01/17/2009 1:31AM

Weekend stakes horses


Let's take a look at some horses to watch in this weekend's stakes races:

Santa Ynez - Santa Anita - Race 7
Just not thrilled with the likely favorites so will go fishing for a price horse.  Spanish Ice gave an improved effort in her first start with blinkers as she broke awkwardly, and was forced to rally wide in the stretch.  She already owns a win at this tricky seven-furlong distance, and the Cal-bred can be close to the expected moderate early pace with an alert break this afternoon.  Horses like Empressive Lady (hated her gallop-out after winning the maiden, then bombed twice against Stardom Bound, then reportedly came back sick), Evita Argentina (one-run closer may be at the mercy of tepid splits), and Alpha Kitten (promising runner should appreciate the turnback in distance, but I couldn't find a valid excuse for her recent loss in the Hollywood Starlet) may simply take too much money.

San Rafael - Santa Anita - Race 8
Square Eddie isn't a very clever selection, but he's out looking for some respect after getting snubbed for third-place in the 2-year-old Eclipse voting.  The Juvenile was the only BC race that went to speed-types on the closer-friendly Pro-Ride surface that weekend, and although the top three ran that way around the track after contesting mild fractions, I think those three (Midshipman, Square Eddie, and the now-retired Street Hero) are quite good.  Square Eddie found himself on the lead in the paceless juvenile, and he may just be a bit better with some targets to attack.  He'll get that scenario here as there are plenty of speeds to his inside. 

San Fernando - Santa Anita - Race 9
Nownownow looks like an interesting longshot in the San Fernando.  Quite possibly the worst managed horse in the world in 2008 after winning the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf the previous season, Nownownow finally may have found a spot where he can flourish.  First, it was shipping to Ireland for the 2000 Guineas where, in his seasonal debut, he was whipped by Henrythenavigator and New Approach.  Then, although just recovering from a foot abscess, Nownownow was thrown to the wolves in the La Jolla Handicap and Del Mar Derby.  His most recent race, the Malibu, was his first start back with Pat Biancone, and it looked like a prep all around.  He couldn't win that race anyway with Bob Black Jack projected loose on the lead, but Nownownow gave an even effort, and galloped out in a lovely manner after the wire.  He gets blinkers for the first time, the additional distance suits him nicely, and he'll get pace to attack.

Affectionately - Aqueduct (Sunday) - Race 8
Mike Luzzi rode Spritely like she was Affectionately, and that may have cost them both the lion's share of the Restored Hope Stakes on January 2.  Spritely stumbled at the start, but soon righted herself and set slow fractions under a very confident Luzzi.  Perhaps too confident.  Instead of trying to make a daylight break for it on the turn, Luzzi sat still on Spritely until the stalkers got some momentum, and came after her in earnest.  Spritely, perhaps feeling the strain of an almost 60 day layoff, packed it in late.  She gets a rider switch to Ramon Dominguez, who has an intriguing problem in this short field.  There is a good amount of speed drawn to her outside, and Dominguez may attempt to rate his Touch Gold filly just off the other pace horses.  Can she do it?  We'll find out Sunday.

