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A CLOSER LOOK at Woodbine races on 9/30
Dropped to this level for his latest and had a strong, 4 wide rally on the turn and closed well behind an overdue winner; he comes back to meet similar and had a speedy interim workout since that race; logical player.
One of several newcomers from New York for the trainer this week and this is a speedy 3yo who meets older runners but gets to race in restricted company (non-winners of 2); he comes off a layoff of almost 7 weeks and, at time of writing, showed only light prepping; should be leading for a while.
I Love This Game
Has not missed a paycheck in a while and he had a bit of a troubled trip last time after sitting in perfect position behind the speed early in the race; he ran into some traffic trouble on the turn and couldn't recover; he tries a shorter distance for the first time since his season debut so he'll probably be trying to rally like others in the field; beyer Figures were not available at time of writing so a check of his numbers compared to others is suggested.
Late running gelding started to get the hang of things when he suddenly woke up with a win on wet track 3 starts back and, after a failed 2 turn outing, was back at the 7 furlong distance last time and he closed fast after a tardy beginning; he seems to be a specialist at the distance but a better start will help his chances.
Woke up with a big effort 2 starts ago when he just missed at almost 40 to 1 but he seemed to regress a bit off that hard race last time when he closed only mildly behind 'Othello; not the easiest one to figure out but he is overdue for a win.
Time for Pax
Won his maiden at this distance last month but stopped badly in a race at this level in his next start; he went a whole lot better last time when he moved 3 wide on the final turn and led late but a stretch runner came from the clouds and blew by; he should have a good trip in this shorter race; top three contender.
Switched back to the dirt last time and was heavily bet as a potential speed runner but he had to duel 2 wide to the backstretch and he got a bit tired; that race should have him plenty fit for this shorter event; his regular rider is on Cap's Lite.
Heroine of the Selene Stakes has not seen much action since then but picked up a check in her last pair, one which was a sprint and the other on turf; she is back at the same distance as her big win with Husbands back on board and this little gal figures to be stalking the speed of 'Slew; has a chance to turn things around.
Suddenly got hot in July with back-to-back wins at two different distances but a venture on to the grass course ended the streak and she was flat in her dirt return; this will be an interesting race to handicap based on strategy as there is some speed, several stalkers and a couple of stretch runners in the mix; she figures to be in the second flight looking to rally; top three chance.
Fast filly experiments with a 2 turn distance for the first time on this circuit but she was unable to carry her speed in a shorter race at the Fort last time and this is a tougher field; of course she probably will be able to go slower on the pace with the longer distance but she'll have several close pursuers; taking others.
Stakes winner last year seeks her first win of this season and she's only hit the top three once in 8 starts in 2001; she has been experimenting with grass and dirt, sprints and routes, but can't seem to round into top form; this is the easiest field she's met in a while but her dull form is a concern.
Is a head away from winning all 4 of her allowance races this year and she made a beautiful transition to a 2 turn race last time and was nicely rated on her way to a handy score over a tough older runner; she has been away for a month but has speed to stalk and she'll be one of the favourites.
Late running gal closed mildly in her latest at a sprint distance and she is an honest miss who rarely runs a bad race; this distance is probably better for her and she closed strongly in her previous attempt at the trip; she meets her owner group for the first time in a while; contender.
Has been eligible for this condition all season with a trio of in-the-money finishes the best she has to show including a decent second two starts back; she is one of the possibilities to make the board but would lean to others in terms of getting the front end.
Won the prior condition last start in a race that was fast early and then slowed from the half to the wire; she was a regular winner with easier this year and will need to do better than that; must respect her winning habit but she will need to run her best against her toughest competition and not all can run their best under those circumstances; interesting enough at 5-1.
Had no excuses for not winning last time in a game race save the fact that she was not good enough; that was her best effort of the year and her comeback but whether or not she will run back to that following an interim work is the question of the hour; repeat of her last puts her right in the hunt though that is questionable in this match up.
Gorilla My Dreams
Has not really established her route credentials though she has come close on occasion in the past; she comes in off a good sprint in her return and if she can make an easy lead as it would appear she might she might get brave and last a long way; possibility.
