02/19/2010 5:27PM

Bring on the Preps!

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Let's take a quick look at some of Saturday's stakes races:

No strong opinions on the Gulfstream races so let's move on to New Orleans.

Risen Star Stakes - Fair Grounds - Race 10:
The Lecomte, the first leg of the 3-year-old series at the Fair Grounds, featured a fast pace that aided late-running winner RON THE GREEK and third-finisher LETSGETITONMON.  In the Risen Star, the pace may not be as hot and that could help front-runners like DISCREETLY MINE and TEMPTED TO TAPIT. 
Of the two, I prefer the former.  Making his first start for Todd Pletcher in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on January 9, Discreetly Mine was in the midst of a rail-skimming move when he was pinballed into the fence.  After finally regaining his composure over the sloppy going, the race was all but over, and jockey John Velazquez wisely covered his colt up for the final eighth of a mile.  Velazquez remains at Gulfstream to ride Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth, but Javier Castellano is a capable replacement, and Discreetly Mine should be tighter in his second start of the form cycle.  It remains to be seen how far he really wants to go, but he's bred to get this trip (a Mineshaft half-brother to Cigar Mile winner Discreet Cat), and should be forwardly-placed, if not right on the front end. 
Selection:  Discreetly Mine

Southwest Stakes - Oaklawn - Race 10:
It may be MISSION IMPAZIBLE for the Todd Pletcher-trained colt to win the Southwest from the far outside post position, but he seems like a reasonable gamble at a solid price.  An impressive maiden winner going 4 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland polytrack, Mission Impazible then finished a green third going five furlongs in the Grade 3 Kentucky Juvenile.  Then, nothing.  Mission Impazible went AWOL for over eight months before returning over sloppy going in an entry-level allowance sprint at Gulfstream.  That afternoon, he pressed a moderate pace set by stablemate Three Day Rush, and it looked like Mission Impazible would go by that one at any point.  Only it didn't happen.  Mission Impazible didn't pass until the gallop-out, and the initial feeling was one of disappointment.  But after thinking it over, it's quite possible that Mission Impazible needed the race, and he should be sharper for this one.  In many respects, he's like Discreetly Mine.  Both Pletcher-trained colts earned blacktype at two, are stretching out for the second start of the year after sprinting in the slop, and both are question marks at the added distance.  Mission Impazible is a half-brother to the fleet sprinter Forest Camp, but another half-sibling, Spanish Empire, won at ten furlongs.  He'll have to hustle out of there under Eibar Coa, and will likely take up a stalking spot outside of probable pacesetter CONVEYANCE going into the first turn.
Selection:  Mission Impazible

El Camino Real Derby  - Golden Gate - Race 7:
This should be a real barn-burner over the Tapeta as middling Derby prospects battle it out for all-important graded earnings.  To be honest, I don't really love anyone, but I'll take one chance at a big price with Idaho-bred OUR MINESWEEPER.  A stakes-winner around two turns over this surface last year, Our Minesweeper may need to be ridden more aggressively.  In his last two races, he's been content to stalk the pace, and he hasn't finished with a lot of verve.  While it's doubtful that he can make the lead from California Derby winner RANGER HEARTLEY, he may be able to push that one through quicker fractions than the 49 4/5 we saw last time.  I'm not sure Our Minesweeper is good enough to win this as he's probably ill-suited to the additional distance, and a protracted battle with Ranger Heartley may not pay off, but he should be in the thick of things when they turn for home in a confusing race.
Selection:  Our Minesweeper

Oh, and give me some Ventana in the San Carlos at Santa Anita.

Back on Monday with the big recap, comments, questions, and pp requests.

Take care,

Dan