02/04/2012 12:02PM

Weekend Stakes Opinions

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

AQUEDUCT - RACE 3 - TOBOGGAN STAKES:

Let's scratch #J J'S LUCKY TRAIN. 

Please note that #4 RULE BY NIGHT will race with one bar shoe.

I was enamored with CANDYMAN E following his come-from-behind victory in the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel on October 22.  He was steadied on the backstretch and raced in behind horses in upper stretch, but split rivals decisively near the inside during the run up to the wire to get there in time.  That was his fourth straight victory (he has won six of his last seven races) and two of the horses that he beat in the De Francis (Sunrise Smarty, finished sixth) and Ravalo (finished eighth) returned to win stakes with Beyers of 95 and 90, respectively. 
The main concern is that Candyman E hasn't raced since the De Francis and his trainer, Tony Dutrow, has indicated that he may not be at 100% peak fitness for the Toboggan. 
Still, I'm a pessimist mostly as it pertains to humans, but am mostly forgiving and optimistic with equines.  Candyman E showed me something at Laurel and he should get a good pace setup in the Toboggan. 
I was thinking of using Rule by Night in the exotics (you'll notice my selections in the video link I put at the end of this blog post), but I'm hesitant to back him with the bar shoe on. 
SELECTIONS (revised):  CANDYMAN E (part of entry), CAIXA ELETRONICA (part of entry), DISKI DANCE

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TAMPA BAY DOWNS - RACE 11 - SAM F. DAVIS STAKES:

Of the three major Kentucky Derby preps over this weekend (Withers, Robert B. Lewis as the two others), the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs may be the best betting race. 

My goal is to beat a couple of horses that figure to take their share of the action.  STATE OF PLAY is a quality runner from top-notch connections, but he has never raced on dirt and has only started once since Saratoga due to coming down with elevated temperatures.  He draws a good inside post for this two-turn test, but there are simply too many questions for me to take a short price.  ECABRONI, trained by Todd Pletcher, could be the main speed of the Sam F. Davis.  He stretches out following a pair of sprint runs at Gulfstream Park and the only horse to race back since his maiden win graduated for a $75,000 tag in an off-the-turf race with a 58 Beyer.  Although the dam won twice at this distance, Ecabroni's sire, Smoke Glacken, is mostly viewed as a sprint influence.  He can certainly win this race, but it's his first start around two turns and he could be somewhat vulnerable. 

Instead, I landed on NECK 'N NECK, a maiden winner at this distance two starts back at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes.  Two horses came back to win from that race, albeit against weaker company with Beyers of 71 and 60, and Neck 'n Neck acquitted himself quite nicely in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream on January 7.  Facing the talented Discreet Dancer in a one-turn mile that may be a bit sharp for this son of Flower Allew, Neck' n Neck tracked the pace along the rail, but was shuffled out by a tiring pacesetter entering the turn.  Jose Lezcano had a chance to alter course outside in midstretch, but he decided to stay in and Neck 'n Neck rallied well to be second best.  His speed figures are going the right way and he could get a little pace to run at here. 
REVERON, conditioned by 10-time Venezuelan champion trainer Agustin Bezara, has won three straight, inculuding the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at this distance on New Year's Day.  He's the one I would use with Neck 'n Neck in multiple-race wagers:
SELECTIONS:  NECK 'N NECK, REVERON, ECABRONI

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STRUB STAKES - RACE 8 - SANTA ANITA:

TAPIZAR should be the heavy favorite based on his blow-out victory in the Grade 2 San Fernando here on January 14, but he has a tendency to pull hard in the early portion of his races and I am skeptical as to whether he can carry his speed this whole nine furlongs. 

