09/13/2008 9:31AM

Weekend Stakes Opinions


Big Brown won't get any of my money today.  He's probably going to be up and close to the pace, but so will Kiss the Kid (all five wins accomplished when a length or closer to the early leader at the first call), Get Serious (gate-to-wire winner in his last two races), and Fagedaboutit Sal (pressed a half-mile in 45 flat two weeks ago over this turf course).  If he swats away all of those horses, he'll still have to fend off the closers.  I've never been a Shakis fan, but it looks like he's returning to form after successfully defending his Bernard Baruch title at the Spa.  He has an annoying habit of switching back to his wrong lead in the waning strides of his races, but should get a nice pace to attack here, and he'll be led to the post by Kiaran McLaughlin, a trainer that didn't do much wrong over the summer.  Proudinsky has a tendency to get overeager in the early part of his races, but he goes second off the layoff for the wily Bobby Frankel, and new rider Ramon Dominguez figures to allow the early leaders to run off and set a good pace.  That should benefit Proudinsky, a Grade 2 winner at this distance over yielding going.  He'll be running late.  Ballonenostrikes hasn't won since August 13, 2005, but he's often around the board, and could be a trifecta threat at huge odds.  Silver Tree is a pro's pro, and it wouldn't surprise me if he pulls this off for Bill Mott.  Kiss the Kid has good speed, but it may not be in the same league as Big Brown, and Fagedaboutit Sal is pretty quick from the gate as well.  Kiss the Kid has run some decent races, however, and will make the third start of the form cycle.
Selections:  Shakis, Proudinsky, Ballonenostrikes, Kiss the Kid

Noble Damsel:
Say You Will is a bit of a handful.  She often swishes her tail obstinately when put to pressure, and it's possible that sort of behavior has had a negative effect on her late kick in some of her previous races.  She seemed better in her last start at Churchill Downs, however, and was put in a tough situation once the gates opened.  She broke from the far outside post, was taken in hand to trail the field while down inside, and didn't have much pace to run at.  She ran on for fourth while saving ground throughout, and now reunites with John Velazquez, who was aboard for Say You Will's victory over this course two starts back.  She draws inside today, and may be closer to the pace.  We saw Vacare drop and pop at Del Mar following a couple of poor running lines, and Criminologist will hope today's class relief leads to similar results.  The gray mare looked good winning the Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct, but didn't have the punch in her next two starts against Grade 1 competition.  She's the horse to beat, but she probably won't offer a ton of value.  Sefroua is a granddaughter of Serena's Song, and she won her most recent start at this distance in France.  I'm not sure if she beat much, however, and she's reportedly a temperamental sort to boot.  Plus, she'll tackle older horses for the first time here.  I'll use her in the gimmicks.  Waquoit's Love switches to Garrett Gomez, but I've never been a fan of the big gray's stride.  She has ability though, and should offer some value.  Trouble Maker is a pretty good horse, and she's been in excellent form for Tom Albertrani.  Discount her at your own risk. 
Selections:  Say You Will, Criminologist, Sefroua, Waquoit's Love

Charitable Man was working up a storm for his career debut, and didn't disappoint once the gates opened.  He scooted to the front, and soon opened up an insurmountable advantage over his shell-shocked foes.  The son of Lemon Drop Kid may have to rate from his far outside post in the Futurity, but I think he has the potential to be a good one.  Gone Astray improved second-time out for Shug McGaughey with the addition of Lasix.  He showed a good deal of professionalism in the Travers Day baby race by rating and finishing nicely, and he earned a 90 Beyer as well.  He'll run hard late.  High Mesa went gate-to-wire at Delaware fo Larry Jones, much like uncoupled stablemate  Friesan Fire.  The former, a $7,000 yearling purchase, has good speed, and may set the pace from the rail while Friesan Fire is a $725,000 RNA by A.P. Indy.  Girolamo took all the money for his debut at Saratoga, but had to work mighty hard to win.  He's beautifully-bred, is the only runner in the field with a win at this distance, and has lots of upside. 
Selections:  Charitable Man, Gone Astray, High Mesa

Doremifasollatido was no match for the very fast Mani  Bhavan in the Adirondack, but the New York-bred daughter of Bernstein tried gamely for second-money, and may work out an inside-out stalking trip under Eibar Coa.  She's the most experienced runner in the field, and gets a tepid nod in a competitive Matron.  Miss Ocean City is one of the few first-out winners by Mineshaft, and although she's bred on top for longer distances, she showed excellent speed to win early in the Spa meet for Nick Zito.  She faces some tougher runners here, however, and may have to rate just a tad.  Heavenly Vision goes out for the red-hot "Dan Who," and she ran a nice race to graduate first-out at Saratoga.  She wheels right back in three weeks, and may work out a wonderful stalking trip under Edgar Prado.  Persistently uncorked an eye-catching late rally to win her second start, but the final time came back slow.  Saintly Rose used different running styles to win each one of her two lifetime starts, and was game in overcoming pace pressure to take a 'n2L' allowance at Delaware last time.  The other runners all come off solid maiden scores.  Nice race.
Selections:  Doremifasollatido, Miss Ocean City, Heavenly Vision

Hard to look past Music Note at odds-on here.  She's the fastest horse on paper, and she ran well behind the very game Proud Spell in the Alabama.  It was nice to see Country Star run well last time out after flopping at short odds in the Ashland and Kentucky Oaks.  Perhaps she's finally over some of those nagging injuries that shelved her after her successful juvenile campaign.  Hamsa just missed at this distance last time out, but that was against 'n2x' optional claimers.  Awesome I Am stretches out, has run some decent races, and may show speed from the rail.  Mega's lone win came in a maiden claimer going seven panels.
Selection:  Music Note

Arlington-Washington Futurity:
This should be a good betting race with 14 babies looking to take that next step on the road to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Terrain is 2-2 over dirt including a 90 Beyer score in the Mountaineer Juvenile.  He has tactical speed, should receive a nice pace setup, and is familiar with Polytrack as he's based at Keeneland for Al Stall.  Capt. Candyman Can pulled off a 19-1 debut shocker for Ian Wilkes at Saratoga, but he probably won't be anywhere near that price this afternoon, and it will be interesting to see if he can handle stretching out two and a half furlongs while switching surfaces.  A repeat of the dirt win makes him an obvious and logical threat.  Ready Racer has good speed, but may bre pressed by My Dominick James, and both are questionable at this distance.  Advice won his debut by eight over this course and distance for Todd Pletcher, and has the look of a promising sort. 
Selections:  Terrain, Capt. Candyman Can, Ready Racer, My Dominick James

Presque Isle Downs Masters:
I'm looking forward to making a solid win bet on Ride Em Cowgirl.  She was involved in a hot pace duel in the Nicoles Dream at Arlington, yet scooted away impressive en route to the score.  She's won four of her last five races, is a winner over the Tapeta surface, and should be promient when they turn for home.  Wild Gams missed a little time after her excellent runnerup effort in the First Flight Handicap at Belmont, but is a closing sprinter that should get a favorable pace scenario.  Not sure how much Dream Rush has left in the tank, but the multiple Grade 1 winner looms the speed of the speed.  Miss Macy Sue was the beaten favorite in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga, and the defending Masters champion shows a couple of bullet works in preparation for this year's renewal.  Dhanyata's last race, a loss over the Arlington turf against males, looks like a nice prep for her return to the scene of her runner-up effort in the Satin N Lace Stakes.
Selections:  Ride Em Cowgirl, Wild Gams, Dream Rush

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

Be back Monday evening with stakes Beyers as well as some responses to some of your comments and questions.