06/01/2010 11:00PM

Current form trumps past accomplishments


There are a number of good horses scheduled to run in Woodbine's seven-furlong, Grade 3 Connaught Cup on the turf Sunday, but some of them appear to be in something less than peak form. The key to handicapping and betting on this 12-horse field will be to distinguish between the horses who are in top form and the ones who are likely to be overbet based on their older form.

Field Commission has done most of his racing on Woodbine's Polytrack, but he's just as good on the turf at Woodbine with a win in the Grade 2 Nearctic and second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Play the King and the Grade 3 Highlander. He also seems to be moving in the right direction.

He rallied from fifth to finish a fast-closing second behind Hollywood Hit in the Jacques Cartier in his return from a 4 1/2-month layoff. He finished fourth behind that same rival in the Grade 3 Vigil, but that was a very fast race with fractions of 22.08, 43.72, and 1:07.33 and a 1:20.07 final time for seven furlongs. His Beyer improved from 96 to 103, a number that none of the others in this field have come close to matching in their recent races. He ran well enough last year to suggest that he can avoid serious regression from that performance. I'll bet him to win, and I'll key him on top in the exacta.

Society's Chairman won the Grade 3 Appleton going 7 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream two races ago, then finished third in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark at Keeneland. He has done his best running at longer distances, but he still figures to be a prime contender on the class drop. He's my second choice.

Rahy's Attorney won this race in 2008, then finished a close second last year. The distance of the race was formerly 1 1/16 miles, but it has now been shortened to seven furlongs. It's a shame for Rahy's Attorney that the distance change didn't happen a year earlier, as he led by two lengths in midstretch, then wilted and lost by a head. He'll be well backed in the betting in this race, but his form isn't as good now as it was a year ago. I'll pick him third, but I'll see if I can find a higher payoff in the bottom slot of this exacta.

Passager earned three straight 100 Beyers last year. He finished third in the Grade 3 Appleton, a close second in the Maker's Mark, and fourth behind Field Commission in the Vigil in those races. The concern is that he has been less effective lately while finishing seventh and fifth against graded stakes company, and third in an allowance race in three subsequent starts. He's my fourth selection, but he'll probably be an underlay based on his good 2009 form.

Major Marvel took a big step forward when he led throughout to win an allowance race as a 69-1 longshot at this distance on this course. While there is some question as to whether he'll match the 98 Beyer he earned in that race, his odds will probably be high enough to make it worth giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Jungle Wave finished fourth as the favorite behind Major Marvel last time, but a return to form would make him a factor in the exotics.

Cherokee Heaven regressed when he finished fifth in the Grade 3 San Simeon at Santa Anita but his previous good form would give him a chance to sneak into the exotics.

Grand Adventure finished a close second in the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland. He won his debut at this distance on this course and has won three of five races on the grass at Woodbine.

Successful Mission, Not Bourbon, and Jimmy Simms will need their best efforts, and Niagara Thunder faces a difficult task.

I'll key Field Commission in the exacta over Society's Chairman, Major Marvel, Jungle Wave, Cherokee Heaven, and Grand Adventure.