick-4: This pool has been groing every week since a $250k guarantee was instituted three weeks ago, and it could top $400k today with additional interest from Gotham-watchers. The pick-4 suits me better than the Pick-6 today since that maiden race is the first leg here and we'll get to see the board in a race where there are unusually expensive firsters from big outfits for a statebred race -- like a $220k Not For Love filly from the McLaughlin barn and a $450k Distorted Humor filly making her debut for Shug McGaughey.

The Toboggan: West Coast Flyer and Saint Damon are my only complete throwouts in a field of nine where any of the other seven's best effort could win it. Questions of current form and fitness surround almost every leading contender. Lucky Island, Grand Champion, Joey P. and Ah Day are all making their 2009 debuts and may not be cranked or ready for a peak effort in this prep for the G1 Carter four weeks from today. Driven By Success has run two giant figures in his last two but both times he got clear against statebred allowance fields.

The Gotham: We'll find out how good Haynesfield really is, as he faces some quality shippers after whomping the locals by a combined 15 lengths winning the Damon Runyon, Count Fleet and Whirlaway. I've been an Imperial Council fan since his debut at Saratoga, but he's no bargain as the 5-2 favorite trying two turns off a ship. I think three others have to be used: Masala, off his good second to subsequent Sham runner-up Take The Points; Mr. Fantasy, who has done nothing wrong in two big-fig victories; and I Want Revenge, who's been running well on Pro-Ride and makes his dirt debut.

It's a shocking 65 degrees in New York today, just five days after we got blanketed with a foot of snow. Nice timing for the year's first really meaningful races at Aqueduct.