07/27/2008 11:00PM

Forever Together logical upset play


NEW YORK - The Travers is usually the high point of the Saratoga meeting, but an argument can be made that Saturday's card at Saratoga will rival Travers Day in importance. There is a trio of Grade 1 races - the Whitney Handicap, the Diana Stakes, and the Go for Wand Handicap - as well as the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, and each race is a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In event. Meanwhile, the headliner at Del Mar is the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap.

Diana Stakes

Wait a While and Vacare are both top-class mares, and both are capable of winning this race on memory. But as accomplished as they are, there are questions about them that make taking short prices problematic. Wait a While has been away since January due to injury, and given all the rain that fell on Saratoga earlier in the week, she is not going to get the very firm footing she runs best on. Vacare is certainly eligible to improve on her season debut in the Just a Game, but she was so flat finishing eighth in that race that it's fair to wonder if she is as good as she used to be.

Although she won't be anywhere near the 44-1 she was when third in the Just a Game, Forever Together is my pick. After trailing early, she flew her last quarter-mile in the Just a Game in just over 22 seconds to lose by only 1 1/2 lengths to Ventura, who came back to just miss in the CashCall Mile. Forever Together might have been a surprise that day, but she showed potential when she won the first three starts of her career. She won her grass debut two starts back over - notably - yielding ground.

Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap

Bustin Stones will try to stretch his undefeated streak to seven in this spot. But while he is both fast and courageous, he has never faced the kind of California speed Black Seventeen brings to the race. I want someone who can stalk from just off the pace, and Thor's Echo looks to fall into a perfect pocket rail trip here.

Thor's Echo, the champion sprinter of 2006, impressed in defeat in the True North Handicap most recently in his first start in more than 14 months. He pressed a fast pace and wound up beaten less than two lengths by Benny the Bull, the top sprinter in the country. Thor's Echo has had time to recover from that effort, shows purposeful recent works, and is reunited with Corey Nakatani, for whom he has done his best work.

San Clemente Handicap

With victories in her last four starts, Storm Mesa has become one of the better 3-year-old fillies in the country. And the Beyer Speed Figures Storm Mesa earned winning stakes in her last two starts are higher than any Beyer any of her opponents Saturday ever has earned. But Storm Mesa rose to prominence on dirt, and this race is on turf. Moreover, Storm Mesa likes to operate on or with the early lead, and there is other speed here to keep her busy, mainly stretchout sprinter Mini Do, and Misty Ocean, winner of two straight turf stakes.

I think this race sets up to be won from off the pace, and I'm going with the closer Seattle Smooth. Seattle Smooth will be making her turf debut. But she had a sharp workout over the course last Sunday and is trained by Julio Canani, who, as a two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile, knows a turf horse when he sees one. More importantly, Seattle Smooth really came to hand in her last two starts, romping in the Bay Meadows Oaks and finishing fast late when third in the Black-Eyed Susan.