07/16/2010 3:57PM

Jaipur, A Gleam, Del 'Cap, American Derby, Sunset


Let's take a look at some of this weekend's stakes races:

Jaipur - Belmont - Race 9:

STRADIVINSKY's form is eerily reminiscent of Candy Cane, a $50,000 claim by Richard Dutrow Jr. on March 5.  After two months off, Candy Cane returned to score in the Unbridled Sidney Stakes going five furlongs at Churchill Downs.
Stradivinsky was taken for $50,000 by Dutrow on May 27 and will return to the races in the Grade 3 Jaipur going six furlongs on the inner turf.  Once a swift sprinter (Stradivinsky reeled off four consecutive triple-digit Beyers in 2006-2007), Stradivinsky missed all of 2008 with a bone chip in his ankle.  Once returned to the races, he bounced around the claiming ranks before finding good form again earlier this year.  He's now won three in a row and looms the speed of the speed under the hustling Chuck Lopez. 
Stradivinsky may be better at five furlongs at this stage of his career, but he should be prominent when they turn for home, and could have enough to turn back the ralliers in the final eighth.
Selections:  Stradivinsky, Our Friend Harvey, Formidable

A Gleam Handicap - Hollywood - Race 4:

FREE FLYING SOUL easily handled MOON DE FRENCH when they met in the Desert Stormer Stakes at six furlongs on June 12, but I believe that the Bob Baffert-trained Moon de French may turn the tables on Saturday. 
First, that race was Moon de French's initial start of the year following a seven-plus month layoff. 
Second, Moon de French may be better at this elongated sprint distance of seven furlongs. 
Free Flying Soul's record at seven furlongs stands at 3-0-0-2 (albeit in Grade 1 races) and it's possible that Mike Smith will attempt to rate her in order to save something for the stretch.  If that scenario occurs, then Moon de French may be able to scoot away to an easy lead under Martin Garcia. 
It won't be easy, but Moon de French may be a bit sharper in her second race back.
Selections:  Moon de French, Free Flying Soul, Emmy Darling

Delaware Handicap - Delaware - Race 11:

LIFE AT TEN looked tremendous in winning the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps around one turn on June 12.  She stumbled badly at the start, dueled from the get-go with Unrivaled Belle (who had previously unseated Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs), and still looked strong at the finish. 
This time, however, I'll take FUNNY MOON, who was beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Life At Ten in the Phipps.  Many handicappers were dismayed with Funny Moon's performance that afternoon, as she sat a great trip behind the two speeds and still couldn't make up much ground in the stretch.  Still, a closer look reveals that the main track was extremely fast and speed-favoring at Belmont that day and Funny Moon may have been compromised by the bias. 
The winner of the 10-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks last year, Funny Moon should save valuable ground after breaking from the inside post, and Alan Garcia may attempt to get her into the race a bit sooner this time around. 
Selections:  Funny Moon, Life At Ten, Milwaukee Appeal

American Derby - Arlington - Race 8:

A contentious bunch so I'm going to go for a big price.  MINT CHIP (20-1 on the morning line) is bred for the turf (by Johar out of a Theatrical mare), so it's interesting that he has yet to crack the trifecta in three grass starts.  His last two races on polytrack show promise, however. 
Two back, he beat entry-level allowance runners at Keeneland with a last eighth of a mile in a shade under 12 seconds.  Last time out, he chased the streaking Todd Pletcher-trained Exhi and the crack Canadian sprinter Essence Hit Man when fourth in the Marine Stakes. 
Mint Chip worked swiftly at Keeneland on July 9 for the underrated Rusty Arnold and it's possible that we've yet to see his best (only six lifetime starts).  At a good price, I'll give him a shot.
Selections:  Mint Chip, Workin for Hops, Asphalt

Sunset Handicap - Hollywood - Race 9 (Sunday):

DYNAMIC RANGE was claimed out of his last race by Mike Mitchell (38%, positive ROI since 1/1/09 off the claim) and he is very comfortable at this marathon distance.  He should show good tactical speed under Rafael Bejarano (sitting behind pacesetting MARLANG and, perhaps, GREAT SIEGE) and has been knocking heads with some tough cookies (Bourbon Bay, Loup Breton, Brushburn). 
The Sunset is filled with unproven runners stepping up in class and distance as well as horses that are off form.  Dynamic Range seems like a decent fit.
Selections:  Dynamic Range, Champ Pegasus, Oil Man

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.

I'll be trying out new blog software early next week so bear with me if there is a glitch or two that needs to be ironed out.

Have a great weekend,