10/29/2010 5:31PM

Weekend Stakes Opinions

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

TURNBACK THE ALARM HANDICAP - Belmont Park - Race 6:

FUNNY MOON figures to take the lion's share of the wagering as the Grade 1 winner has been facing tougher competitors like Life At Ten during the year, and she should really appreciate the class relief presented to her in the Turnback the Alarm.  Still, she wasn't very good in a weak renewal of the Grade 1 Spinster over polytrack last time out, and lacks an explosive move.  You know what you're going to get from Funny Moon, and that's a good, honest effort.  Sometimes, that's good enough to win.  Other times, it's not. 
If OUR KHRYSTY runs back to her most recent race, I think she's going to give Funny Moon all that the favorite can handle.  Making her first start in a one-turn route on September 26, Our Khrysty sat the pocket under Ramon Dominguez, and was in behind horses at the quarter-pole.  She ducked to the inside, squeezed through a narrow opening, and then eased outside in midstretch to inhale BANKER'S BUY with a sixteenth to run.  It was a career-best number for Our Khrysty, and the recent bullet workout at her Penn National base allays fears of a bounce.  Our Khrysty has good tactical speed, and I believe she'll get the jump on Funny Moon turning for home.
Selections:  Our Khrysty, Funny Moon, Way With Words

BOLD RULER HANDICAP - Belmont Park - Race 9:

I don't love the two betting favorites so I will merely take a stab with an in-form price runner. 
BRIBON looms the chalk as the Grade 1 winner has faced stiff competition in his last few races.  But, following a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Forego, Bribon reportedly missed ten days of training after shedding a frog from his left front foot.  Plus, one must wonder if Bribon is using this race as a prep for the rich Cigar Mile at Aqueduct next month. 
TAHITIAN WARRIOR also figures to take play, but the Godolphin flagbearer had no excuse when upset at 1-5 odds by the unheralded Birdrun over a speed-favoring surface on September 22.  Tahitian Warrior has certainly run races that are fast enough to win the Bold Ruler, but you could make the argument that he's never beaten a good horse in his career. 
I ended up making a case for JACK ON THE ROCKS, a reformed claimer that won the Maryland Million Sprint in game fashion on October 2.  He scooted right to the front at Laurel that afternoon, was passed by the veteran Celtic Innis in the stretch, but gamely roared back along the inside to regain the lead in the shadow of the wire.  He has excellent early speed, and may attempt to steal this one on the front end.  It won't be easy, but the price will be square.
Selections:  Jack on the Rocks, Tahitian Warrior, Jersey Town

POCAHONTAS STAKES - Churchill Downs (Sunday) - Race 10:

HONEY CHILE and DANCINGINHERDREAMS both look very tough, but they figure to take most of the betting, and I'll try to make a case for a better-priced alternative. 
Honey Chile earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure when winning a 'n2L' allowance over the Keeneland polytrack on October 9, but the main track at Keeneland that day seemed to greatly favor speed horses, and Honey Chile dictated terms throughout in that affair.  Her only career defeat came at this one-turn mile distance, and she's never raced on dirt. 
Dancinginherdreams looked like a stakes horse when looping the field to win her heavily-backed debut at Keeneland, but she's going to have to stretch out a quarter-mile while racing on dirt for the first time.  If you watched her debut, you got the feeling that this gray filly has the potential to be a very good horse. 
I'm not sure how good GRAN LIONESS will eventually become, but she looked just fine winning an entry-level allowance over dirt at Hoosier Park on September 25.  She tracked the leaders while three wide, assumed command late on the turn, and drew away to win as much the best.  She's been given some time to recover from that effort, and will go out for the high-percentage Bret Calhoun barn.  Gran Lioness has good tactical speed, and should offer square odds.
Selections:  Gran Lioness, Honey Chile, Dancinginherdreams

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

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I may be a little late in updating poster comments over the weekend as I'll be swamped with Breeders' Cup Baby profiles (hopefully posted on Monday), the "Performance of the Week" column for DRF Simulcast Weekly (also expected to post on Monday), and tons of other good stuff in preparation for next week's Breeders' Cup

Enjoy the good weekend of racing.

Dan