04/04/2008 9:28PM

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

Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
johnnyz, Thanks! Granddad! You sure have a lot on your plate – my head is swimming. Congratulations on the new addition to your family and the success of the BBQ business. I hope that your mother is okay. I agree with you. War Pass is a very special thoroughbred but it looks like 1 1/8 miles is about his limit. With a time of 1:52 and change, I don’t think that I would use any horses that ran in the Wood Memorial. Colonel John is a true contender and hopefully the Derby picture will come into focus after this next weekend’s races. There’s a lot of owners scrambling to get the graded earnings. I read on Paul Moran’s blog that Barclay Tagg is considering running Elysium Fields this weekend. Are we going to see a Todd Pletcher shutout? This Derby is definitely shaping up to be very interesting.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
I have been over on the dark side (the red box) running the corn cob over their collective a$$ and then spraying it with turpentine. I think it's time to run a little blog vs blog handicapping contest. Let them use Crist, Davidowitz, Watchmaker, whoever and we'll use our motley bunch of Never Sleeps Dan, wannabes, lawyers, BBQers, teenagers, horse chicks and assorted old guys. Of course we will be crushed like a California horse running on dirt... 5 races from Aqueduct/Belmont, 5 from Keeneland/Churchill and 5 from Santa Anita/Hollywood Park. Winner gets the Inaugural Blog Handicapping Crown that gets prominently displayed for 2008. We take the top 10 scores from each side. What do you think boys and girls? I think we show them the power of Deep Blue.
LarryH More than 1 year ago
Gulfstream Park doesn't have anything on Oaklawn as the timer malfunctioned during the running of the Oaklawn Handicap. Tiago beat Heatseeker and the final time was 1:48.60 for the 1 1/8 mi. race. Dan, do you know what the internal fractions were or if anyone out there hand timed the race and knows the answer I would appreciate you letting me know.
C More than 1 year ago
Eight Belles seems to have an edge in physical maturity over most fillies. That edge may be muted against colts, but she can probably hold her own. Proud Spell never looked comfortable on the polytrack, but her previous win over Indian Blessing was vastly overhyped anyway, IMO. Anyone think Carroll & Warren regret not keeping Denis of Cork at Oaklawn for the Rebel? I bet they wish he had more seasoning now. The Illinois Derby was a boat race. Apparently, Recapturetheglory was named in honor of Risen Star, who won 2/3 of the triple crown. His connections, however, didn't even bother nominating him for the triple crown. So much for the "he needs the earnings" angle. The lightly raced, but well-traveled, Denis of Cork just didn't have it and didn't look very comfortable. Atoned is establishing himself as a sucker horse. He had a chance, but, as usual, managed to find a few that were better. In the Wood, I actually thought War Pass followed the worst race of his life with his best performance to date. I'm not bothered by the 1:52 time... that was a very testing pace, and Tale of Ekati wasn't too far off it himself. It was a good win for him and a valiant effort from War Pass. Tale of Ekati is no throw-out for the Derby. On the other hand, it's hard to envision War Pass running any better with an added furlong against at least 3 or 4 better rivals than what he faced in the Wood. At SA, El Gato Malo didn't have a great break and bumped a little with Polonius, but it was no excuse. He wasn't very good. It seemed Flores was more interested in saving ground than knocking heads with the speed up front. Fine, I won't jump on his back for that. As far as getting the jump on Colonel John, this wasn't a 5-horse field... the strategy was to win the race, not just beat Colonel John. Perhaps Flores moved a bit early, but the horse clearly didn't have it. EGM only passed Polonius when Polonius lugged in and darted to the rail in mid-stretch and never really threatened for the win. El Gato Malo is definitely a cut below the best. While Colonel John looked as good or better than Georgie Boy, it's fair to question what he beat in here. Bob Black Jack and Coast Guard were both winded at the sixteenth pole, and Yankee Bravo, after making a middle move, might've felt the effects of his recent cross-country trip. I don't think Bob Black Jack is really cut out for routes. Actually, I think he and War Pass have very similar action and running style. Colonel John looked impressive, but I have to wonder if he's simply the most suitable 9-furlong horse on the grounds. Despite the visual impression, I'm just not ready to concede the Derby to him... or anyone else for that matter.
Amanda More than 1 year ago
Hi from another Marylander! Alan, could you put me up on the Derby Crush for Colonel John and Cool Coal Man? I love Tiznows, and I think CCM is just a handsome boy! (a genuine crush....) BTW, while Big Brown was awesome, I don't think he'll get Derby glory. Don't know why, just don't feel that he's it. Later! Amanda.
larryk More than 1 year ago
Talking fund raising and horse racing. Old Friends Equine Ret. Fac. is having Old Friends Day at the RiverBats(Lville's AAA club)this Sund. For 5.00 you can buy tkts and actually donate the tkts to an underpriv. child to enjoy the game. Chris McCarron and Randy Romero will be there for autographs as well. And throughout the day, retired tbreds will run across the jmbotron in the outfield. You can purchase tkts by calling Old Friends Eq. Ret. 502-8631775. I'm going with my gfriend and then were going to the FirstSat. in May movie later that day. Should really get someone in the spirit for the Derby.
