08/07/2010 8:06AM

Zenyatta + Quality Road = Coast to Coast Starpower

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It's a star-studded weekend of racing with Zenyatta seeking her eighteenth straight win in the Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar while Quality Road headlines the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

If that doesn't excite you, check to see if you're still breathing. If you are and you're still not interested, I'll throw in a contentious running of the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, an interesting edition of the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer, and a fascinating renewal of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at the Spa on Sunday.

Here are one man's opinions on some of the upcoming races:

Test - Saratoga - Race 9:

It's a shame that morning line favorite FRANNY FREUD was injured earlier in the week. It's a tough blow for the connections, the horse herself, and for gamblers that were looking to bet against the chalk. PICA SLEW, my top selection, may go off at underlaid odds thanks to the scratch. After beginning her career in underwhelming style in a polytrack stakes race at Woodbine last year, Pica Slew reeled off three impressive wins at Calder when returned to the races in the Spring. Last time out, in the Grade 3 Azalea on Summit of Speed afternoon, Pica Slew showed a new dimension by rating off a runaway speed before reeling that one in with ease. She earned a big figure in that spot and has worked a quick half-mile over the Saratoga main track in preparation for the Test.
Pica Slew may have some difficulty with the inside post, however, and she's never tried seven furlongs. She does have good gate speed, but with CHAMPAGNE D'ORO parked to her outside, it's questionable whether she'll make the lead. Manoel Cruz is going to have to work out a good trip with Pica Slew, but I don't want to take too short of a price. Still, I think she's talented enough to overcome.
Selections: Pica Slew, Tidal Pool, Bonnie Blue Flag

Hattie Moseley - Saratoga - Race 8:

Speaking of tough post positions and low-price horses doing something they've never previously attempted, let's take a look at AILALEA in the Hattie Moseley Stakes. Mired in the outside post position for this one-mile event over the inner turf, the Hattie Moseley will be Ailalea's first try on the grass. On her best day, though, she is the best horse. Ailalea, a multiple Grade 3 winner at this distance, will drop in class following six straight graded efforts. Her recent works indicate that her trainer, Todd Pletcher, has been planning turf for Ailalea. The July 11 workout matches up with Pletcher's Interactif and six days following that half-mile breeze on grass, Interactif finished second in the Virginia Derby. On July 18, Ailalea's workout time mirrored that of Phola, an older mare that was only beaten 1 1/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Diana on July 31.
There is speed to her inside and the early pace could set things up for a stalker or late-runner. Ailalea fits that profile. It's up to Edgar Prado to save some ground going into the clubhouse turn.
Selections: Ailalea, Barracks Road, Snow Top Mountain

West Virginia Derby - Mountaineer - Race 8:

CONCORD POINT is the logical favorite after setting the track record in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on June 26, but I didn't like the way he raced on his wrong lead in the stretch that day and he's done a great deal of traveling in the interim. He should work out a nice outside stalking trip under Martin Garcia, but I'll take a stand against him with NACHO FRIEND.
Last time out, in the four-horse Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth, Nacho Friend somehow ended up four paths wide every step of the way. He made a nice run on the far turn, but didn't have enough in the tank to finish with the promising Trappe Shot, who returned to finish second to Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell. Nacho Friend draws inside here and can work out a pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Joe Bravo.
Selections: Nacho Friend, Concord Point, Exhi

Clement L. Hirsch - Del Mar - Race 9:

Umm, can you say ZENYATTA? The pace in the Clement L. Hirsch should be strong with several speed horses entered. That should set things up for the Reflection of Perfection, not that she needs the extra help. On paper, she's a cinch to win her eighteenth straight. Of course, stranger things have happened...
Selections: Zenyatta, Rinterval, Princess Taylor

Whitney - Saratoga - Race 10:

All eyes will be on QUALITY ROAD, two for two at this nine-furlong distance with a pair of track record performances under his girth. He projects to go right to the top in the Whitney and he should be pretty tough to catch.
Still, I will be interested to see how HAYNESFIELD's early speed affects the outcome of the race. Haynesfield figures to be in closest attendance to Quality Road early and if he pushes the Pletcher colt, it may set things up for a late runner.
The underrated, yet excellent BLAME figures to benefit from an early duel, but so may MUSKET MAN at bigger odds. Musket Man loomed boldly in the Met Mile before flattening out in the final furlong to finish second behind Quality Road and, despite a win in last year's Illinois Derby, is a bit questionable at the trip. Still, things might work out for him pacewise and he's worth a small play at good odds.
Selections: Musket Man, Quality Road, Haynesfield

Alfred G. Vanderbilt - Saratoga - Race 9 (Sunday):

MAJESTICPERFRECTION's 117 Beyer Speed Figure from his track record performance in the Iowa Spring Handicap will likely attract a great deal of attention, but he hopped back to his wrong lead in the waning strides of that race when looking a bit fatigued. He'll get a bigger test in the Vanderbilt with the consistent BIG DRAMA drawn to his inside.
Big Drama is more tactically-inclined than Majesticperfection and will make the third start of the form cycle following a professional win in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Calder. That afternoon, Big Drama prompted the pace while three wide, took over at will turning for home, and had enough to hold off the troubled MAMBO MEISTER. Big Drama can lead or stalk and will get the jump on the closers once again in the Vanderbilt.
Selections: Big Drama, Majesticperfection, Bribon

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

Back Monday with questions, comments, and more.

