10/13/2009 12:00AM

Diamondrella fits in return to turf


NEW YORK - The second and final round of major Breeders' Cup prep races takes place this weekend, making for another huge Saturday of racing at Keeneland, at Belmont Park, and at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, again the site of this year's Breeders' Cup.

The Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile heads a card at Keeneland that includes four other graded stakes events, including the Grade 1, $500,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity, and the Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady Stakes.

There is also a trio of Grade 1 events on Belmont's card. They are the Champagne and Frizette, worth $400,000 each, and the newly upgraded $300,000 Jamaica Stakes.

But it is the quartet of stakes on Saturday's card at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet that have added significance because they will be run over the same surfaces the Breeders' Cup will be run on. Three of these stakes are Grade 1 races - the $350,000 Goodwood, the $300,000 Lady's Secret, and the $300,000 Yellow Ribbon - and they are supported by the Grade 2, $150,000 Oak Tree Mile on turf.

First Lady Stakes

I have immense respect for Forever Together. She's defending champion turf female, and she has never been worse than third in 10 career starts over her surface of preference. She is also 2 for 2 on the Keeneland turf course she competes on Saturday, including a decisive score in this race last year over the top-class Precious Kitten, an outing that preceded her impressive victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But even though she hasn't run a bad race this season, I still wonder if Forever Together is as sharp this year as she was in her championship campaign.

Three starts back, Forever Together was beaten without any real excuse as the 3-5 favorite in the Just a Game Stakes. Last time out, she looked like she had the Canadian Stakes won in deep stretch at 2-5, only to be nosed by the longshot Princess Haya. Even in Forever Together's win in the Diana two starts back, she just prevailed over Carribean Sunset, who came back to fail as the favorite in the Palomar.

Is Forever Together still sharp enough to win this race? Of course she is. And if she's found her 2008 form since her last start, she'll make short work of this field. But with the doubts I have, and given the short price Forever Together is certain to be, I'll take a shot against her. I'm going back to Diamondrella.

I liked Diamondrella last time out in the Presque Isle Downs Masters, believing she could transfer her excellent turf form to a synthetic surface. It didn't work out. Diamondrella never ran a jump. But Diamondrella is now back on grass, the surface on which she won going away two starts back from Forever Together in the Just a Game at this one-mile distance.

Oak Tree Mile

Monterey Jazz is capable of taking this field wire to wire, but he's tough to trust, as he's just as eligible to throw in the towel. If Monterey Jazz does surrender, Cowboy Cal, who's coming off a near-miss in the Bernard Baruch that was one of the best races of his life, will be in position to inherit the lead. Then again, Cowboy Cal might have to expend too much energy to stay close to Monterey Jazz early. I want a closer in this spot, and that closer is Whatsthescript.

Now is a good time to buy into Whatsthescript. His three starts this year look mediocre at first glance, and some might conclude he's done dealing. I think that's far from the case, but I do think it might boost his odds here. Even though Whatsthescript settled for third in the Eddie Read and American in his last two starts, he went his last three furlongs in those races in 34.64 and 34.34 seconds, which says he still has plenty of game. He now cuts back to his favorite distance, and returns to the course on which he was third in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile.

Dixiana Breeders' Futurity

The funny thing about this race, and about this year's 2-year-old male crop in general so far, is that the most accomplished members of this field are not appreciably faster - if at all faster - than those with lesser credentials. So in an attempt to match potential with price, I'm going with Stately Victor.

Stately Victor ran well in his first two career starts, both at Saratoga, recording his maiden victory in runaway fashion last time out on turf, which bodes well for a successful transition to Keeneland's Polytrack. Stately Victor earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80 in his maiden win, which is right there with the Beyers earned by all of the stakes winners and stakes-placed members of this field. And Stately Victor's ability to be effective from off the pace fits in a race where the early pace might be too hot.

How about a few quick picks:

* Goodwood Stakes, Santa Anita: Didn't have Richard's Kid at 24-1 in the Pacific Classic, and he'll be a much shorter price Saturday. But he seems a different animal since finding synthetic tracks and is taken to win right back.

* Shadwell Turf Mile, Keeneland: Justenuffhumor proved to me he's a serious horse the way he got up in the Bernard Baruch, and should make this his seventh straight. A price of 2-1 would be very fair.

* Gallant Bob Stakes, Philadelphia Park: Tons of early speed here could compromise likely favorite Just Ben, as could the inside post. Everyday Heroes had a forgettable Saratoga meet, but if he relaxes a bit early like he did in his big win on Preakness Day, he can take this field at a good price.