06/06/2008 10:33PM

Finally a Triple?


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

True North:
Won't bet much into this race as Benny the Bull towers over the field on paper, and will go off the deserving heavy favorite.  Maybe the trip to and from Dubai took something out of him, but he's been so impressive in his last three starts, and should work out a nice trip behind the speeds.  Abraaj worked out a nice rail-skimming trip en route to the 107 Beyer in the mud last month.  That was his first start of the year, and it wouldn't surprise me if he moves forward off the race.  Kiaran McLaughlin and Alan Garcia are tearing it up in Grade 1 races, and their charge is learning how to relax a little in the early going.  Man of Danger is probably not of this quality, but he's quick from the gate, and may try to take these all the way.  Thor's Echo, the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, returns from Dubai after a pair of subpar efforts.  He's had some physical problems, and has been away a long, long time, but has good early speed when right.
Selections:  Benny the Bull, Abraaj, Man of Danger

Just a Game:
Good race!  Although Bayou's Lassie may have been aided by a speed-favoring turf course on Kentucky Derby day, she looms the main speed of the Just a Game, and perhaps her sharp form can carry her on the front end at a good price.  I'll use her and Vacare, a Clement-trained layoff runner returning from some physical issues.  Sounds just like Gio Ponti to me.  Criminologist has improved drastically with maturity, and she was a strong winner of the Beaugay over next-out winner All Is Vanity.  It's hard to ignore her form - she hasn't been out of the exacta in 365 days.  Lady of Venice is a multiple Graded stakes winner, but I've never been a big fan of hers.  She retains Prado, and should save valuable ground from the rail.  Bit of Whimsy looked very good against three-year-old fillies in 2007, and may have been a bit short in her first start against older stakes rivals in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland.  Ventura is a fascinating sleeper for Juddmonte, Frankel, and Gomez.  She was a visually impressive winner over polytrack in the Madison on April 8, then failed to make up ground over that speed-favoring Churchill turf course.  Don't ignore her at a price. Sharp Susan has some quality, but she has a tendency to get rank in the early going.
Selections:  Bayou's Lassie, Vacare

Indian Blessing is a wonderful filly, and she should relish turning back to this one-turn mile.  She won the Frizette over this course and trip last year on the engine, and while her connections are talking about rating her in this spot, she may be pot-committed by her inside post.  She's the quickest if she's allowed to go to the lead, and obviously should be used in multi-race wagers.  I'll go with Zaftig to pull off the mild upset, though.  She looked in big trouble on the turn of the Grade 3 Nassau County when under a full-out drive, but soon righted herself, and won off by five and change.  If Indian Blessing and Dance Gal Dance spar early, then Zaftig, Game Face, and Golden Doc A may hold an advantage.  Game Face enjoyed a perfect rail run to win the La Troienne, but her win in the Old Hat three back at Gulfstream was super impressive.  Golden Doc A ran Indian Blessing to a photo finish earlier this year, but she has some problems with her lead changes.
Selections:  Zaftig, Indian Blessing, Game Face

Woody Stephens:
Ready's Image
received a nice prep when winning the Adjudicating Stakes in his first start off the Disabled List, and he could certainly move forward off that race.  I'll go with J Be K instead, however.  The Zayat colt should appreciate turning back in distance, and he may get the jump on the closers after pouncing on True Quality on the turn.  I'm not sure J Be K is as good as his past performances indicate, but he may hold a slight tactical edge.  Groomedforvictory won a key race maiden with authority two back, then overcame some trouble to beat New York-bred stakes foes last time out.  He may sit a good stalking trip from just off of the leaders.  Fatal Bullet couldn't have received a better trip when winning a second-level allowance over Woodbine's polytrack on May 23.  He stalked dueling pacesetters while by his lonesome, and just blew by in the lane.  Silver Edition earned a 100 Beyer when second to the decent Lantana Mob in the Hirsch Jacobs.  He seems to be back in form, and doesn't have to be too far off the leaders.  Majestic Warrior, the Hopeful winner of 2007, just hasn't seemed like the same horse since returning from an injury earlier this year.
Selections:  J Be K, Groomedforvictory, Fatal Bullet

This will be my make or break race as I love Strike a Deal at a price.  He held his own last year against some of the better three-year-old turf runners (Summer Doldrums, Red Giant, Soldier's Dancer, Nobiz Like Shobiz), and his return race on May 11 looks like an excellent prep.  He faced pace pressure early, had to quicken up in the third quarter, and still held gamely when confronted by the hedge-skimming winner in the stretch.  His good tactical speed should have him situated just off rabbit Shake the Bank, and he may get first run on the late kickers.  Shakis was beaten a head last year by Better Talk Now, but both have since gone off form.  Better Talk Now may have been hurt by slow-paced races lately, and should appreciate his buddy setting quicker splits.  Pays to Dream was tremendous winning the Dixie on Preakness Day.  He began to gear up from the hedge on the turn, was stopped, then simply started up again, and won by seven plus.  He was goofing around in the stretch that day, though, and these tougher rivals may not allow him to get away with similar shenanigans here.  Proudinsky, like Big Brown, is recovering from a quarter crack.  He was a bit eager in the early going of the Mervin Muniz at Fair Grounds, but then ran very well to overcome a wide trip and a sharp Daytona.  Out of Control has quality, and he gave Einstein a challenge in the Turf Classic at Churchill.  I didn't like how he was weaving in the stretch, but that course wasn't playing to Out of Control's strengths.  Stalingrad is sharp, but takes a huge step up.  Dancing Forever has been good to me in his last two races.  He's another Shug runner that's gotten better with age.  Stream of Gold has burned his share of money lately, and is marooned outside.
Selections:  Strike a Deal, Pays to Dream, Better Talk Now