Instead, I'll give one more chance to PRAYER FOR RELIEF, the 2011 winner of the Grade 3 Iowa Derby, Grade 2 West Virginia Derby and Grade 2 Super Derby (the latter two races at this distance).  Prayer for Relief was entered in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but came down with a temperature and was forced to miss the race.  Instead, trainer Bob Baffert ran him against older rivals in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap to disastrous results.  In the San Fernando, Prayer for Relief chased Tapizar over that speed favoring track and just didn't have the needed punch in the lane.  He goes second off the layoff here under Rafael Bejarano and may allow some other speedsters to go after Tapizar this time around.  I'm a bit concerned that Baffert mentioned that he isn't sure if Prayer for Relief likes this Santa Anita surface (despite a bullet 58 3/5 drill on January 29), but I'll give him a try to beat the favorite.
SELECTIONS:  PRAYER FOR RELIEF, TAPIZAR, INDIAN WINTER

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SAN ANTONIO STAKES - RACE 7 - SANTA ANITA (Sunday):

If GAME ON DUDE gets beat in the San Antonio on Super Bowl Sunday, some sports fans will think it's the biggest upset on the day since the Jets upset the Colts in Super Bowl III.  While that's probably not going to happen (Game On Dude is a very good horse racing at his best distance on his favorite surface), it he is going to stub his toe, I want at least a ticket on UH OH BANGO to pull of the upset.  Uh Oh Bango defeated San Antonio opponents TRES BORRACHOS and SKIPSHOT in professional manner in winning the Grade 3 San Pasqual Stakes here on January 7.  There are obvious class and distance conerns for this Arizona-bred, but Game On Dude may not be allowed to roll on the early lead with horses like Tres Borrachos, VICTORY PETE and, perhaps, EL GATO MALO (cross-entered to face Mr. Commons on Saturday) in the race.  Game On Dude is the most likely winner of the San Antonio and an 'A' on your Ticketmaker multi-race wagers.  But I'll make Uh Oh Bango a 'C' and give him a win play.
SELECTIONS:  UH OH BANGO, GAME ON DUDE, TRES BORRACHOS

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Some quick and dirty picks:

*ARCADIA STAKES:  MR. COMMONS, M ONE RIFLE, WILLYCONKER

*ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES:  LIAISON, ISN'T HE CLEVER, GROOVIN' SOLO

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Check out the stakes videos that Mike Beer and I produced at the following link.  They can be found under the "Handicapping Preview" headers underneath those beautiful horses. 

http://www.drf.com/events/weekend-stakes-previews-picks-analysis-more

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

Best of luck to all.

