07/18/2013 4:18PM

Byron King: Selections for CCA Oaks, Eddie Read, Arlington Oaks

Barbara D. Livingston
Unlimited Budget has tactical speed, having won the Demoiselle last year on the lead and then this year racing in third early in both the Kentucky Oaks and Fair Grounds Oaks.

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With Grade 1 races at both Saratoga and Del Mar on Saturday, quality racing in is on tap coast to coast. And at both tracks, as well as at Arlington Park in Chicago, this horseplayer sees mutuel-rewarding potential.

CCA Oaks

Let’s begin with Saratoga’s Coaching Club America Oaks, a Grade 1 race that unfortunately drew just five entrants, limiting betting value. But it did attract Princess of Sylmar for her first start since winning the Kentucky Oaks at 38-1, as well as graded stakes winners My Happy Face and Unlimited Budget.

My choice is Unlimited Budget, whose recent sixth in the Belmont Stakes against boys was likely an odds-building experience. Had she not run there and raced in a more fitting spot against fillies instead, her form would be flashier, and she would likely be a clear-cut favorite.

Instead, she is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, and she might stick to that price, which would be more than fair considering the short field.

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In addition to 9-5 favorite Princess of Sylmar, expect My Happy Face to take action by bettors, who may view her as a horse likely to get loose on the lead.

Breaking from post 1, she does figure to set the pace, but I think she’s facing more pace pressure than what might appear at first glance in the past performances. Longshot Cue That Moon, who chased My Happy Face in the Tempted last year through hot fractions, is right alongside her, and adding blinkers and being fresh, she could come out running.

Unlimited Budget has tactical speed in her own right, having won the Demoiselle last year on the lead and then this year racing in third early in both the Kentucky Oaks and Fair Grounds Oaks, races that unfolded with faster-than-par splits.

Unlimited Budget is the bet on basis of her body of work. Undefeated in her first four starts, her only losses came when third in the Kentucky Oaks and then, as noted, when she ran sixth against the males in the Belmont.

Eddie Read

Although the Grade 1 Eddie Read at Del Mar lacks star appeal for a Grade 1 race, it does have an evenly matched field of 10, providing horseplayers with no shortage of options on which to wager.

Having handicapped this race before the morning line came out, I was surprised to see my selection, Jeranimo, installed as the 7-2 choice. That’s somewhat too short for an inconsistent runner, but if he drifts higher from that price, he would warrant play.

Although unplaced in his last two starts – running seventh in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and fourth in the Shoemaker Mile – those races are not representative of his best. He never fired in either race, though the company certainly had something to do with his losses, too.

The reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, won the Woodford, and Obviously, a front-running beast on the grass in California, won the Shoemaker Mile.

Jeranimo is facing no such rivals in the Eddie Read, a race that could easily pass for a Grade 2 in terms of this year’s lineup.

Arlington Oaks

When Seaneen Girl starts in the Arlington Oaks on Saturday, the public seems likely to hammer her, with the filly being a graded stakes winner matched against a relatively unaccomplished group of 3-year-old fillies.

She also has experience over Polytrack, the synthetic surface in place at Arlington, having raced on it last year at Woodbine.

But to these eyes, she’s a more effective dirt horse and seemingly poised to regress with the shift from dirt.

Yes, she did win once on Polytrack last year, but that was a maiden $50,000 race. And even her second-place finish in the Grade 3 Mazarine, a race that inspired her current connections to buy her, was on the slow side, resulting in just a 70 Beyer Speed Figure.

It’s been since that race that she has elevated her game, running significantly faster on dirt.

As an alternative to favored Seaneen Girl in the Arlington Oaks, My Option is a confident selection. A consistent filly who has never been worse than second in five starts, she is a horse who handles any surface – from turf to dirt to Polytrack.

She also comes off her fastest race, a runner-up finish in the Purple Violet Stakes for Illinois-breds, a race that earned her a 91 Beyer. But because she lost that race, finishing a half-length behind fellow Arlington Oaks competitor Bold Kitten, the big fig likely won’t draw the betting action it normally would.

Furthermore, being an Illinois-bred, she is likely to be viewed snobbishly by the betting public, who are likely to question the company she has kept.

Not this horseplayer – My Option looks legitimate, and she also is proven racing two turns, suggesting she should like racing the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Arlington Oaks.