10/23/2008 11:15PM

Friday BC analysis


Filly and Mare Sprint:
Obviously, Indian Blessing is the filly to beat.  Dan Who! has done a wonderful job getting her to rate, and I think that's been the key to her success in 2008.  Last year, she overwhelmed her opponents with her blinding early speed, and was thankful when the wire came calling.  This season, she's shown a willingness to sit just off the pace.  Thus, she finishes with more gusto.  She should find a spot just off the expected barbecue up front (Lady Sprinter, Dream Rush, Dearest Trickski, and La Tee can flat-out fly early), and all eyes will be on her as the field turns for home.  She's the most likely winner, but I'd rather try to beat her at short price. 
The points made on the blog about Zaftig's chances are well-taken, and I usually hate playing horses off long layoffs due to injury.  Zaftig reportedly suffered a stress fracture in her left front foot soon after dusting Indian Blessing in the Acorn, and this will be her first race since early June.  The key determining factor whether you play Zaftig or not is price.  If she stands at her morning line of 8-1, or even goes down to 9-2 or 5-1, I'd use her.  Anything less than that, and she's not worth the gamble.  I know she's a good filly.  The way she won her last two races points that out, and if somehow she gets overlooked in the wagering, I think she can be played.  Her good tactical speed should have her in the second flight, and the fast pace may aid her closing kick. 
Think Ventura may be the wiseguy second choice for Frankel based on her polytrack win during the Keeneland spring meet over four next-out winners, and her runner-up effort versus males in the Woodbine mile.  Her stalking/rallying tactics should serve her well in this race, but she's a rather obstinate type, isn't she?  She often pulls pretty hard coming out of the gate, and her loss two back to Diamond Diva in the CashCall Mile, a race she had in the bag with 100 yards to go, was pretty discouraging to me. 
Intangaroo deserves more press than she gets.  I mean, she's a triple Grade 1 winner at seven furlongs over three different tracks, and you don't hear a peep about her.  You know she'll get the pace she wants, and she'll be charging in the lane. 
Selections:  Zaftig, Indian Blessing, Ventura

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf:
Unlike the preceding race, there doesn't seem to be much pace in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.  Laragh looks loosey-goosey if she wants the lead from her inside post, and if they leave her alone on the front end, a repeat of her Jessamine win at Keeneland is rather likely.  Still, she was 11-1 in the Jessamine, and she may be 5-2 in this race.  Most likely winner?  Sure, but you have to look for value in the Breeders' Cup.  Laragh is wheeling back on a little over two weeks rest, had to ship across the country, and may regress just a bit.
The Europeans interest me more than a little bit.  Beyond Our Reach is still a maiden, and while it's usually unwise to play maidens against winners, let alone stakes horses, she is Group 1-placed overseas, and attracts Frankie Dettori.  We saw Frankie steal the E.P. Taylor earlier this year with Folk Opera so perhaps he can coerce Beyond Our Reach into stalking position not too far off Laragh.  Granted, this is a stab.  The Europeans aren't even playing their horses.  Beyond Our Reach and April Pride are both 16-1 over there with Heart Shaped  at 20-1.  Here's what the Racing Post Handicapper has to say about the European runners (from http://www.racingpost.co.uk)

Beyond Our Reach:
Third to Again in the G1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. But the slow pace and very soft ground make that form suspect as do her slow times. Her two other runs were a third in an ordinary maiden and a pretty distant sixth in the G1 Cheveley Park

April Pride:
Built and bred for longer trips, this filly finally got a chance to run beyond 6f last time when staying on well to be third to the smart Fantasia in a 7f G3 last time. The extra furlong will help and she clearly has a shot.

Heart Shaped:
Tall, scopey, rangy filly with a long stride that´s built and bred for over a mile and finally gets the chance to go that far here. Finished well to take fifth in the G1 Cheveley Park and looks very interesting.

Like Beyond Our Reach, April Pride adds Lasix, and her trainer, Jim Cassidy, does very well with European imports.  She draws a comfortable inside post, and should save valuable ground going into the first turn.  The filly that beat April Pride last time, Fantasia, returned to finish second behind probable British champion juvenile filly Rainbow View in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot.

Watch out for Consequence.  The beautifully-bred filly has yet to try firm ground, worked a bullet half-mile over the Pro-Ride in preparation for this, and Shug McGaughey usually has his fillies primed to peak around this time.  It's interesting that Saucey Evening adds blinkers despite winning her last race, the CalCup Juvenile Fillies over Pro-Ride.  She won her career debut on turf at Colonial Downs, and can be a late threat if the pace is solid.  C Karma won the Natalma over soft going at Woodbine and can't be counted out as she has some tactical speed.  Emmy Darling faced Stardom Bound in both the Del Mar Debutante and Sorrento Stakes,  and will be dropping in class here.  Freedom Rings is a maiden, but she's put up some decent efforts in New York. 
Selections:  Beyond Our Reach, April Pride, Laragh

