04/07/2012 8:34AM

Major Derby Prep Weekend

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Let's take a (pre-scratches and changes) look at some of this weekend's stakes races.

COMELY STAKES - AQUEDUCT - RACE 7:

BROADWAY'S ALIBI is even-money on the morning line based on her 16 3/4-length romp, with a 100 Beyer, in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream on January 29.  While that race was very impressive, Broadway's Alibi is no cinch to win the Comely. 
First, the Forward Gal was raced over a sloppy, sealed surface.  In three starts on fast going, Broadway's Alibi's numbers are 68, 79, 87 (although those starts were at two and I'd readily admit that she may have matured greatly since then). 
Second, Broadway Alibi will attempt to navigate a mile for the first time and her stamina could be tested (although a one-turn mile is sometimes easier for a sprinter to handle than the two-turn counterpart). 
Third, there is pace signed on for the Forward Gal.  Broadway Alibi is a speed horse and her hand is forced from the inside draw.  SINGLET, a stretchout sprinter trained by Tony Dutrow, may not be fast enough to wrest the lead from Broadway's Alibi, but she could apply some pace pressure on the backstretch. 
Fourth, Broadway's Alibi missed time after the Forward Gal after shedding the frog from her left hind foot.  While the foot shouldn't be stinging her this afternoon, one must wonder if the missed training will take its toll in the final furlong. 
Fifth, Broadway's Alibi is facing a quality rival named MILLIONREASONSWHY.  That foe, a Grade 2 winner trained by the underrated Nacho Correas, gave undefeated juvenile filly champion My Miss Aurelia a scare in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga.  She was freshened after that effort and returned with a rock-solid performance in the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel on March 3.  That afternoon, she broke poorly but made a smooth three-wide move into contention on the turn.  She had to work a bit in the stretch to fend off the multiple stakes-winner Dance to Bristol, but did so professionally.  She received a 93 Beyer for the Wide Country, a race contested over "good" going, but she's also quick on dirt (90 Beyer in the Adirondack as a juvenile filly in August).  Out of an A.P. Indy mare, Millionreasonswhy is bred to handle today's additional furlong without a fuss and she may get a good pace setup if Singlet forces Broadway's Alibi to go quickly in the opening half-mile.
Broadway's Alibi may be a freak and is a must-use, along with Millionreasonswhy, in multiple-race wagers.  But, I wouldn't want to play her at an extremely short price considering all the factors.
Now, watch her win by a dozen again.
Selections:  MILLIONREASONSWHY, BROADWAY'S ALIBI, WELCOME GUEST

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Here are some quick-and-dirty selections:

Bay Shore:  TRINNIBERG, HARDENED WILDCAT, HOW DO I WIN
Ashland:  STEPHANIE'S KITTEN, HEART OF DESTINY, LOTTA LOVIN
Wood Memorial:  GEMOLOGIST, THE LUMBER GUY, ALPHA
Santa Anita Derby:  MIDNIGHT TRANSFER, CREATIVE CAUSE, LONGVIEW DRIVE

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CARTER HANDICAP - AQUEDUCT - R10:

What a race!  We have a Preakness winner (SHACKLEFORD), a Breeders' Cup winner (CALEB'S POSSE), a millionaire (JACKSON BEND) and a five-time graded stakes winner (CALIBRACHOA).  They've all shown that they can win on the big stage, but I'm taking a chance with a runner that may be more potential than anything else right now.  EMCEE, a lightly-raced son of Unbridled's Song, battled lameness early on and didn't debut until September of his 3-year-old campaign, but scored in his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin with an off-the-pace, 94-Beyer, run.  I believe Emcee was scheduled to be shipped to Dubai in the winter, but he got sick and remained in the United States.  Making his first start of the season in an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream on February 3, Emcee ran away from the field to the tune of a 107 Beyer.  Last time out, in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct, Emcee was on the chase throughout.  He pressed the fleet Royal Currier to the turn before ratcheting up the pressure.  Royal Currier wouldn't falter immediately, however, and Emcee had to work harder than expected to get by that foe.  By the time Emcee emerged with the lead, quality closers like Calibrachoa and Caleb's Posse were coming and the inexperienced Emcee just couldn't beat them away.  This time, the pace scenario may be a bit different as Emcee could end up the main speed.  If he gets a breather, he could be tough to run down late.
Selections:  EMCEE, CALIBRACHOA, CALEB'S POSSE

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Some more quick-and-dirty picks:

Providencia:  LADY OF SHAMROCK, INDIGO RIVER, BYRAMA
Illinois Derby:  EXPLAIN, Z ROCKSTAR, FRANKIE IS BACK
Potrero Grande:  ROMAN THREAT, SWAY AWAY, AMAZOMBIE, CAMP VICTORY

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WAIT A WHILE STAKES - GULFSTREAM - R10 - SUNDAY

Sunday is closing afternoon at Gulfstream and the Wait A While Stakes may be an opportunity to beat a runner that earned big numbers in Grade 1 grass races last year.  DISTORTED LEGACY, entered for $50,000 last year at Gulfstream, improved drastically as the year unfolded for trainer Angel Penna.  She placed, at 42-1 odds, in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont behind top-class Stacelita and followed that effort up with a fourth-place finish (beaten only a length) in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill.  Distorted Legacy got sick following the Breeders' Cup, and the Wait a While, at a distance that could be shorter than her best, is her first start since.  Also, for all of her achievements on grass, Distorted Legacy has yet to win on the surface (0-8).
I'll try to beat her with RACE TO URGA, a filly that has won three in a row against cheaper company for trainer Christophe Clement.  She'll get a class quiz this afternoon, but has the tactical speed to be placed in good position.  She doesn't get a break in the weights, but I believe she's stakes quality.
Selections:  RACE TO URGA, DISTORTED LEGACY, ENTRUSTMENT

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For a more-detailed analysis, check out the video previews that Mike Beer and I produced under the "Handicapping Preview" heading:

http://www.drf.com/events/weekend-stakes-previews-picks-analysis-more

http://www.drf.com/news/gulfstream-wait-while-may-not-be-ideal-fit-distorted-legacys-return

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

Have a great holiday weekend!