Suheil More than 1 year ago
Dan, How did they Roman Tiger go of at 28-1? He was just as good as the others and a big overlay.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
BSB I was hoping to 'shock', as it is totally out of chararter for me to be negative, & I get it . Now off to Golf! Muchos Besos :) Chicago Gerry There you are! In celebration, I've sent you a Blue Thong Sandwich. Keep an eye out for it ...lol! Keith L I prefer Vanilla :) 'idealian spirit' ...about sums it up
Virgin Queen More than 1 year ago
Chicago Jerry nice 2 hear from u..hope everything is fine. VQ
TheVanGogh More than 1 year ago
C, I'm with you on Luck. It's uncomfortable to watch. The characters are all super exaggerated stereotypes who speak exclusively in the racetrack lexicon, which is a classic case of a show being over-written. The writers want to incorporate any and all horse racing lingo they can summon up, and the end result is very unnatural dialogue. It's as if they think handicappers are incapable of having normal conversations. Maybe FormBlog was the inspiration...
C More than 1 year ago
TBTA, "C, From a long time ago: I stand corrected, Artest does not run very professionally." You really had to go back in the archives for that one... might want to alert Curt though. We'll see what happens with Artest.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Chicago Gerry I was just saying to myself 'I sure do miss Chicago Gerry', and presto, there is a post from C. G. Good to hear things are going well for you. Hope to see more posts forthcoming. Yuwipi Welcome aboard. I recognize your moniker from the Crist blog. I started out over there and gradually gravitated to Illman land. Nothing against Crist as I still occasionally read his stuff, but this IMO is the best horse racing blog around, even when things get a little testy. Dick W
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
CHICAGO GERRY!!!!!!!!!! You must have read my mind! I have a "to do" list of people to write and check on and you were at the top of the list. Not having internet for over a week put me wayyyyy behind. I am so glad you are back to posting. Put the Millions date on your dance card. I already pledged to PGM that we are going again and taking down some more trifectas. Some people are good enough to shoot for the NHC, BC pick 6's and signers, but I have to be satisfied with $1 trifectas on Millions Day. ;) C, Hahahaha...............no archives, I just have a good memory for a Hard Spun colt. Meathead, I forgot to congratulate you on your epic DD this weekend. Nice going. Yuwipi, Welcome to Formblog. I have seen your posts quite often at the "other" blog. :) P Ensign, I got a captcha you will especially appreciate- "Romne faces," -Do you think Captcha is a registered Republican? Does it vote over and over again or will a spam filter stop it? :)
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
TBTA thank you for the congrats I appreciate it MH01
Chicago Gerry More than 1 year ago
Steve T., I agree the conversation here gets pretty bad at times. I mainly am at a stage where I just want peace and non-confrontation in my life. Can't say I was always that way but, that was then, and this is now. Steve I can't say I blame you. On the other hand, I try to stay connected because of that smart handsome rascal Dan, and because of informed handicappers like you. You being amongst my primary reasons. Regarding the Formblog: "Graceless lady you know who I am, I just can't let you, slip thru my hands." Steve T. , I hope you will stick around. >>> TBTA, You should see me now. Am in good physical shape, and coming of hip replacement so, I look to get rid on my cane, and will be linedancin' soon. Am in recovery now, resting, exercising, and reading John Grisham novels. Maybe I'll see you and your hubby out at Arlington again some day. Thanks.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Chicago Gerry, I'm so glad to hear that things are going good for you! I've been worried, not hearing from you for so long. Hope you will post more often now. We've missed you! Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Todd Saunders, I don't know if Steve will respond; he's a bit miffed right now. Hopefully he will, but I'll put in my 2 cents just in case. :) Well, his name is GIVIMAWAY. :) Don't know that they are really trying to give him away; not many unraced horses are claimed for 75K in their debut. It's probably a safe way to see what they've got without putting him in over his head. He's had some nice works, and may or may not be ready to win first out. I don't have the PPs, so I don't know how he compares to the others in the race. But, putting him in the high MD claiming is not saying he is a dog or anything. Annie
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
Chicago Gerry wow am glad you are doing so good and welcome back to the best d..m horse blog in cyber space you have been missed for sure. welcome back MH01
Annie More than 1 year ago
Bernard, P.S. An example from Sunday's San Antonio Stakes at SA at 1-1/8 miles: The two highweights (123) ran first and second, the other three carried 118. Five pounds, no problem. :) Annie
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, You may already be aware of this because of your penchant for German bloodlines. But, for your FYI, I see that Monsun was designated last fall as a Classic/Solid chef-de-race. http://www.chef-de-race.com/dosage/chefs-de-race/monsun.htm
SpartanTom More than 1 year ago
Little Chok: Congratulations on your NHC win; it is a priviledge to have you(and Big Chok) participating in LSD's formblog. With regards to luck vs. skill, I would say the ratio would be 90% skill and 10% luck. It reminds me of the old adage " the harder I work, the luckier I get." You have obviously worked very hard crafting your "contest" skills and contests present many "unique" handicapping factors to consider when making contest wagers. Your (and others who regularly qualify) consistent ability to qualify for the NHC goes beyond the concept of "luck;" it is more probably the result of an accurate assessment of your own handicapping strengths and weaknesses and the ability to apply those assessments within the framework of contest rules. I would also wish to congratulate Alan and other formbloggers who participated in the NHC; it is an amazing testament to your SKILL as handicappers in qualifying for the NHC. I was out of touch when the kerfuffle involving BSB and Mike occcured and am sorry to see anyone leave the blog. I would encourage all bloggers to remember that Dan and DRF have presented us with a wonderful opportunity to share our opinions about handicapping and horse racing, a sport which we all apparently love, and we should at all times try to remain CIVIL with each other. Will we always agree with each othe, NO, but that does not mean that we can not learn from each other. This is not a venue to practice oneupmanship or to call someone a fool(unless of course you know the person well and it will be taken tongue-in-cheek). We all have the same interest, a love of horse racing, and I would hope those who have left, will return, and those who remain will treat other bloggers with the respect they feel they themselves are due. Again, congratulations to all formbloggers who participated in the NHC. SpartanTom