06/20/2009 8:22AM

Saturday stakes opinions


The key to profitability this afternoon may not leave her stall at all.  I Lost My Choo, a New York-bred with a solid record, is cross-entered in both the New York at Belmont, and the All Along at Colonial Downs, and is a strong contender in both spots.  She'll be a better price in the New York as graded types Criticism, Dynaforce, Dress Rehearsal, and Backseat Rhythm are scheduled to tango in a ten furlong free-for-all. 
Criticism has been extremely consistent this season, but she may not like wet going as much as she adores firm ground, and there is some pace to keep her honest on the front end.  
Dynaforce does like some give in the turf course, but she was under a heavy drive for the last three furlongs of her big win last fall in the Flower Bowl, and was late to change leads to boot.  Plus, her return to the races at Pimlico was a disappointment. 
Backseat Rhythm hasn't shown the same pop in her last two starts as she did earlier in her career, but she'll get the wet ground she likes as well as some pace. 
Dress Rehearsal is interesting as she split decisions with Criticism at Gulfstream.  I thought she was the superior runner in both of those starts as the Galileo filly had trouble when second in the Very One before simply outstaying Criticism over "good" going in the Orchid.  It's possible she was uncomfortable when placed on the lead in a paceless race at Keeneland last time out, and should be better from stalking mode here. She may also be better at twelve furlongs.
That leaves us with I Lost My Choo, who is questionable at this distance, but may have enough talent to overcome her inexperience.  A multiple Grade 3 winner, I Lost My Choo asserted her dominance over statebred competition with an eye-pleasing performance, and is tactical enough to be placed wherever Jose Lezcano deems best.  The main problem here is the ground.  Her trainer, Phil Serpe, probably doesn't want to start his protege on wet sod, and the weather has been a mess up here through Thursday.  She's 15-1 on the track's morning line, and is worth a play if she does go as she may be the filly with the proper combination of current form and upside potential.

I Lost My Choo is 5-2 on the morning line for the All Along at Colonial Downs, the scene of her Virginia Oaks win last year.  The nine furlongs of the All Along probably suits her better than the distance of the New York, and she'd probably appreciate the lesser quality of the field here as well.  She'll lug 124 pounds if she starts in Virginia against a tough cookie in Indescribable, but looks like the filly to beat.  
That Bill Mott-trainee earned a big number two back in the Doubledogdare over Keeneland's polytrack before disappointing as the chalk over Arlington's fake stuff in their Matron.  She's just as capable on grass as she is on polytrack, but figures to take her share of play, and I just didn't like how she finished up last time out.   
If I Lost My Choo does scratch in the All Along, keep an eye out for First Ascent at 30-1 on the morning line.  Her numbers are inferior to those of the top contenders, but she was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Backseat Rhythm in the Grade 3 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs in March, and had significant trouble in her most recent race at Mountaineer Park.  First Ascent won her maiden over this course, and her trainer is clicking along at 22% for the year.

The Colonial Turf Cup is a fascinating race of evenly-matched contenders.  Lime Rickey won me over with his good-looking allowance win at Belmont last time out, and gets my top nod over Al Khali, a Medaglia d'Oro colt that tries turf for the first time for Todd Pletcher.  Al Khali is a hulking colt that should appreciate this extra ground, and it looks like he's been working nicely on the green.

Only six are scheduled to take part in the Grade 3 Affirmed at Hollywood, but there isn't a standout, and Cape Truth may offer a hint of value for Doug O'Neill.  He didn't have the easiest of trips when beaten in the Lone Star Derby on May 9, and he now returns to a preferred surface.  He's quick enough from the gate to obtain a good position, whether on the lead, or tracking the inside speed of both Misremembered and Grazen.

Unbridled Belle is the big name in the Obeah at Delaware, but she hasn't shown much in her last couple of races, and was taken out of training for a short time earlier this year to be bred to A.P. Indy.  That mating didn't catch as she isn't in foal, but she brings a lot of question marks at a short price to this race. All Night Labor will offer a better price, and her good speed should have her in an excellent forward position when the field turns for home.  I'll give her a shot to upset the classy Unbridled Belle.

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

I'll be taking a little break next week so pardon me if my posts are sporadic at best. Congrats to Van Savant for his win in HandiGambling.  He gets to pick the next race.

Enjoy the weekend.