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Saturday stakes opinions
Lantana Mob is a legitimate three-year-old sprinter, but he may have been aided by a slight closers bias in the Hirsch Jacobs, and there isn't a lot of speed in the Carry Back to setup his strong late surge. I'm not sure how much I believe the 104 Beyer Speed Figure earned by Golden Spikes and My Gentleman James in the Unbridled over this Calder surface on June 14. The former was exposed in races like the Illinois Derby and Peter Pan although it's possible trainer Marty Wolfson has found his colt's niche as a rallying sprinter. My Gentleman James, on the other hand, earned a speed figure 19 points higher than anything he had previously received. Still, I'm willing to give My Gentleman James a timid nod. First, he may be able to set the early pace, and he may get brave if allowed to coast for the first three-eighths of a mile. Second, I usually prefer local horses to shippers on these big days at Calder. They usually offer more value, and the Calder main strip is kinda quirky. Some horses just don't handle it. Third, Gentleman James kept fighting hard all the way to the wire in the Unbridled after being passed by Golden Spikes in upper stretch. Successful Love had trouble in the Unbridled, but he previously won over this sufrace by the length of the track in the Naked Greed Stakes. Salute the Sarge ships in from Southern California with solid polytrack form, but he hasn't really run any fast races out there, and may need a faster pace up front. Carson's Legacy is an Asmussen-trained colt that has shown a tendency to hang.
Selections: Gentleman James, Lantana Mob
I'm still trying to figure out how Dream Rush lost her comebacker to Looky Yonder in the Vagrancy. The 2007 multiple Grade 1 winner was clear from the get-go, but stopped to a crawl in the final sixteenth allowing the in-form Looky Yonder to blow by late. Perhaps Dream Rush needed the race. It was her first since the Breeders' Cup, but it's also possible that she's not the same filly she was last year. She's had her share of injuries. At a short price, I'll try to beat her, but not with Looky Yonder. Instead, I'll try Dixie Dreamer, a local mare trained by Marty Wolfson. She was pretty far back in the U Can Do It Handicap on June 14, but steamrolled the pacesetters once set down for the drive. That was her career-best Beyer, and the subsequent bullet workout allays fears of a bounce. Perhaps she can work out an inside-out trip from the wood. Rgirlsdon'tbluff may have been too conservatively-ridden by Elvis Trujillo in the U Can Do It. She was clear turning for home, but Trujillo didn't start moving his hands until the field caught up to him. Rgirlsdon'tbluff responded pretty gamely, but she didn't have the momentum, and she ended up dropping a neck decision to Dixie Dreamer. High-percentage trainer Kirk Ziadie removes Rgirlsdon'tbluff's blinkers, and she may end up sitting just off Dream Rush's flank going into the turn. Looky Yonder has blossomed under the care of Richard Dutrow Jr., and she's won her last three on dirt. She's a logical contender. Mistical Plan has back class but, like Dream Rush, has had some physical issues since last summer. She set the pace against foes like Ginger Punch in the Ogden Phipps going long last time at Belmont, and is comforable sprinting.
Selections: Dixie Dreamer, Dream Rush, Rgirlsdon'tbluff
Smile Sprint Handicap:
Benny the Bull showed a great deal of class in winning the True North on Belmont Day. He looked hopelessly beaten over the speed-favoring oval at the eighth pole, but roared back late to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. He should get plenty of pace in the Smile Sprint, and looms a likely winner, but a low price coupled with his inexperience over this course has me looking elsewhere. Ok, Marty Wolfson, where is the real Rockerfeller, and who is this imposter that you have masquerading as the Maria's Mon gelding? The Rockerfeller I know was a 1-15 plodder that was hopelessly stuck in entry-level allowances. The Wolfson-trained Rockerfeller is two for two with a pair of triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Rockerfeller's win in the Ponche Handicap at Calder on June 14 was pretty impressive. He inhaled a loose-on-the-lead pacesetter, and rolled to win by seven. While we can question his class as he steps up to face Benny the Bull and company, he should get the right setup, and he does seem to adore this strip. One more time before he turns back into a pumpkin? If he turns back into a pumpkin? Indian Chant is a pretty good sprinter with four triple-digit Beyers this year out of five races. He looked very good winning the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill, but may get hounded hard on the lead with other pace foes as Man of Danger, Winnie's Tigger Too, Blue Pepsi Lodge, and Ravalo likely to scrimmage for the front. Poor Man of Danger! He's come close in his last four races - all in stakes - only to earn bridesmaid status each time. I'm thinking that if he couldn't take full advantage of the speed track in the True North, then he probably won't be able to overcome the intense pace pressure he'll probably face here. Ravalo is razor-sharp, but is another that may get cooked up front.
