09/15/2007 10:38AM

Gaz-elementary Thoughts


The Gazelle Day card and pick-six have the potential to be chalkfests, with short fields in the Matron and Futurity, and Rags to Riches a likely winner at 2-5ish in the main event. With a little creativity, though, it might be possible to make something interesting happen even without beating Rags to Riches.

The G2 Matron, G3 Noble Damsel, G2 Futurity and G1 Gazelle are races 6-9 on a 10-race card. The pick six, with a $47k carry, starts one race earlier, bookending the four stakes with a turf sprint and a conditioned claimer. The pick four starts with the Noble Damsel and runs through the finale. My thoughts on the four stakes:

Matron: Syriana's Song (2-1 ML) ran two fine races at Saratoga, running second to next-out Spinaway winner Irish Smoke in her debut and then winning her next start with a strong 96 Beyer. Those two starts, however, were at five furlongs and today she stretches out to seven furlongs with other quality early speed in the race. To me, that makes her the most vulnerable favorite in the four stakes races, and I'm going to use her but only defensively.

I'm going four deep in the race. My others will be Armonk(5-2), a maiden who ran a green-trip third to Syriana's Song in her only start; Proud Spell, who earned a 95 Beyer winning a $57k stakes at Delaware that has already produced two next-out winners; and the field's only other stakes-winner, Miss Golden Delicious (15-1), an Empire Maker filly who's won at the distance. Sabooh, Dagger and Maren's Meadow can beat me.

Noble Damsel: This grass mile for older fillies will be everybody's spread race. I'll lean toward the quartert of Amansara (8-1), Fantastic Shirl (3-1), Dance Away Capote(10-1) and Pommes Frites (6-1), and lean away from the second and third choices, Astronomia and Bayou's Lassie at 4-1 each. Rahy's Appeal deserves a long look underneath at 15-1 and Silver Charades can make some noise if she runs back to her All Along while switching from Marty Wolfson to Kimmel.

Futurity: A six-horse race with three obvious standouts in Kodiak Kowboy, Tale of Ekati and The Leopard. I'm not convinced Kodiak Kowboy (8-5) is any better than the other two and will use all three but press Tale of Ekati, who returns from bucked shins after trouncing Anakim in his debut and then finishing a fine second in Ready's Image's excellent Sanford.

Gazelle: I understand the school of thought that Rags to Riches has missed time and training and that she might be vulnerable off a 14-week layoff, but I still think she's very likely to win without being at her very best. Putting aside the novelty of her beating males in the Belmont Stakes, this is the runaway winner of the Santa Anita and Kentucky Oaks, as dominant a 3-year-old dirt filly as we've seen in years, with only one legitimate rival here, Lear's Princess. Rags to Riches has run well fresh before, taking a maiden race off a six-month absence and the Kentucky Oaks off an eight-week layoff, and unless something has gone hideously wrong with her, she's simply supposed to beat these. I'm not saying she's a particularly good win bet at $2.80, but I'll single her and back up with Lear's Princess at a 4/1 ratio in the multirace bets.

There's also a Grand Slam on the four stakes, which might get you alive to something more appetizing than 2-5 on Rags to Riches or 2-1 on Lear's Princess. I haven't played many Grand Slams, and I don't know anyone who does well with it making deep partwheels. I think a better idea is to make one or two cold punches that put you in the position to get much better win prices on one or two horses in the last leg. The Travers Day Grand Slam got you $28.40 instead of $2.70 on Street Sense, and the Woodward Day one turned Lawyer Ron from $3.50 into $33.40. The bet might be worth a look today.

As for the highly-anticipated debut of The Green Monkey, even-money on the ML in the day's fourth race, I'm not getting heavily involved one way or the other. If I play the early pick four, I'll use both him and Sixthirteen, who was sharply bet in his return, dueled through fast fractions, cuts back from seven to six furlongs and might end up loose on the lead if The Green Monkey doesn't break sharply.

Time for me to break sharply down Hempstead Turnpike and make sure I'm one of those first 12,000 patrons who will get a Rags to Riches button.