10/16/2010 11:51AM

Canadian International Day!


Fans of turf racing will certainly get their fill this afternoon as Woodbine hosts three Grade 1 races on the lawn.  Not to be outdone here in the good ol' U S of A, Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Oak Tree's Oak Tree Derby, and Belmont's Athenia Stakes complete the green bonanza. 

I'm going to take stabs with price horses in most of today's races. 

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - Keeneland - Race 9:

You can't ask for much more in this competitive running of the QE II.  Europe is well represented by ZAGORA, a multiple Group 3 winner that was fifth in the French Oaks.  EVENING JEWEL has had a wonderful campaign, winning Grade 1 races on turf and synthetic, and missing by a dirty nose in the Kentucky Oaks on dirt.  CHECK THE LABEL has won four graded stakes races in a row while HARMONIOUS and PERFECT SHIRL have shown flashes throughout their short, but promising careers. 
There appears to be some speed in this race with DADE BABE, the gate-to-wire winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up likely to set the pace with Evening Jewel not too far behind.  Perhaps things will set up for a closer, and I'll take my chances with SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN, a filly that hasn't been out of the exacta in eight career starts.  Considering the speed-favoring nature of the Saratoga turf courses, Snow Top Mountain ran pretty well at the Spa, finishing second in a listed stakes after being a dozen lengths off the lead down the backstretch.  She failed to catch Awesome Maria in the slower division of the Riskaverse Stakes on September 2, but Awesome Maria got the jump on her that afternoon. 
Last time out, in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont, Snow Top Mountain again found one better.  That was Check the Label, who simply outfinished Snow Top Mountain as both rallied from the tail end of the field.  I thought that Edgar Prado had an opportunity to lock Check the Label in on the far turn, but he opted to make the last run, and it fell short.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 5, Snow Top Mountain "went easily," so it looks like she's retaining her solid form.  She may not be good enough in a tough, tough race, but is worth a play if close to her 12-1 morning line. 
Selections:  Snow Top Mountain, Zagora, Harmonious

Nearctic Stakes - Woodbine - Race 8:

I'm a speed guy and I think that FATAL BULLET is the quickest from the gate in the six-furlong Nearctic.  Now, I realize that the Fatal Bullet of 2010 is not the one that ran a gutsy second in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Sprint.  He may not even be the Fatal Bullet that won the Phoenix last fall.  Knee injuries and issues with the heat have slowed down his train somewhat.  But, he still has his early speed and the most recent race over the Woodbine turf makes me think that he's in pretty good form.  That race was the Grade 2 Play the King at seven furlongs and it looked like Fatal Bullet would get away easy on the lead.  He went the first quarter in 23.02, child's play for such an accomplished sprinter.  His opposition soon turned up the heat, however, and Fatal Bullet ended up dueling through a middle half-mile in 45.36.  Fatal Bullet only finished third, but he hung tough in the stretch, and should appreciate turning back a furlong this afternoon. 
The Europeans should be respected, as always, but I'm not sure if BALTHAZAAR'S GIFT and SERIOUS ATTITUDE represent the creme de la creme of foreign sprinters.  The former just pulled off at 16-1 upset in the Group 2 Park Stakes, but is 0-12 in Group 1 races.  Serious Attitude did win the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at two, but is only 1 for 8 since then, and is a filly tackling males once again. 
BRIDGETOWN may end up favored, but he's a three-year-old facing elders for the first time.
Selections:  Fatal Bullet, Balthazaar's Gift, Serious Attitude

Oak Tree Derby - Oak Tree at Hollywood - Race 8:

