08/23/2013 4:23PM

All Star Stakes Analysis For Saratoga, August 24


All star stakes analysis for Sat., Aug. 24
By Dave Litfin


Horses coming off pace-setting routes tend to do well at seven furlongs, and MY HAPPY FACE fits the mold after a good try vs. champion-in-waiting Princess of Sylmar in the CCA Oaks; the other two fillies to have beaten her are multiple stakes winners too. SWEET LULU handled Cal Cup Distaff winner Bella Viaggia and Ondine (coming off 3rd in Hollywood Oaks) in last month's big-fig Del Mar score; Jerry Hollendorfer's last visit to the Spa was with 2010 Alabana winner Blind Luck.

Using those two fillies as “A” types to start the $1 million all-stakes pick 4. The “B” brigade is limited to Lighthouse Bay and Wildcat Lily.


With considerably less fanfare than her Kentucky Derby-winning stablemate, HUNGRY ISLAND freshened up down at Fair Hill after running a non-threatening third in the Just A Game; her "A" race beats these, and she ran one of them in last year's Ballston Spa behind eventual champion Zagora's course record. MIZ IDA is very likely the best turf filly no one's heard of, but the dual Grade 3 winner comes off her two best races, and probably would've beaten SOMALI LEMONADE if the Parx course hadn't been on the soft side of yielding; pace scenario in her favor. LAUGHING picks up weight after repelling CENTRE COURT through a measured pace in Diana; must deal with PIANIST up front this time.

Hungry Island and Miz Ida are on the A ticket. The B-list is made up of Centre Court and Laughing. Somali Lemonade is a C. but moves up to a B if the course takes any rain.


Based on their one-two finish in the Woody Stephens, little separates deep closers DECLAN'S WARRIOR and FORTY TALES, but the former will be a better price after running fifth behind Forty Tales in the Amsterdam as both prepped for this off a 50-day break. The pace should be favorably fast for them with speedballs MENTOR CANE and LET EM SHINE expected to throw it down. CENTRAL BANKER's best 2-year-old race came off a turf-to-dirt switch, a change he repeats after a romping win in the Quick Call first out this year; he may improve again. OVERANALYZE hasn't sprinted since taking the Futurity; he was more involved early with blinkers on in the W.V. Derby, and the three-time graded stakes winner will be a price.

The potential for a pace meltdown makes Declan’s Warrior and Forty Tales the A team. The B squad consists of Central Banker and Overanalyze. Let Em Shine is a C, but that would change and he could become a B - or even an A - should Mentor Cane happen to scratch.


Don't expect PALACE MALICE to bounce off his 107 Beyer in the Jim Dandy, as Todd Pletcher's Jim Dandy winners Flower Alley (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2011) each held their form to double up in the Travers. He drew favorably outside early speed MORENO. The post draw wasn't as fortuitous for Verrazano, who appeared uncomfortable inside horses early in the Tampa Bay Derby before being maneuvered outside. His freakish Haskell performance over a deep track suggests today’s distance is within reach. ORB reportedly put on weight and trained well getting some R&R at Fair Hill after demanding first half of the year; Derby hero can't afford to fall too far behind, as Travers winners typically are in close touch to the leaders, especially by the pre-stretch call.

The Pletcher pair are on the A ticket, as is Orb. The Darley duo of Romansh and Transparent are the B’s.

All star stakes analysis for Sat., Aug. 24
By Mike Watchmaker


My Happy Face
Wildcat Lily
Sweet Lulu

Sweet Lulu could easily prove me wrong, but she's a short priced horse I'm willing to play against. This will be her first start on conventional dirt and first start in a stakes of any sort, and as the morning line favorite, the value just isn't there. I liked My Happy Face last time out in the CCA Oaks, and though no match for Princess of Sylmar, she ran respectably finishing second. I like the cut back in distance for her given how she ran in extended one turn races in her prior four starts, and if I could take her in the CCA Oaks, I can certainly go back to her in this easier spot. I'm also interested in Wildcat Lily, who was forced to go early from an inside post when a sharp second in the Prioress last time out. She drew outside this time and can sit a more relaxed trip. This is the first leg of an all stakes Pick 4, and I'll be pushing My Happy Face, with Wildcat Lily as a main backup, and Prioress winner Lighthouse Bay as a defensive use.


Somali Lemonade
Miz Ida

My firmest opinion here is a lean against Centre Court and Hungry Island. Centre Court would have had this field over a barrel off her early-season form, but her last two were not good, and she seems to have lost her edge. As for Hungry Island, I'm not sure this nine furlong distance is what she's best at these days. I'll use Laughing, Somali Lemonade and Miz Ida in equal strength. Yes, Laughing had an easy lead when she upset the Diana, but she's in line for another favorable trip here stalking Pianist, and she does seem much improved this year. Somali Lemonade and Miz Ida ran equally well when one-two in the Doc Penny Memorial most recently and, like Laughing, are at least in good current form.


Majestic Hussar
Forty Tales
Declan's Warrior

I'm taking a shot here with Majestic Hussar, and since he'll be a price, that means I'll be playing this race individually in addition to being involved in multi-race wagers. Majestic Hussar was very good beating tough older opponents off a layoff earlier in the meet, and I believe he can make the most of trip siting just off of speedballs Let Em Shine and Mentor Cane in the early going. Forty Tales and Declan's Warrior are the best closers here and are must uses given the prospect of a hot pace. Forty Tales is going for his fourth straight stakes win and is only helped by a little extra distance this time. Declan's Warrior was dull last time, but he has trained more sharply for this and I think he'll run like he did two back when stretch trouble might have cost him a win over Forty Tales. I might throw Let Em Shine in as a backup because I do think he's the speed of the speed. I might also toss Overanalyze in as a backup, even though he has not been good this year. But if this race completely melts down, he might stagger less than everyone else late.


Palace Malice

I think this event is more one to watch than a great betting race because I think the winner is extremely likely to be one of the first three favorites - Verrazano, Palace Malice, or Orb. But it is the last leg of a Pick 4, so I'll use all three, with a little push on Palace Malice. I prefer Palace Malice because he has fewer questions surrounding him than the other two. As winner of the Belmont Stakes, the 10 furlongs of the Travers is no issue. And Palace Malice impressed winning the Jim Dandy over the track earlier in the meet in what was, at least in terms of Beyer Figs, his best race yet. Talent is not a question for Verrazano, but the distance is. And Orb will be trying to get back to his Kentucky Derby winning form, but without the benefit of a traditional Travers prep.