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

Best of luck,


slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Congrats to the new daddy, Lenny! *** Good luck, Alan! I believe. *** I'm so sick. I was all over the P-4 at SA. All over it. I just watched the replays, after having to play my tickets and then take care of other business. I'm on the verge of being physically sick. The last 2 races, no problem. Check. If either Scandolous or Point Attended wins I hit the P4. If they both win, I hit it twice. Because I wasn't here, and didn't know I was dead after the 2nd leg, I didn't play the late double, which would have cost me $4 (3 horses) for one ticket. Nor did I have any exactas with PA, I certainly wasn't expecting 16-1! The thing is, when you're playing and leaving, you can't possibly remember to play everything, or account for every possible outcome or every combination you like, especially when the focus is the P-4. I really feel like Scandolous should have won. I can excuse Point Attended (he's going to stretch nicely, imho), who was giving up loads of experience to this crew (yet displayed a nice fortitude). Whoever has this one in their stable HAS to feel great about the race. This is a legit horse. But Scandolus. Oh my god. He probably wins with a jockey who can finish. Sorry Mikey. He was the only horse in the race who had won 2 of his last 6, a particularly strong 'claiming' stat (they win more than their 'share' of claiming races), and he looked great the whole friggin' way, every single step - I can't believe he lost, to be honest. Sickening feeling. But then again, I have a hard time with reality (is that too off-topic?). *** I hate this game (see Scandolous). *** I love this game (see Point Attended). *** JohnnyZ, thanks for mentioning me, and in spite of whatever travails I must endure (smile) and no matter what happens, I still have a unique talent (and a huge ego, I might add) for visually spotting the preferred runners out of a given race. That saving grace is what propels me forward. This cyclical adventure (the track/life itself), or my place in it, I would not trade. *** Onward and upward.
johnnyz More than 1 year ago
C, I have not read Alan Shuback's book on international racing. I have however read his chapter on "Betting Foreign Imports" in Bet With The Best 2, at least three times. Here is a quick quote from that chapter that speaks volumes: "Fortified by decades of input from the best Kentucky blood, as well as running drug free and being the product of stallions and mares who themselves raced drug free, the contemporary European racehorse is a better model of what a Thoroughbred should be." This mindset is what attracts me to European racing. It is just a purer form of racing that I for one really appreciate. turnbackthealarm, not really sure what your question is but, for the most part my daily wagers are the P/4 and P/3 if I get knocked out in the first leg. I also back up overlays with a W-W/P, or maybe a P/S depending on the odds. Kind of what I call insurance bets, as I want some bucks to go into the account everyday I wager. On stakes and especially major stakes days the Tri-Fecta is my main focus. The last eight years has by far been my best ROI come year end. With that said, the tri is not a bet I can play daily as the $ pools are a fraction of what they are for the major races. Hope I didn't confuse you, that is what works for me. Calvin, thanks for the link to Gary West's top 20 Derby list. I really respect G. West as a journalist but, degrading or down grading California Derby prospects is just an addiction with some. While I will admit, as a whole I feel the west coast bunch may be somewhat weak this year it is still early. Pioneerof The Nile and (Chocolate Candy, who West doesn't even have in his top 20) from a pedigree aspect alone has to be considered top shelve untill they run a clunker. While I don't know that we will witness the level of talent we did two years ago, I for one am having a really hard time trying to rank a top twenty. Besides the obvious contenders, we have The Pamplemousse;, Majormotion Picture, Gone Astray, Imperial Council, Patenta, It Happened Again,Dunkirk, ETC, ETC! Really a deep bunch of 3 yr. olds IMO! Many that will be able to get 10F. PGM, thanks. Want you to know I enjoy reading your thoughts as well, as I do many others who I did not mention last night. I have been blessed enough to become friends with several that post here and in my estimation there is no where on the net that you could in general meet or visit with a better bunch of folks! Mike Romeo, Thanks and really glad you enjoy the UK thoughts. I would post more about European racing if I thought the interest was there. Royal Ascot each June is really special for me. I rank that meet right up there with the Derby and BC. Is just a VERY special week of races IMO! Lauren Stich, what a special person in my eyes. Still hard for me to belive that she doesn't write for DRF. Anyway if you have a specific question for her, just post it and I will get you an answer.
Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
