03/17/2012 12:26PM

Weekend Stakes Opinions


The 2011 Horse of the Year, HAVRE DE GRACE, will go off a prohibitive favorite in the New Orleans Ladies' at Fair Grounds this afternoon, but it's more than fair to say that the race is unappetizing from a gambling standpoint.

Let's keep an eye on some other intriguing runners that will race this weekend:

Inside Information Stakes - Gulfstream - Race 10 (Scratch - #3 CATCH A THIEF):
I'm a big fan of GROUPIE DOLL, a filly that has run three grueling races at Gulfstream this winter.  In her final start at three, Groupie Doll exploded to a triple-digit Beyer over PERSUADING and next-out Laurel stakes-winner Lacie Slew (85 Beyer in the Maryland Racing Media).  Two back, she tackled a salty male named Boys At Tosconova and gave that one all he could handle before dropping a tough three-quarter length loss.  Most recently, she was placed in an extremely tough spot, facing Grade 1 winner Awesome Maria and champion Royal Delta.  Groupie Doll gave it her all that afternoon, but was simply third-best, hardly a disgrace under the circumstances.  She turns back in distance here, draws a comfortable outside post position and may work out a good trip stalking FUNNY SUNNY and R HOLIDAY MOOD.  Todd Pletcher has done a wonderful drop with the latter filly, who tied up earlier in the meet, necessitating a gate scratch.  Since then, she's been on quite the roll.

MUSICAL ROMANCE, the winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, was compromised in her 2012 debut when she grabbed a quarter coming of the gate.  The wound became infected after the race and it will be interesting to see if she'll fire her best shot off only a pair of recent works.  HER SMILE, a $1,000,000 purchase by Frank Stronach after the Breeders' Cup, may have been too close to the pace when an even third in the recent Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes.  She certainly could improve in a very competitive heat.

MAGICAL FEELING is a win machine.  She's taken 11 of 19 races, including a career-best 97 Beyer when winning the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at this distance on February 18.


Rebel Stakes - Oaklawn - Race 10 - 6:48:
SECRET CIRCLE and SCATMAN dominated the faster division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on February 20, but I thought CYBER SECRET ran a bit better than it looked on paper.  He broke a beat slowly from the gate and was tracking the pace 3-4 wide for the first quarter-mile.  He moved up to prompt the leaders while four paths off the rail on the backstretch and he may have paid the price for his ground loss.  Two starts back, he exploded to a gate-to-wire win with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.  Cyber Secret draws a comfortable inside post and may attempt to save some ground in the second flight this time around.  It's possible he's a cut below the favorites, but I'll pay to find out at 15-1 on the morning line. 

UNBRIDLED'S NOTE beat eventual Sam F. Davis winner Battle Hardened in a sprint at Churchill Downs last year and did not have a good trip in the Southwest.  With an alert break, he may try to push both Secret Circle and Scatman early.



Honey Fox Stakes - Gulfstream (Sunday) - Race 10
TAPITSFLY has only won once since taking the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2009, but she showed some renewed life when finishing a close third in the Grade 3 Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream on January 7.  In the Marshua's River, Tapitsfly was four and five wide heading into the backstretch, moved in to be three wide after a half-mile, but was forced four deep again on the final turn.  She attacked from the three path turning for home and was simply outfinished by Heavenly Landing and LA REINE LIONNE.  It was her best race in several months and she has the tactical speed to lead or prompt.  At 6-1 on the morning line, I'm willing to give her one final shot.

