03/22/2008 11:52AM

The Lineup 3/22/08


There's a quartet of Grade 2 stakes from coast to coast today, ranging from a six-furlong sprint on the Aqueduct inner track to a 12-furlong grass route at Santa Anita:

4:50 pm ET, Aqu race 9, G2 $150k Distaff H., 4+f, 6f
Ah, to be able to bet into morning lines: Control System would be a gift at her ML of 9-5 and might even be an overlay at her likelier odds of around even money. She disappointed finishing a distant second at 11-10 to Golden Dawn in the Barbara Fritchie last time out, but meets no one of that caliber today. She should be running late off the turnback, but Control System, switching to Dominguez, should get first run from just behind a duel among Your Flame in Me, Beau Dare and Quality Affair.

5:13 pm ET, GP race 9, G2 $200k Shirley Jones H., 4+f, 7f
Sugar Swirl goes for her third straight sprint-stakes victory at the Gulfstream meet after winning the First Lady at 11-10 and the Hurricane Bertie at 7-10 but meets two rivals whose best races make them dangerous: Shaggy Mane, who could wire the field if she perks up in her first start for Rick Dutrow after three bad races (two Poly and one slop), and Baroness Thatcher, who has had three straight rough trips. The horse I don't get at all is second-choice Dixie Dream at 4-1, coming off a slow N2x allowance victory and sporting a career-best Beyer of 89 in a field where the three mentioned above can all fire 100's.

6:47 pm ET, TP race 12, G2 $500k Lane's End S., 3yo, 1 1/8m (Poly)
I discussed this race at length in the Saturday column (Download 032208column.doc), which doesn't mean I have a strong opinion or a play in mind. Halo Najib, the tepid 7-2 ML choice, makes sense because his two best races are on Polytrack and his last two starts may have been too close together, and Chitoz may have some upside while shedding blinkers and coming off the grass. It's hard to see a serious classic contender emerging from this $500,000 Derby prep.

7:38 pm ET, SA race 9, G2 $200k San Luis Rey, 4+, 1 1/2m (Turf)
On the Acorn finished third in the San Luis Obispo, last month's version of this race, and is a legit favorite making his second start off a nine-month layoff in the absence of the first two finishers from that race. The main competition should come from Obrigado, who doesn't win very often but has been facing consitently better fields than this one.