01/01/2011 1:40PM

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

Let's take a look at a few of today's stakes races from around the country:

Tropical Park Derby (Grade 3 - Calder - Race 11  - Turf Condition GOOD)

Newly-turned three-year-olds get an opportunity to go long on the grass in South Florida.  Because the race is graded, it wouldn't be surprising if the winner tries/returns to dirt in the near future ("Derby Fever" sometimes is too much to resist).

SWIFT WARRIOR looked very, very good in winning an entry-level allowance race at Calder on December 10.  Racing at the tail end of the field going into the first turn, Swift Warrior steadily crept up on his opponents, made a smart four-wide bid on the far bend, and inhaled the leader in upper stretch.  Stakes-placed on dirt, this will be his acid test on the grass, but he's improved significantly ever since his connections stretched him out in distance, and the feeling here is that nine furlongs won't pose a problem.  He will need some pace to attack, however.  Aside from PRIVATE PRIZE and HALO'S THUNDER, there doesn't appear to be a great amount of speed in the race. 
RACING APTITUDE has won two straight over "Good" going, and it looks like he'll get some cut in the ground once again.  The hero of the $100,000 Appleton Juvenile Turf for Florida-breds in November, Racing Aptitude seems a bit more tactical than Swift Warrior, and could get the jump on the top pick turning for home.  Note that the runner-up from the Appleton returned to graduate (via disqualification) yesterday on turf at Calder with a 72 Beyer. 
I LOVE IT may have been compromised by a lack of pace last time out at Belmont, but he did make up some late ground to finish fourth, and the connections of that day's winner thought enough of the horse to ship him out for the CashCall Futurity (Rustler Hustler finished sixth). 
KING CONGIE moved forward after stretching out on turf while Private Prize may control things up front.
Selections:  Swift Warrior, Racing Aptitude, I Love It

Daytona (Grade 3 - Santa Anita - Race 8 - Scratches and Track Condition N/A):

I guess we'll see if REGALLY READY is a "new" horse on the turf.  Trained by Steve Asmussen, Regally Ready blitzed a field of allowance horses in his grass debut at Churchill Downs, and could be the main speed in the Daytona.  While he looms the horse to beat, the downhill turf course has a unique layout, and Regally Ready will really have to be on his game in order to not only defeat some solid turf sprinters, but to handle the course. 
I prefer QUICK ENOUGH, a rejuvenated former claimer that took the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap at Hollywood back in October.  He owns a previous win going down the hill (back in 2008), and we can make excuses for his two recent setbacks.  Two starts ago, he competed in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, and may have been in a bit steep.  Last time out, he chased the talented Cost of Freedom over cushion track, and simply couldn't overcome that one's tactical advantage (in Track Record time, no less) in a short field.  Quick Enough has the speed to shadow Regally Ready.  I think he can outkick that one in the lane.
Selections:  Quick Enough, Regally Ready, Dance With Gable

Interborough (Aqueduct - Race 3 - Track Condition FAST):

It's probably folly to try and beat odds-on favorite NICOLE H, and it's probably even more ridiculous to attempt to do so by also playing against second-choice MEESE ROCKS, but I'll take a very small stab in the Interborough with a longshot.
Nicole H has been good in her last two races in New York, but I thought she had things pretty much her own way last time out while Meese Rocks stumbled at the start and was far back on the turn.  She might simply be too fast for these horses and obviously must be used heavily in multiple-race wagers 
Meese Rocks rarely, if ever, changes leads in the stretch, and that simply aggravates me.  It hasn't seemed to bother her, however, as she's compiled a 12-7-3-0 record on the main track.  She must break alertly from the inside post today, and she got off to an awkward beginning in her most recent start.
It's quite possible that BOB'S DYLAN is overmatched here as she's been beating up on inferior competition at Finger Lakes, but she has some good early speed, and I'd like to see her rider place her aggressively out of the gate.  Last time out, she was involved in a three-ply pace skirmish while down on the rail, and was pocketed on the turn before splitting horses with a winning bid at the quarter pole.  She's won four of her last five races at Finger Lakes while beating past stakes-horses (perhaps over the hill?) like Weathered, Gold for the Queen, and Lisa's Booby Trap. 
Selections:  Bob's Dylan, Nicole H, Meese Rocks

Enjoy the weekend!