Selections:  Tapitsfly, Romacaca, Bay to Bay


Here are some quick-and-dirty selections:

New Orleans Ladies: HAVRE DE GRACE

Santa Margarita (check track conditions and scratches): AWESOMEMUNDO, INCLUDE ME OUT, ELLAFITZ



For a more-detailed analysis, check out the "Handicapping Previews" that drf.com Handicapper Mike Beer and I taped earlier in the week:




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

Alex More than 1 year ago
PGM, A valid point which I failed to consider. My knowledge of thoroughbreds does not (yet) go far enough beyond the track. Need time. Bernard, Of course not. : ) No worries.
Meathead More than 1 year ago
Dick W. I have a son that just moved up to the pacific northwest and he just loves it there with all the rain and snow and the beautiful scenery and pristine beaches and mainly he is out of the scortching heat we get here in the desert of arizona. He lives in Astoria Oregon on the mouth of the Columbia River he calls it Gods country. what say you my friend? MH01
Keith More than 1 year ago
I'll chime in here too, Meathead. Astoria is a beautiful small shipping port from the heyday of lumber trades, and, of course, a fishing port. The hillside town is known for its excellent Victorian homes, and is set against the Douglas fir forest of the lands between the Cascade mountains and the Oregon coast. and its a very nice visit indeed, and I imagine a great place to live. I dated a gal from Astoria who was then living in Auburn (now home of Emerald Downes) in Washington State for serveral years in my time in the Northwest, and she insisted we go back to visit so she could show it off to me in all its glory. Keith L.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since there is no comment section up yet for the new thread, I'll post this here. :) OMG, ALAN, the link on the new thread is hilarious! I couldn't believe it. Only a Formblogger could come up with that. LOL KATIEATHERAIL, Hooray, your ANTHONY'S CROSS is coming back to the races the very next day after your big race. Undoubtedly encouraged by your ambitious comeback. :) Good luck with both! KEITH L, I see there is a strong consensus for ignoring the Reply button. You'll just have to get in line. I know you want your comments to be read. :) As to a draw for abandoned horses, I was thinking exactly that. The most important preps are coming up the end of this month and early April. Any horses qualifying for those GR1s deserves to have an enthusiastic owner. Annie
Alan Levitt More than 1 year ago
YIKES! I really must have been up all night reading the Condition Books... Inaugural! Inaugural! Inaugural!
Alan Levitt More than 1 year ago
I’ve been searching all night through pages and pages of Condition Books and have finally found a stakes race for Havre de Grace’s next start: THE INAUGERAL LARRY JONES SPRING LOW-WEIGHT STAKES 10f, $100,000 Guaranteed with $150,000 added (and distance changed to 9f) if any Maryland city namesake starts. Weight: 124 lbs; Winners of more than one lifetime race, allowed 2 pounds; at least one stakes race, allowed 4 pounds; at least one grade I stakes, allowed 6 pounds; Horse of the Year, allowed 10 pounds. Post position preference in order of lifetime accumulated earnings (highest earnings = 1st preference) with all entry fees waved for lifetime winners of greater than $2.5million.
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Where are you Smarty Jones ? Did I stifle you ? Don't let your brother stop you.....
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
I agree w/Alex. This blog is not a thread based forum. Boycott the reply function. Just like Tower of Power.."What's hip today, might become passe...." "You're on a hip trip...hip is, what it is........"................
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Those teams participating in the NIT Tournament better take heed of the Edsel.. & anybody else that follows it........Passion-less fruit......
Todd More than 1 year ago
Annie, Would you believe both? Laura, Do you think Gemologist has a conformation issue. Alot has been written about his left front leg coming down the stretch in his last race. I have watched his other races and it was there, but not as pronounced. Do you think it is something to be concerned about? Longwaytomay/Todd P.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alex, Please be assured that I was not having a pop at you. I only made the quality of racing versus mobile app comparison for effect. I never for one moment thought you would equate the two things. Alex and heylaserbeam, When I queried the number of races you have each day, I was thinking in really radical terms. What I was suggesting (no, ASKING), is that if you moved to a Euro pattern of racing, 6 or 7 races only, you could increase the size of the purses, attract a better class of horse and, hey presto, you attract more people to the track. Just for my information, what crowd does Hawthorne get on an average weekend? And Arlington? And what is the population of Chicago? Best Regards - Bernard Downes