10/11/2008 10:56AM

Saturday preview

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Let's take a look at some of today's graded stakes races:

Harold C. Ramser Sr:
Solar Miss was so impressive winning her recent N1X optional claiming condition.  She trailed the field all the way to the final turn, swung eight wide at the quarter-pole, and then steamrolled over the top of every horse in the race.  Trainer Kathy Walsh is normally very conservative, but she hikes Solar Miss right into this graded race.  The lack of pace (other than Dawn Before Dawn) is concerning, but Solar Miss deserves a chance to shine at this level at a nice price.  Sweeter Still won the China Doll around two turns over this course earlier in the year, but she doesn't show a published workout in over a month, and will probably be one of the betting favorites.  She may work out a nice trip from the rail, and is logical enough.  Dawn Before Dawn is probably the horse to beat as she may shake loose in the first quarter-mile.  She went gate-to-wire after stealing away to a lone lead over Del Mar's pollack last time out, and should be controlling things from the start again under Garrett Gomez.  Tasha's Miracle hasn't won in over  a year, and hasn't won past 6 1/2 furlongs, but she's consistent, and will be bet off her good company lines.  She has the tactical speed to be close to the pace, and should get the jump on the top pick:
Selections:  Solar Miss, Sweeter Still, Dawn Before Dawn

Perry ville:
Hate to go with the chalk in such a big field, but I'm So Lucky looked pretty good in the King's Bishop.  He was bumped entering the turn while four wide and in between horses, then was bumped from both sides when set down for the drive turning for home.  He dug in gamely to finish third, and has the right running style in a Perry ville full of early speed.  I'm So Lucky won his maiden by seven lengths over this surface during the spring meet, and may simply be the sharpest horse right now.  The inside post is worrisome, but with all the speed to his outside, Robby Albarado may be able to maneuver I'm So Lucky off the inside earlier than usual.  Eaton's Gift may be the speed of the speed for Team Zayat, but his career has been stalled by several layoff lines, and his last race at Saratoga wasn't very promising.  Still, he's plenty fast from the gate, and is proven over this surface.  Ready's Image returns to the scene of his debut win from last spring, and trainer Todd Pletcher is probably hoping the switch to pollack will resurrect his sagging colt.  Ready's Image hasn't done much in his last two races, but he has the tactical speed to sit just off the pace, and may be a better price than usual thanks to his most recent baddies.  Fidelio pressed the pace over a speed-favoring track to earn a 101 Beyer two back, then lost all chance in the Grade 2 Amsterdam due to a poor start.  He's probably not as good as the 101, and is certainly not as bad as the 55 earned in the Amsterdam, but he hasn't been out since late July, and should take his share of the mutuel pool. Hatta Fort raced evenly against a sharp runner at Turfway, but may be a bit more effective on the weeds.  He should be charging hard late.
Selection:  I'm So Lucky

Queen Elizabeth II Cup:
I'm guessing that this was the intended spot for Ariege all along after she underwent surgery following her win in the Beaumont during the spring meet.  Bobby Frankel has brought her back slowly.  First, she took a listed stake at Saratoga, then she finished a tiring third in the Grade 1 Garden City.  This is her third start back, and she should work out a nice pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Alan Garcia.  She can turn the tables on Backseat Rhythm, a hard-knocking filly that dances every dance, has a versatile running style, and must always be respected.  She ran down Ariege and company in the Garden City, and continues to work quickly.  I do wonder whether all of her racing this year (seven starts) without a layoff line will eventually take its toll.  Sefroua adds Lasix after chasing older runners in her North American debut.  She was no match for the consistent Criminologist in the Noble Damsel at Belmont, but was running on late for a piece.  She'll be a good price here, and returns to face three-year-olds with a race under her belt.  Rosa Grace only finished three lengths behind Backseat Rhythm in the Lake Placid at Saratoga, then sat out the Garden City while Backseat Rhythm had to work hard in that race.  Rosa Grace also adds Lasix, and Christophe Clement is a guru with turf horses.  Storm Mesa may attempt to cut the fractions after making a midmove in the Del Mar Oaks.  She went gate-to wire to win the Iowa Oaks three back on the dirt.  Closeout has a huge late kick, and she didn't have an easy trip when second to Ariege in that listed stake at Saratoga.  Expect her to be chugging hard in the stretch.  Magical Fantasy pulled off the 42-1 shocker in the Del Mar Oaks, and has been given time to recover from that effort.  My Princess Jess gets a bit rank in the early portion of her races.  If she settles down and saves something for the finish, she can be a threat from just off the pace.
Selections:  Ariege, Sefroua, Rosa Grace

Athenia:
Criminologist looms a deserving favorite based on her overall record, and she should get more pace than was on display when she ran down loose-on-the-lead Waquoit's Love in the Noble Damsel.  Sill, Criminologist had to work very hard that day, and it will be interesting to see if that race took anything out of her.  I'm flying blind with Criticism, but will take her as the mild upsetter.  I usually get a chance to see these Euros race, either on youtube, or on various other websites, but I couldn't find Criticism's last two races anywhere.  She may want a bit more distance, and is coming off a long layoff, but there is a lot of speed in here, and she should be running on in the stretch.  Waquoit's Love probably won't receive the same easy lead she was given in the Noble Damsel, but the big gray is more than capable from just off the pace, and she has been in very good form of late.  Marie Rossa has a tendency to pull hard in the early going, and that may have sapped her stretch kick in the Revidere at Monmouth.  Oh Deanne O should be part of the pace along with the speedy Sunshine for Life
Selections:  Criticism, Waquoit's Love, Criminologist

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

Feeling a bit under the weather today so will keep this short.  Will return either Sunday or Monday with more.

Best,

Dan