Jim Tully More than 1 year ago
Dan, Major props on Tale of Ekati winning the Wood. Your faith in him was rewarded and now you can put him atop your Derby list without any criticism from me. The final time in the Wood was awfully slow. I don't yet know what the Beyer was or the track variant but to my eyes, War Pass looked like he was lugging a piano in the stretch. I can tell a gassed horse when I see one. I kept waiting for all the closers to gobble him up but only TOE could catch him. Was it just a weak field, was there a huge headwind, what's your take?
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
Dan- Hope your father is doing well. All- Thanks for the tips and support at the NHC contest yesterday. Ended up 13th (good for $500) and considering it was my 4th contest ever I was ecstatic. People like Jamie Michelson, TJ Taylor, the track announcer from Buelah, etc. were there and the top 3 finishers were all from outside of Illinois, so I was proud to even be able to compete with players like this. The key was Super Blitz in the SA 2nd (cap horse!) Steve-had it down to Super Blitz and Exude but price was better on Super Blitz (even though I wasn't chasing anyone just yet) and the clincher was Drysdale 29% 1st lasix. Also, 3 of my plays were 2nd by a length (Bob Blackjack and Hyperbalic at 6/1 and Executive Fleet at 13/1-Steve V., you've got a horse with something that can't be seen on any xray or walking ring-HEART AND THE DESIRE TO WIN-CONGRATULATION! (This isn't "coulda/woulda/shoulda" but it does give me the confidence to know that I can compete with these people on a good day, the first 3 contests I entered I was no where to be found on the leader board-Those of you who've never played in a contest or only played in a couple, if you enjoy it keep trying, it's like anything else-practice, practice, practice! Justin and Riley- good effort from Z Humour yesterday. (talked to a local trainer Thursday, and he confirmed what I already had suspected, the way the track would play the front was the place to be-When a horse gets loose on the lead like that at Hawthorne, the party's usually over! so the best you could have hoped for is 2nd-I'll be at CD on Derby Day and right now Z Humour is on my short list on the gimmix. (I've already got $10 in pool one and $20 on all others in this pool, so I've got him well covered in the win bets) and remember 4 of the last 15 Derby winners hadn't won at age 3 going into the Derby) Bob's Blackjack also ran well yesterday and actually rated-he's already outrun his pedigree and the track yesterday seemed to favor closers. If he can sit a little bit off the pace and let Big Brown and War Pass knock each other out, this could be the shocker (Don't have a future bet on either he or Cool Coal Man, so those 2 are my early contenders for "Derby Day Pick" along with War Pass (I know he didn't hold on, but no matter what anyone says, having 2 or 3 staples put in your head 48 hours before you try to run a race has to take something out of anyone, be it human or horse!) Will be interesting to see where Larry Jones takes Proud Spell. While she isn't as good as Street Sense, when you think about it-2nd on Poly race prior to the "big one" (be it the Derby or Oaks) and with Country Star very disappointing, Larry Jones has two of the top contenders-wonder if either Proud Spell or Eight Belles end up in the Derby? (Kinda hoping so-got on the all others yesterday. Also, get Cowboy Cal and Monba (never count out Pletcher and Atoned isn't gonna be the one) Z Humour, Ana Nakal (doubt he'll win but stranger things have happened, especially with all the speed in the race) and now Louie Roussell has already basically said that Recapture the Glory is going to the Derby and trying to go to the lead. (With all the concern about early speed, wonder if a jock or two will "outthink himself" and try to rate-one or two rated horses, a tuff start for another one-it's possible (although unlikely) that one of the speedsters gets an ez lead which would REALLY change the complexion of the race!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
mpm101 Recapturetheglory was supplemented for $6000 as a late Triple Crown nominee just before the deadline of March 27th , his Illinois derby win gives him enough $$ to make the Kentucky Derby. http://drf.com/news/article/93519.html Roussel comments are about 3/4 down this article SR Vegas
C More than 1 year ago
SteveT, I agree. Horses can only look impressive relative to their competition, which they have no control over. Colonel John has done nothing wrong so far. Still, he looked like a beaten horse until he kicked into another gear at the 16th pole. How do you think his performance compares with Pyro's move in the Risen Star a few months ago? I think they were pretty similar. Jason G, You have a valid point. My feeling is that Bob Black Jack ran his eyeballs out to put Coast Guard away and almost hang on against Colonel John at that distance. Perhaps he built on the San Felipe, where he was no match for Georgie Boy and edged late for 2nd by sprinter Gayego. Colonel John strikes me as one of the few SoCal 3YOs who is better at 2 turns than 1. Nevertheless, I can't knock him too much. Alan, Court Vision has been forced wide in both starts this year. If he continues to drop back to the rear, that trend will continue. He'll obviously need the trip to be a factor in Kentucky. Still, I'm not encouraged by the fact that he couldn't get by War Pass (set brutal pace), or Tale of Ekati (2-3 lengths off that pace), despite the crawling late splits. What happened to the stalk-and-pounce style we saw last season? Anyway, if you can't see Tale of Ekati, what do you like about Court Vision? I don't think he's good enough to win the Derby, but I wouldn't be totally shocked if he clunked up for loose change in the tri/super if the race falls in his lap. By the way, I'm thinking War Pass will be around 12-1. Funny how 2 months ago he might've been 4-1. Any thoughts? ------------------------------ My thoughts to all those dealing with ill family and congrats to those with new arrivals.