02/26/2010 3:47PM

Weekend stakes opinions


Let's take a look at some of this weekend's stakes races:

Sabin Stakes - Gulfstream - Race 7 - Saturday:
MATCHLESS ORINDA ran a huge race in her first try for Marty Wolfson.  Despite being away from the races for seven months, Matchless Orinda tracked the early leaders from the two-path before engaging the pacesetter on the turn.  It was soon over as Matchless Orinda, under a confident hand ride from John Velazquez, ran off the screen to win by 7 1/2 lengths with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. 
She'll have to step up in class and distance but I have the sneaking suspicion that the listed stakes winner will have enough stamina to last a one-turn mile.  There are some other speeds drawn to her outside, but Matchless Orinda doesn't seem like a true "need-the-lead" horse, and Johnny V. could adapt if his mount doesn't break sharply. 
Selection:  Matchless Orinda

Davona Dale Stakes - Gulfstream - Race 8 - Saturday:
Like Matchless Orinda, BICKERSONS was an ultra-impressive sprint winner earlier at the Gulfstream meet.  Trained by Kelly Breen, Bickersons upset juvenile champion She Be Wild when seven clear of the runner in the Grade 2 Forward Gal on January 31.  As with Matchless Orinda, it was a case of Bickersons tracking the pacesetter, blowing on by, and drawing off with ease to post a career-best Beyer Speed Figure.  And, like Matchless Orinda, Bickersons will attempt to win a route race for the first time in her career. 
With speedy tactical types like Matchless Orinda and Bickersons, I'm more comfortable playing them in one-turn routes than their two-turn counterparts.  She will likely attempt to sit a similar trip in the Davona Dale with FEMALE DRAMA perhaps providing the fleet target from the inside. 
Selection:  Bickersons

The Very One Stakes - Gulfstream- Race 9 - Saturday:
CABLE didn't have an easy trip in her 2010 debut.  She saved ground every step of the way under Alan Garcia, but was last on the rail turning for home, and didn't have much room in upper stretch.  By the time she was able to extricate herself from the traffic, it was too late to do any major damage, and she finished three-quarters of a length shy to favored Tottie. 
That start was supposed to be Cable's swan song as trainer Christophe Clement mentioned before the race that she was heading to the breeding shed.  But here she is, three weeks later, entered in the The Very One.  Either she's doing so well that it's hard to get her off the track, or her connections are getting a bit greedy off the good race.  Here's hoping it's the former. 
Selection:  Cable

Mac Diarmida Handicap - Gulfstream - Race 9 - Sunday:
PRESIOUS PASSION is the sentimental favorite as he's one of the gamest horses in recent memory, but I don't like taking short prices on horses coming off poor races, and Presious Passion just didn't have any punch when beaten at 4-5 in the McKnight Handicap on December 26.  I'll take the X-factor of the race, the European import FEELS ALL RIGHT.  A listed winner at 10 furlongs in France, Feels All Right tired badly in the French Derby, and it was reported that his free-running ways compromised his finish.  He was taken back in his final start of 2009, the Prix Jean Prat on July 5, and he was stacked widest from halfway out.  He didn't finish with much verve, but it was encouraging that he seemed willing to rate. 
The layoff is a concern, but trainer Pat Biancone is 3-7 (42%, $5.22 ROI) over the last year with horses returning from similar freshenings (2-4, 50%, $7.75 ROI when first Lasix is added to the mix).
Selection:  Feels All Right.

Don't have much of an opinion in Saturday's Sham at Santa Anita, but will give a slight nod to KETTLE RIVER.

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

Best of luck,