Juvenile Fillies:
I know this won't be very popular, but I'm going to try and beat Stardom Bound.  Yes, she's shown an electric kick.  Yes, she's proven over this surface and distance.  Yes, she's a good filly.  But, I just hate playing these Silky Sullivan-types in big fields at short price.  Let her go through a wall of horses, or go around them by being forced eight wide.  If she beats me, she beats me, and I'll gladly doff my cap to her. 
It's possible that Pursuit of Glory won't handle this surface, but her pedigree is geared a bit to dirt.  While her dam was a Group 1 winner in Europe, she's a daughter of the great Serena's Song, and Pursuit of Glory's sire, Fusaichi Pegasus, won the Kentucky Derby.  Pursuit of Glory was covered up until the final two furlongs of the Cheveley Park Stakes, but she ran on when she was clear, and acts like a filly that will appreciate this added distance.  Pursuit of Glory won over polytrack in Europe, and may work out a trip stalking the probable speeds, Be Smart and Palacio de Amor

Here's the handicapper's analysis from The Racing Post:

Pursuit of Glory
Built and bred for a mile plus. Won on Polytrack in fast time at Dundalk before finishing close third in the Cheveley Park. Got herself some ways behind there and had to weave in and out to find a run but picked up best of all when clear, moving really strongly at the finish. Should improve for the step up in trip here.

Doremifasollatido showed some grit when winning the Matron at Belmont.  She got dirt kicked in her face while saving ground in behind the leaders, then bulled her way out at the top of the stretch.  She had more than enough to hold off Persistently in the drive, and acts like a runner.  The added distance coupled with the far outside post are worrisome, however.  C. S. Silk went gate-to-wire over Arlington's polytrack in the Arlington-Washington Lassie, but that was at a one-turn mile.  Her versatility (can win from on or off the pace) is a big plus.  Sky Diva was very impressive winning the Frizette at Belmont, and she won her debut around two turns at Delaware.  In the Frizette, she was off a beat slowly from the rail, moved up on her own power entering the turn, and buried her opponents under a hand ride.  She's talented, but will take a lot of money.  Dream Empress won the Alcibiades in slow time over a weak bunch, but should get enough pace to attack.  It's hard to envision her outkicking both Stardom Bound and Persistently, but stranger things have happened especially at the Breeders' Cup.

Filly and Mare Turf:
The North Americans have some hard-knocking runners in Wait a While, Forever Together, Dynaforce, and Mauralakana, but I sided with the Euros and Halfway to Heaven.  She's a multiple Group 1 winner at a mile, but also owns a win at the highest level at this 10 furlong distance, and she seems to have enough speed to stay close to the expected moderate pace.  She was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Arc winner Zarkava in the French 1000 earlier this year, and seems to be in excellent form for all-world connections. 

From The Racing Post:

Halfway to Heaven:
Lost her debut in a photo but has won all four times she´s raced on good to firm or faster ground since. Won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Nassau and Falmouth Stakes in sprint finishes off a slow early pace, so she should be suited to the way this race ismost likely to be run. However, if they go too fast she´ll have trouble lasting home

Won the G3 Princess Margaret Stakes over 6f at two but is built and bred for longer. Was gaining at the finish off a slow pace when a close third to Halfway To Heaven in the G1 Falmouth Stakes. Bids to emulate offspring of her dam´s sister Banks Hill in jumping from a mile to 10f to win this race. I give her a real shot.

Visit is my second selection.  Her third to Halfway to Heaven in the Sun Chariot looks like an excellent prep run, and she may improve going second off the layoff as she did when winning the Group 3 Oak Tree two starts back.  I think she has a great deal of upside. 
Forever Together is a multiple Grade 1 winner this year going shorter, and I wonder if her kick will be compromised by the pace scenario.  I don't like how she finishes up on her wr0ng lead, but she does have an electric late flurry, and can't be discounted.  Dynaforce received a brilliant ride by Alan Garcia to win the Flower Bowl.  Garcia put her on the lead through slow fractions, then asked her to kick on for home with three furlongs to go.  That was enough to finish Mauralakana, who had to rally into those slow splits.  Mauralakana has been remarkably consistent this year, but I wonder if she's a bit off the top following a testing campaign.  Wait a While is a perfect 3-3 over this course, but her Yellow Ribbon win didn't knock my socks off, and she may take too much play at the windows to make her worth the gamble.
Selections:  Halfway to Heaven, Visit, Forever Together

Ladies Classic:
As much as I would like to pick against Zenyatta, I just can't.  I'm simply too impressed with her victories, and she just looks like the best horse.  Her win in the Lady's Secret was a thing of beauty.  It seems like she takes a deep breath, goes after the leaders, and inhales them without being asked for her best.  Is she worth the short price?  You could argue that no horse is worth a short price, but I think she's the most likely winner. 
Perhaps Carriage Trail can get up for the place.   She's another late-developing McGaughey-trainee, and she's done won on turf, polytrack, and dirt in her career.  I hated how she drifted out during the stretch drive of the Spinster, but she put that field at her mercy, and seems to be getting good at the right time.
Music Note has hinted at star potential.  Take away her head loss to the game Proud Spell in the Alabama, and you have a filly that's won five in a row by a combined 37 1/4 lengths.  She's a good one, and she should give a nice account of herself.  Hystericalady couldn't take advantage of a favorable pace scenario in the Lady's Secret, and seems better on dirt.  Ginger Punch, the defending champion of this race, may not have wanted to be on the lead when run down by Cocoa Beach in the Beldame.  Ginger Punch will get a target in here, and rarely disgraces herself. 
Selections:  Zenyatta, Carriage Trail, Music Note

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

Be back tomorrow night/Saturday morning with Classic day analysis.

Take care,