04/04/2008 10:28PM

Weekend opinions

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Carter Handicap:
I'll be rooting for Steve V.'s Bustin Stones in the Carter as the bionic chestnut seeks to stretch his undefeated streak to six.  It won't be easy, though, as there are other speed-types in the field.  Still, Bustin Stones has come back from double knee surgery.  Pace pressure should be a breeze compared to that.  He's no cinch in this salty field so I'll also use Donn Handicap winner Spring at Last, and the improving Executive Fleet. Spring at Last won a weak renewal of the Donn, but he turns back in distance, and should get plenty of pace to properly setup his late punch.  Executive Fleet won his last two races against weaker in fast time, likes a wet track, and is proven over the main Aqueduct oval.  Lord Snowdon and Premium Wine both had trouble when chasing Bustin Stones in vain in the General George.  Neither one would be a surprise in a tough, tough race.  King of the Roxy goes second off the layoff for Pletcher after chasing the fleet Euroears at Fair Grounds.  He has the right running style for this race.
Selections:  Bustin Stones, Spring at Last, Executive Fleet

Apple Blossom:
Here's the long-awaited matchup between Ginger Punch and Zenyatta.  The Californian is undefeated in three lifetime starts, and was under wraps during the final stages of the El Encino on January 13.  Zenyatta has missed a little time since that race, however, and catches a field without much pace.  She may have to work hard from the back of the pack.  Because of the pace scenario, I'll go with Ginger Punch, who may get the jump on her main rival from just off probable pacesetter Clever Strike.  Ginger Punch didn't beat much in the Sunshine Millions Classic, but she did it the right way, and the defending Breeders' Cup Distaff winner should be very tough for Bobby Frankel.
Clever Strike may be in a bit over her head, but she holds the pace advantage, and could hold on for a minor award.
Selection:  Ginger Punch

Ashland:
Another great matchup!  This time, it's Proud Spell vs. Country Star as the three-year-old fillies prep for the Kentucky Oaks.  Proud Spell has the recency edge while Country Star owns a win over the track and trip.  It's a toss-up, but I'll go with the gritty Proud Spell, who tried so hard when running down the classy Indian Blessing at the Fair Grounds.  There isn't much pace in the Ashland, and Proud Spell may get first run on her classy main rival going into the final turn.  Country Star got sick after winning the Hollywood Starlet so this will be her first start of the year.  She looked very impressive winning the Alcibiades here last fall, and should be making noise in the closing stages.  Don't forget Bsharpsonata.  She's won her last four races, and although she's making her synthetic debut, she's already won on turf, dirt, and slop.  What's a little wax and fibers to her?  She's tactical, and can't be ignored at a playable price.  Little Belle got good in her last two races over the Aqueduct inner track, and may take up the running from her inside post.  Riley's Life Is Sweet has some upside, a beautiful pedigree, and a running style conducive to synthetic surfaces.
Selection:  Proud Spell

Quick and Dirty selections:

Bay Shore:  Gattopardo, Jockey Ridge, Go Go Shoot

Excelsior:  Magna Graduate, Wafi City

Potrero Grande:  Greg's Gold, El Roblar

Arcadia:  Artiste Royale, Daytona, Golden Balls

Oaklawn:  Circular Quay, Fairbanks, Heatseeker


More importantly, who do you like tomorrow?  I'd like to know.


***

Sorry I won't get a chance to answer any other comments today.  My dad is in the hospital.  I'll try to get to them early next week.

Good luck to our posters that have horses in the big races tomorrow as well as to our extremely passionate fans and articulate handicappers.  And good luck as well to my new friend, Tinky.  I'm sorry if I came off harsh the other day.  Your point is well taken.

Best to all,

Dan