02/26/2010 4:47PM

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,


Kelley_Belles More than 1 year ago
Gotham Handigambling Posting early, need those Formulator PPs. #10 Wow Wow Wow Horrible post position. doesn't have any choice has to go. #6 Peppi Knows will be stalking in the garden spot. Should improve in second start this year. #1 Three Day Rush. Second time over the track. Stalks Peppi, stalking Wow Wow Wow. I hope Three Day Rush won't have to visit the outer rail this time. $100 Exacta 1/6 Kelley_Belles
Caseyjeaux More than 1 year ago
Jordan, Trappe Shot received an 88 BSF for that race. Caseyjeaux
Annie More than 1 year ago
If you have not yet signed up for the DerbyDreamer.com - The Premier Fantasy Thoroughbred Racing Contest, this looks like a contest with prizes worth trying for. A $10,000 prize, EACH MONTH, for 12 months. It costs $12.00 to set up a stable, but at $1.00 a month, you can't go wrong. Anyone can enter EXCEPT residents of Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, and Vermont. (You notice there is no Minnesota on the list). :) AND, if you would be so kind, you could enter my Friend Referral Code at the time of registration and I would get 50 points. :) Friend Referral Code: F1D6D13C Annie
C More than 1 year ago
PGM, My last post was more of a response to Walt. As Alan said, the 7 1/2f race are around 2 turns along the inner part of the turf. Alan's response does raise another question, or Gulfstream quirk, depending on how you view it. Alan said: "Finally, since the turf track circumference is 7f, all 7.5f races are two turns." Officially, the turf course is listed as 1 mile. I wonder how that is measured. Certainly, it is not measured along the inside hedge, as that should be 7f. I don't think it is measured from the outer rail either because the main track is 1 1/8. Is the course measured from the center? Again, this is pretty minor from a handicapping point of view, but it would be nice to understand how the lengths are actually measured. The most important thing to know is which distances are around 1 or 2 turns. I think we have that nailed down now, thanks to Alan. By the way, I hate Gulfstream, in case that wasn't obvious before.
Alan More than 1 year ago
Annie/SteveT, Yes...obviously I meant "ran"! Now, more importantly, what are thoughts as to the questions? C I had bought up the GP timing issue last year with the conclusion that the GP timer placement on the backstretch is definitely wrong. This was my comment back then and I still believe that it's true: --> Greg, It is fairly obvious from anyone that bothers to check the splits for 6f and 8f races (and compare them to the splits for 6.5f or 7f races) that the timing mechanism at the half-mile pole at GP has been incorrect FOR THE ENTIRE MEETING!! We should have an over-under contest as to when somebody is gonna notice the error and write an article about it at DRF, BloodHorse, the DRUDGE REPORT, etc... Hey, Tinky, you've got connections in the industry - can you point this out to someone?? Or how about you Dan?? Posted by: Alan on March 15, 2009 at 12:24 PM --> Here was Tinky's resonse on the matter: --> Alan – This ridiculous issue has been known for years by those who have clocked at Gulfstream, and by those who have carefully parsed out split times. Gulfstream management was made aware of it a very long time ago (though they may not have "gotten" the significance of it to this day), and I've mentioned it to at least one Racing Form writer (not Dan). The issue is, in one basic respect, all too typical of the industry. In other words, there is a terribly self-destructive tendency to cover up any embarrassing problems or mistakes, rather than to address them in a transparent manner. Then, when you add all of the other Stronach-generated mess to the mix, it is not surprising that an issue perceived by GP management to be trivial would be forgotten. Posted by: tinky on March 15, 2009 at 12:58 PM --> This was my followup to Greg: --> Greg, This is "slideshow" of pictures comparing the starting gate positions to the poles (runup) at GP vs. the AQU main track: http://picasaweb.google.com/Formblogger/StartingGatePositions#slideshow There doesn't appear to be much of a difference in the runup in the 8f races at either track. The only runup that appeared to be of any significance was AQU at 6f. What do you think? This is also a comparison of the quarter mile times for GP for the various distances this meeting as compared to the AQU main track (6f and 8f for AQU) from the fall meeting: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p0punDkqmTL4YMgsu15sLKg Posted by: Alan on March 15, 2009 at 06:59 PM --> The spreadsheet and runup pictures are still online if you want to check them out. As Tinky said, no one apparently cares...and I believe him. I remain amazed that anyone still uses the 1st vs 2nd quarter times of any GP 8f race (as well as the 1st quarter time for any 6f race) in their handicapping of a horse's performance!
SpartanTom More than 1 year ago
Dan, I was wondering if you have anything on Torsion? I used to see him as a sire/grandsire many years ago, but have not seen anything recently? He used to throw some good sprinters.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Alan, You mean Justwhistledixie RAN on Sat., NOT won on Sat. Some idiot picked Aurora Lights to win the race and screwed up the race. :) Annie
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Caseyjeaux: You knew it was coming. But how did they bet Flying Private, the co-longshot horse on the ML down to favorite status for this one. Too hard an effort for 1st race back, and he bled. Otherwise, the margin of victory over Toby the Coal Man might have been a bit greater, but your horse ran a good race. I guess we nailed the exacta between us there, hmmm? TBTA: Enticing Girl ran away with the 6th at Oaklawn as expected, but Cathywithac ran evenly and took home 5th purse money. She might be a useful "name" horse to follow!
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
KNM: Yes, you are laughing now at my expense, but I did have Canada's lunch yesterday! Annie: Now that was a hard one to miss...but Lights Out Annie's climatic race at Aqueduct was a modest showing in the light of day.
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
All. Dan, not expecting a comment. If you have the time, and something strikes your fancy, great. Was wondering how handicappers viewed a contentious race. If they typically tried to avoid them, or if they saw them as opportunities. What is your definition of a chaotic race. Is the word chaotic to harsh a term? Are there any similarities between a chaotic race and a contentious race? What is the minimum class and condition level race that you would bother with, when when you are serious and not taking an action wager? What is your opinion about the principle reasons why some tracks have a larger percentage of winning favorites than other tracks? Would you rather play the most difficult tracks? In your opinion, what is the principal reason(s) for a race to 'breakdown' into a chaotic race. Do you ever wager on the expectation a race will breakdown. What is you definition of a favorite. A contender. A longshot. How do the odds play into it? How does the position on the tote board play into it?? Thanks,