Updated on 09/15/2011 12:36PM

One can beat Congaree, one can't


Phoenix - You have to add a good dose of wishful thinking to your handicapping if you're going to come up with a scenario that defeats heavy favorite Congaree in Sunday's Grade 1 Swaps at Hollywood. But heck, it's that type of thinking that can sometimes lead to the $20 payoff or more.

It took creating thinking to come up with Dare and Go beating Cigar in the Pacific Classic a few years ago, or Wagon Limit beating Gentlemen and Skip Away a couple of falls ago. I'm not saying Congaree is Cigar, but he does tower over the Swaps scene.

One thing I've noticed about big upsets in big races is that it seems more feasible to beat a major horse by catching him offguard, late in the lane. This happened a couple of weeks ago in the Hollywood Gold Cup when favorite Captain Steve was beaten by Futural (who in turn was disqualified).

I have selected speed types against big horses, but that doesn't seem to work as well. First of all, the big horse usually has speed himself and performs well in the early portions of the race. However the big horse could be vulnerable at the end of the race, when he has used up much of his ammo. His class may keep him in the fight, but out of gas is out of gas.

So, it seems risky to take a shot against Congaree with Until Sundown. Until Sundown is a good horse, but he has tactical speed. In other words, he figures to be in the race with Congaree from the start. Even if Congaree runs a dud, you would expect his collapse to come turning for home or later, not during the first half mile or six furlongs. So Until Sundown's proximity to Congaree won't allow him to keep enough in reserve to blow by, as Dare and Go and Wagon Limit did.

If you're looking to upend Congaree, the way to go is Bayou to the Moon.

He has shown some tactical speed, but Bayou to the Moon strikes me as most effective sitting back - not too far back, mind you - and making a big run.

The pace figures to be brisk; certainly Congaree will be up close, and likely Top Hit and maybe even Until Sundown will be up there, too. Bayou to the Moon is bred to run long. If by some chance Congaree gets low on fuel, then a big charge by Bayou to the Moon could be the ticket. It could potentially catch Congaree at his moment of weakness, after he has used his acceleration to take control of the race and get rid of the other speed. Remember, he shortened stride in the Derby and Preakness, though he is not being chased this time by the likes of Monarchos and Point Given.

If Congaree is the slightest bit on the short side, an explosive move by Bayou to the Moon could be too much for Congaree to repel, while a grinding move by Until Sundown, for example, will not be enough to overwhelm even a tired Congaree.

There's no doubt Congaree is the best horse. He is also going to be about 2-5. Anyone who saw his monstrous Wood win, huge Derby and Preakness efforts and powerful recent drills knows that this race goes through him.

Congaree might win this thing by a half dozen, under wraps. But in order to come up with potential $20 gems you have to turn the race on its side. And maybe you can tell everyone how you doped out the horse that beat the horse who couldn't be beat.

A Hollywood ending

The Swaps is the centerpiece, but a couple other stakes grace the final Sunday card of the Hollywood meet.

The Hollywood Juvenile may give us a glimpse of a future star, though it has taken a hit of late as two very promising juveniles, Expected Program and Sleeping Weapon, have been injured and will miss the race. However, Paco Gonzalez certainly has a horse to watch, Came Home. Hi is a son of Gone West, out of Nice Assay, making him a half to the marvelous sprinter/miler A.P. Assay. He devoured maidens in May in his debut, earning a 91 Beyer. That's big stuff for a 2-year-old in May. He has continued to work gangbusters since and can stamp himself a comer here, then turn his attention toward Bob Baffert's powerful recent juvenile winner Officer.

The 1 1/2-mile Sunset Handicap may not have Bienamado or any of the big names, but it is interesting from a wagering standpoint to be sure. Blueprint ran big at Santa Anita going long and has been given plenty of time since with this race in mind. He's the horse to beat.

The horse to bet, however, may well be Kudos. Since being gelded last winter Kudos has turned into a tiger for Mandella, blasting his way through his conditions, winning five straight. He loves this course and as long as he can handle 12 furlongs after some time off he can end the meet the way he started it - as a winner.