05/22/2009 5:31PM

Weekend thoughts

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

Louisville: 
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

Milady:
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

Vagrancy:
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

Elkwood:
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.

 

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Dan:
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. 

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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

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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.

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Dan,
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....
terry

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.

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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!

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


Best of Luck,

Dan