01/30/2009 2:21PM

Weekend horses to watch


Wistful (Aqueduct - Race 8, Sunday)
Really like Sapphire Sky in the New York feature on Sunday.  Two back, she overcame pace pressure to earn a solid figure, and she did not have an easy trip in the East View Stakes on December 7.  In that race, she broke a half-step slowly, was steadied on the first turn, raced wide off tepid fractions, and was forced four wide on the final bend when the pacesetter bore out badly.  That race can safely be ignored, and new rider C. C. Lopez should have her on the front end with an alert break.  There isn't a lot of speed signed on so Sapphire Sky may go wire to window.

Suwannee River (Gulfstream - Race 7, Sunday)
Callwood Dancer and Waquoit's Love both figure to attract strong play based on their recent form, but Long Approach may be the one coming up to this race the right way.  Two back, Long Approach was in and among horses for the first two furlongs, then commenced a three wide move entering the far turn.  It looked like she had it won, but Indescribable came out of the clouds to nail her on the line.  Last time out, Long Approach was mired way outside, and raced wide most of the way.  She still did some running late, and should be ready to rumble in her second start of the year.  There isn't a ton of pace in this race, and Julien Leparoux might work out the perfect ground-saving, pace-tracking hedge trip after breaking from the inside post. 

Gulfstream Park Turf  (Gulfstream - Race 9, Sunday)
It'll be interesting to see how Kip Deville recovers from his failed trip to Hong Kong.  The 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner never seemed comfortable going right-handed in the Hong Kong Mile, and should appreciate the return to North American-style racing.  While nine furlongs may be pushing it just a bit for the popular Oklahoma-bred, there isn't much speed in the race, and Kip Deville should be very prominent when the field turns for home.  He won't offer much value, but this race is rather important to the IEAH team in determining their charge's path in 2009.  If he wins nicely, he may go to Dubai; if he falters, he most likely stays at a mile.

La Habra (Santa Anita Race 8, Sunday)
Let's go with a price horse to close out the weekend's stakes races.  Real Fancy Runner broke sharply in her first Southern California start over the Pro-Ride, but was immediately wrangled off the pace by Martin Pedroza.  She was then forced to wait in behind rivals on the far turn before splitting horses in upper stretch.  She finished well to be second, has enough tactical speed to be in the thick of things from the start, and has acceptable turf breeding (by Johannesburg out of a graded sprint-winning half-sister to Grade 3 grass winner Blushing Heiress).  Let's hope for some improvement in the second start of the cycle.

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

Back with the weekend recap, stakes Beyers, and tons of questions and comments on Monday.  To the best of my knowledge, the 117 Beyer earned by This Ones for Phil was not a projection.

Have a great weekend,