05/22/2009 6:31PM

Weekend thoughts


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

Hate to chalk out, but SPICE ROUTE simply looks like the horse to down.  He saved ground for most of the way in the Elkhorn at Keeneland, had to wait just a bit entering the far turn, angled three wide turning for home, and looked very solid turning back all challengers in the stretch.  He adores this marathon distance, and should get some pace to attack with THABAZIMBI and WHY TONTO pushing the pace.
Selection:  Spice Route

Perhaps the only way to slay the beast is to attack her in the first start following the long layoff.  ZENYATTA is obviously the horse to beat, but stablemate LIFE IS SWEET looked like Zenyatta-light when winning the Santa Margarita under only hands and heels encouragement from Garrett Gomez.  Life Is Sweet's career has been rejuvenated since switching to synthetic surfaces, and she may attempt to get the jump on the big mare turning for home. 
Selections:  Life Is Sweet, Zenyatta, Dawn After Dawn

Think that ANY LIMIT is quicker from the gate than CAROLYN'S CAT, and Any Limit may have been compromised by a closer-friendly main track at Gulfstream on March 15.  Although no match for GAME FACE after battling on the lead that day, Any Limit showed some courage by fending off Keep the Peace for the runner-up spot.  Any Limit is a .500 hitter after eight starts at Belmont, and the Chief workeder in 58 and change for this.
Selection:  Any Limit

Arlington Matron:
INDESCRIBABLE looks like a logical favorite.  The defending Arlington Matron champion looked very professional in her recent score in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland, and her good tactical speed may have her in an excellent spot for the backstretch run. 
Selections:  Indescribable, Kiss With a Twist

Hanshin Cup:
Although STONEHOUSE didn't beat much last time out in the Milwaukee Avenue for Illinois-breds, he made not much look like nothing at all.  He pushed the pace from the two path, then absolutely named his margin under nothing more than a hand ride.  He has to prove that he's as good on polytrack, and that inside post may force his hoof, but Stonehouse's last race has me believing that he's the real deal.
Selections:  Stonehouse, Dominican, Spotsgone

Wonder if horses like SILVER TREE, CLASSIC CAMPAIGN, and ICY ATLANTIC are getting a bit long in the tooth.  Instead, I'll take a shot with FEARLESS EAGLE, a five-year-old that lived up to his name by squeezing through a tight opening on the rail to win the Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs two starts back.  Last time out, Fearless Eagle was compromised by a wide trip and a slow pace in the Grade 3 Miami Mile at Calder.  Fearless Eagle should get a bit more pace to attack in this race, and should offer decent value.
Selections:  Fearless Eagle, Silver Tree, Carson Hall

I'm also interested in the seventh at Belmont on Saturday.  It's a maiden special weight for three-year-olds and upward at 6 1/2 furlongs, and there's tons of potential here.  Among the first-time starters:

*Bobby Frankel has an Empire Maker colt out of a stakes-winning half-sister to 2000 Guineas hero Zafonic. 
*Tom Albertrani has a $450,000 Friends Lake colt that's a half to two stakes winners. 
*Shug McGaughey has a son of A.P. Indy and Storm Flag Flying. 
*Kiaran McLaughlin's Distorted Humor colt cost $1,000,000 as a yearling, and worked in 59 1/5.
*HOOPOE is a Birdstone colt that cost $220,000, and will go out for Nick Zito.

I landed on GRIDIRON, a $100,000 yearling that was bought back for $290,000 last year.  By Giant's Causeway out of the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Tomorrows Sunshine, Gridiron's last two workouts match up with John Terranova's older stakes horse True Resurgence.  Terranova already has a pair of debut winners this year, and the 12-1 morning line price lookis appealing.



