06/12/2009 1:28PM

Stakes opinions

Email

Let's take a look at some of Saturday's stakes races:

Ogden Phipps - Race 4 - Belmont:
Certainly not a great betting race, but an intriguing matchup between favored entrymates Seventh Street and Music Note.  While the latter is certainly more accomplished with wins in the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Gazelle, Seventh Street has recency and early speed on her side.  Seventh Street also has some talent to boot.  She went gate-to-wire in the Apple Blossom last time out, and if able to shake off Color Me Up entering the turn, she may prove tough to catch.  Seattle Smooth is an admirably consistent filly, but she may be up against it against the Godolphin girls.
Selection:  Seventh Street (part of entry)

Round Table - Race 3 - Hollywood:
On paper, this 1 3/4 mile test has a ton of early speed.  Leesider just went gate-to-wire over cushion track while Plug Me In wasn't headed in his last two starts on the weeds.  Zappa took his opponents on a merry chase in last year's Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar.  One would think that this race would set up for Obrigado and Porfido, but neither is very reliable.  The former is 2-22 in the United States, and he hasn't reached the winner's circle since February 25, 2007.  Add in the fact that he is 0-4 since bruising his foot, used front bandages for the first time in his most recent race, and will likely be the favorite, and he's not a great play. Porfido is 1-19 in North America, and has lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in his last five races.  I wonder if the two main speeds, Leesider and Plug Me In, play a game of chicken up front.  If one of them backs off, the other may take them all the way.  I won't be investing a lot, but perhaps Plug Me In is sharp enough to upset this field if Leesider is the one to yield.
Selections:  Plug Me In, Porfido, Leesider

Jefferson Cup - Race 7 - Churchill:
El Crespo may have been compromised by moderate to slow fractions in the Arlington Classic, and could get a bit more pace to attack on Saturday.  Both Florentino and Jake Wil Gallop like to race near the front, and if the pace is fast, El Crespo, a Grade 3 winner on grass earlier this year, may be the one to benefit.  Advice wouldn't be a surprise for Todd Pletcher, but he may go favored despite having never raced on turf.  A son of Chapel Royal, Advice may find this nine furlong distance a bit far. 
Selections:  El Crespo, Advice

Northern Dancer - Race 8 - Churchill:
Warrior's Reward will be a single on many Pick 4 tickets based on his 113 Beyer win over Munnings at Churchill Downs on May 1, but I'm not sure he's a mortal lock.  Both of his wins came around one turn with the aid of perfect rail trips, and he'll have to go two turns on Saturday in a race lacking much early speed.  He reportedly had a myectomy after the Tampa Bay Derby, and simply may be too good for these now that he can breathe correctly, but he's not worth the short price.  Omniscient has some upside potential for Steve Asmussen.  He was a solid winner over weaker at Fair Grounds two back, then may not have cared for the Keeneland polytrack in the Lexington.  He draws a cozy inside post, and can be close to the expected moderate to slow pace.  The price should be right.
Selections:  Omnisicent, Warrior's Reward

Stephen Foster - Race 10 - Churchill:
It's hard not to root for Einstein, the likeable veteran that will attempt to become a Grade 1 winner on all three racing surfaces.  He's the horse to beat in the Stephen Foster, but he had to work very hard to beat Cowboy Cal on the turf last time out, and is facing a pretty good group.  Researcher pressed Commentator for the first five furlongs of the Charles Town Classic last time out, then refused to be discouraged when the speedy NY-bred cleared him for the final backstretch run.  Instead, Researcher angled to the two path, and blew the favorite's doors off turning for home.  He doesn't need the lead to win, and may work out a nice trip just off Finallymadeit and Alphabet Magic.
Selection:  Researcher

Regret - Race 11 - Churchill:
Tough, tough race.  I'll take a chance with The Best Day Ever, a filly that worked out a nice inside trip off a hot pace to win her entry-level condition over this course and trip.  While the pace should be slower in this spot, The Best Day Ever has shown a strong will to win in her last two races, and doesn't meet the strongest field in the world for her stakes debut.  This is a big test so make sure you get all of that 8-1 morning line.
Selection:  The Best Day Ever

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

***

Congrats to Zan the Man for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He gets to make the race selection for the next one.

***

Sorry I've fallen behind on questions, and comments.  I'll get to them as well as "NameGate" on Monday.

Best of luck,

Dan