Not sure if there's a great deal of quality in this race.  There certainly is a lack of early speed.  The morning line favorite, MAKE MUSIC FOR ME, is the kind of horse that I'll let beat me at underlaid odds.  He hasn't been out since the Belmont Stakes, is returning from an injury-induced layoff, and will attempt to rally into soft splits. 
The European invader, BLUE PANIS, does have some tactical speed, and that may be a major advantage in the Oak Tree Derby.  Still, how good is he really?  He's won two listed races in France, but failed to make his mark at the group level. 
This race seems to be crying out for a price, and I'll put my eggs in HAIMISH HY'S basket.  A perfect 2-2 on grass, Haimish Hy returned from  a February layoff to upset the El Cajon at one mile on polytrack at Del Mar.  He received a nice setup that day, tripping out behind a good pace, but he came home his final quarter in a solid 24 2/5.  As a lightly-raced three-year-old coming off a Beyer top, he may have another move forward in him.  He's 12-1 on the morning line, and is playable at 8- or even 6-1.
Selections:  Haimish Hy, Blue Panis, Make Music for Me

E. P.  Taylor - Woodbine - Race 9:

The two main European invaders, SHALANAYA and CONTREDANSE, loom the horses to beat.  Shalanaya won the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera last fall over the good mare Midday, and has been tackling tough older males in her last two starts.  CONTREDANSE is a three-year-old filly with upside potential, and she'll add Lasix for the always-dangerous Luca Cumani barn. 
Still, MISS KELLER has really impressed me in her last few races, and I'll take her to send the Euros packing with her usual strong late flourish.  She's a tricky filly to ride - Javier Castellano has learned that you can't really hit her - but she also kicks like a mule in the stretch, and she's proven over this expansive turf course.  In her Taylor prep, the Grade 2 Canadian, Miss Keller split horses in upper stretch en route to a triple-digit Beyer score.  The only runner to return from the Canadian, last-place finisher Jenny's So Great, came back to win the restricted Carotene Stakes with an 86 Beyer.  Miss Keller has won at 10 1/2 furlongs on turf in her native Ireland so the increase in distance shouldn't be a problem. 
Selections:  Miss Keller, Shalanaya, Contredanse

I scratched out of the Athenia and will have to rework things on a soft turf course at Belmont.  Also, I don't think that the Canadian International is a great singular betting race.  For Guaranteed Pick 4 purposes, I'll use JOSHUA TREE, CHINCHON, and FIFTY PROOF.

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

Enjoy the weekend!