Selections: Rockerfeller, Indian Chant, Man of Danger
Proud Spell is wheeling back quickly after the poor ride/tough trip she endured in the Mother Goose, and she did get scraped up pretty badly in that race. Still, she seems to be the best filly in the race, and is going to be hard to down at a short price. Weathered and African Violet come out of the local prep for the Delaware Oaks - the Susan's Girl - on June 14. The former was allowed to walk on the lead while African Violet was wide off the slow pace. Weathered may not make as easy a lead here with Maren's Meadow and Proud Spell in the race, and I didn't like how African Violet tried to lug in during midstretch of the Susan's Girl. Shes All Eltish is a quality performer, but she's been too green for her own good. She easily won the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream despite being rank, but she seemed to pull herself up once she made the lead in the Black Eyed Susan. If Proud Spell falters, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Shes All Eltish takes this.
Selections: Proud Spell, Weathered, African Violet
Quick and Dirty picks:
American Derby: Great War Eagle, Tizdejavu, Blue Exit.
And that's not even half of the great stakes races this weekend!
More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I'd like to know.
Have been having terrible computer troubles today so will cut this short. May be back tomorrow with a look at the Delaware Handicap as well as responses to some of your comments.
Matt Smith, Your man Ken Mcpeek's got a nice horse there with Bold Start. I love him! I'd like to see him in the B.C. sprint or Turf Mile. He's one versatile and hardnosed racehorse.
Re: Curlin, I'm willing to bet if he runs in the Million he'll be much better, all those who say he does everything better the second time are correct and just look at the video. Curlin is a monster but he was a little heavy. Watch his next few works they'll be faster than anything we've seen in a while from him, and I'm only going to say this one more time Last years Arc winner Dylan Thomas was beaten in the B.C. by both Better Talk Now and Red rocks, as well as Shamdidan, and the winner English Channel. So for you Euro's are so superior guys just get over it. Especially this year.
Annie: I'm glad it's over. I was starting to think of the American territories like Guam (do we still own Guam?) or somewhere. Slew: I believe (hope) the Alabama is still 10 furlongs. That's the only other one I can think of. I think your FormBlog weekend idea is a good one. We could rent out a floor in Vegas, and then do a Howard Hughes and refuse to leave. And just before security introduces pepper spray into the air ducts, someone hits a triple superfecta parlay and we buy the damn place! Seriously though it's a great idea, I know that many on the board have had small gatherings (unfortunately I've been unable to make any) and Dan the Man is going to be out at Del Mar this week (would love to be there if I could, even as I just got done bitching-out the synth track). I for one intend to be at Saratoga next month (someone mentioned a get together there a while back) and maybe even Keeneland and/or out west for the BC in the fall. Blue: It certainly would be exciting to see Curlin in the Arc, provided he looked like he had a real shot, but it would also hurt to see this horse embarassed over there. As an alternative, he could be the 1st to win the BC Classic and Turf. Or even win back to back World Cups, if they keep him in training until then. Anyway, I'm sure Jackson will do the right thing for the horse.
as a charter member of the "curlin is king" club ( i love helen pitts/kenny mcpeek) i am just trying to keep the momentum going--with all the bad in racing the norm, curlin going to europe would be great for the game even if he gets trounced---and win or loe, curlin is the best looking horse i've ever seen--he looks like he was just minted
Alan, Great job on hitting the ELP P/4 again today. When I saw my picks in the 8th- was the cold trifecta, I just knew I had it as well. I was just to high on #3 Lizzielizzie in the 9th. Oh well, there is always tomorrow, which I haven't looked at yet. My 2-cents worth on Curlin's effort today. First of all, someone commented about Curlin not being a super horse. Well in the last decade he his by far and away the only one (US horse) I would consider a super horse. He beat an awfully strong field in the BC Classic last year, then went to Dubai and won the World Cup in record fashion Then came back to the US, and won a major stakes in a hand ride. Many that travel to Dubai return to never run competively again. So first off, Curlin was due for alittle of a bounce. Secondly he looked pretty darn good for a horse that has had ONE 5F workout on grass, and that was a different track than todays race was ran on. Travel, I won't get deep with this, but If Curlin would have shipped to BLM 2/3 weeks ago, IMO it would have made a difference. Red Rocks deserved to win as he ran the race of his life. RR two back won the 10F Totentofollow S in a raw time of 2:08.1, in 2007 RR won the Gordon Richards S. 10F, in 2:09. Red Rocks won the Man 0'War 11F, in 2:12.60! That performance coupled with the fact this was Curlin's first on grass, he hit the gate breaking losing at least a length, raced with a suicidal pace that you hardly EVER see in a grass race, for some reason veered out entering the stretch, (have watched the video many times, and appears to me Curlin may have struggled changing leads) also was at least one path wider in the club house turn, and 2/3 wider in entering the stretch. Bottom line was a pretty darn good effort considering some of the super horses the last 25 years that couldn't come close to hitting the board in their first turf effort. It is not an easy transition. Is Curlin still a canidate for the Arc? At this point and time, IMO he has no chance against Duke Of Marmelade, or Zarkava. and maybe a couple other Euro horses. With that said, Curlin is a remarkable athelete, and could improve vastly with another race, and some serious works on the lawn. I will close with this thought, someone name a US turf horse that would have beat Curlin today, and this was his first turf race, and only his second run on the grass!!!
