08/17/2011 2:59PM

Euros Too Tough

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Now, it's just getting silly. 

We've known for a long, long time that our turf horses are inferior to those from other countries, but the results from Arlington Park last weekend were staggering. 

TREASURE BEACH, the Irish Derby winner and easily the most accomplished runner to ever try the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, emerged from a stretch-long duel with French Group 3 winner Ziyarid to defeat what looked like a rock-solid group of North American-based sophomore turf runners. 

STACELITA is simply better than the fillies and mares she beat in the Beverly D.  A perfect trip under Ramon Dominguez didn't hurt.  River Jetez, trained by international sensation Mike de Kock, followed the winner along the inside to place third behind the in-form Dubawi Heights.  Shipping in from Southern California, Dubawi Heights' rider, Joel Rosario, took advantage of a Beverly D. that lacked early speed.  He sent Dubai Heights to the front, backed down the pace and almost had enough to fend off Stacelita. 

In the big one, CAPE BLANCO's tactical speed proved too much for GIO PONTI to overcome.  Well-placed in fourth position under Jamie Spencer, Cape Blanco got the jump on Gio Ponti, much as he did in the recent Man o'War Stakes at Belmont.  Gio Ponti came with his run, but he wasn't good enough to catch Cape Blanco, who has now scored in four Group 1 races (seven Group races overall). 

Cape Blanco finished 14th in last year's Arc de Triomphe.  Imagine what the Euros have waiting for us come Breeders' Cup time. 

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It was a big, big effort from Todd Pletcher's STOPSHOPPINGMARIA in a maiden special weight at Saratoga.  The juvenile filly popped a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in her second lifetime start, overshadowing MY MISS AURELIA's winning performance in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes later on the day. 
My Miss Aurelia defeated Stopshoppingmaria on Opening afternoon at the Spa, but the Pletcher-trainee stumbled badly at the break.  The two may square off again in the Grade 1 Spinaway later in the meet. 

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WINCHESTER is such a likeable, underrated turf horse.  He's lived in the shadow of his stable mate, Gio Ponti, throughout his career, but his win on Saturday at Saratoga completed a Manhattan Handicap, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Sword Dancer Grade 1 trifecta over the past 14 months. In between, he finished third in the 2010 United Nations, second in the 2010 Bowling Green and fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf.  This was Winchester's second start following injury and he should be on the road to the Breeders' Cup once again.  Whether he's good enough to beat whichever Euro shows up is another story.

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Speaking of fan-favorites, UNZIP ME made it 12 for 21 lifetime with a surprising come-from-behind win in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar.  It was no shock that favored Unzip Me returned to the winner's circle, but the City Zip mare had done her best running on or near the lead.  This time, she let SEPARATE FOREST do the dirty work up front, proving you can teach an old mare new tricks. 

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Speaking some more of fan favorites, STAR GUITAR made it 19-25 lifetime after scoring in the Evangeline Downs Mile.  The star Louisana-bred continues to dominate his division year-after-year.

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Some big-fig winners from last week were claimed.  DAWLY went to Linda Rice for $75,000 while GALLETA MONSTRUO was taken by Mike Mitchell for $32,000.

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On the work tab:

BOYS AT TOSCONOVA breezed three furlongs in 37.88 at Aqueduct on August 16.

TAKE CONTROL drilled a half-mile in 47.20 at Del Mar on August 15. 

CALIFORNIA FLAG went a half-mile in 47.80 at Del Mar on August 14.

THE FACTOR worked five furlongs out of the gate in 1:00.80 at Del Mar on August 14.

LADY SHAKESPEARE breezed five furlongs around the dogs in 1:00.40 over the Woodbine turf training track on August 14. 

ANTHONY'S CROSS breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 at Churchill Downs on August 14.

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Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (8/8 - 8/14):

1.  TREASURE BEACH (GB) - 105 - Secretariat Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
2.  CAPE BLANCO (IRE) - 102 - Arlington Million (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
3.  STACELITA (Fr) - 101 - Beverly D. Stakes (G1) - 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
3.  STOPSHOPPINGMARIA - 101 - Md Sp Wt 54k - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
5.  JEBRICA - 100 - Emerald Derby - 1 1/8 Miles - Emerald
5.  SOUTHERN DANGER - 100 - Clm 22000(22-18) - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
5.  WINCHESTER - 100 - Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
8.  DAZZLED SAINT - 97 - OC 62k/N3X - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Presque Isle
9.  UNZIP ME - 96 - Daisycutter Handicap - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Del Mar
10. CHEROKEE LORD - 95 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
10. DAWLY - 95 - Clm c-(100-75) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
10. HE'S SPEIGHTFUL - 95 - Alw 27100N3X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
13. SONG OF HUMOR - 94 - Hall of Fame Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Columbus
14. BIG PUSH - 93 - Alw 7500s - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
14. BULL DOZER - 93 - Alw 12500s - 6 Furlongs - Calder
14. COZI ROSIE - 93 - John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
14. QUALITY COUNCIL - 93 - Alw 53000N1X - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
14. SQUARE DEAL - 93 - OC 62k/N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Del Mar
19. GROUPIE DOLL - 93 - Gardenia Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - Ellis
19. JOHANNESBURG SMILE - 92 - Alw 25000NC - 1 1/16 Miles - Finger Lakes
19. NACHO FRIEND - 92 - OC 65k/N3X -N - 1 Mile - Monmouth
19. SANDBAGIN' LOVER - 92 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 5 Furlongs - Penn National
19. STAR GUITAR - 92 - Evangeline Mile Handicap - 1 Mile - Evangeline
24. BAMBI BOUND - 91 - Alw 17200N4L - 6 Furlongs - Finger Lakes
24. CHILOQUIN - 91 - Real Good Deal Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
24. COLONIALISM - 91 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
24. GALLETA MONSTRUO - 91 - Clm c-(32-28) - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
24. MY MISS AURELIA - 91 - Adirondack Stakes (G2) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga

Treasure Beach's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Congrats to Swede for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race will be the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar on Friday. 

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
 
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
 
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.
 
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
 
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
 
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
 
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.
 
Best of luck to all

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