02/23/2008 1:59PM

The Lineup 2/23/08


A pair of turf marathons for older males comprises Saturday's short lineup of graded stakes action around the country.

5:15 pm ET, GP race 9, G1 $350k Gulfstream Park Turf S., OM, 1 3/8-T
If you're salivating over getting Einstein at his 6-1 ML price, stop dreaming. He's likelier to be 3-1 and may well even go off favored over Stream of Gold and Shamdninan, who are listed as the top two choices at 3-1 and 4-1. Einstein won this race two years ago, was a close third to better horses than these last year, and appears to be coming up to this perfectly. His best efforts beat anyone here. Stream of Gold is solid and had a rough trip behind Precious Passion last time out, but has lost 12 straight races after beginning his career 3 for 5. Shamdinan's true quality remains in question. He finished in front of Red Rocks, Better Talk Now and Dylan Thomas when a distant second to English Channel in BC Turf last time out, but it appeared that none of those toney rivals fired his best shot that day and Shamdinan plodded on for second by default. It's hard to make a case for anyone else in this field of 10; the others look a notch below the top three or highly questionable at the distance.

Incidentally, this is the same race that has been called the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in recent years, but the Breeders' Cup name is slowly disappearing from all but the Cup Day races in an effort to clarify the BC brand.

6:36 pm ET, SA race 7, G2 $150k San Luis Obispo H., OM, 1 1/2m-T
In the absence of Champs Elysees, the usual suspects among California's long-winded grass runners are the favorites here -- Spring House (Carleton F. Burke), On the Acorn (Jim Murray, San Juan Capistrano) and Obrigado (last year's San Luis Obispo) -- but the key to the race is Sudan. If he replicates his European form in his American debut and first start for Frankel, he's just better than these. He bled badly in his last start in Sweden last September, was scratched from the Hollywood Turf Cup over a medication snafu, but now appears ready to roll while getting Lasix for the first time. Of the others, Spring House seems solid off a last-out third to Sunriver and Champs Elysees, On the Acorn is iffy going 12 furlongs off a nine-month layoff, and Obrigado could offer a little value as the fourth or fifth choice.

---ejxd2 wrote: Definitely interested in hearing your thoughts on Baffert's exclusion as a finalist from Hall of Fame consideration.

Only two trainers -- Carl Nafzger and Bob Wheeler -- were among the finalists announced Friday for this year's Hall of Fame voting. The only reason Baffert is not on the list is because there is a technical dispute over whether he meets the criteria of having been actively engaged in training Thoroughbreds for the required 25 years. He was still primarily a Quarter Horse trainer in the mid-1980's, making just a handful of Thoroughbred starts which some nominating-committee members believe don't meet the spirit of the 25-year rule.

Some commentators have tried to turn this into a controversy over Baffert's Hall-worthiness or regional bias in the voting, but this is simply not the case. There's not a scintilla of doubt that Baffert will deservedly be nominated and overwhelmingly elected within the next few years, the moment he clearly has 25 full years to his credit.