09/06/2008 9:23AM

Selections, some questions

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Sunday is a huge day at Woodbine with a pair of Grade 1 races on the lawn.

Northern Dancer:
This is an extremely competitive race, but I'll take a shot with Cloudy's Knight as he returns to the scene of his victories in the Sky Classic and Canadian International last year.  He hasn't looked like the same horse in 2008, and may be getting a bit long in the tooth at age eight, but he does well at this 12 furlong trip, and gets one last chance to show he's still capable at this level.  Strike a Deal is probably better than his 3-6-1 record in 12 lifetime tries, but he can be his own worst enemy at times.  He was very headstrong on the lead in the Nijinsky last time out, and was late to change leads during the long stretch run.  This distance may be pushing it just a bit, but he has ability, and can be close to the expected moderate pace.  Quijano, like many European imports, will find no problem with this distance.  He finished third behind Cloudy's Knight in last year's Canadian International, and won a Group 1 in Italy two starts back.  I wasn't impressed with that race, however (type in Quijano on youtube - he's breaking from post position #4), and that didn't seem like a strong field.  He may be overbet here.  Beware French Beret.  He's run some big races, but hasn't quite gotten there.  I'm expecting him to be closer to the pace in this spot, and he'll be a nice price.  The favorites may have some holes. Better Talk Now's past performances speak for themselves, but he hasn't looked happy going to the post in his last two races, freezing up on the track in both instances.  He's going to have to come from well out of it as usual.  Frost Giant may be better on dirt, and the 40-1 upsetter of the Suburban hasn't been out since late June.  Champs Elysees has been a major disappointment since finished third in the Big 'Cap back in March.
Selections:  Cloudy's Knight, Strike a Deal, Quijano

Woodbine Mile:
Can't go against Kip Deville in this spot although the price won't offer much appeal.  He kicked away with gusto in the Poker Handicap at Belmont last time out, and the defending Breeders' Cup Mile champion seeks his fourth straight while looking the strongest on paper.  Just Rushing may hold the best local hope of an upset.  He won the Play the King going seven panels last time out, and earned a triple-digit Beyer in the process.  He's fast from the gate, and could prove tough to catch.  Palladio can hit the gimmicks at a price.  He's run some nice races on the polytrack, and can rally late.  The temperamental yet talented Ventura takes on the boys while in very good form.
Selection:  Kip Deville

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

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Anybody else ever get paranoid over a horse who is an unexpected overlay?
Steve T

It's only natural.  When we love a horse, we expect other horseplayers to see the runner's positive qualities, and expect them to bet with gusto.  When the action doesn't come in on said runner, we start to doubt ourselves.  Was I wrong?  Is he hurting or unfit?  My only advice would be to trust your own instincts, and embrace the price as a gift instead of looking at it as a curse.  Never be afraid to play an overlay.

What do you do when the FTS you really like is dead on the board at 20-1 or greater?
Midwest Ed

Handicappers ask me that question all the time.  My answer is that you play the horse because your opinion is just as good, or better, than anyone else's, and you should profit from it.

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Given that Saturday's racing at Belmont may be cancelled, I still would like to ask our pedigree mavens to either point me to the right website, or offer a quick'n'dirty answer:
Smarty Marty is a 2YO running in the fifth on Sat. at BEL.
Is this a Smarty Jones offspring? If so, I want some of it, a la the 50-1 Be Smart a few short weeks ago at the Spaaah!
Katieattherail

Smarty Marty (Smarty Jones - Frozen Rope, by Clever Trick) was an $85,000 RNA at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale.  She is a half-sister to stakes-winning sprinter Knot So Clever (22-5-3-4, $155,206), and stakes-placed sprinters Ashley Anne's Wish (16-2-1-4, $84,080) and My Heart's Deelite (13-4-1-3, $128,657).  The dam was multiple stakes-placed (22-4-3-2, $83,389), and is a half-sister to several blacktype earners including stakes-winning sprinter Albrannon (99-15-18-16, $287,603), and multiple stakes-winner Lorie Darlin (12-4-1-1, $259,509).  Despite the pedigree, she hasn't shown much ability and now is entered for a tag.

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Dan,
Do you know what happened to TIZ WONDERFUL after that race at Belmont last year?  I know he tore or pulled some suspensory ligaments and he went to New Bolton (I think), but I've heard nary a word since then.
g or g

The story of Tiz Wonderful is becoming a racetrack urban legend.  He is (was?) one of my favorite horses, and although I've tried just about everything I can think of, I can't get any news on the horse.  He went to New Bolton, but they're only going to disclose information to the connections.  I guess it's possible he's still recovering, but it's been a year now.  I haven't heard any stud plans (I believe he was a ridgeling), and I haven't heard he was deceased.  Very strange.

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Good luck this weekend.

Take care,

Dan