11/29/2008 11:31AM

Big weekend!


On to Sunday at Hollywood!

Matriarch - Race 7:
Bobby Frankel's exploits in this race are well-documented, and he has a potent one-two punch in Precious Kitten and Visit.  The former makes the final start of an excellent career, and is the defending Matriarch champion.  She never got on track in 2008 due to nagging quarter-cracks, but this will be the third start of the form cycle, and she has some excuses for her two recent defeats.  At Keeneland, she was on the lead, and those tactics don't seem to please Precious Kitten.  At the Breeders' Cup, she faced the impressive Goldikova and 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville.  While both of those horses saved ground for most of the race, Precious Kitten tracked the early leaders while wide.  Her tactical speed should serve her well in the Matriarch, and it would be nice if she goes out a winner. 
Visit is the Frankel filly with upside.  She ran an interesting race in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare turf as she slipped through along an inviting opening on the rail to grab the lead with a quarter-mile to run.  She was late to change leads, however, and couldn't see out the rest of the trip.  The cutback to a mile should work in her favor, and she should come running late under Garrett Gomez.
Cocoa Beach really hasn't run a bad one against fillies, and she wasn't letting Zenyatta get away from her in the closing portion of the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.  She's proven herself on turf in her native Chile, and her recent swift workouts allay fears of a post-Breeders' Cup bounce.
Selections:  Precious Kitten, Visit

Hollywood Derby - Race 9:
Time for Gio Ponti to get back into the winner's circle.  The talented turf runner was forced to go very wide around the final turn of the Del Mar Derby two back, and that may have cost him the win.  Last time out, he was bottled up for just a bit while Court Vision got a clear run on the outside.  Gio Ponti is reunited with Go-Go for this engagement, and should get enough speed to attack with Muny, Midships, and Cowboy Cal in the lineup. 
Albahri goes out for the newly-reinstated Patrick Biancone, and the French invader shows interesting form.  He actually won a claiming race two starts back, but improved enough to take a listed race over a month later.  He was purchased from the Aga Khan after that race, and has demonstrated ability at this demanding distance. 
Cowboy Cal reportedly bled in the Kentucky Derby, and Todd Pletcher did the right thing in giving this horse time to recuperate.  He ran a solid prep when put up via disqualification in the Bryan Station at Keeneland, and has the speed to be a factor from the opening bell.
Selections:  Gio Ponti, Albahri

More importantly, who do you fancy this weekend?  I'd like to know.

Back Monday with a weekend recap, stakes Beyers, and poster questions:

Take care,