10/01/2009 11:00PM

Flower Bowl has potential to influence Eclipse


With Forever Together having lost 2 of her last 3 starts and maybe not looking as formidable as she was last year, when she was champion turf female, and with Ventura scheduled to return to a synthetic surface in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint after a most impressive win on grass over males in the Woodbine Mile, Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park takes on added meaning.

The door to the female turf championship seems to be open, and the Flower Bowl, already important as an excellent springboard to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, could in this climate be very helpful in advancing the Eclipse Award candidacies of a couple of its entrants.

Dynaforce seems best positioned to make the most of this opportunity. Dynaforce did not run well in her first two starts this year - her connections insist it was accountable to a seven-month break in action - finishing fifth at 4-5 on the Gallorette on the Preakness undercard, and a middling third of five in the Modesty. But Dynaforce got it together last time out in the Beverly D., scoring in decisive fashion and suggesting she is approaching the sharp form she showed when he won this race last year. A victory Saturday would give Dynaforce consecutive Grade 1 wins, a rare feat in this division this year, and it looks like the stars are aligning in her favor. If the forecast of rain proves correct, Dynaforce will get the kind of off going she relished when she won the Beverly D. and the 2008 Flower Bowl.

Pure Clan hasn't proved to be the force in this division many expected her to be after a strong 3-year-old campaign last year, at least not yet. But she did trade decisions with Dynaforce in her last two, winning the Modesty with style before finishing a fast-closing third in the Beverly D. Pure Clan would not surprise anyone with a win here, especially since she, too, handles off turf.

Criticism was for a time early this year one of the leading members of this division. Before the end of May, she had already won three graded stakes - the Sheepshead Bay, La Prevoyante, and The Very One. Criticism had no answer for Icon Project in the subsequent off-the-turf New York Stakes, which was no disgrace considering the way Icon Project later won the Personal Ensign by 13 1/2 lengths with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure. But Criticism backed up last time out to finish ninth of 10 in the Diana.

Carribean Sunset was beaten just a head in the Diana by Forever Together. But Carribean Sunset didn't flatter Forever Together when she came back to finish third as the favorite in the Palomar.

Moneycantbuymelove, aside from having a good chance to win this off a career-best third in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes, affords us a chance to measure how U.S. form stacks up against creditable European form. And Moneycantbuymelove's form is creditable, as the filly who narrowly beat her for second in the Nassau, Rainbow View, came back to win the Group 1 Matron Stakes in Ireland.