11/23/2007 11:35AM

Graded Stakes 11/23/07

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3:48 pm EST: Aqueduct race 8, G2 $150k Top Flight H., 3+F, 1m
Pool Land, winner of the '06 G1 Ruffian, has to spot 5 to 8 pounds to her seven rivals, none of whom has won a graded stakes, and should be up to the task, probably at less than her generous 5-2 ML. She made a winning return off an 11-month layoff in October, can dictate the pace and is simply a notch better than these. Golden Velvet is the wild card. The 4-year-old Seeking the Gold-Caress filly made eight grass starts abroad before winning her dirt debut with 6 1/2 lengths with a huge move, but that was a N1x allowance and she meets much better here.

4:00 pm EST: Churchill race 10, G3 $200k River City H., 3+, 1 1/8-Turf
Cosmonaut, beaten just two lengths when third in the BC Mile last time out, is the 6-5 ML favorite conceding 4 to 11 pounds to 10 mostly overmatched opponents but is no cinch. Cosmonaut is the soul of consistency, having fired a Beyer of between 100 and 104 in 12 of his last 13 starts, but he'll be overbet off his placing in one of the worst BC Miles ever, probably won't get the easy lead he did that day, and is still a horse with only a 6-for-27 lifetime record. The alternatives include Ascertain, Gun Salute and especially Big Prairie, whose closing style fits the likely pace scneario and whose second to Shakis in the Baruch two back is good enough to win this.

4:29 pm EST: Churchill race 11, G2 $500k Clark H., 3+, 1 1/8m
It's hard to separate the three favorites or to make a case for anyone else in the eight-horse Clark, the day's richest race. Diamond Stripes and Magna Graduate (both 3-1) have finished inches apart twice before, most recently when they ran 1-2 in the Meadowlands Cup and over this track when they were 2-3 in the Stephen Foster. Istan (5-2) comes off a monstrous score against lesser in the Ack Ack over the track and is in career-best form. If the crowd overbets Istan off that race, the other two might offer some value in the 3-1/7-2 range, but I can't do anything more creative than use all three in multirace bets and find prices elsewhere in the sequence.

5:35 pm EST: Hollywood race 5, G3 $100k Generous S., 2yo, 1m-Turf
The winning-Beyer history of this grass race for 2-year-ols shows that it took a BSF or 89 or higher to win it for 13 straight years beginning in 1993, then a severe dropoff to winning figs of 76 and 81 in 2005-6. This is relevant because the two favorites in here. The Leopard(9-5) and Yes It's a Cat (3-1), appear unlikely to crack the previous standard. They earned their top figures of 86 and 80 respectively under optimal conditions, setting slow and uncontested paces, and seem less likely to improve than some pricier entrants. I'm most interested in Robscarvic, a Statue of Liberty gelding who rallied into Yes It's a Cat's slow fractions off a three-month layoff last time out, and his fellow Irish-breds Spinning Sound and Meer Kat, both eligible to show quick improvement while making their stateside debuts.

7:37 pm EST: Hollywood race 9, G1 $400k Citation H., 3+, 1 1/16m-Turf
This nine-horse Citation Handicap is an entertaining and wide-open betting race but a pretty poor excuse for a Grade 1 race. The field has a combined career record of 0-for-17 in its previous American G1 attempts, and a combined record of 0-for-18 in graded grass races of any kind this year. At his 6-1 ML odds, there are wose stabs than Silent Name. He's made 9 of his last 10 starts in G1 races, won the G2 Commonwealth on Poly in the other and should improve second time off a layoff and in his second start since being switched from Gary Mandella to Frankel.