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Stakes Horses to Watch
Let's take a look at horses to watch in some of this weekend's stakes races. Include or discard (probably discard) as you see fit:
TENSAS YUCATAN (Gardenia Handicap - Ellis Park)
A likeable Louisiana-bred, Tensas Yucatan has won 8 of 18 in her career, but may drift in the wagering thanks to a poor running line last time out. That race was over yielding turf at Churchill Downs, however, and the switch back to dirt coupled with the "second off the layoff" angle may be just what the doctor ordered. The last time Tensas Yucatan competed on the main track, she put the boots to the field at this one-mile distance at the Fair Grounds. She is quick from the gate, but doesn't seem like a "need-the-lead" type, and a ground-saving, pace-tracking trip would work out well with other speeds entered to her outside.
JUST JENDA (Monmouth Oaks - Monmouth Park)
The Grade 3 winner of the Honeybee earlier this year at Oaklawn Park is another of Rachel Alexandra's victims to come back with a vengeance. After being drubbed by the superfilly in the Grade 2 Fantasy, Just Jenda returned to finish second in the Eight Belles Stakes before thoroughly dominating her foes in the Monmouth Oaks prep, the Serena's Song Stakes at Monmouth on July 19. The nature of that win points her out this afternoon. After bobbling a bit at the start, and tracking the pace inside for the first three furlongs, jockey Eddie Castro sent Just Jenda after the leaders from in between horses late on the backstretch. The race was soon over, and Just Jenda drew away in hand during the final eighth of a mile. She seems to be back on her best game, and has enough tracking speed to stay close to the expected moderate pace.
NEW WAY (La Jolla - Del Mar)
It's quite possible that New Way doesn't want to go this far as he tired badly in his only prior route attempt, but that race was against Pioneerof the Nile, and New Way was simply overmatched. His last race produced more question marks than answers as he seemed to want to lug in during the stretch drive. Perhaps he was a bit short as it was his first race off the bench, and he could be tighter for this go-around. Expect him to sit a nice pocket trip while saving ground. We'll learn more about him this afternoon, but at least he should be a good price for this engagement.
TUSCAN EVENING (John C. Mabee Handicap - Del Mar - Sunday)
This is a very contentious race, but Tuscan Evening won the Royal Heroine last time out with something left in the tank. Even though she was involved in a pitched stretch battle with Patricia's Gem, and only prevailed by a nose, you'll notice that Rafael Bejarano never went to the whip in the lane. Perhaps it's because Tuscan Evening is a temperamental sort (she tends to jump shadows), or perhaps he knew what he had underneath her, or perhaps he underestimated a good filly in Patricia's Gem. Whatever the case, Tuscan Evening looked good, she's won five of six sinxce shipping her from Europe, and proved last time out she doesn't need the lead to win. She's going to have to be good again because Magical Fantasy looks very tough once again.
MILITARY STAR (New York Bred Maiden Special Weight - Saratoga - Saturday)
If you get a chance, please head on over to the Saratoga section of the website as the great Harvey Pack and I filmed a short video on today's guaranteed Pick 4 at the Spa. We hit it two weeks ago, but that's not really the point of these segments. Saratoga isn't Saratoga without Harvey so we felt like we had to give him a forum to connect with the fans.
In the anchor leg of the Pick 4, I like Military Star, a first-time starter for Barclay Tagg. If you blindly bet any Tagg-trained firster in 2009, you're showing an ROI of $5.02, and a couple of those firsters won in turf routes. The dam was a turf winner, and the July 27 workout over the training turf course (59 2/5) went in the exact same time as Radical Sabbatical, and older Tagg horse that has run some nice races on the grass. Perhaps they worked in company.
J Z WARRIOR (Addison Mallery Stakes - Saratoga - Sunday)
J Z Warrior sold for $1.125 million dollars last November, and has only won once since that race, but that was a good effort in the slop at Belmont two back. She was shuffled back to last entering the far turn, but showed off a resolute late kick to split horses and win going away. Last time out, she ran evenly on turf, but she's a better filly on the main track, and has the tactical speed to lead or stalk...whatever Kent D. sees fit. It's always dicey picking horses off slop lines in fast-track races, but J Z Warrior really loves sprinting, and she already owns a win at the Spa in her career.
BANROCK (West Point Handicap - Saratoga - Sunday)
Banrock was the scourge of the statebred turf division in 2008, and he wasn't disgraced against Presious Passion in his last two starts out of the New York-bred ranks. He probably does his best running on wet turf as his last six wins (and 7 of 9 career victories) have come on "off" turf, but he may simply outclass these rain or shine. He's not the greatest win bet in the world, but he's a logical horse for the late Pick 4.
Congratulations to dolphinblue for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise. He gets to pick next week's race.
I'm sorry that I'm so backed up on addressing comments, pp requests, etc., but I'm knee-deep in pedigree, trainer, and workout information for the Spa Babies column on drfplus. Bear with me as I'll get to them ASAP...most likely on Monday along with the weekly Beyer recap.