Has spent quite some time in this condition and has not really run well enough so far to make her a threat to win against some of these if they perform up to expectations; she drops form a better race but will still have her work cut out for today unless she shows unexpected improvement.
Comes in off her second and third wins of the season against easier opposition but moving from the turf to the dirt off her best races she will be able to make a race of it here though she may have to pick it up a bit; give a few of the others a better chance to win but she should be in the hunt for some of the money.
Recent winner of the preliminary allowance condition she tried stakes company last week in the Hindmarsh and as expected picked up only a minor award; she will need to improve her route skills if she is to pose a threat to several of these; a smaller share perhaps.
Has been competitive in all but her career opener and has run competitively at the distance; the winner of two faces perhaps her toughest test to date but it is unlikely that she shipped over just as company for her International stable mate; respect the barn and sophomores at the weights when they have experience over giving ground; one of the more interesting possibilities in the mix.
Is the second of the trio of European shippers in for this event and she has three wins and a second in her five races with her only failure coming over yielding ground though she did when it was much softer last year; she is an uncoupled entry with Spring Oak and also merits respect in here; another who is worth careful scrutiny.
Only to You
Five-year-old with only three career wins has been given some tough assignments throughout her career and has come close on occasion but has failed to match high expectations; she did manage a win in the Nassau over giving ground in a small field but has been only a borderline player when facing top company and at longer distances; she has not been running as well this year and is likely to be overbet relative to her chances as one of the local entries; she should be about 15-1 in here and has little chance of winning without some sort of miracle.
Was a close fourth in this event last year when the field was half the size and she is probably only a borderline player at best again this year; she did surprise to win the Dance Smartly in fine fashion over a giving course but she is going to need better than that to be competitive in this mix.
This distance may be a tad short of her best but she is proven at the distance and can prove very tough to catch when she is able to get to the front and gallop along and she does handle the course when it has some give to it; it looks as if she might get a decent enough trip in here and she could be one of the toughest of the local runners in this event; has a couple of interim breezes to keep her sharp and she should be around into the stretch, and depending upon how she gets there, perhaps a lot longer.
Made her first local start her recently on Atto day and was somewhat of a surprise third being competitive into deep stretch; she has breezed short and being asked to go farther she will have to prove her stretch abilities even more; she has raced well enough over more giving ground, but being somewhat win shy she is difficult to call for the win stepping up into a more difficult spot than ever.
What do you do with her today if you liked her and bet her last time? she did win in quick time over some distance slightly shorter than 9F and did manage to fire into the fast pace when stretched out suggesting that she might have more room in her than just mile-ing; so now she confronts the very telling additional furlong and a turf course with some give in it; can she overcome both at the same time? there are a lot of questions about her again, but based on her late kick in the last two starts she might be able to come up with the right answers; give us a dozen to one, one more time and she will be on a lot of our tickets.
Probably ran a much better race last time and looked to be a winner in deep stretch until Diadella caught her late; she might just have some distance limitations and that last race might just have been the top of her form cycle with a couple of previous wins; she is no doubt going to take some serious money and may be one of the more vulnerable of the popular local runners; can see her not making the board and will take a position against her today.
While she may be an improving runner the local sophomore may be biting off more than she is ready for as she takes on stakes company in her second try at the distance; won't say it cannot happen but this is hardly the spot for a maiden winner.
Has won half her career starts and has wins going longer and shorter and all kinds of ground and has lots of experience with heavy weight assignments; she generally gives a good accounting of herself and should once again be a threat here and may well be the longest price in a long while; do note that she wins regularly as the chalk but also surprises too; the longer the odds the more she deserves a spot on the ticket; is definitely a possibility.
Has a nice record finishing first or second in more than half of her starts under most circumstances and earning near half a million so far; the questions for her today are about the distance and the course condition to a lesser extent; she is likely to run well after using the restricted Halton against the boys as a prep, but whether her good race will get her much in here remains to be seen; leaning to others.
