08/14/2010 11:05AM

La Jolla Handicap, Monmouth Oaks

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I'm interested in a couple of stakes races this afternoon.  Let me know what you think.

La Jolla Handicap - Del Mar - Race 9:
This is scheduled to be SIDNEY'S CANDY's turf debut and the Santa Anita Derby winner tuned up for the La Jolla with six furlongs around the Del Mar turf course (dogs up) in a blazing 1:11 4/5.  We know his credentials and I think he deserves a mulligan for his narrow loss in the Grade 2 Swaps last time out on Cushion Track. 
Although he was 2-5 to take down the Swaps, that race was the first start for Sidney's Candy since his Kentucky Derby debacle and he was expected to take them all the way at a demanding nine furlongs.  He should be sharper for this start. 
The reason I don't like Sidney's Candy to win the La Jolla has nothing to do with current condition.  I don't like Sidney's Candy to win the La Jolla because of the expected pace scenario.  Sidney's Candy, a confirmed front-runner, may have to deal with MACIAS in the first half-mile of the La Jolla.  Macias, the pacesetter in his last two races, both turf routes, is very tough to control once he leaves the gate, often pulling Martin Garcia right to the front.  If Macias and Sidney's Candy hook up in a speed duel, that could leave both vulnerable for closers.  If Sidney's Candy decides to let Macias go, that would put Sidney's Candy in the unfamiliar position of chasing and passing.  Either way, it could prove problematic for Sidney's Candy.
The five horses that would benefit from a contentious pace are LEROY'S DYNAMEAUX, SUMMER MOVIE, KID EDWARD, GOLDEN ITIZ, and ALPHIE'S BET.  Of those five, I prefer Summer Movie, third in the Swaps behind Sidney's Candy.  There was no pace on in the Swaps but Summer Movie kept grinding it out to the wire and galloped out nicely after the fact.  He has two wins on grass and seems to be returning to form after an ankle injury knocked him out at the beginning of the year. 
Selections:  Summer Movie, Sidney's Candy, Golden Itiz

Monmouth Oaks - Monmouth - Race 11 -  August 14:
PATRIOTIC VIVA passed the two-turn test quite nicely in the Serena's Song Stakes at Monmouth on July 17, but she was able to control a rated pace that day and the scenario may be vastly different this time around.  WORSHIP THE MOON and ABSINTHE MINDED both may have designs on the lead and that could set things up for NO SUCH WORD and SEEKING THE TITLE, two fillies that have chased the best in the division and should benefit from class relief.
I'm going with No Such Word, who raced evenly behind Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks two starts back.  Previously, she won the Go For Wand at Delaware and was a game second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.  Cindy Jones worked No Such Word five furlongs in 59 4/5 five days before the good Black-Eyed Susan performance and she'll try to repeat the pattern here as she drilled No Such Word five-eighths in 58 flat five days before the Monmouth Oaks. 
Selections:  No Such Word, Patriotic Viva, Absinthe Minded

Van Savant, I believe it was, asked about Grassy in today's Sword Dancer.  I was his biggest fan going into the Dixie at Pimlico and he just didn't pick up his feet that afternoon.  Perhaps the "confidence-building" win last time over weaker can put him over the hump.  I have to admit that I don't have a great feeling about the Sword Dancer.  Expansion looks tough, but I wonder if 12 furlongs is his best game.  Grand Couturier and Telling are a combined 0 for their last 10.  We'll see if Marlang can take them wire-to-window.  Bearpath and Interpatation could both win.  It's a fun race, but I won't be involved that deep.

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