scianc22 Well said. I'm glad that things are much better for you and your family and that's what it is all about - family. Alan, Congratulations and good luck on the NHC. We're all rooting for you.
Alan More than 1 year ago
scianc22, Thank you for your kind words to our blog family (and a belated thank you for the text message you recently sent me!), but the person you should thank the most is yourself and your wife!! I am proud to call you my friend!!! Lenny, McKay Smith, the NHCQualify tournie director, contacted me in November - I had no idea I was still in consideration for a finalist spot! It is better for you to qualify in certain contests - for example, they don't pay for the airfare to Vegas in NHCQualify. McKay told me they will close the "loophole" allowing you to currently pick your qualifying tournie next year. BTW, thank you all for your best wishes for the NHC!! I saw Uncle Steve's request for info, but please handicap the cards for yourself and not for me. If you happen to have a "hot tip" on a contest race horse or a bullet point that might help me about how one of the contest tracks (AQU, TAM, GP, FG, SA, GG and OP) is currently playing, please tell me and the rest of the blog - so we can all profit from your expertise! Thank you again!! Irrespective of one's political viewpoint, this is a great day for our country...
PGM More than 1 year ago
California Bloggers (such as, but not limited to, Slew and Uncle Steve), Recently Chi. Gerry posted that there was a signal problem at Trackside Arlington with both GGF and SA signals being withheld. I checked the Arlington Park home page, and found out that the CA TOC is withholding signals to AP, as per my 10:03 PM Jan. 19 Blog Time post. Any word from out on SoCal what this is about? AP's front page pretty much explains the IL side. But what about the CA TOC's point of view?
turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
scianc22, I was a lurker only when you sent in those posts. I became a regular reader and poster as a result of the care you received. Way to sum up this whole "tempest in a teapot" perfectly!
Blackstone More than 1 year ago
HG117 Yes, P Ensign-I am posting early due to long work days coming up. Like many of you this is not a race I would normally play, but can't pass up a free shot. I don't like the low odds' horses-No Speed Limit looks like cheap speed, although the class drop is enticing. Who Plays Brahms has lost too many Mdn Claiming races for me to get serious about. Ariel Rose is dropping from MSW's two weeks after its best run-why? Although I like the drop of Sig's Happy Dancer (also from MSW), and I like the connections a lot, it just looks to me like the horse will need a few races to figure things out. Most of the others appear too slow, or, in the case of the first time starters, not enough demonstrated ability in the am. The one I am left with is the 6-Why Because. I am hoping the improvement was real and that it doesn't regress. I also think Coa had choices, but landed here. I don't think it will go off at six to one, maybe four to one, but I will play it hard anyway. So, the bet: $80 win on #6-Why Because $10 exacta box on #6 and #12 (Sig's Happy Dancer) If Sig's scratches, change the bet to $100 win on Why Because. Good luck to all. And Alan, I will be pulling hard for you this weekend. Carry the blog banner well!
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
Dan or anyone, For years I too thought being struck by the whip from another rider (apologies to J. Rose) was an immediate cause for a DQ. Several years ago, however, I was told by someone who is quite knowledgeable about our sport that this is not the case. And in fact, he said this is a rule by jurisdiction. Well years ago the late David Penna hit a horse of mine across the face twice and there was no DQ. It was in a stake and my horse was going by Penna's horse and suddenly appeared to hang. The filly came back with a couple of welts on her face. And to add intrigue to the whole thing, the race replay never showed the head on (as they did for every race). Dan do you know what the rule is on this? Thanks very much.
davem More than 1 year ago
Hi all, i really enjoy reading everyone's posts and picks.hg117 i like the 5 Why Because . I think he looks the best of this bunch. The 6 Who Plays Brahms should pass the tiring speed for the place spot. 25$ WP 5 25$ EX BOX 5-6
Lane More than 1 year ago
What is up with our horses not coming back sound? We send out Monterrey Jazz(I was there at Lonestar) for that one and El Gato Malo for the LS derby. They haven't been the same. Is it true that dirt may have caused the injuries or did traineing on synthetics then going to dirt cause the injuries? I think neither can be blamed yet, but something to watch. Ironically, it seems to be more with front runners than closers but would love input either way. Um, am I the same one that was championing synthetics a year ago? Hey, if I can change my opinion in the post parade-I can change it after some time with the poly. Not "voting" either way yet, but see the good and bad of both which I didn't initially. How is Madeo, and I mean that seriously? Lane