06/12/2010 10:14AM

Weekend Thoughts


If you happen to have a case of the post-Triple Crown Blues, fear not!

This weekend's racing action is sure to cure.

Star power will surround the Sport of Kings as Zenyatta, racing's Reflection of Perfection, goes to battle on Sunday at Hollywood Park against the talented St Trinians.  Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, will look to get back to her winning ways at Churchill Downs later this afternoon.  The talented Rail Trip will go off an odds-on favorite in the Californian while the speedy and game Presious Passion heads a contentious field in the Monmouth.  Blame and Battle Plan, a pair of emerging handicappers, share top billing in the Stephen Foster, but they'll have to fend off defending champion Macho Again and hot horses Arson Squad, Duke of Mischief, and General Quarters.  Unrivaled Belle, who conquered Rachel Alexandra last time out, leads a small but select grouping in the Ogden Phipps.

It's a smorgasbord of talented horses and there are some excellent betting opportunities sprinkled among them.  Let's take a peek.

Jefferson Cup - Churchill Downs - Race 7:
LOST APTITUDE looks to have a strong pace advantage in this spot, a situation that failed to present itself in the American Turf on Kentucky Oaks afternoon.  He's talented, but headstrong, and he hasn't finished ahead of another horse since New Year's Day.  Perhaps he got sour after they unsuccessfully tried him on dirt in the Fountain of Youth and one has to wonder if he's still the same horse that won the Grand Canyon over this course and distance last year.  At 5-2 on the morning line, I'll play against him.
ASPHALT received a beautiful ride under the now-sidelined Julien Leparoux in the American Turf, rating behind the sizzling pace, staying inside turning for home, and rallying to finish second behind Doubles Partner.  He doesn't have to be too far behind the pace and should be in striking position when they straighten into the stretch.  He'll go second off the layoff for high-percentage local trainer Eddie Kenneally and may be ready to fire another good one.
Selections:  Asphalt, Our Douglas, Formulaforsuccess

Northern Dancer - Churchill Downs - Race 8:
This time, I'll stick with the controlling speed.  COLIZEO, trained by Todd Pletcher, prepped nicely for this in gate-to-wire fashion on May 9 and wasn't under heavy urging to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths over PRINCE WILL I AM.  The third-place finisher that day, Down With Dixie, returned to nose out entry-level optional claimers with an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.  Favored over Fly Down and First Dude at Gulfstream over the winter, Colizeo may be ready to fulfill his promise and seems ideally-spotted in the Northern Dancer.
Selections.  Colizeo, Max Silverhammer, Vow to Wager

Stephen Foster - Churchill Downs - Race 10:
Simply a wonderful race.  Ten stakes-winners (nine graded) line up to compete for the lion's share of the $600,000 purse.  BATTLE PLAN is the dangerous, controlling speed for Todd Pletcher while BLAME is a professional and extremely talented, yet underrated, racehorse.  It wouldn't be a surprise if either wins the Foster, but I'll go with a bigger price with DUKE OF MISCHIEF, the impressive winner of the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in his most recent outing. 
A late-developing three-year-old in 2009, Duke of Mischief won the Iowa Derby before flopping in his final three starts of the year.  It was discovered he flipped his palate after finishing a dull seventh in the Oklahoma Derby and he returned to the races at four with a flourish, winning the off-the-turf Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park on January 10.  Duke of Mischief reportedly bled while well-behind Quality Road in the Donn, but he got back on the beam at Oaklawn, tracking the pace along the inside before making a decisive three-wide sweep on the turn.  It must be pointed out that the Oaklawn Handicap field wasn't the strongest and Duke of Mischief will get the proverbial "acid test" this afternoon.  Still, he has enough tactical speed to sit in close attendance to Battle Plan.  Let's find out if he's this good.
Selections:  Duke of Mischief, Battle Plan, Blame

Californian - Hollywood - Race 9:
RAIL TRIP is the most likely winner, obviously.  He returned from some foot problems to score in the Mervyn LeRoy and he should work out a great trip stalking probable pacesetters TRES BORRACHOS and ONE TRACK MIND.  It's probably folly to pick against him, but I'll toss a couple of bucks on AITCHO. 
His trainer, John Shirreffs, has always felt that Aitcho had talent, but the Stormy Atlantic colt has never really put it together.  His main claim to fame has been that he worked in company with Zenyatta on May 17, four days before Aitcho's third-place finish behind One Track Mind in an optional claiming race.  He'll go second off the layoff here and should get some pace to attack at a big price.
Selections:  Aitcho, One Track Mind, Rail Trip

Ogden Phipps - Belmont - Race 4:
Only a field of five, but the Big Three look pretty strong.  UNRIVALED BELLE will likely go off favored based on her big performance against Rachel Alexandra last time out and the Belmont-loving FUNNY MOON was sharp last time out in the Grade 2 Shuvee.  Both are very tough customers, but I'll take a chance with LIFE AT TEN, a mare that has been nursed through quarter crack issues to post four straight victories for Pletcher.  She stalked and pounced to win the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne and should be close to the pace once again in the Ogden Phipps.  As with Duke of Mischief in the Foster, this will be the sternest class challenge Life At Ten has ever faced and it's possible that the hulking mare is better around two turns.  I'll tread lightly, but play her on top.
Selections:  Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle, Funny Moon