Belmont Stakes:
I'm rooting for Big Brown to take this down as he would make a thoroughly deserving Triple Crown winner, but I just can't take 2-5 on him considering the quarter crack and marathon distance.  Casino Drive is no bargain either at 7-2 with his stone bruise, but he's been pointed for this race all along, and he'll probably shadow Big Brown most of the way.  If he's good enough, he'll make a run at the Derby winner on the turn, and well, we'll see what happens.  If Casino Drive scratches, I'll give Denis of Cork a strong chance. He didn't break well in the Derby, and was taken immediately to the rail.  While he did save ground all the way around the track, he had to pass 19 others, and simply wasn't up to that task.  With a better setup, he could improve on his third-place Derby finish, and he was very impressive in his first three lifetime starts.  Macho Again clunked up to finish second in the Preakness behind Macho Again, and it wouldn't surprise me if he gets a piece with a similar late move.  Tale of Ekati supposedly displaced his palate following his slow workout the other day, and his slow Wood Memorial doesn't excite me.
Selection:  Casino Drive (if he scratches, then Denis of Cork)

Whittingham:  Will try to beat Champs Elysees and Lava Man with an equal dose of Molengao and Artiste Royale.

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

Enjoy the day's racing.


Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Cayman, Since you asked my opinion... The basis of your conjecture rests with public comments made by Dutrow. To me, this is a fatal flaw in attempting to construct a plausible scenario/understanding of what happened... I just posted in the current thread, my opinion of Kent's ride which is that I think he made the right decisions at the time. I think that things were stacked against him and it just didn't work out...
MudhoundMojo More than 1 year ago
Primo, First, let me say that the whole premise of your post ( when you ended it by calling me a lackey)is that when I said BB had been "cooked mentally" YOU made the ASSUMPTION that a "cooked mind" or a horse mentally stressed is the same as a lack of intelligence. Ironically, YOU are proving there is something LACKING in your comprehension skills, thus making you the LACKEY. Intelligence has nothing to do with a horse(or human or anything living ) being in a state of mental distress or duress. It happens to the most intelligent of us all. By the way, if I only assume that "they" agree with me, and indeed "they" are the connections, then you need to reread my post. The quote from Dutrow ("they") clearly states that BB didn't have any idea what was going on in the race (a sign he might be confused, ya think, or not in his proper mind). I don't assume a thing, if your "they" is the connections. It is all there in black and white. The quote is from your source, or "they", which ever you prefer. Although, I personally put no more weight into Dutrow's words than I would anyone elses who isn't a professional animal psychologist, when it comes to the intelligence of a horse. Dutrow states very clearly what I have stated multiple times (although different wording, same description). Since he is part of your "they" how is it that I am assuming? He says the same thing I say, my little friend (not that Dutrow is the final word, but his opinion seems very important to you). Further, if the "they" is not the connections ( really, who else can you mean?), then tell us who "they" are? Why should I care what "they" think if "they" are not connected to the horse and are judging a horses intelligence, based upon what? If you are going to attack an opinion, at the very least, have something of substance. Try throwing a couple of coherent sentences together. Then there would be less confusion. I don't mind someone disagreeing with me and giving back an opinion of substance. Use some class, though. I can be as big a jerk as anyone, it's real easy. It is much harder to make an intelligent post with an opinion. Primo, you have failed miserably at this, try again.
MudhoundMojo More than 1 year ago
Primo, Great comeback! You are obviously very sharp, lol. Hmmmmm..... who was the "they" then? You didn't seem to mention the key element (since it wasn't the connections). If it wasn't the connections, what animal psychologist is the "they." Surely "they" is someone on par with the great Kent D., in the field of animal psychology, lol. Just lay down already.
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Steve T, While you were on vacation... Monterrey Jazz out for the year. I believe a torn muscle in his leg. El Gato Malo: Out til Oak Tree with undisclosed leg injury. Georgie Boy: Out til fall with that pulled muscle in his back. Sierra Sunset: Out for year Alan, Congrats on moving to the second round. Great job. I'll try and get you a turf bomb for the next round. Laura, Thanks for the RTTBC contest. I'll join up soon. All, Great posts by all of you on the Belmont outcome. The knowledge on this board is stunning. As for the race, I'll reitterate what I said on Steve T.'s chat on Friday. I said the only problem BB would have on Saturday was would be sitting on his back, and I feel that that, along with a couple other things, did him in. First, let's go back to the week before the race. Dutrow was saying the horse was tearing