Has listed and graded wins in California and the West Coast shipper will try the local course at 10F with some give in it in a G!; she heads in, in good form after defending her title in the Honey Fox at Delmar in early August but she may have her hands full in this and under these conditions; she is probably one of the more logical of the choices though the Drysdale runners do tend to get somewhat overbet in their local outings and frequently do not measure up to the betting public's opinion; will have to include her in the contender's mix but she is not one that we will focus in on unless the odds start to climb to 5-1 or higher.
Third of the European sophomores has managed a win this year and last and they have come in lesser situations; she has often been well played and disappointed and she has a win at the distance and over giving ground; suspect that she will be long odds and she might surprise and spice up the tri; it would be somewhat of an upset were she to get there first though.
Has had her share of opportunities and if she can replicate her latest back in against allowance company she should have a chance to be there; the pace of her latest with sophomore claimers was somewhat slow and could have accounted for the good effort and that may not be repeated today.
Shine For Us
Was a claiming winner in the slop when dropped and then after going up against allowance runners last time will try again; she will likely nave to improve her racing against faster paces; she might come a little closer but do not see her as a likely win prospect.
Like her race two starts ago relative to this field and would suspect that getting back to a sprint she might be able to repeat same; if she can she should have a lot to say about the outcome in this match up.
Has started to build and develop her speed and her form pattern is pointing to an up and coming good race which could well come today, if the removal of the blinkers has a positive effect; with an improved race she could be in control of the pace and that would make her a tough in the stretch; contender.
Has seemed more comfortable in the claiming ranks but has been improved and will tackle allowance types after a strong turf race last time; she did win her only race at the distance and were she to run a little better with the surface change and she will be tracking the pace throughout and could make a race of it.
Won her career debut and has not managed another since then; she split the field in the restricted Algoma going long and id back to try this distance for the first time this year; she has worked 5F in the interim and if that last race were to mark a turn in her form cycle she certainly can be competitive with another good race.
Her win with easier at the distance would be relevant today but somehow the older mares seldom run their better races when in with allowance company; her latest was a good effort if somewhat slow and if she had run near her best of the year she would have won by open daylight; maybe the good race earns her a spot on the board.
Sophomore has one good race in her return and sitting on the outside she could be extra tough today if she benefits from that and can run better; she should sit the perfect trip on the outside and from there she can go when she wants; contender, though it will likely take a career best from her to win.
Has been in good form of late and provided a very minor upset in the Kenora on Labor Day; he enters a different league in terms of class, and speed and pace and the reformed claimer, while deserving of the opportunity, must prove that he is up to the task; a spot in the board could be possible depending upon what a couple of the others do.
Bounced back after having the win skein come to an end and gets some weight removed again; he might be best reserved off the logical pace today and will make his late run; whether or not it will be good enough is another story as he tackles his toughest assignment ever; if Wakey is not at his best he could be then next in line.
Has not really gone forward since his early season races but if he can explode out of the gate the way he did early he could be difficult to catch; he goes turf to dirt and is probably not at the top of his game unless the time off did him some good; he is in light and has worked well during the time away.
The potential is there and it is really a question of predicting when he is going to run a top effort and he can disappoint with a bummer every once in a while; he is sharp at the moment and he can stalk and run by a fast pace too; fairly weighted they might not beat him if he runs to his last; contender, but he must answer the class question.
Speedster who must be hard on himself with his very intermittent racing schedule will be facing his toughest assignment ever; he will be out there winging though the chance of him shaking loose and getting a breather does not look very promising considering the opposition he faces here; speed can never be counted out but to win this he will need a big career topper.
Top runner from the Katryan entry will attempt to close against his speedy mate and if that one fails to live up to expectations he could be along in time if he can move forward and run close to his Bold Venture race after the interim work, he could be arriving in front of many; contender.
Both of his stakes wins this year have come on the grass and he sure was game and determined in the stretch last time to win the Play The King; he should get the great kind of trip with a fast pace and his outer post and the others had better be on top of their game if they hope to keep him out of the winner's circle; contender.
Wake At Noon
Bottom half of the Katryan entry does not lose very many of the lose very many of his local sprints; was asked to do a lot back on short rest last time and while maybe he tried to slow it down he ran very slowly early over a very fast surface; the blinkers are back today and maybe he will bounce back as he drops and goes turf to dirt, or maybe he is now as vulnerable as he has been in his local races; he will no doubt be odds on in here, and if you can find one to beat him it might make sense to try.
