07/05/2008 9:24AM

Saturday stakes opinions

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Vanity Handicap - Hollywood - Race 5:
Zenyatta
is the horse to beat.  Duh!  She's a perfect five for five in her career, and has shown a breathtaking late kick in several of her races.  One of those was the Grade 2 Milady at Hollywood on May 31.  She was pinched hard at the break that day, was forced to rally behind slow fractions, and still inhaled the leaders in the stretch.  There isn't any value in playing Zenyatta to win, however, and this will be her first foray around nine furlongs so I'll take a faint stab at a mild upset with Tough Tiz's Sis.  The Baffert-trained filly has better early speed than Zenyatta, and may get the jump on the favorite after tracking likely pacesetter Silver Z.  She seeks her third straight win, but will need everything to break her way to beat Zenyatta.  Silver Z shook loose en route to taking a 'n2x' at 7 1/2 furlongs, but may face more pressure here.  Sealy Hill really likes synthetic surfaces, and was legged up on turf in the Nassau at Woodbine.  A Silver Z - Tough Tiz's Sis duel would make her more attractive.
Selections:  Tough Tiz's Sis, Zenyatta, Silver Z

American Oaks - Hollywood - Race 9:
This looks like a deep field and a good betting race.  I'll take French-trained Satan's Circus, who chased the wonderful filly Zarkava in the French Oaks last time out.  She had reeled off three straight wins prior to that effort, and seems to appreciate this distance range.  My Baby Baby is marooned outside in post 12, but this is a talented filly nonetheless.  She has a versatile running style, is trained by the on-fire Ken McPeek, and the recent bullet work allays fears of a regression.  Don't count her out.  Caribbean Sunset goes out for the quality Dermot Weld barn, but has made her reputation in shorter races.  She finished third in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot two weeks ago, but the travel combined with the short layoff and stretchout in distance makes me a bit leery.  Her class shouldn't be questioned.  Pure Clan should save ground from the rail, and the super-consistent filly is coming off a sharp win in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs.  She's going to take lots of money while facing a tougher bunch.  Raw Silk may be the pace play.  She shook loose through slow fractions in the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont, then kicked on strongly in the final furlong.  While the additional distance is a question mark, a similar trip would really enhance her chances. 
Selections:  Satan's Circus, My Baby Baby, Caribbean Sunset

Triple Bend - Hollywood - Race 10:
Elite Squadron
looked really good winning the Churchill Downs Stakes two back when allowed to make the front, then didn't look so good when denied the early lead in the Aristides Stakes four weeks later.  He picks up an aggressive rider in Rafael Bejarano, and may try to outfoot some pretty quick foes.  I'm hoping he'll be a decent price as this is going to be a major test.  Global Hunter failed to parlay a perfect trip to victory in the Mervyn LeRoy in his stateside debut, then embarked on an ill-conceived journey to New York for the Met Mile.  Perhaps he'll find his forte as a closing sprinter, and will get lots of pace to close into.  High Standards is very quick from the gate, but seven furlongs may not be his best game.  Desert  Code has ability, but I don't like how he was drifting in the closing stages of the Grade 3 at Golden Gate last time.  Street Boss looks like the major danger as he can stalk the expected fast fractions, and he's working on a three-race win streak.  He shows three straight bullet works for this, and wouldn't be a surprise at a short price. Tropic Storm has run some fast races, and seems well-spotted here.
Selections:  Elite Squadron, Street Boss, High Standards

Keep those picks coming!

Sorry I've been so behind in recent days, but I'll try and get to all your questions, comments, and pp requests along with the Beyers and Handicappers of the Week in Monday evening's blog.