HandyG 147 First off….. THANK YOU ALAN! The archive of old Racing Forms is fantastic. It is especially appreciated by one who sometimes has some down time at work but sits behind a firewall that eliminates lots of horse racing related content. Lots of us are treating this one hundred dollar HG bankroll much differently than we would treat our own money. This punter is trying to boot it out of the stadium even though a coffin corner kick would be more practical. No spreading or savers. Maximize the profits this week because the rent is paid, baby has a new pair of shoes and the ‘frig is full. I have had the pleasure of watching a couple of races from Saratoga this meet via the Dish Network and Twin Spires TV. The quality of the picture does leave me wanting more since I have been spoiled by HD. At least though I don’t have to leave the house to check out the racing at the Spa. My initial observations have been that Saratoga is generally a speed favoring track. The Ultimate PPs Track Bias Stats give the edge to early speed and 2YO sprint races are often won by the speed. Which of the speeds though will be ready to take the day? Hall Of Famer Bob Baffert has been red-hot of late. I must admit that anybody that the classy Chris McCarron will not “talk about” tells me he must really be an A-Hole but this A-Hole can win races. Mike Smith comes east to keep the mount. Tiny Woods will do what his bro Tiger could not do…….. win this week! D’Funnybone has an impressive Beyer fig in his last and you know Richard Dutrow is only going to improve on that. Flatter Than Me has a couple of impressive works and should hit the board. Thiskyhasnolimit is well bred and future Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen seems like he wins about 20% in every category. I’m only asking he has his horse ready enough to snag third place. $50 Trifecta 8 / 6 / 1,4
All... YOU WILL NEVER,NEVER,NEVER, EVER,EVER,EVER, SEE ZENYATTA FACE RA.
All.. Saratoga Monday 8-17 All Wagers $150 WP Race 1 = #3 Natty Meboy Race 2 = #4 Indian Council Race 3 = #1 Knights Cross Race 4 = #4 Refined Elegance Race 5 = #7 Manitowish Waters Race 6 = #7 Vaughndidit Race 7 = #10 Top Lass Race 8 = #6 Storm Treasure Race 9 - #7 Langley Park LOL to all today
SR Vegas, Thanks! I was lucky to get that shot. As Rachel was walking past me so calm and curious about her surroundings, I called to her and said, "You win by 30 today Rachel." and then I made a couple of smooching sounds, which is when she looked towards/at me (I think). Okay, to post a link to your Zenyatta pics, you first need to upload those pics/files to a "server"/website. You can do so by getting a free email account with, say, either hotmail or google. I'll use google in this example. Go to mail.google.com and get a free email account. Along with this email account comes about 2 GB of online data storage that you can use to upload your photos (hundreds of them). Here's a video showing how to upload the pics from your computer (note the folder on your hard drive in which you have the photos stored, e.g. the “My Pictures” folder), once you have a gmail/google account: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wObJUFrfpM Once you have the photos uploaded, click on one of the pictures in your online google photo album (as seen in the video). The picture will display in your web browser (internet explorer, firefox, whatever you use to surf the web). When you picture is displayed, copy the exact web address that is in the “address bar” of your browser (towards the top of your browser window). For example, my photo of Rachel comes from this specific address in the address bar: http://picasaweb.google.com/yoututor/RachelAlexandra#5369551584263210610 One more step! When you get to the part of your Formblog post where you want to link your photo, just “paste” the web address that you copied. For example, here I'll paste the web address that I copied from the address bar of the browser when the Rachel pic was displayed: http://picasaweb.google.com/yoututor/RachelAlexandra#5369551584263210610 I hope that this helps. I'd like to see that Zenyatta photo. :)
A lot of press on Quality Road's work, and Rachal's work, and Mine That Bird's work, and Summer Bird's works on and off the turf. But these are not the only horses nominated to the Travers now, are they DRF? Mott's Hold Me Back turned in an identical 6F breeze in 1:13 on the Oklahoma Training Track as Quality Road and this colt has much better foundation to get the 1&1/4 mile on the 29th the press's darling. In an answer to my prayers, versatile and talented tactical speed and distance running Take The Points is nominated by Pletcher to the Travers (hopefully he steps up from his Secretariat win in the three week turnaround). And not to be content with just a Hall of Fame ceremony, Bob Baffert surprizes with a nomination of the still improving Candy Ride colt Misremembered. With a good supporting cast of Charitable Man, Warrior's Reward, Nowhere to Hide, Eye of the Lepoard, Miner's Escape, and a few others including that Asmussen runner Soul Warrior from the W.Va.Derby...we are shaping up for one of the finest Travers fields to come along in some time in my estimation.