luresdouble More than 1 year ago
among the horses that silver Charm beat in the 1997 Preakness were Touch Gold, Freehouse, and Captain Bodgit. More importantly Silver Charm won that race and many others on real dirt against real dirt horses. Zenyatta has made a career winning on rubber beating for the most part very very mediocre female fields. Sorrfy, but any horse who has had virtually all of its races purposefully restricted to artificial surface racing should not be considered an all time great. Her connections had the defending BC Classic winner (albeit a weak win over as bunch of turf horses on polycrap and a dirt horse who did not like the polycrap) and yet did they campaign her like a champion taking on quality dirt horses? No instead they hid her in So Cal on polycrap basically hiding her from real serious dirt competition. This Saturday she gets exposed for the polycrap farce she is. She'll lose by more than 3 lengths. bookmark it
luresdouble More than 1 year ago
@ saratoga mike: I'm a west coaster but I'm not a Zenyatta hypester, please do not classify all of us as that. I know last years BC Classic just as the one the year before should both have asterisks next to them because they were run on fake rubber tracks, not real dirt which is what the BC Classic was designed to test. Zenyatta will lose by many lengths saturday and then the excuses will flow from her hypesters. The truth is her connections purposefully hid her in So Cal this year on polycrap racing against very weak competition rather than shipping to many quality dirt races they could have run her in because deep down they know shes a rubber specialist who isnt super fast who has made a career of beating up on turf horses trying to run on poly and a few dirt horses who tried it and did not like it such as Summer Bird. Last years BC Classic was about as weak as one could find from the perspective that the race is supposed to test the best dirt horses out there - sorry but when you see the race fill with the likes of Einstein and Gio Ponti you know you are not seeing a true quality dirt test. Looking at Lucky will finish many lengths ahead of Zenyatta. Sorry Zenny hypesters, but the polycrap specialist gets exposed on Saturday for the farce many of us have known she is. A great polycrap specialist for sure, but not a dominating dirt horse.
luresdouble More than 1 year ago
Zentyatta loses badly on Satiurday. No fake rubber polcrap to hide on anymore. Now a real dirt race against real older males. She'll lose by at least 5 and the excuses will flow. Last years Classic was a joke, full of pretender turf horses running on synthetic and a diert horse Summer Bird who did not like the synthetic. The BC dirt races have been bastardized the last 2 years being run on rubber. Anyone thinik Ravens Pass would have beat Curlin on real dirt???????? The BC Classic people should only run those durt races on real dirt. Thank goodness Santa Anita is going back to real dirt, that polycrap has statistically proven itself no safer than real dirt and thats why it was supposedly installed. LOl Lookin at Lucky will win the Classic and be HOY and deservedly do. Bookmark it.
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Mike A , Actually I didn't mention a particular field size. That 90 % was for ALL races in the aggregate. The reason why there isn't much movement of the number from year to year either way is because its the way it is. Not because of any flaw. It's because its not flawed. It's because it's what is is . As you say targeting situations that are better for the particular individual is an essential for moderate to good results. Like you've said before part of being a winner is knowing when not to bet. Eliminating losing bets raising your strike rate in the process. strike rate of coarse only matters in relation to your Avg. pay-out for the type of play you're making and to your possible string of losers and your ability to ride something like that out. PH's are forced to pick every race if they could choose not to pick they would have a bit better number I think. Identifying Key races early is certainly a powerful tool as you say. For all types of levels. Especially with maidens. As the maidens on any grounds often have a pronounced pecking order even within the same level and are the most formful sub group on the grounds sometimes. Levels within levels is an important thing to have a handle on. Rating the company of the entrants is an important factor as you say. I agree with you . I only know 1 thing that I consider Absolute and it isn't racing. Nothing in racing is absolute. Some things do happen more than others though. BSB
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
BSB, That's a shame you can't make it. I was bringing my male goat. He hates bearded people. Dang!! LOL...Onery sob......{the goat}. How'd I know it was virtually impossible for you to knock Ky. breds ? You can put anybody in 2nd, 3rd, etc. Sure there are exceptions, butts: Kentucky is hands down the Capitol of the world for breeding. It's like 95%.......There are more horse farms in Ky. than anywhere on the planet. Look it up..I aint got time for fribbling...I'll leave barbermongering up to you...... Wondering if you got your 1001 excuses ready for November 7th, all scripted ahead of time ? Or do you have your 1001, I told you so's, all pre-ordained ? I want Mikey to show me all those Zennie fans @Belmont, 'cause they must of been boycotting the Big A. 'cause I've been everywhere this year & last...Monmouth, Philly, Delaware, Pimlico, Tampa, Gulfstream, Calder, you name it......Rachel mania was everywhere. I can commiserate w/you on your ex-wife situation..They can be tough hombresses. {Not ex-but Talli's}.{Got one myself}. But, in your case I'm sure it was YOU.......... & BTW: you had it in reverse..Z aint no CIGAR {Slewster}. Your'e absolutely right about your Slewsters you highlighted........Merry Fishing.........
