11/22/2007 1:11PM

Thanksgiving Stakes


Go figure: the Falls City Handicap at Churchill has four graded stakes-winners and is a G2; the Hollywood Prevue has a field of 12 with no graded winners and is a G3; the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct has four graded winners and is an ungraded race.

These may be more than trivial oddities: Class considerations and perceptions could be the key to each of the nation's six-digit Thanksgiving Day stakes races today.

2:42 pm EST: Aqueduct race 8: $100k Fall Highweight Handicap, 3+, 6f
It's a textbook case of back class versus current form in the Fall Highweight, where a field of seven will be carrying from 126 to 134 pounds. The four graded stakes-winners in the field (Park Avenue Ball, Bishop Court Hill, Joey P. and Around the Cape) are the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th choices on the morning line. The 5-2 favorite is Grand National, coming off a victory in the Maryland Millions Sprint in his stakes debut, and the 3-1 second choice is City Attraction, unraced since beating Grand National in an N3x allowance at Belmont Sept. 19. I'm inclined to take my chances with Park Avenue Ball, the field's only millionaire and the only one of the back-class types to have run a strong race this year. He's dropping in company off no-chance tries in the Vosburgh and BC Dirt Miles but before that was a good second to Smokey Stover, who would be 2-5 in this field.

4:24 pm EST: Churchill race 11: $150k G2 Falls City H., 3+F, 1 1/8m
Panty Raid is the 6-5 ML favorite and might appear to hold a huge class edge as the field's lone G1 winner ( American Oaks and Spinster.) Obviously she can win but she may well be a underlay. Her two G1's were on grass and Poly, and though she won the G2 Black-Eyed Susan on dirt, her winning figure that day gives her no edge on this bunch and dirt may be her weakest surface. The obvious alternative is Tessa Blue, coming off a pair of blowout victories in the Indiana Oaks and the Inside Information (on the BC Day One undercard), who is seriously fast when loose and looks like the lone speed today. Kettleoneup could also be an attractive price and ran just as well as Panty Raid did while finishing third in the Maryland Distaff on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard. The late double at Churchill is enticing if you're inclined to play against Panty Raid because the favorite in the finale, League of Nations, is a 1-for-16 moneyburner.

5:00 pm EST: Hollywood race 7: $100k G3 Hollywood Prevue S., 2yo, 7f
Half of the dozen 2-year-olds in this launchpad for the Hollywood Futurity have tried stakes racing, but the two most interesting entrants are a pair of debut winners making their second starts. Into Mischief, a Harlan's Holiday colt from Richard Mandella, was visually impressive winning Oct. 21 at OSA, professionally finding a second gear to break free from a contested pace. Massive Drama, a $485k Zayat/Baffert colt by Kafwain, came from just off the pace in the slop to run down the well-regarded Tiz It on the BC Day One undercard at Monmouth. Meal Penalty is the logical closer off a pair of late-running victories over Meadowlands slop and Keeneland Poly and Black Jack Bob is worth a look at 10-1 ML odds.
[Update 1:50 pm: For what it's worth, Tiz It (second to Massive Drama Oct. 26 at Monmouth) just finished second at odds of 1-2 in the 6th at Aqueduct to Accredit, a $71.50 second-time starter for Darley/McLaughlin. Also, D. Double You and Spinning Sound are scratched from the Prevue.]

--The rest of the holiday weekend graded-stakes lineup, which includes five Grade 1's (italicized):

Aqueduct: G2 $150k Top Flight H.
Churchill: G2 $500k Clark H.
Churchill: G3 $200k River City H.
Hollywood: G1 $400k Citation H.
Hollywood: G3 $100k Generous S.

Aqueduct: G1 $300k Cigar Mile
Aqueduct: G2 $200k Demoiselle
Aqueduct: G2 $200k Remsen
Aqueduct: G3 $100k Discovery H.
Churchill: G2 $250k Golden Rod Stakes
Churchill: G2 $250k Kentucky Jockey Club
Laurel: G1 $300k De Francis Memorial Dash
Hollywood: G3 $150k Hollywood Turf Express
Hollywood: G3 $100k Miesque

Hollywood: G1 $500k Matriarch
Hollywood: G1 $500k Hollywood Derby