Updated on 09/18/2011 2:38AM

Interpatation too sharp to pass up


NEW YORK - In respect to stakes racing, the annual late-season shift of focus to tracks in warmer climes begins in earnest Saturday, when Calder Race Course presents its Grand Slam I card of four $100,000 stakes events, and Hollywood Park offers the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes.

Tropical Turf Handicap

Gun Salute and Drum Major are legitimate favorites in this race. Gun Salute is the most accomplished horse in the field, having won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes last year over English Channel. But even though Gun Salute has a trainer in Bill Mott who has few peers in successfully bringing horses back off long layoffs, it is tough to take a horse returning from a nine-month absence in a competitive spot at modest odds. Drum Major is more difficult to take issue with, but does have to overcome the 12 hole, and doesn't figure to offer much betting value. So, I'm going to try and beat them both with Interpatation.

Interpatation comes into this off the three best performances of his career, starting with a close third to recent Citation winner Ashkal Way in the Bernard Baruch Handicap. He followed with an easy score in a stakes at Philadelphia Park. Last time out, Interpatation competed in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, and was not embarrassed. He was beaten less than five lengths by English Channel while coming out on the short end of a three-way photo for second with two respectable European invaders. Interpatation will appreciate both the drop in class and cut back in distance to his preferred nine furlongs, and with a continuation of his recent form, he can win at a square price.

Vernon O. Underwood

The two marquee horses in this race are Siren Lure and Declan's Moon, but both appear vulnerable. Siren Lure had little chance last time out in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, when he raced wide from an outside post on a track that favored rail runners. Before that he was in excellent form, having won 6 of 7 starts, all in Southern California. But betting a horse who has to rally from downtown like Siren Lure does just isn't my cup of tea. As for Declan's Moon, his recent workout line suggests he might be ready to approach the kind of form that enabled him to be the champion 2-year-old male of 2004. Nevertheless, he is a hard horse to throw money at given shaky performances in his first two

comeback efforts.

Turnbolt is an intriguing alternative. Although he lost when he returned from a layoff in October, his second that day after contesting the pace was just the kind of effort he can improve upon. I like the fact that he has been given some time since that outing to recover, and this could set Turnbolt up to run just the kind of race he did when he was second in this event last year to the top-notch sprinter Bordonaro.

My Charmer Handicap

Although I went against the comebacker Gun Salute in the Tropical Turf, I am going with a Bill Mott-trained layoff horse in this spot in My Lordship. Here's the difference. With Naissance Royale figuring to be a strong favorite, My Lordship should be a very playable price.

My Lordship hasn't raced since early in the Saratoga meet. But last year at this time, My Lordship returned to action in Florida off a freshening and promptly reeled off three straight victories. One was over the Calder turf course, and another, in the Endeavor BC at Tampa Bay Downs, was, Beyer Speed Figure-wise, just as good as Naissance Royale's fastest races.