07/01/2010 11:00PM

Franny Freud vulnerable in Prioress


LEXINGTON, Ky. - There are only five 3-year-old fillies in the field in Sunday's six-furlong, Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont, and Franny Freud figures to be a solid favorite, but she isn't necessarily a slam dunk in this race. Arguments can also be made for Champagne d'Oro, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Acorn at 39-1, and Bonnie Blue Flag, who has won three straight races.

Franny Freud finished a close second behind Amen Hallelujah at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez in her first start of the year, then reeled off three straight stakes wins. Two came against New York-breds, but the third was registered at Keeneland in open company in the Grade 2 Beaumont. While it is possible that Franny Freud might turn out to be too good for this field, my suspicion is that she could also turn be vulnerable to one or perhaps even two challengers.

Champagne d'Oro paid $81 as the longshot winner of the Acorn, but that long price shouldn't be held against her since she never should have gone off at odds that high. Champagne d'Oro ran a nice race when she set most of the pace and finished a close second in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks two races earlier, but bettors forgot that performance and overreacted to her 11th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. Her subsequent 46-second workout at Belmont on June 27 suggests that continued improvement is possible.

Horses trained by Bob Baffert aren't typically overlooked in stakes races, but that might be the case with Bonnie Blue Flag in the Prioress. She raced on synthetic surfaces four times and ran twice on turf through her first six starts. Although she was consistent in those races, with five top-three finishes, including a maiden special win and an allowance victory, she hadn't yet run a fast race. That changed when Baffert raced her on dirt for the first time in the Cinemine Stakes at Lone Star. Bonnie Blue Flag scored by 6 1/2 lengths without being asked for much down the stretch, and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure, a 17-point improvement over her previous career-best number.

Bonnie Blue Flag has trained well since that race and might be set to deliver another big try at overlaid odds. I will bet on her to win, and try to collect extra value in the exacta by boxing her with Champagne d'Oro.

Jersey Shore: Take Discreetly Mine

The Grade 3 Jersey Shore, a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth, features another small but competitive field. Discreetly Mine should have been willing to rate more kindly than he did last time when he cut back from three straight graded stakes races at route distances -- the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star, the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby, and the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby -- to run seven furlongs in the Woody Stephens. Unfortunately for his supporters, Discreetly Mine dueled through a solid pace for a half-mile, then weakened and finished second. There are at least a couple of front-runners in this field, and if Discretely Mine is willing to be as tractable as he was in his recent route races he can sweep past the speed down the stretch.

Safe Trip appears to be the leading challenger. He set a hot pace en route to victory in a first-level optional $75,000 claiming race at Churchill, but he isn't speed crazy. Something closer to the tactics used in his maiden victory two races ago would give him a good trip in this race. Safe Trip pressed a moderate pace, assumed command, then drew off to win by 7 1/2 lengths. He shows a 59-second breeze since that race and might continue on the upswing as he makes his fourth career start.

Cool Bullet has the right running style to be effective in this race, but his highest-rated race to date was the 98 Beyer he earned in his win in the Hansel at Turfway in his lone start on a synthetic surface. He will have to improve a bit on his previous dirt Beyers to beat this group.

Out of Respect hasn't run a bad race yet, but he will want the early lead, and he might have to go faster than will be good for him to get it.

Christine Daae is a filly racing against males for the first time. She has been training strongly for this race, but she would probably have to surpass her best previous form to win.

I will bet Discreetly Mine to win, and box him with Safe Trip in the exacta.