10/05/2006 12:00AM

Remarkable News can wire Shadwell Mile


Fasten your seatbelts.

Five Grade 1 races at Belmont Park, three more important stakes at Keeneland, and three more at Santa Anita help make Saturday one of the best racing days of the year. All 11 races are critical stepping-stones to the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, and the outlook for the Breeders' Cup will be a lot clearer come Saturday night.

Shadwell Turf Mile

This is just a terrific betting race. Miesque's Approval, who nosed last year's Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Artie Schiller, in the Maker's Mark over the Keeneland turf course last April, is going for his fourth straight stakes win. He's tough to knock, but I refuse to believe that he has suddenly become unbeatable at age 7. Silent Name and Hendrix have recently chased Aragorn, America's top turf miler, and will be happy to escape his shadow. Hendrix, in particular, is scary off the way he ran The Tin Man to a close decision three starts back. But while there are a few horses in this race with positional speed, Remarkable News is the only true front-runner, and he is the bet to go wire to wire.

Remarkable News was hooked in a speed duel last time out in the Woodbine Mile, and it is to his credit that he held on as well as he did to deep stretch before weakening. But with less early competition this time, Remarkable News can get away with the kind of moderate pace he set two starts back, when he was a decisive winner of the Fourstardave Handicap. Remarkable News came home strongly in the Fourstardave to register a clear-cut decision over Ashkal Way, a performance that looks even better now, considering Ashkal Way has since won the Bernard Baruch and Kelso handicaps to earn an opportunity to contest the Breeders' Cup Mile.


With five stakes victories from as many starts this year, Fleet Indian is the most accomplished older mare in the country. While her recent wins have been aided by uncontested, soft early paces, I do think that since she rates willingly through slow fractions, she could probably run well sitting just off the lead if she has to. But with Take D' Tour and Teammate in this race, Fleet Indian will face the kind of quality early pace pressure she hasn't seen in a long time. So even though I think Fleet Indian might rate effectively off the lead, I wouldn't want to pay to find out, given her short price.

I'm going with Balletto. Balletto was soundly beaten by Take D' Tour in two stakes earlier in the year, but that was when Take D' Tour was sharper than she is now, and when Balletto wasn't as sharp as she is now. And though Balletto was whipped by Fleet Indian last time out in the Personal Ensign, Fleet Indian absolutely walked on the lead, and Balletto, a deep closer, at least made a threatening middle move. Balletto, however, will get a more favorable pace setup this time, one similar to the pace she got two starts back in the Go for Wand, in which she closed strongly and was beaten a nose by Spun Sugar.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

English Channel, who earlier in the year was the best turf male in America, is unquestionably the best horse on paper. Moreover, he will get help from a pacemaker in Icy Atlantic to ensure that he has a target at which to run, which is his best style. If English Channel runs his race, he is a likely winner, but that is a bigger question now than it was a few months ago, since English Channel has been uncharacteristically off in two of his last three starts. If English Channel still offered some betting value, you could overlook that. But in a short field here, he will be a prohibitive favorite.

I'll take a flyer with Freedonia. A troubled fourth in Paris last time out behind Mandesha, Freedonia turned in a strong performance to win a Group 2 stakes at Deauville at an extended distance two starts back.