Monmouth - Monmouth - Race 10:
PRESIOUS PASSION flopped in Dubai, but that scenario wasn't the best for him as he faced a strong international field on a course with a long stretch.  He's back in the States and should flaunt his tremendous early speed in the Monmouth, but there are reasons to be leery.   First, this race may serve as a prep for the United Nations later in the meeting.  Second, GET SERIOUS has serious early speed and may try to go with Presious Passion early. 
The race may go to a closer and BLUES STREET has been a revelation for Pletcher since being offered for as low as $75,000 last Fall.  He's won four of his last five and was in with a chance before flattening out late in the Grade 1 Turf Classic over boggy conditions at Churchill Downs last time out.  Blues Street showcased a powerful stretch run to win a couple of graded events at Fair Grounds and should be rallying in the lane once more today.
Selections:  Blues Street, Presious Passion, Get Serious

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

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Curt V. , RA didn't make my list because I don't think she'd hit the board vs. those horses. Besides I'm certain the owner isn't going to try that. I didn't think you'd back your bold comments with a list of your own.
bobc More than 1 year ago
What a Parlay Can't speak for the authenticity of this statement, but TVG announcers said that going into yesterdays's race, if someone had placed a $100 win bet on Zenyatta's first race and continued to parlay it through her streak they would have amassed over $870,000. With yesterday's win it would be over $1.3 million. Yeah, I know the larger wagers would have impacted the final payoffs. But still not bad for less than a full hours worth of racing. bobc P.S. Would anyone be willing to put up the $1.3 Million on her next race?
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Blackseabass TVG noted yesterday that the Zenyatta Bobblehead was already showing up on E-Bay at $100....go fiqure I enjoyed your post as to you and your son's 'Zenyatta' track experiance. SR Vegas
Annie More than 1 year ago
Matt, Matt, Matt Annie
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
My own personal best was twenty-nine rousing finishes coming from off the pace in a ten day period on the Jersey Shore in what happened to be my Honeymoon trip. But, that pales in comparison to what DiMaggio was able to do with his bat, I admit.
Annie More than 1 year ago
WOW, I just got home and watched the replay of Zenyatta's race. I have to admit that I checked the results first because I knew I wouldn't be able to stand the suspense and I sure wanted her to win. I also have to admit that I felt more certain that Rachel was going to win her race against those horses, but was a little worried about St. Trinians in Z's race. But, no problem, Z just does what she needs to do. What a racehorse! Enjoyed the Sex in the City movie today. It had some funny parts. The characters are all looking older, but then, aren't we all. LOL Big still looks good. Aidan looks a little different. Hey, did you know John Corbett (Aidan) is going with Bo Derek? I guess they're not married though, but yet they're thinking of adopting a baby. Why, I don't know. Anyway, congratulations to Zenyatta and Rachel! Annie
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
blackseabass: I see you are willing to accept Blame as a 10 furlong horse, although he has yet to be asked to get the distance. I guess maybe your question to "C" as to what mare could beat St. Trinians, one would have to speculate that Evening Jewel or Tuscon Evening for a couple of "ladies of the night" might get the job done, no?
robertSD More than 1 year ago
Pick-4 Will-Pay Changes Following A Scratch This has happened to me more than a few times of late. A Pick-4 payoff drops considerably when there is a late scratch -- where all the scratched money goes to favorite if that fave wins -- as in the winning fave of today's tenth at HP. While today's late Pick-4 at Hollywood Park wasn't anything to write home about it still was going to get my money back for today's two Pick-4 bets (pre-scratch pay of $64) -- though after the scratch and #10-Caitie's Secret winning (she was the 2-1 fave) -- I got back a whole $40. And the way she won I'm pretty sure the scratched runner #7-Laura Beasley wouldn't have beaten her. So thanks to the scratch I lost a whopping 40% of the original pre-scratch payoff -- sure it was a small amount but the percentage lost was huge -- that just seems wrong. Any ideas? - robertSD
Bear More than 1 year ago
Annie, Once in awhile I laugh out loud when I read some comment here on the blog, but your Matt, Matt, Matt post not only made me laugh when I read it but it makes me smile even as I write this. Thanks
C More than 1 year ago
"St. Trinians is the 2nd best mare in the country." Hahahahha... I'm just trying to stop laughing long enough to type this. "Name the Mare besides Zenyatta that you think can beat St Trinians C ?" You can't be serious. Hahaha, I'm cracking up. St Trinians is a nice filly and all, but she's a ONE-TIME Grade TWO and suddenly she's the second best female in the USA?!? What????? There's a lot of females that can beat her. Rachel is just one of them.