05/22/2010 11:02AM

Weekend Opinions

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Let's take a look at some of today's stakes races from across the country:

Sheepshead Bay - Belmont - Race 9:
Not the strongest Sheepshead Bay in history so I'll take a chance with a price horse.  BUBBLY JANE seems the most consistent from a speed figure perspective, but she hasn't been out since November, and has to navigate 11 furlongs off the bench.
Instead, I'll try PARI, a filly that really appreciated stepping up in distance last time out at Keeneland.  True, she didn't beat much while riding a slow pace in that allowance heat, but she hasn't run a bad one this year, and may be close to moderate fractions once again. 
Selections:  Pari, Bubbly Jane, The Gaillimh Girl

Louisville - Churchill Downs - Race 10:
Yielding ground at Churchill Downs coupled with a lack of pace may make things tough for some of the confirmed stretch runners.  It looks as if EAGLE POISE will take up the early running after setting the tempo over a closer-biased Pro-Ride surface last time out.  He should run a good one, but I'm also expecting MARCH TO VICTORY to be close up after the opening quarter-mile.  The distance may be stretching it just a bit, but he rallied into a slow pace last time out in the Grade 3 Miami Mile, and has run some consistent numbers throughout his career for Christophe Clement.  Note that Corey Nakatani takes the mount as Julien Leparoux will miss some time due to injuries.  March to Victory has also run well over turf courses with a bit of give in the ground.
Selections:  March to Victory, Silverfoot, Bearpath

American 1000 Guineas - Arlington - Race 9:
Here's hoping speed holds well over soft ground at Arlington this afternoon.  GO ASK ALEX set a new course record for this mile distance when on the engine at Indiana Downs last time out and she beat males three starts back over "good" ground.  There doesn't appear to be a good amount of speed in the 1000 Guineas and Go Ask Alex could prove very tough to catch if Chris Emigh (Jon Court will ride Pari at Belmont today) can get her to settle for the backstretch run.
Selections:  Go Ask Alex, Bay to Bay, Chantilly Nayla

Arlington Classic - Arlington - Race 10:
Again, there doesn't look like there's a ton of pace and that may benefit the chances of WORKIN FOR HOPS, who was off awkwardly last time out at Churchill Downs.  He probably is better when allowed to race freely as he did two starts back when an impressive winner going 7 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds.  The distance may be pushing it a bit for Workin for Hops, but he could get brave if allowed to set a relaxed pace by himself. 
Selections:  Workin for Hops, Indy Scent, Family Foundation

Decathlon - Monmouth - Race 5:
I'll take a shot at a price with TOMMY'S MEMORY, a lightly-raced gelding that looked good against Florida-bred stakes company last time out at Tampa Bay Downs.  He rushed up down the backstretch while four wide, took aim at the leader on the turn, took over at will, and won geared down under the wire.  An injury-prone runner, Tommy's Memory hasn't really run a poor race throughout his career, and he may work out a nice stalking trip behind a contested pace.  Perhaps we haven't seen his best.
Selections:  Tommy's Memory, Mr. Fantasy, At the Disco

