03/24/2012 11:02AM

San Luis Rey Stakes, Vinery Racing Spiral

Email

Sunday's Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes, pushed back a week following wet weather at Santa Anita, features a solid field of turf routers. 

#6 SLIM SHADEY looms the main speed, much as he was when stealing the Grade 2 San Marcos at 10 furlongs on February 10.  Despite setting moderate fractions while loose on the lead, however, he was begging for the wire as #2 UTOPIAN was making up a good amount of late ground.  Now, Slim Shadey must stretch his speed to 1 1/2 miles and he won't be the 13-1 odds of the San Marcos (he's 2-1 on Jon White's morning line). 
UTOPIAN had a weird trip in the San Marcos.  He was chasing Slim Shadey from second entering the backstretch, but dropped back to last on the rail turning for home.  Suddenly, he was energized and he rallied nicely to just miss by a head.  He acts like the additional distance won't pose a threat, but he's been an in-and-outer for most of his career  and he won't be 13-1 again (2-1 on the line).
#5 BOURBON BAY was the scourge of the Southern California turf division in 2010, sweeping the San Luis Obispo, San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano.  He hasn't won on turf since the San Marcos on January 17, 2011, though, and one must wonder if he's ast his very best form for trainer Neil Drysdale.  He is certainly capable of improvement in his second start of the form cycle and, unlike Slim Shadey and Utopian, is very comfortable this distance.  He's a dangerous runner, but I'm not sure I love the 9-5 morning line on a horse that may have seen slightly better days.
So, I guess I'm going for an outsider and I landed on #1 HOG'S HOLLOW, a recent 'n2x' optional claiming winner at 10 furlongs.  He got away with easy fractions that day, but powered home under only hands-and-heels urging and he seems to have found himself at longer distance (a record of 2-1-0 from three starts at 10 furlongs or greater).  Four starts back, Hog's Hollow rated successfully at 11 furlongs at Del Mar, defeating four next-out winners.  He's taking a big jump in class for Paddy Gallagher, but is worth a stab if close to the 8-1 morning line.
Selections:  HOG'S HOLLOW, UTOPIAN, SLIM SHADEY

***
As for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway, I must admit that I'm playing with my heart instead of my head.  #12 HANDSOME MIKE has only won once from six starts, drew a terrible post position, and is very questionable at this nine-furlong distance.  But, for some reason, I'm a fan.  It's not just that his Beyer Speed Figures make him very competitive.  I also like the courage that he's shown in some of his losses.  He is willing to fight, win or lose.  Also, you boxers and thongs know that I love speed horses and Handsome Mike figures to be on or near the lead under Joel Rosario.  There are many questions marks surrounding the up-and-coming three-year-olds in the Spiral.  Handsome Mike must drift from his 4-1 morning line if I am to play him, but horses like #1 RUSSIAN GREEK (Jerry Hollendorfer, finished behind Handsome Mike in the El Camino Real Derby), #3 HEAVY BREATHING (Todd Pletcher, makes first start on synthetics) and #4 WENT THE DAY WELL (Animal Kingdom connections, makes first start against winners) may take some play.
Selections:  HANDSOME MIKE, COACH ROYAL, MR. PRANKSTER

***

Here are some quick-and-dirty selections for some of the other stakes races to be contested over the weekend:

Bourbonette Oaks:  MORE THAN LOVE, IN LINGERIE, TOXIS
Tokyo City Cup:  SKIPSHOT, DYNAMIC HOST, GRAEME CRACKERJACK
Santa Ana:  IMPERIALISTIC DIVA, CAMELIA ROSE, VAMO A GALUPIAR
Sunland Derby:  DADDY NOSE BEST, CASTAWAY, ENDER KNIEVAL

***

For a more-detailed analysis of the weekend's major stakes races, check out the video previews that Mike Beer and I recorded (under "Handicapping Preview" and "Race of the Day") earlier this week.

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

***

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

***

Congrats to Belvedere (Robert Faidley) for finishing first in HandiGambling.  Pick us a good race for next week.