One of the fastest fillies I ever saw was Melair.  I vaguely remember a mile race in California where the 6 and 7 furlong times were HOT. Was Melair in that race?
Wright Stuff

Here are Melair's lifetime past performances:

Download Melair

I went back to the 1987 American Racing Manual to find the chart for the Grade 2 Silver Screen Handicap on July 5, 1986.  Melair went off the 19-10 second choice behind 3-5 favorite Snow Chief.  Melair broke from the far outside in the twelve-horse field, cleared to the front through fractions of 22 1/5, 44 3/5, 1:08, 1:19 4/5, and 1:32 4/5, winning "ridden out" by 6 1/2 lengths under Patrick Valenzuela.  That seven-furlong time is sizzling. 
Melair was weighted at 123 lbs. on the 1986 Daily Racing Form Free Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, one pound less than Tiffany Lass. 


Hi Dan,
Can you publish past performances of Broad Brush? He certainly was a horse that that any owner or racing fan would be proud of.
fort marcy

Here they are:

Download BroadBrush


Dan, Is Dunkirk recovered enough to be removed from your disabled list?
Why are so many owners/trainers so anxious to test MTB in the Belmont? Will some defect if RA is entered and does RA have to be supplemented like the $100k in the Preakness?
ray flack

I usually remove horses from the disabled list once they return to the races following the injury.  If he runs in the Belmont, I'll remove him after that race.  After Da'Tara's upset of Big Brown last year, it's possible that many owners/trainers feel that this is the best shot to upset a horse that's gone through the rigorous Triple Crown trail.  Also, horses like Charitable Man weren't ready for the Derby while Mr. Hot Stuff, Chocolate candy, and Dunkirk were pointing for this race all along after they got beat in Louisville.  I don't think Rachel Alexandra will scare any of those away.  Some horsemen have doubts about whether she'll be successful at twelve furlongs off that tough Preakness effort.  I don't believe Rachel Alexandra has to be supplemented to the Belmont.


I have been following Readys Echo for some time now.The horse ran a pretty impressive race last time out.What is your impression of him in the Met Mile this weekend ?Also, do you think Dominican has a chance at Arlington,this Saturday.He sure seems to relish the synthetic tracks......Thanks
By the way,Best column around for horse enthusiasts.Great job....

Thanks for the kind words.  I was at Keeneland the day Ready's Echo won, and there were certainly some ooh's and aah's as he made his powerful surge.  I'm not sure he beat much that day, however, and he was able to relax all by his lonesome near the back of the pack. He should get a solid pace setup in the Met Mile, but I think he may be in a bit too steep. 
Dominican certainly has a chance in the Hanshin Cup.  As you say, he does his best running on synthetics, and is another that may benefit from a good pace up front.  I wouldn't take him lightly.


Congrats to Jeff_Tatus for finishing first in this week's HandiGambling contest.  He defers his selection of next week's race to Annie.  Pick us a good one!


Kennedy asked some interesting questions about Tomlinsons.  I'll be back next week with some research on past Belmonts and Derbies.