Take care,

Dan

Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Scianc22; Nice work with your picks. I love them, and pay attention, and sometimes (but not this time)profit from them. Thank you, and please keep them coming. And now, here comes the lecture...Captain and coke? Good god fine sir, please do not mix your rum (even cheap rum) with soda pop. I don't know you well, but I will swear that I know that you are better than that :) Thanks, man! Van Savant
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Owensized Congrats on Storm Princess!!!! SR Vegas
Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
johnnyz, Laura, Here's an interesting article about the new breed of super sires that I thought you would find interesting: http://warstonefarm.com/www/the-new-super-sires-are-they-worth-it/
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
Steve T. I couldn't agree with you more about the murder/suicide going on with the tracks and the horsemen. When I was living in NJ and working in Manhattan in the 70's, NY OTB was born. At that time I read many articles about NY OTB becoming the beginning of the end of many race tracks. 30 some odd years later I think we are headed towards a handful of tracks. NYRA will operate 2 or 3 in NY. Keeneland and Churchill will continue to do business in KY. And Santa Anita and DelMar will run in California. Throw in a handful of racino type tracks that must continue racing in order to have the casinos and that will be it. And that will be sad. The one thing I can disagree with you about is quitting. I won't stop playing the ponies as long as they are available. I love the game way too much to quit.
Greg More than 1 year ago
cayman01, I understand what you're saying. Certainly reasonable people can disagree. But in Garcia's defense, if I'm on a speed horse trying to go all the way, I'm not going to give up the lead on the backstretch only to hope to come back again, all the while letting the closers with a better kick get closer up to me, making their work easier. But again, I do know what you're saying. Good luck to you too sir. Question for the good folks at Team Zayat...Will you guys be entering any of your 3 noms to the Long Branch Stakes this weekend at Monmouth. I saw you nominated Alaazo, Goldsville, and Z Humor. Thanks. And lastly...over the last 10 weeks, secondary sports (to John Q Public) golf, tennis, and horse racing all had their time in the spotlight. Let's take a look: 1) Golf: The US Open does tremendous television ratings and features the best player of all time carding a birdie on 18, not once, but twice, to first force an 18-hole playoff, and then, force sudden death, to beat likable journeyman Rocco Mediate, who seemed to have captivated not just the crowd at Torrey Pines but the television audience around the country, as he came so close to slaying the dragon and becoming one of the oldest players to ever win a major. The challenge for Tiger Woods was all the more impressive considering he was essentially playing on one leg and had to have season-ending surgery a week later. Most commentators and writers said this was the greatest major tournament finish they had ever seen. 2) Tennis: Yesterday Rafa Nadal becomes the first player in almost 30 years to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season, and does so nearly relinquishing a 2 sets to love lead to 5 time defending champion Roger Federer, one of the best players of all time, who had never lost a grand slam final outside of Paris. The shotmaking from the two was magical, and the entire match was sensational including Federer coming back from down 5-2 in the 4th set tiebreak. This was by far, not even close, the two best players in the world, two all-time players, in their prime in Nadal's case, and very slightly past in Federer's, putting on what most called the greatest tennis match they'd ever seen. 3) And lastly our chosen sport of horse racing: On our biggest day of the year in our biggest race of the year, a tragic breakdown of a promising filly on national television after running a great 2nd to a top horse. This comes one day after another breakdown of Chelokee, and going back to George Washington, Pine Island, and Barbaro, is the 5th breakdown on a major racing day in the last three years. Ultimately, the sport gets dragged in front of Congress, where basically everyone agrees that the sport has a drug problem and everyone agrees that nobody seems to care enough to fix it. Meanwhile, Big Brown goes for the Triple Crown amid a steroid controversy, owners that many people dislike, a trainer that many people dislike, and flops bigtime on the one day the sport has a national stage all to itself. Further, the future of the best horse in the world is in flux because two of his owners are in jail, the trainers of the two top horses in the world both get medication violations reported on the same day, and one of the sport's premeir tracks owns a wagering service and on said service you can't even bet on the track that the service is named after, and I left some stuff out. Which sport do you think has had the worse ten weeks?
larryk More than 1 year ago
Katieattherail Its by T Anslie(sp?)Body Lang of Horses
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Alan, I've been meaning to say thanks to you for the contest as you're doing yeoman work for the rest of us Blueblogger/thongers. Thanks very much.
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Greg, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on Garcia's ride.As the controlling speed of that race he should have stayed geared down. If Missit passes him, no big deal, as she wasn't going to win that race.Conserve energy for the finish.If she goes 1:12 and a half or 1:13 for six she would have won the race. And we're on opposite sides of Strike A Deal. I think he's a good horse that lacks the will to win. Maybe he'll change maybe he won't.At this point he just doesn't want to be the Alpha horse of the pack. On the other hand.... .....if/when you and I agree on a horse it might be an Alan/Steve T mortal lock situation as we obviously see horses differently. Good handicapping to you sir and great link to Doremefasolatido call by Dirkin.
Katieattherail More than 1 year ago
RE: Denis of Cork Yeah, I was sad to see that news item, but at least they caught it now, it will heal (I have had stress fractures, and you don't want to run on them!) and I have no doubt my crush will be back next year and blow them all away.... Arazi, the reporter in me wants to go down to the local OTBs and interview the old codgers, especially the opinionated ones who "almost" had that trifecta, about their strategies, but life is too short! Still, anything I overhear, I will gladly pass along. I really pity their wives.... I also concur that quite often, those grey horses love the slop! Who knows? Matches their coats? Thanks for the interesting observation about scratched horses in the NY tracks. It's all grist for the mill... Oh yes, whoever had the book on horse body language (Laura, zat you?) please post title/author for Ray. Thanks. Good luck, all.... Katieattherail
larryk More than 1 year ago
A blurb bout Zenyatta: What is not in dispute is the brilliance of Zenyatta. She won her fourth consecutive stakes in the Vanity, chasing down Silver Z, who had an early 10-length lead. Ridden by Mike Smith, Zenyatta finished a half-length in front of Tough Tiz's Sis, the narrowest margin of victory in Zenyatta's career. The way Silver Z ran off concerned Shirreffs. "That was not what anyone expected," Shirreffs said. "Zenyatta had to go after her because everyone was waiting to see what she had to do. She had to make a long, sustained run. We didn't want her to move too soon. "I was a little nervous because she was a little wound up in the post parade and it was such a hot day. I think she was tested a little at the end." Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta, 4, has earned $734,500 for owner Jerry and Ann Moss. The race was not taxing on Zenyatta, Shirreffs said. "By the time she got to the receiving barn, she could have done it again," he said. "She recovers very quickly."