down the barn and upset he couldn't go to the track. Then when he does get to the track he gets strangled thru a five furlong workout because they are afraid he'll go too fast and wear himself out or bust open that quarter crack. Then the rest of the time he's only allowed to jog or gallop a little. All during this time Dutrow was telling us how BB wanted to RUN...... and he hasn't gotten a chance to do it. At this point I think you're seeing a very pissed and frustrated horse. Now it's post time and BB knows it's race time. He'll get to do his thing.Not so fast my friend, as KD slaps the cuffs on him out of the gate which I think infuriated the horse.KD then tried to slip thru a hole between Da'Tara and TOE as they passed the finish line and got shut off and checked twisting the horse's head in the process. THEN , instead of keeping BB on the rail and saving ground around the turn KD shifts him behind and around TOE 8 wide on the first turn and strangles the horse again heading up the backstretch. At this point does anybody really think BB wanted to run? KD couldn't understand why he had no horse when he asked him. Look at how you rode him and answer your own question. As vicstu ( I think) said, let the horse hit his stride and cruising speed and then he'll relax and carry his speed the distance. Did BB EVER look relaxed at any point of that race ? I think not. As for the theory of BB being a tired horse I'm not sure I buy into it. He didn't blow after the Derby or Preakness and didn't even break a sweat. Besides, with the enlarged heart he's carrying, tiredness really should not have been a factor. I just think he was a very unhappy horse who wasn't allowed to do what he wanted to do and just said "F@#$ it, I've had enough,I'm done!". Dutrow even said he was playing when they got to the barn after the race. I wonder if it was a game of "how do you like them apples, dickie?". Blue Horseshoe, I am very interested on your opinion of my opinion.You pointed out that you thought BB was not the same horse, and you hit the nail on the head.You,being a horse owner have far more experience in this matter and I'll defer to you. I'm still learning all the nuances. Speaking of learning I got another painful lesson Saturday as my picks circled the bowl. None more painful than the Pick 4 which I missed by a headbob. I had Out of Control, and yes I played Da'Tara on a P4 backup. After Casino Drive scratched I thought he had a great chance to wire the field if anything happened to BB. The worst part was not putting in a saver WPS on DT. Steve T. please get that ticket making chapter ready on T-ink.I need it .............bad.
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Alan, Congratulations on the contest qualifier! Anyone can get lucky in one event but you've shown the consistency which firmly validates your skill. All you need is a run of good luck combined with your skill and consistency and you'll win one of these big contests and in the process you'll have a lot of people in this community cheering you on! Good luck!!!! Steve T, It's good to see you back. I really want to join your live chat but I wasn't able to this past Friday... Hopefully next time...
Alan More than 1 year ago
Arazi, From the NYRA website: "LIVE RACING RETURNS ON WEDNESDAY WITH HUGE CARRYOVER First race post on Wednesday, June 11 is 1 p.m. and there is a Pick 6 Carryover of $1,186,625.88." Any guess on the final POOL number Wednesday?? Here are the races - think it's gonna be a hard P6 to hit, huh???: BEL4 (OC25n2x 8f 3up F&M): 10 starters BEL5 (Cl35n2L 9f IT 3up): 12 starters + 2 AEs BEL6 (A50s 8.5f T 3up): 12 starters BEL7 (n1x 6f IT 3up F&M): 12 starters + 1 AE + 3 MTOs BEL8 (n1x 7f T 3up): 10 starters BEL9 (Cl25n2L 6f 3up): 12 starters + 2 AEs Every race with at least 10 starters and 4/6 turf races!! Can't wait to try my "minnow" on this one!! Riley, Thanks for the Cigar info!! I think he got a 100+ Beyer when he 1st returned to dirt in that allowance race but to then be immediately able to follow that with a win the NYRA mile was incredible (and he went off at almost 9/1 odds - Devil His Due was the fav!) BTW, do you have a Winners' Circle shot from Saturday's race that you can post for us to see??
Riley More than 1 year ago
Blue Horseshoe, Thanks for the kind words. It was great to meet you too and please don't hesitate to come hang out with us up in Saratoga this summer.
tony f More than 1 year ago
Now that the BB saga is a fw days into the history books, we now move on to another juice trainer crying. Asmussen is threatening not to come out and play in the Foster with his best toy Curlin, because of an inpost of 128, are you kidding me? This horse is a world beater, could easily defeat every horse in North America today, and he is quabbling over 2 lbs? And we wonder why our beloved sport does not grow. Let me see, I know many of these horses I will mention were before my time, but Forego, Spectacular Bid, Buckpasser, Skip Away all carried more weight to grade 1 victories....
Riley More than 1 year ago
Alan, No problem. He was a very special animal. I wish I had a photo for you, but I don't know where I would get one. Sorry.
Riley More than 1 year ago
larryk, Yes, my dad trains Courageous Cat. He is nice, and we are looking forward to his first start at Saratoga. He is one of the best bred 2 year olds we have.