Has had a month off since his 3rd start of the year and he experimented with grass that day but after he battled through fast fractions, he weakened; he switches to the main track and gets another rider change; if you think he simply didn't like turf, you could make a case for him improving, especially with blinkers on.
Nice prospect tried to stretch his speed around 2 turns last time but that didn't work as he packed it in early; he draws an inside post with another front running type to his inside so he might be inclined to go for the lead like he did when he won his maiden; not at the top of the list.
He's red hot right now and made easy work of his Woodbine foes 2 starts ago after sitting a nice trip; he grabbed score number 4 last time despite having to turn back to a sprint distance but an in-form horse can often handle distance changes with ease; he takes a sizable jump up in class and puts his awesome record on the line; tough test.
Has done well since being claimed by former trainer Banach and it seems the longer the odds, the better this guy's chances get; he was always close to the pace in his latest and won a stretch duel over non-winners of 3; he's had trouble at this level in the past.
Playing With Fire
Lightly raced gelding comes off a month-long layoff and turns back to the distance at which he won his maiden; he has to rebound from that disastrous outing last time when he tried a 2 turn distance.
Worked in The Wind
Has had a light campaign and came off another layoff last time, pressing the pace until late in a turf sprint; he moves to the dirt again and gets a chance to put 2 races close together for the first time since last fall; his lack of stamina in the late stages of his races is a concern.
Improving sophomore moved to this class level for the first time in his latest and rallied mildly 3 wide off the turn in a solid outing; it was very hot and steamy that day and perhaps he will enjoy racing in this cooler weather; the added distance is appealing too.
He isn't the easiest one to figure out but he broke through for a big win when many of his fans had left him and he paid $15; when favoured last time, he faded early and he's had 4 weeks off; 2 of his wins came at this distance; puzzler.
British Columbia shipper came off a layoff for his local debut and he raced evenly to be 3rd behind a winner who rallied behind the speed; he stretches out in distance and should be part of the early pace; consider for exotics.
Was nicely rated in his latest when cutting back to 6 furlongs and he was full of run in the late stages and got up in time to beat the heavy favourite; he tries winners for the first time from a wide post and this will be a tougher test.
Has not missed a paycheck this year but seeks his first win and he comes off a 4 week freshening; he was at this distance last time but on the grass and that was a fast race from start to finish and he couldn't keep up; he has done well in main track races at this distance; could wake up.
French-bred reportedly gets Lasix and that is an important addition for any European runner when they come to North America; his trainer has sent horses to this race in the past, most notably Fruits of Love, 2nd to Thornfield in '99, although Johnston says this horse is not on par with that runner yet; this guy knows how to win but when pitted against Mutamam in the Princess of Wales, that one bettered him by almost 3 lengths; Darley makes the trip to partner him and that's encouraging but we see this 5-year-old as a minor player in a competitive field.
Local hope has been in good form this season for trainer Doyle and, like most of the field in the Atto Mile, he was not beaten far in that course record-setting race; he certainly should be able to better his placing in this race last year when he beat nobody but more than a mid-pack placing will be a surprise.
Hero of last year's Breeders' Stakes at this distance has not found the winner's circle since then but he came oh-so close at Saratoga 2 starts back in allowance company; he was back on his home turf for the Niagara and had an even effort behind the top 2 finishers who were invading from the U.S. and they just missed the course record; Dos Ramos and England combined with Thornfield for an upset win in this race 2 years ago so hunch players will be all over that; appears to be a bit short of the top ones but there is room for improvement and he could grab a purse share.
Strut the Stage
Will try to duplicate what his impressive Uncle Chief Bearhart did in '97, win this race (although he was a 4-year-old) and this guy could be the favourite by post time; he has developed nicely this summer and has been pointed to this race since his near miss in Chicago when he made a devastating sweep around horses on the turn, only to be caught late by another stretch runner; Frostad says he's better than Quiet Resolve and that one beat Mutamam in the Breeders' Cup Turf last year; 'Strut' has impressed in morning preps and has the home course advantage, which includes rider Kabel; Husband and Royal Anthem are the only two 3-year-olds to have won this race since '88 so it's a stern test, but this small, powerful colt perhaps has unlimited ability; threat.