Alan my pick for the Del Handicap Buy the Barrel Thanks Roc
Curlin ran a decent race, no question. As johnnyz said, there might not be an American based turf horse you'd take over him at 12 furlongs right now, and certainly he can improve with more racing and workouts on turf. Unofficially yesterday, he ran his last 5f in 58.38 and last 3f in 35.1. That's pretty solid. But of course, it wasn't the performance that gives you the feeling he's ready to go win the Arc, in fact it appears he has basically no shot. That said, if I were Asmussen, I'm going to the Million, the Joe Hirsch Turf, and then the BC Turf. The BC Turf will be an easier spot than the Arc, he still can make the history he seems keen to make, and he doesn't have to run him on synthetic. If he wants to skip the Million, he can do that too and run him twice more, both at 12f on the turf, and give him a 10-week layoff after the two post-Dubai starts. In short, he definately earned another shot in a US G1 grass race, but the Arc seems like a wasted journey. vicstu, the filly definately deserves a higher figure than Benny the Bull, who I think is better at 7 furlongs than 6, but you still need the right horse to beat him at 6 and I don't know who that horse is. Monmouth pick-4 carryover today (early pick 4)... Race 2--Taking a shot early, playing against the favorite #3, who had the bias last time and didn't get there. I think 5 can go wire-wire, also jusing 8, 9 Race 3--using 4, 5, 6, 7 Race 4--using 7, 6, 9 Race 5--was going to single #2 because there were 3 one-dimensional speedballs here and he is an improving closer. But 2 of the speeds are out leaving #5 Double Keys to probably wire the field at a very short price. Single...$36 ticket. It was more creative before the scratches in race 5. And I like Interpretation at Delaware in the Rodney Stakes, back at his best distance. I really like Buy the Barrel as a horse, but this is a tough spot. But unlike last time when she broke poorly and was wide on both turns, this time she could end up in a great spot, something of an inside-out trip if it goes right.
C: I have to admit I probably would've been upset with Tyler rating Tres B, but I guess he proved that he's a tractable horse. I've pretty given up on SoCal though, so I didn't even watch the race. I can't whine about the synth track and say it's unfair or anything, it's just that it doesn't work for me. With Belmont and Monmouth, I can usually predict fairly well how a race is going to develop, and I have a solid confident feeling even when I lose that I generally understand what's going on. On the contrary, I find a quite high % of the Hollywood results to be completely puzzling, and I've been doing very well on the East Coast tracks, so I decided to give SoCal a rest. The SoCal dirt used to be my favorite racing of all, and I loved finding the horse that would wire the field at a big price, so it's probably just a subconscious failure to adapt on my part. Someone posted recently that we should all just "adapt" to the synthetic surface, but I like to make money and I'm going to stick with what I'm good at. I agree with you and Lawduck that RR got a great trip. I was singing Castellano's praises early on at where he had him placed in the race (I don't hate all jockeys, just the Jose Santos disciples), and I was very happy where Curlin was placed, because I didn't think he would pass RR in the stretch given the jump that RR got.
Readers, When I lived overseas and then I stayed with my parents (in the land of No Wireless and the closest thing was Charles Town), going to the track was a distant voyage, where I would have to invest twelve or fourteen hours in the track, as well as its transportation, and possibly even some form of hotel. Now that I moved to Chicago, I feel like Curlin could come here for the Arlington Million and no one would know about it. Could be all the baseball. Could be I am not looking hard enough (after all, picking races isn't the highest priority at this time) for reminders of Chicago's horse racing history. Can't ignore the fact that Dr. Fager, Secretariat, John Henry, and many more have passed through Arlington. Or that the Million is the first $1 Million plus race on U. S. soil. At a minimum, I feel something doesn't add up. Did some calamity happen that turned everyone into NASCAR fans? Thus... Chicago-area readers (E.g. Chicago Gerry, Ed, Stephen Taylor), I'd appreciate a basic guide to racing in the city, namely, Arlington, Hawthorne, and independent OTBS (for example, I saw one downtown). I'm more curious as to track ambience and general things at this time rather than trying to bang home winners. Thanks for reading!
Personally think RR will stay here in the US. The Lasix seems to make a difference with him.