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Curt V , Your right about Kentucky breds Butts after that comes Cal/ fla or Fla /cal depending on the year. Maryland breds would be next. Then all the phony state breds like Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, etc are in the mix but those are really kentucky breds. Cal and Fla actually have some decent stallions and mares. In Excess, Bertrando, Unusual Heat, Avenue of the Flags (I think he was a slewster) stallions that can get graded winners. When your talking good fla breds your talking guys like Big Drama , More than Ready, Lost in the Fog, Affirmed ,foolish Pleasure, Silver Charm and plenty more good ones. When you talk Cal-breds you could be talking Lava Man ,Best Pal, Ancient Title, Bertrando, Free house, Officer, Swaps, etc. you know some serious contenders not like 8550 or that other la penta that won some NY state breds not last year but the year before . Hey Haynesfield in the JCGC is a shocker to me. I'd probably downgrade the others rather than elevate Haynesfield but thats just me. A good horse can come from anywhere though. look at Kip Deville. No, when it comes to breeding NY, NJ, Ill. Ind. Oh. penn. WV. Tex. La . Wa. don't really come close to Fla/Cal in quality and Fla/ Cal don't really come that close to KY. even though they both put out horses that can run with the best regularly. i.e. California Flag(slewster ?) won the BC turf sprint, Dancing in Silks won the BC Sprint, Kinsale king won a sprint in Dubai. Ontario can breed some pretty good runners too. I'd put them ahead of all those lesser states like NY. LOL Just about any Cal-bred can turn in better than a 6 BSF and never in California at any track not even Ferndale do you have a field of state breds WITH form that none of the entrants have ever earned a 2 diget BSF like you get at the big A in winter. LOL. You got your freebies !!! LOL NO there is no chance of me being at Belmont in 2 weeks,but I get a pretty funny imaginary vision of 2 sarcastic east coast Italians and one sarcastic west coaster that learned some of his sarcasm from his sarcastic Italian ex- wife.Actually thats not really true of her I've always been a sarcastic son of a gun. I'm picturing a pretty motley looking crew of 3 middle aged track vagrants all saying "but wait look at it my way" all at the same time . Telling stories all day and nobody with the time to be bothered with going to the window. LOL. I'll wish the 2 of you guys good luck and a happy day though in advance.
jim tully More than 1 year ago
Tencent, I knew my posts were largely ignored but I at least thought when I posted a week ago that Lookin at Lucky could end up the fourth choice and north of 6-1 that might get some response and spark some discussion. Nothing! Now I can't even get credit for my reasoning, lol.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Steve T, I see they are trying to legalize marijuana in California. Do you think that will affect the handicapping abilities of you Californians? :) Yesterday, I had trouble liking Butch Marini and JP Jammer in that Pick 6. What did you think of them? Annie
Steve T More than 1 year ago
"I see they are trying to legalize marijuana in California. Do you think that will affect the handicapping abilities of you Californians?" Hold on, let me put the Doritos down, uhh what were you asking? Oh yeah, handicapping abilities when toasted.... I uhh, well I know some people who occasionally partake of the herb, not that I would ever do such a thing. So what was that you wanted to know? Oh, yeah, how well we can handicap while baked... Damn, I'm hungry, where did she put those damned Oreos and chocolate covered raisins. You had a question? You know I really like Dark Side of the Moon. I never realized how funny Apocalypse Now was. Sorry, got to go, have to take the cookies out of the oven. Damned I'm hungry. As far as yesterday's races, I sucked, bad. Both of the ones you mentioned I liked but tossed, which was pretty much the way the whole day went. But I did finally catch Kahlua Mist on Saturday ($36.00).
Annie More than 1 year ago
KNM, Well, I'll be darned. You are right! Toronto is latitude 43 degrees 68' North of the equator and where I live in Minnesota is 44 degrees 47' North of the equator. I always thought of Canada as that big land mass above us, but I see that's not the case with Toronto. We're actually almost parallel to each other. :) However, from what I've read, you have more humidity in the summer and we have a drier cold in the winter. Pretty much the same I guess, but still looks like it wouldn't be an improvement to move there. LOL Well, I guess that's my geography lesson for the week. Annie
knm More than 1 year ago
Annie, You put me to shame! I know nothing of latitudes or degrees from the Equator! But I agree, it's humid in the summer - although this year wasn't as bad as usual - and the cold here is definitely damp cold. I am Montreal-born, and when we first moved here I found the winters very unpleasant. I was used to more snow and more sunshine, even though it was colder. Heavens, one Christmas, it even rained here! Talk about depressing! So no, it wouldn't be an improvement, weather-wise.
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
The following article about visual handicapping was published in the September/October issue of The HorsePlayer Magazine. Look for my article on the key sire lines that have had an impact on the Breeders’ Cup races in the November/December issue of The HorsePlayer Magazine. http://classicchampionthoroughbreds.blogspot.com/2010/10/visual-handicapping-physical-and.html