Like Williams News, he was at Woodbine for this race last year and he tracked the slow pace and finished well but he was just in behind the top 2 who were locked in their little stretch war; this guy has had an interesting career since then as he won an important race in Hong Kong, was sold and had a new trainer, spent some time in Hong Kong but is now back in the stable of Stoute; he'll be fresh for this race as he has not seen action for 5 months and those were Grade 1 foes he raced against in his last appearance; whether he's ready for his best effort off the layoff is a question and he'll need a top notch performance to beat Mutamam and others.
California shipper beat Williams New is a Grade 3 in Chicago in July and that was his first win in a while; it was an impressive score as he came home the last quarter-mile in a shade over :23 and note that he had to overcome a slow early pace (Williams News almost parlayed a 'Stripes win into International glory last year); he suffered a minor injury in that event and recently got back into action at Del Mar where he 'needed' the race and he was not beaten far; trainer Burke thinks the E.P. Taylor course is much like Arlington's and that will suit this guy fine; the turf might have a little more 'give' to it that he's used to but he is a lightly raced horse with improvement likely; longshot play for tri and superfecta bets.
Last minute entry is a wily veteran who has seen some very good days on this course and he had a bit of late run in last year's edition of this race; 2001 has been a different story for the 'Boat as he has not been a factor in 7 outings and he even gave dirt a short last time but he was virtually eased; impossible task.
Slew the Red
Shrewd trainer sends this young colt over from overseas where he was in action only 14 days ago when a close 3rd to the very good Hightori in a Group race; colt had reeled off 3 consecutive wins before that outing including one at this distance on very, very soft going (see his time of 2:52.20); should love this course as there has been some rain this week but does he get a bit weak in the final stages at the 12 furlong distance? his move will have to timed right as the Taylor stretch run is a long one; won't argue with those who like him.
What can you say about this hard trying gelding with regards to his outing on this course last fall? It's all been said - he held a short lead in the stretch under local rider Husbands and seemingly had held on to win by an inch (even rival jockey Dettori thought Husbands had won) but the photo told a different story; he has had a well planned campaign this year and is fresh and worked "very well" according to one of his owners - note the sizzling workout at Churchill on Sept. 21; he has made an awesome appearance here in the morning and you know he likes the surroundings; seeking revenge.
Must respect the German horses right now as these same connections sent Silvano over to Chicago to win the Arlington Million in August; this colt is described as a much different horse than Silvano in the respect that he needs things to go a bit more his way and he dislikes soft turf so keep an eye on the weather; it should be noted that Katub, whom he defeated in May and lost to in August, came right back to romp in a Grade 1 race last weekend in Germany so that's a great frame of reference; the ground was too soft for this guy in his latest; dangerous.
Giant of a horse was a bit compromised by the short distance of the Atto Mile but wasn't beaten far on a turf that was very, very firm; he is crossed entered in the Turf Classic so it's a vote of confidence by his capable trainer if he stays in this event; he will likely be the pacesetter in a race that lacks a lot of speed and he worked hard on the pace when he just missed in the Sword Dancer; still, the 12 furlong distance might be stretching it and the home lane of this course is a stern test for a front runner.
Draws the widest post but there is not a sharp bend awaiting him out of the gate and this 'galloping type' should have a good position early in the race; he figures to battle for favoritism and why not? He was not far behind victorious Kalinisi in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf after forcing the pace; he parlayed a win in the September Stakes last year into a win and is looking to do the same this time after a win in that same event earlier this month; has won more than half of his races and reportedly gets Lasix and that is an important addition; very, very strong.
Blast Of Storm
This is the SKY CLASSIC PREP: he ran a credible effort in the Atto and he will now try stretching his speed over a longer distance and that along with the company today could produce his best NA race to date; if he can run back to his prior two starts at the longer distance he should be in contention.