Best of Luck,


TejanoRun More than 1 year ago
The most recent CHRB Vet’s List, dated May 22, 2009, includes Hyperbaric for “MEDICATION,” on the list since April 5, 2009. http://chrb.ca.gov/VETLISTDATE.pdf I am totally confused as a handicapper and cannot fathom how Hyperbaric was permitted to race today. How does this protect the public interest? As Hyperbaric finished 2nd today, earning a nice purse of $64,100, I wonder if the CHRB will fine Julio Canani $100 as a deterrent to future infractions. [Smile – sarcastic.] Unlike the other categories used – UNSOUND; INJURED; and SICK - I just don’t understand what “MEDICATION” means, again relative to the Vet’s List. I have scoured the CHRB website and the Cal racing laws but cannot find a description or explanation. FYI, I posed this question to Dan a few months ago and we (he) believed the reference to “MEDICATION” was related to steroids. Sounded plausible at the time, but there is something amiss. The biggest miscreant with horses on the Vet’s list in this category is Mike “Hallelujah and Praise the Lord” Mitchell, by far. Recently Bob Hess and Ted West each have had a slew of horses listed also. Not sure what game Mitchell and/or the CHRB is playing, but Mitchell’s horses Church Service and Big Booster have been on the Vet’s list regularly since last year…on the list, on the list, on the list, then magically come right off the list for a race, sometimes finish in-the-money and collect a nice purse, but then go right back on the Vet’s list, sometimes the same day of a race! Again, how does this protect the public’s interest? It’s not protecting my interest, I think he’s got the fix in. Maybe the Zayats can tell us why they employ Mike Mitchell as trainer of Halo Najib, who also has been on the Vet’s List for MEDICATION since 5/14.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Dan - I see the $2 exacta in the Milady paid $3.20 while the $2 tri came back a whopping $13.20. Do you (or anyone else) know if those figures come close to the lowest ever payouts for those two wagers?
C More than 1 year ago
JohnC, I understand your frustration, but at the same time, I don't blame Shirreffs. First, the decision to retire her would be Moss', not his. As for shipping her east, blame the Breeders Cup, not Shirreffs. I wouldn't ship her all over the place either, only to end up back home in October. Let's see if the Breeders Cup ever chooses the same location 2 years in a row again. Is money any greener in NY? I also agree with him that the Hollywood Gold Cup is an overly ambitious spot, as she'd be running against much better competition for her first try at 10 furlongs. Shirreffs obviously feels she wouldn't win in that spot, so why would he run her there, instead of trying for an easier paycheck in an easier spot? Racetracks and the graded stakes committee have made it far too easy to run and hide and still collect big paychecks. When someone like Jackson comes along, it's a gift for us horseplayers, because he clearly doesn't have to do what he does. It's hard to put the blame on those that aren't as sporting. The way the game is set up, I'd do the same thing.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
TBTA - If I remember correctly, Phil Ochs wrote the theme song to Kansas City Bomber but it was never used.
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
Tough weekend at Arlington (my betting losses really don't seem important with everything else that happened-thankfully at least Inez is all right and Uriel Lopez was able to walk off under his own power) I thought Cooler by the Lake actually ran better yesterday,and DAN I need your help! (Ours is a partnership where the trainer makes all final decisions so I need some "amo" regarding next starts for a couple of horses) If you could give me the beyers for COOLER BY THE LAKE for Monday, May 25th (4th race at Arlington) TRIPPIT for Sunday May 17th (11th race at Arlington) and DIGI'S TOLERANCE for April 27th (8th race at Hawthorne) they may help me "get my way". I'm trying to talk him into something and if the numbers are what I think they'll be I may be able to pull it off-I'll let everyone know if I do and how it ends up working out!
Eric More than 1 year ago
What a great story, seeing Autism Awareness upset the Berkeley more than a year after taking the El Camino Real at 62-1. It's terrific for the connections, and for the cause!
Brett F. More than 1 year ago
This news about Douglas is tragic. And how must Theriot feel? This stuff happens so often in racing yet jockey's getting paralyzed does not happen as often as the number of spills that happen in race. A truly tragic story with no real good news. Thoughts and prayers for all involved. And it may seem like a poor question but if Douglas is not seriously injured does Theriot still get a 30-day suspension? And is the current suspension nation wide?
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
temcentcielo: Thanks for the encouraging words, but I am pretty much clueless as to trainers/jockeys etc. up there with the exception of maybe Mark Casse and P. Husbands. But, will have a go. I'm not so sure I'd write off the favorite, unless he scratchs?
jim tully More than 1 year ago
For all those who thought Calvin Borel owed his loyalty to this horse or that horse, this owner or that owner... Sunday I watched an interview with Bennie Stutts concerning the best horse he had ever trained, Smooth Air. The man was as proud as a peacock discussing SA as if it was one of his own children. He spoke glowingly about his horses chances in the Met Mile and his desire to get a Grade I for his horse. The man was absolutely gushing. Tuesday the horse is gone, transferred to Chad Brown. There is no such thing as loyalty in this game, it's treated as a business nowadays with the same cold mindset as stock options are traded.
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
Katieattherail: Good for you, I was goofing on the blog Monday AM and off to get the bargeque supplies (chicken, makings for potatoe salad, etc). and by the time I realized I hadn't made my selections on the third day of the contest, it was too late, and I'm floating out to sea without my life preserver.