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Formbloggers on the whole are a very humorous breed . I get a kick out of the funny stuff I read here as much as the serious and well thought out handicapping methods discussed on the blog. I look forward to reading it daily. Dan If they ever give an eclipse for racing blog and you don't win it you can count on me to defend your superiority as vehemently as I defend the Reflection of Perfection. Thanks. HODAYSE KNOW? I don't know, hodayse?
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
To those who have posted links...whether You Tube or written sources, it's a shame we can't click on them to see what you want to share :(
PGM More than 1 year ago
KNM, Short answer: depends on the browser. (Internet Explorer? Firefox? Something else?) If you mention the browser, I'll make a better reply later tonight. Tejano Run, I do know some of the attendees are bringing guests (spouses/friends) but I don't think any (though I am 100% sure) are bringing kids to the convention. Sounds like you're planning on heading to the convention. =) If you've got more questions and/or want to reserve, I'll gladly take them by email at formblogconvention@gmail.com and you can also take advantage of the benefits Arlington Park is offering us.
knm More than 1 year ago
PGM, I'll take a chance and tell you on this thread (are they still called 'threads'?)I use Internet Explorer.
PGM More than 1 year ago
(Off Topic Technical Support Post) KNM, "Threads" is fine with me. It's not my blog after all; I just discuss horses and plug Conventions. When you visit a webpage, two things happen: 1. Your History records the web address. 2. A cookie (no, not the kind at the Safeway) is made of the webpage. Wikipedia gives a thorough definition of a cookie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie. Think of history as a copy of the webpage, and think of a cookie (no dunking!) as a post it note telling you where the copy is. In (IE) Internet Explorer, this is done as such: Tools --> Delete Browsing History. A Pop Up Box should appear. Here, you can select "delete cookies". In IE it is possible to plum pick your deletions of cookies and history. Deleting your cookies means that your web history is untouched 99% of the time. The 1% of the time is when you click "Delete All" at the bottom of the pop up screen. So if you select "Delete Cookies", your cookies go away but your web history is untouched. Hope that helps.
Annie More than 1 year ago
WHY?, WHO? Annie
TejanoRun More than 1 year ago
Is anybody bringing kids to the Formblogger convention? I have an 8yo daughter who has more fun running around the picnic benches and playing games in the Grandstand arcade. Not sure if I'll bring her both days. If only one, it would likely be Sunday with the ponyrides/feed the animals Family Day bit.Van Savant, are you coming to Chicago?
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Mathieu, You see the point, racehorses in general are treated very well but they play a dangerous game and are always one step away from a breakdown.>>>>>>>>>That loose horse definetly caused some trouble at DMR. Patrick used the loose horse to his advantage,he's a professional.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Curt V , Monba is my little red hen. She is the Zenyatta of the chickens and I never race her if she's not right. She can outrun a cat at 25yds on turf or dirt. She does have distance limitations so I keep her in sprints.
Jim C. More than 1 year ago
Dan, This new blogging format is awful. It was far easier navigating through the comments section of the old ("Classic") DRF.com. Also, you can only view the comments ten at a time. I wish there were something I can click that said " Go Back to Classic DRF.com."
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
I'm glad I'm not the ONLY one having some "test" issues, with the HTML directions, paragraphs & such. Oh, 'Onward and Upward' :) ...otherwise , I'll just string my thoughts along. Said with a Big Slew Smile!!. Dan, where is that preview page? LOL!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Okay After wrestling with the newest/oldest option..I got the 10 last "newest" posts, but PREVIOUSLY when clicking on 1-10 it was okay. Then 11-20 or whatever...got pushed to the "latest" posts...which meant 3 days worth of posts to read. I know that some of you had the same experiances, but this was the first it happened to me. I got so fed up with it (after 5X repeating) ... and sorry PGM, but cookies don't cut it with me... that I signed off for a few hours. Now I'm about to call it a night & lo' and Behold !!...the "newest" option is working...with 1-10, 11-20, 21-30 etc..GO FIGURE!.... DRF, PLEASE get the bugs out of the software...PLEASE!!! This Den Mother has a certain amount of patience, but let's get real . BTW... TBTA, I also got a chuckle over Annie's paragraph breaks being inverted...Smile!! >br< ...>br< Smile!... Okay, I messed up on the first captcha..was it in 'Portuguese?...here is the second..'javieng toward'...or maybe torouard'. ..so sorry, I'm lost ...Maybe Jacques Cousteau ...at this point I'm trying to find some humor in all thisl. & also trying to work with the paragraph breaks, we will see :)
Mathieu More than 1 year ago
BSB- I'm of French ancestery and a vegetarian and I still think "If people weren't betting $2000 claimers they'd be on a frenchmens plate" is spot on and bitterly funny. * Tencentcielo- Before the 2008 Apple Blossom I posted here that if the track dried out to good or fast Big Z would blow doors vs the reigning division champion in Ginger Punch. I watched her first two races live on TV and saw her first true test, the El Encino, in person. After witnessing her overcome going 5-6 wide on the final turn and a slow pace on a hyper speed favoring track, not to mention falling out of the gate, I became a believer that she was a rare specimen and would handle a champion in her fourth race. A couple days back I wondered whether I'd get 2/1 come BC Classic time if Blame, Quality Road, and Rachel make the race. I believe the only way she gets beat is a traffic issue or injury. That being said, you (obviously) have the right to back another horse. When a group feels it necessary to mass around an outside dissenter and shout him down it's a sign of mass ignorance and/or insecurity. Join us or your an idiot! How could you say that in California? Don't dis the queen! Didn't you like the Police? If you build a case another can beat the defending champ (and heavy favorite) that is called value, which is the essence of the game. * By the way, has anyone had a bad beat that charted in their personal top five lately (besides p ensign)? I had a new entry on Sunday when Skellytown in DMR's finale was carried out the entire length of the stretch by a horse that dropped the rider at the start. He lost in the last jump. Don't believe me? The photo http://www.dmtc.com/racinginfo/photofinishes/index.php?photo=/racinginfo/photofinishes/html/100808/09.win.jpg Is allowing your jock to ride his mount out to the wire too much to ask?