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

meathead01 More than 1 year ago
how do you get your pick on dan ullmans HG contest?
dogs up More than 1 year ago
Rachel needs blinkers for Zenyatta.In a matchup, RA will lead, Z will close, RA will look to her outside, move to her right to take a look-see at Z. Then in her next race you will see RA wearing blinkers. Take a look at her two defeats. RA practcally moves to a right turn towards the closing horse that goes by her.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Annie: Another Annie-like named horse seen in the entries today at Deleware. MOTORMOUTH get a litle play from me today! LOL!
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Katieattherail: Thanks for the info on Gary Contessa. I had looked quickly at the Trainer's stats for Belmont, and he didn't appear there at all. Just late to the game this year, I guess! Bettr late, than never! BTW, I'll play that funny name double!
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
VQ: LOL! But, be advised, it takes more than luck!
Dr Pick More than 1 year ago
Dan: It's slim pickings on Wednesday for choosing this week's HG, given that Hollywood cancelled their Wednesday card. So how about Belmont Race 7 on Wed May26, a 3yo 7f Stakes on the grass. Good luck to all.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Dan, What Beyer did WENDEN receive for his second place finish yesterday?
Mathieu More than 1 year ago
On the other end of the anchormen issue is Talamo, who I generally like as he is partial to the front and knows how milk it when he gets there. Although every once in while he blows a gasket on the engine, as evidenced today on Sea of Pleasure in HP's 9th. A 22.13 first 1/4 may stand up as the quickest for the entire meet, it was unnecessary for the level (32k NWY), and he had five on the field. The second 1/4 of 21.79 was equally ridiculous and he understandably blew the bit and four lengths in the last furlong. 6/1 easy leads on a speed favoring turf don't come up every day but you really worked it. Thanks Joe.
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Today was a dangerous day to be drinking Diet Dr. Pepper while reading Formblog, thanks James Mc and Virgin Queen! Keith, One more comment to add to PGM's characterizations of our conversation.....once slots were added to Del. and then PA, Monmouth HAD to do something. The racing there went downhill fast as horses ran outside of NJ in search of slots enhanced purses. Monmouth is doing what all smart capitalists do, innovate and/or change to survive. It's not Monmouth's management's fault that NYRA is a bunch of "illiterate dork Sunglass Hut managers"! Why should Monmouth die the slow death of Maryland racing? It's not their job to protect NY racing. It is their job to promote NJ racing and THEIR brand. Having said that, it kills me to see the money thrown at J-bred races as the product currently exists. I can only hope this experiment works and sticks around long term because then it will stop the incredible sell off of NJ farmland and attract better bloodstock to the state. Once the horses are better, the state bred races won't be so awful. I have made lots of jokes at NJ's expense and have now relocated to Chicago, but I really want to see great racing take hold and survive at Monmouth. Plus the views of beautiful farms and their horsey residents sure beat the heck out of another subdivision of McMansions.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
I just came off a pretty good week handicapping, and I have been trying to figure out why I suddenly jumped up as far as I did. As part of that I have been jotting down one liners about handicapping. Here are some, and I would love to hear from others on whether they think they are valid or out to lunch: There is no better bet in horse racing than a peak form turf horse (Unzip Me, Tuscan Evening, The Usual Q.T. types). Horses that can perform on any surface seem to always be around the finish line at the end. Plus they seem more tractable and intelligent. Paranoia will kill your ability to handicap when there is one in the field that took a big drop for no apparent reason. Maiden progression is one of the most powerful angles in horse racing. Turf horses tend to stay in form longer than their dirt counterparts. Betting on a first out against winners is a great way to lose money at ridiculously low odds. They are like the Sirens singing to Ulysses... Pick the winner, then figure out the bet. If they are high odds, go for it - but don't create a "false longshot" in your mind in order to go against the favorite. "I was looking for more value" has to be the most dangerous phrase in horse racing - the loose translation is "I wanted more money so I went with this three legged nag and lost my ass..." If you are afraid of being wrong, I will guarantee you will never be right. A new rider/surface/distance is a new opportunity. Longshots don't just "happen", there is almost always a set of identifiable circumstances that signal when it will happen: - A false favorite. - Lone speed or too much speed. - a maiden field that is all under par. - a runner who went on the DL at 2 and is now back at 3 and is running much faster works at 3 than he did at 2. - last run they finished less than three from the winner in a fast race (often camouflaged as a 5th or 6th place finish) - a relaunch against a field that is off form. Know your regional sires - they produce the vast majority of runners on a circuit, and knowing them inside and out is worth serious bucks. Everyone knows about A.P. Indy - the money is in the Unusual Heats, Redattores, Decarchys, and Aragorns. Playing a three year old who went on the shelf at two and then came back off the layoff and ran a new lifetime speed fig but didn't hit the board is pure money in the second off the layoff. Don't play against progressions or regressions - they are the truth in its starkest form. If a runner is sliding, like 76-64-58-51, they are not going to suddenly pop-up and run. There are signs that they are coming out of it. Conversely, play against a progression at your own risk, they are a serious opportunity to identify a longshot. Yesterday in the 8th, there was an Arizona invader that looked overmatched against the field, WENDEN. Except that his first three races screamed that he was capable - he had three runs, one on fast dirt, one on a muddy track, and one on turf. What do you think the odds are that he would take to Cushion? Pretty high. Then there were his ascending speed figures - 57-65-77. That put him about 7 points light; think he could progress another eight points in his next race? He led until the last 50 feet and finished 2nd, at 27/1 and paid $16.80 and $7.60, and was part of a $60 exacta with the favorite (2/1). I think Candy Ride could be the second coming of Unbridled's Song - fast but brittle. There are so many Candy Rides on the DL right now - and then they come back, run a race or two and then they are back on the DL. Okay, that's it... for now.