02/02/2008 1:15PM

Return of the G(rd)I



Thirty-three days into 2008, Grade 1 racing resumes for the first time since the La Brea at Santa Anita Dec. 29 with today's Donn Handicap at Gulfstream and Santa Monica at Santa Anita. The Santa Monica was supposed to be the first of the year's 108 Grade 1's, but last Sunday's cancellation forced it to be moved to todayy where, as the third of five straight stakes at SA, it is scheduled to go off 53 minutes after the Donn.

5:13 pm ET, GP race 9, G1 Donn Handicap, 4+, 1 1/8 m

Kieran McLaughlin, Daaher's trainer, is using the Donn as a prep for the Dubai World Cup March 29, just as he did last year with Invasor, who won both. Daaher's no Invasor yet, and this Donn field is a bit deeper than the '07 edition, but if he runs as well as he did in the Jerome or Cigar Mile last fall, Daaher's going to be very tough to beat. He's an outlandish 5-2 on the morning line but I'm guessing he'll be more like even-money at post time.

Those inclined to play against him at that price should be doing so on a a premise of pace rather than quality. There's little doubt Daaher's the most talented horse in the race, but he'll either have to gun early to get clear or might find himself engaged by pacepressers Fairbanks and Kiss the Kid. It's hard to see either of them winning both an early battle and the larger war, and the beneficiaries of a lively pace would be Spring at Last and the 1-2 finishers in the Clark, A. P. Arrow and Brass Hat. My plan is to single Daaher on 70 percent of my pick-whatever plays and use those three as tiny backups.

6:06 pm ET, SA race 7, G1 Santa Monica Handicap, 4+ F, 7 furlongs

This field of six has three distinct tiers of entrants: a pair of G1 stakes-winners in Hystrericalady and Pussycat Doll, a pair of ungraded stakes-level grass fillies and a pair of recent N1x graduates. Unless you're from the anything-can-happen-on-Cushion school of handicapping, the top two are the only conceivable winners, with the other four getting an easy shot at G1 black type through the minor awards.

The last time Hystericalady and Pussycat Doll crossed paths was in the Humana Distaff on Derby Day last year, where Hystericalady romped at 7-1 while Pussycat Doll belatedly picked up the pieces for a distant second as the even-money choice. Their careers have gone on different trajectories since that day. Hystericalady came within a neck of being a Breeders' Cup winner and possible divisional champion, while Pussycat Doll has repeatedly floundered against fillies she would have drowned when she was in the top form that won her the '05 La Brea, '06 Humana Distaff and '07 Santa Monica. Hystericalady would be an overlay at her 6-5 morning-line odds, but good luck getting that price.

Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Something clearly went wrong with Daaher, surprised no one even gives him that benefit of the doubt when it is the most likely cause. Happens all the time, short priced fave fails to fire, everyone trashes the animal or trainer, then you find out he bled or fractured something. I did have Spring At Last small to Win, but of course did not have the TRI since I included Daaher on all my tickets and failed to hook him up in the multi race pools.
John Grady More than 1 year ago
Wow...Angry? Piling on? Needed a race? Yes, Daaher needed a race,all right. A race at Belmont. In a five horse field. With no other early speed. If Kieran McLaughlin is as smart as I think he is, that's where his next race will be. What you saw at Gulfstream Saturday was no fluke and simply reconfirms how useless Beyer(or any other final time)numbers are. For the record,I didn't bet the race. Actually,I sat in the Newport RI racebook all afternoon and didn't bet any races. The previous day,I bet one race-the seventh at Gulfstream-and cashed on Big Dealer at $81 plus the exacta worth $668.80(and I have the tax form to prove it.) Can I do this every day or even every week? No-but that's not the point. The point is to stop throwing money at overhyped horses and look for some decent investments. These almost always start with good early speed and poor recent final times. The only really positive thing about the proliferation of "accurate" final times published these days is that horses that used to pay 20-1 now pay 40-1 because they REALLY have "no shot".
david More than 1 year ago
with all the synthetic track talk, it seems to be very few horses seem to "go wrong" at tampa bay downs. considering the plethora of cheap horses there,i'm somewhat surprised. also pletcher , nafzger, mott, clement, etc seem to echo the thoughtby using the track for preps. anyone notice or have statistics as to the breakdown rate ?
Horserun More than 1 year ago
i dont believe in playing favorites, and i like to think i am above par at hitting horses, between 5 and 10-1, but the polytrack results of the last year have been so outlandish that its is absolutely a joke that anyone can play these tracks with any conviction at all...here i am someone who thrives on always trying to beat the favorites, which usually happens on polytracks, and yet the results still make it where i feel i have no shot and just refuse to play these tracks (hell, i usually cant even come up with the polytrack winner after the race is run !!!)
SamG More than 1 year ago
I love Hystericalady but i`m from the I wouldn`t play the Santa Anita Cushion with Monopoly money school of handicapping.That track is as big a disgrace as the poly at Keeneland and Del Mar.
Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
John Grady It is not so much the information in your post that I find amusing, but rather the tone. You sound angry ! Why would you be angry at experts picking a horse that you think is overrated when that is likely to get you a better price ? I also bet against Daaher (but did not get the winner) for some of the reasons you mentioned - mostly because I thought he was simply too much of an underlay. However, I was not as confident as you that he would run as poorly as he did. Underlayed horses get beat every day (Tiago, Hystericallady). Anyway, I'm curious, did you have the winner (Spring at Last) ? It's a lot easier to trash a losing favorite following a race than to pick a winner prior to the race !
EJXD2 More than 1 year ago
Daaher is almost certainly heading to Dubai, though the Godolphin Mile is the likely target and not the Dubai World Cup. Ironic considering Spring at Last won the Mile last year.
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Wow, talking about piling on......... Daaher looked like a horse that needed a race. Nothing more, nothing less. I find it difficult to believe that McLaughlin would choose such a tough spot off the layoff. Lots of early speed and pressers. Poor choice by the trainer. The race cost me the magna Pick 5 as i had Daaher & AP Arrow on a ticket that included Leg 1 winner Vanderkaay. And I had SPring At Last on one of my backups ......without Vanderkaay. 4-5 on both tix, goodbye $17k payoff. My Bankroll didn't allow for any 3A 2B tickets and that cost me today.
bryan teel More than 1 year ago
"Steve-I'm sorry-I know this is redboarding,but" , well yes you are red-boarding . It's always easier to be a man of conviction AFTER a race is run isn't it!! If you actually believe that Midnight Lute is NOT a quality racehorse after the Forego & BC Sprint then I would humbly suggest you might check out your own neurosurgeon. I don't what went wrong with Daaher yesterday , but to dismiss him after one bad race off a layoff would be foolhardy."Please stop giving these lemmings short-priced losers!" A rather curious comment , as identifying these types of horses is a key to mutuel window success . Wouldn't you therefore want more of these easily identified bet against horses , not less ? Your rant sounds more like someone who bet ON Dahaar then against him.
Tim More than 1 year ago
Lets be real, Daaher beat Midnight Cowboy on a very heavily speed biased conveyor belt, in a field with absolutely no speed. I could have gotten brave and held off a horse who shouldnt even have been in that race. You could sense he was a very tired horse. Daaher is a nice grade 3 type horse who needs his racetrack and easy lead. Nothing more. Fortunately in today's racing, thats enough to win grade 1's. Everybody wants to hype up the next would be star, but cmmon. This one is nothing special. He couldnt get rid of Kiss the Rat. Dubai? Dont make me laugh. Do they have high price allowance races on the undercard that may better fit him?