Has disappointed in his recent efforts and that begs the question of how effective he will be in the easier spot than his latest; he has breezed over the softer going and if for some reason he comes around and achieves his potential he can be competitive...and probably beat these.
Tops the Frostad entry and as a 5-year-old is still only a two-time winner; he entered the main event last year and was fourth of eight; not a lot has chanced since but he does come in off a good last race with easier and has worked in the interim; others are seen as more likely than he.
Hot Pepper Hill
Took last season off and while he did manage a dirt win last time in his best race of his comeback he still will need a little better than that; so far this year he has been a little better on dirt than turf and it will be up to him to demonstrate that he should go in the main event itself.
Is only a two-time career winner and only once on turf from eight tries and that does not recommend him though he did run close in the prep for the Niagara; we are looking for winners and he is unlikely but he likes to run longer and he might manage to get some piece of it.
His good race at the distance with easier earns him his chance at this event; do remember that it is a prep where some test and some getting ready; he is probably not good enough if some of the others come close to their good races but he should at least perform well and should get a good trip should he be good enough; the three for 21 record on grass does not inspire a win bettor.
Has not been able to win in more than a year and he has had his chances in a variety of spots; his latest was on dirt and was a little better; could be that he is coming around; very iffy but he may not be overmatched if he is back on track.
Still has but one allowance win and has failed to cross the line first this share; he is another who looks as if he might get a spot on the board depending upon what some of the others do, but he would have to get very lucky to beat all of these.
Just won on the turf for the first time in 10 starts for his second career victory; that race does not measure up to what some of these have been running and he should find this a difficult test even with the win coming at today's distance.
Second runner from the Frostad entry did win his turf debut this year and has then run third in three subsequent tries on the grass, the latest in G2 company going farther; he is a possibility in here and the closest to his latest race the better his chances.
Has a couple of turf wins on his resume but he did run rather poorly on the dirt in his latest which was taken off the grass; hard to say if he can or will bounce back from that and it would take a top effort for him to be there; leaning to others bit will watch and see what he can do for next time in case he does surprise.
Goodness gracious, what a streak she's got going! And she comes back at the exact level at which she just won, quite easily thank you; just as incredibly, she draws the rail for the 3rd consecutive race and she doesn't seem to mind that spot in the gate; there is some other speed to her outside and this is the biggest field she's met in a while, so her task is made a bit tougher; still, she rates as a leading contender.
Has lots of grass breeding and ran her best race on that surface last time, leading until very late in a modest field with 1st time Lasix; her recent dirt form makes her an outsider against this tough group.
Steady mare traveled to the Fort to get her first win of the season and she parlayed that confidence booster into a good rallying try last time at this level; she was no match for 'Fire back in June and that gal is just one of several tricky ones in this field.
Has been in good form recently and was a miraculous 4th in the Duchess Stakes behind previously unbeaten Meadow Gem; she rallied very late again last time in a fast turf race and hurries back into action after a 9 day rest; if she gets a fast and faltering pace to chase and the track is playing fair, all the better for her, but that's a couple of significant 'ifs'.
Nicely bred daughter of a top sire makes her first start in this country and it's her first outing since the spring; she won 2 straight races on the dirt at that time and is a speed type according to the information provided at the time of writing; might want to watch her once.
Raced 3 wide throughout her latest and made a bid to the lead but she hung in the stretch behind a front running winner; that was her first race in 5 weeks and she is reunited with Ramsammy, who had good success with her in the spring; threat.
Dance for Olga
Stakes placed grasser gets her first start in a year and she will try the dirt for this opener; she debuted on the main track last spring but improved a lot when she moved to the turf; watch once.
Goes for a hot barn that won 2 races in succession on Thursday and this gal has developed into a nice prospect; she was in a stakes race restricted to sales graduates last time and was tough on the pace along the inside but she weakened a bit late; she should enjoy the drop in class and the shorter distance.
Fast filly displayed all kinds of promise when she won her debut in Florida but it's been a start and stop season for her since then; she sizzled in a turf sprint 2 starts ago when blinkers were added but perhaps didn't like the longer distance of her latest; in a wide open event, she is one of several to consider.