09/05/2009 10:50AM

Big Star vs. Big Boys

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We're fast and firm on closing Saturday at Saratoga, and the countdown has begun for Rachel Alexandra's march into yet another uncharted territory.  This time it's the older males that may end up weak at the knees if The Lady has her way.  Let's take a look at some of this weekend's major stakes races.  For a fun look at today's late Pick 4 at Saratoga with the great Harvey Pack, please head on over to this link:

http://www.drf.com/sar/2009/SARbonusvideo.html

Forego (Saratoga):
I really like KODIAK KOWBOY to kick off the Guaranteed Pick 4 despite his inside post position.  Last week, we saw a long-term plan come together when Ian Wilkes took down the King's Bishop with Capt. Candyman Can.  I think the goal for Kodiak Kowboy since winning the Carter Handicap in early April was this race.  His first start of the form cycle saw him overwhelm much weaker foes at Philadelphia Park, and we can treat his third-place finish in the Vanderbilt on August 9 at the Spa as a good, hard prep run.  The track seemed to be favoring speed that afternoon, and Kodiak Kowboy's normal running style may have been compromised by the bias.  He still ran on to be third behind the two pacesetters, and now stretches out to a very comfortable seven furlongs.  Kodiak Kowboy will attempt to win a graded race at Saratoga for the third straight season.  He won the Saratoga Special here at two, and the Amsterdam last year.  There should be pace to setup his late kick as the two horses that dueled themselves into defeat in the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont (DRIVEN FOR SUCCESS, RILEY TUCKER) are both scheduled to compete.
Selection:  Kodiak Kowboy

Pat O'Brien (Sunday, Del Mar):
I'm a huge fan of ZENSATIONAL.  He's like a wild mustang, freewheeling on the lead with no care given to the early fractions.  It's "come and catch me if you can," and that's a very exciting style to watch.  The gray has been like a streak of lightning in his last two races against older sprinters, capturing both the Grade 1 Triple Bend at Hollywood, and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar in gate-to-wire fashion.  He looks loose once again in the Pat O'Brien on Sunday, and will certainly be tough to down at a short price, but value players may take a small stand with TALKIN TO MOM ROO, a former $40,000 claim that chased Zensational in vain in the Bing.  Talkin to Mom Roo has really come into his own this form cycle, switches to Tyler Baze, and may be a bit more effective at this seven-furlong distance.  
Selections:  Talkin to Mom Roo, Zensational

Pacific Classic (Sunday, Del Mar):
Well, RAIL TRIP certainly made a believer out of me in the Hollywood Gold Cup.  I thought he was strictly a miler, but he looked the part going 10 furlongs, rating comfortably off the speed of TRES BORRACHOS, taking over at will turning for home, and keeping on to his task in fast time.  He's always had the potential to take over the mantle as top handicap horse on the West Coast, and the performance finally equaled the potential in the Gold Cup.  The Pacific Classic is no walkover with a quality field that includes the likes of Travers winner COLONEL JOHN, and the classy EINSTEIN, but Rail Trip may get the jump on them from just off the pace.
Selection:  Rail Trip

Quick and dirty opinions:

*Woodward:  RACHEL ALEXANDRA should be used as the 'A' on 90% of Pick 4 tickets, but just in case the ghosts at the "Graveyard of Favorites" decide to claim Rachel as one of their own, I'll throw in COOL COAL MAN...just in case.
Selections:  Cool Coal Man, Rachel Alexandra

*Darley Debutante:  Mi Sueno, Blind Luck, Repo

*Spinaway (Sunday):  Hot Dixie Chick, Beautician, Sassy Image

*Del Mar Derby (Sunday):  Papa Clem, Midnight Mischief, Battle of Hastings

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

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Congrats to Hairy for finishing first in this week's HandiGambling exercise.  He gets to select next week's race

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Enjoy the great racing!

Dan