12/15/2007 12:37PM

Grand Slam II


Four of Saturday's five graded stakes nationally are the Grand Slam II races at Calder. There's a 50-cent minimum pick-four on the quartet, which look chalky on the turf and wide-open on the dirt to me.

3:28 pm EST, CRC race 8, G2 $200k La Prevoyante H., 3+f, 1 1/2m-T
If Dalvina repeats her last-out performance in the G3 Long Island, where she stormed from last place behind a slow pace to drown Barancella, My Rachel and Green Girl, she'll win in a gallop. The latter two are back for another try and might be next best but had no excuses last time out. Redaspen's a little intriguing second off a layoff but a complete unknown beyond nine furlongs. The pricey horse I'll include is Sans Souci Island, who still has upside after just six career starts and was beaten only three lengths by Sealy Hill in her last.

3:53 pm EST, CRC race 9, G3 $100k Kenny Noe Jr. H., 3+, 7f
Trainer Kirk Ziadie scratched two-thirds of his formidable entry here (Fortunate Trail and D'artagnans'spirit) but his remaining entrant, Paradise Dancer, can still get the job done. I'll go four-deep here, also using turnbacking Yes He's The Man, back-classy Santana Strings, and third-off-the-layoff Storm In May.

4:18 pm EST, CRC race 10, G3 $100k Fred Hooper H., 3+, 1 1/8
This is the skullbuster in the sequence. The top five finishers from the Nov. 11 Rose Classic H. are back from a race where too many horses ran career tops for me to be confident it's as good a race as the time suggests. I'll play against the perfect-trip winner, Electrify, and cast a wide net emphasizing two fresh faces from New Jersey, Actin Good and Indy Wind. Actin Good sports low figures but was very game beating Now a Victor in the opener on the BC Day card and may be blossoming as a racehorse. Indy Wind has won 3 of his last 6 and faced much better in his three losses.

4:45 pm EST, CRC race 11, G2 $200k McKnight H., 3+ 1 1/2m-T
Stream of Gold is still seeking his first U.S. victory but towers over these off his second to English Channel in the Turf Classic and a close-up fourth in the Canadian International. He meets no legit G1 horses here and is going to be tough to beat. The admirable veteran Revved Up is solid at this course and distance and appears the next most likely winner. If you're hunting for bombs underneath, Kiss the Kid could take them a long way on the lead in the absence of other early speed, and Presious Passion got questionable rides in his last two.

Keep an eye on the weather at Calder, where the forecast is for thunderstorms. Speaking of weather watches, you might not want to put a lot of time into Aqueduct's Sunday card until it's clear how severe a dire forecast of overnight icestorms turns out to be. [Update: Aqueduct has cancelled Sunday's card, due to what Tom Durkin just called "anticipation of apocalyptic weather." With a holiday break scheduled to begin Monday, that means today's is the last live card at Aqueduct until Wednesday, Dec. 26.]

Saturday's other graded stakes is not the 137-year-old Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct, now an ungraded stakes (where I like Cryptoquick and Wow Me Free), but the G1 Hollywood Starlet:

7:05 pm EST, HOL race 8, G1 $421,500 Hollywood Starlet, 2f, 1 1/16m
Country Star circled the field to win the G1 Alcibiades and passed the BC Juvenile Fillies, where she would have been the second choice, to point for this race. The daughter of Empire Maker has trained sharply over the Hollywood track and could be something special. The value in the race might come from playing against ML second choice Spritely, whose two Kentucky victories earned low figures against weak fields but who will be overbet due to Pletcher/Gomez connections. Grace Anatomy, Grace and Power or The Golden Noodle are reasonable alternatives underneath the favorite.