Updated on 09/15/2011 12:30PM

Ehalt: Weekend preview/analysis


The theory is that traveling to Dubai can knock out a horse for a lot more than a standing eight-count.

A case in point is Captain Steve. He wins the Dubai World Cup in March then resurfaces back in the U.S.A. on June 16 and finishes second in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.

The Dubai jinx?

Chronic jetlag?

Take your choice. Some form of fatigue seems a fitting excuse for Captain Steve's being collared in the final furlong and losing by a half-length to Guided Tour in the Foster.

That is until the entries for Sunday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup came out and Captain Steve was the most prominent name among a classy field of five. If the journey to Dubai took so much out of Captain Steve, why would trainer Bob Baffert run him back on just two weeks rest in the Gold Cup?

Sunday's Grade 1 test at Hollywood Park should reveal whether the 4-year-old Captain Steve has put his trip aboard behind him as he will have to deal with Pacific Classic winner Skimming and 2000 Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes runner-up Aptitude in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup. His "A" race will clearly be needed to add another $600,000 to his hefty career earnings of $6,693,356.

The Gold Cup, one of four stakes at Hollywood on Sunday, is the highlight of a pre-Fourth of July weekend that will not be lacking for fireworks.

Sunday's schedule also features another big race for the handicap division, the $500,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, as well as the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, which boasts one of the nation's top sprinters, Caller One.

The Suburban serves as a rematch between Include and Albert the Great, who ran 1-2 in last month's Pimlico Special. Include won by a neck over "Albert" at Pimlico while receiving seven pounds, but will get only a one-pound edge (123-122) in the Suburban. Both horses were victorious in their subsequent starts after the Special as Albert the Great, who was second behind Captain Steve in the Donn, took the Brooklyn and Include captured the Mass Cap.

Though the Suburban attracted only six starters, none are slouches. Traditionally, who floundered on a wet track in the Metropolitan Handicap, Hawthorne Gold Cup runner-up Lido Palace, Unshaded and Perfect Cat are all capable of upending the highweights.

Fillies will have their share of the spotlight Saturday in the form of two Grade 1 stakes, the $250,000 Mother Goose for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park and the $250,000 Vanity at Hollywood Park, as well as the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park.

Forest Secrets, a 50-1 winner of the Acorn in just her third career start, will attempt to prove that victory was no fluke against nine rivals in the 1 1/8-mile second leg of New York's Triple Tiara series. Fleet Renee, Two Item Limit and Real Cozzy shape up as the main threats.

The Vanity, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles, drew a field of five, though it figures to be a showdown between Milady winner Lazy Slusan and Apple Blossom winner Gourmet Girl.

The weekend schedule also offers a showcase event for turfers, Sunday's Grade 1 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park.


1. Captain Steve; 2. Skimming; 3. Aptitude

If trainer Bob Baffert believes Captain Steve is fit enough to run, that's good enough for me. Even in defeat Captain Steve earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure that was just one point lower than the figure he earned for beating Albert the Great in the Donn Handicap.

Skimming has the kind of speed to be dangerous in a five-horse field, but with Gary Stevens in the saddle you need not worry about Captain Steve falling too far off the early pace.

Aptitude has talent but until he pushes his career win total above its current meager state - a mere two - betting him to win seems a waste of money.


1. Fleet Renee; 2. Two Item Limit; 3. Forest Secrets

If Fleet Renee runs back to her April victory over Golden Ballet in the Ashland, she'll breeze here. The daughter of Seattle Slew followed up the Ashland with a disappointing fourth in the Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Michael Dickinson has kept Fleet Renee on the sidelines since that May 4 race, but don't worry about her being ready to fire her best shot. If Dickinson could win the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile with Da Hoss off one race in two years, he can win the Mother Goose off an eight-week layoff.

Two Item Limit has come to hand, winning the Black-Eyed Susan and Comely (via disqualification). The race sets up nicely for her late run, yet she seems a slight cut below Fleet Renee in terms of ability.

Forest Secrets showed grit in surrendering the lead in the stretch and then battling back to win the mile-long Acorn. This time, she faces several stiff challenges on the front end which coupled with the added distance of the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose adds up to a formidable assignment for a lightly raced filly.


Suburban: 1. Albert the Great; 2. Traditionally; 3. Include

Triple Bend: 1. National Saint; 2. Caller One; 3. Stormy Jack

Vanity: 1. Gourmet Girl; 2. Lazy Slusan; 3. Feverish

Molly Pitcher: 1. License Fee; 2. March Magic; 3. Shine Again


The Mother Goose looks like an inviting spot, thanks to Fleet Renee. We'll try $30 to win as well as $5 exacta boxes Fleet Renee/Two Item Limit and Fleet Renee/Forest Secrets for a $50 wager.

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