Slew: Sorry to be late getting back to 'ya, took a day off yesterday (beauuuutiful day in New England). Thanks for the nice comment. My beef with Shug is that he seemed to have been caught by surprize when the "Imp" blew up in the Paddock before the Wood running...as if the horse had just not been adequately schooled before such an important race. Then, for no good reason, he tries to turn a dedicated deep closer into a just off the pace stalker, and ended by trying for Black Type in a Grade 1 mile where the horse just didn't fit. With Conservative, he had another dedicated closer who after being held out of some pretty good races where he fit, was shipped to Cal to try for Black Type in the Swaps, and inexplicably gets into a just off the pace stalking trip (deja vu Imperial Council's Peter Pan) against known quality speed horses Misremembered and Grazen). I didn't hear Mike Smith making any "rider errors" comments about the Swaps ride, so I assume he was instructed by McGaughry. Dirt to Turf to Synthetic to Turf has been this horses regime to date. Maybe, we'll see him back on Dirt yet?
Vic, I couldn't agree more if I wrote it myself. (No, Cayman.) smile I have to say that I have taken a "sheeple" path (great word, btw), myself, too lazy to fight anymore (I guess I could say I am picking my battles more carefully), but the truth is, fighting an uphill battle (against of wave of !%#@) gets tiring. After awhile, you decide to join the other sheeple. I have to admit, I'm not proud of myself for being weak, but at some point, one has to decide if it's worth it, to continually broach the unpopular points of view, such as the idea that races are being manipulated by unscrupulous (and unlawful) jockeys, sometimes at the behest of their given unlawful employer (for the event in question), sometimes for other nefarious purposes, for which it's impossible to know, for which any of it is iimpossible to know without a sincere investigation. I see it happen frequently, by the way, jockey malfeasance I mean, and I'm not watching all the action, everywhere. Frequently would be about once a week, I would guess, once a week when it becomes painfully obvious that so and so completely stiffed runner "X". The jockeys know that they can get away with a great deal of discretion, they know it the way mice learn to know they can roam without fear of traps, because no one of consequence is questioning, no one is watching. The cheese disappears and there's nary a peep. We have swung the pendulem so far to the other side - out of fear, out of flat-out laziness...who knows why? - that we've paralyzed ourselves into believing that the path of least resistance is the right choice. There is a thin brown line in horse racing's underbelly, not too dissimilar from the thin blue line in law enforcement circles. If I can't convince the ordinary person involved in this sport that there is a contingent of inside players within that confine, some of them "good" people at heart no doubt, some of them life-long scroundels, too, who are constantly pushing the edge, checking to see exactly how far they can push aside the line of accountability, than I would face the same wall trying to convince the ordinary citizen that there has been a long and widespread law enforcement practice to infringe on the lawful rights of African American motor vehicle operators. If you've ever tried to clean a white-washed window, you know that after a bit, it becomes pointless, the glass never reverts to its inherently clear nature. We have all been stained, I must say, but that is the consequence of looking the other way when we witness dishonorable behavior, that we shall become so stained by the relationship to it, that we are irreprably harmed, and we become weak, we rationalize to save face. It reminds me of something I heard the other day, that "evil prevails when good people stay silent". That was in regard to the Nazi attrocities, something, thankfully, that we (as conscientous human beings) have overcome. No Bosnias. No Darfurs. Not on our watch.
WHERE WILL RACHEL RUN NEXT? Isn't the only logical spot for her the Travers? The money's good, it's a grade 1 and it's the classic North American distance (one thing she hasn't done yet is run the 1 1/4 miles). Some might say the Alabama for that reason but why beat up on 3YO fillies again? They can run Kensei in the Pa. Derby against a likely inferior field and pick up the winner's share of another million. The Travers will also be a better field than anything she might encounter in the Woodward. The Whitney runners have all but ruled themselves out of the race, leaving Asiatic Boy and, probably, a handful of grade III types. Rachel, Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, Quality Road, Charitable Man, Warrior's Reward, Convocation and maybe a few others is a great race and a much better field than anything you will find in the Woodward.
Del Mar Another terrific race in the Del Mar Contest this Wednesday-5 furlongs on the turf. Early speed, layoffs, "A" team trainers. As there will only be eight entries, I'm thinking I have a 12.5% of actually getting one right.
Vicstu- In theory I agree with penalizing jocks who "stop" on a horse that's in contention but they've got a "built in excuse" (especially with PETA lurking around every corner.) All a jock has to do is say "The horse didn't feel right, I thought he may have taken a bad step" etc. and it's going to be pretty hard to question that. Last year before we took Erdiston to the Claiming Crown we ran in a grass race as his last prep (and he went off as either the favorite or the 2nd choice in the wagering) We were sitting on or near the lead for about half the race and all of the sudden he backed off. Now one thing we had going for us was that the jock is the trainer's son so he's going to be a little bit more "careful" in taking care of the horse (Not that other jocks don't care-but family is family) Jessie said that it was obvious the horse wasn't going to extend himself and with a big race coming up in about a month there was no reason to fight it. (It turns out that the horse as a 3yo-5 years before this, had broken his leg on the grass and since he ran a big race in the Stakes the next race, all we could figure out is that he was scared to "let go" on the grass) A lot of times we forget when we look at forms, numbers, etc. that these are living, breathing creatures and not machines and we all (Including me) give the human connections too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. And when you've put your hard earned money into buying a racehorse, without even going into the "peta type arguments" the number one goal in each and every race is getting that horse back to the barn as healthy as possible.