07/05/2008 10:24AM

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