06/21/2006 11:00PM

Roman Dynasty in open Turf Cup


NEW YORK - Colonial Downs hosts the richest race in the nation Saturday in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup, which fittingly drew a very interesting field of 3-year-olds. Myopic national stakes scheduling resurfaces again, however, with three of the next most prominent stakes Saturday - the $250,000 New York Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park, the $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes on the Colonial Turf Cup undercard, and the $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park - all being virtually identical events. All are turf races for fillies and mares, with the New York and Beverly Hills at 1 1/4 miles and the All Along at 1 1/8 miles. Put the fields in these races together, and you would have one very good event. Carve them up into three, and the result is a diluted product.

The big event in North America on Sunday is the $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine.

Colonial Turf Cup

With no true standout, this has the potential to be a tremendous betting race. Showing Up was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, and even though this is his turf debut, I couldn't argue with anyone going with him if his price is close to the 6-1 at which he is pegged in the morning line. Outperformance showed a bold late burst of speed when he won the Hill Prince last time out, and he is 10-1 on the line. And Lewis Michael, who handles turf, earned the top Beyer Speed Figure in the field in his narrow miss in the Peter Pan, on dirt, most recently, and his morning line price is 15-1. But the horse I like, at 8-1 on the line, is Roman Dynasty.

Roman Dynasty will also be making his first start on turf, but being by Theatrical, from Vinista, who was graded stakes-placed on the turf, he should love the surface switch. Roman Dynasty showed marked improvement when he won an off-the-turf stakes last out, and he has worked on the turf three times since. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, won last year's Colonial Turf Cup with English Channel.

All Along Breeders' Cup

Wend and Film Maker are the most accomplished members of this field. But Wend was alarmingly flat in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile most recently, and Film Maker has had her seasonal debut delayed because of a quarter crack. So, I'll try to upset them with Humoristic.

Humoristic might have beaten Film Maker at a huge price in the 2005 Gallorette Handicap if she hadn't encountered serious traffic trouble in the stretch. She signaled a return to form when she narrowly missed in this year's Gallorette. Humoristic has won 2 of 3 starts at Colonial Downs, her only loss being a second in last year's All Along. She is versatile, but might be most effective when she's involved early. Considering the lack of pace, she can use that approach Saturday.

Queen's Plate

Off victories in the Lone Star Derby and WinStar Derby in his last two starts, Wanna Runner deserves to be the favorite. But Wanna Runner isn't really bred for 1 1/4 miles, and with as many as four speed horses breaking to his inside, he could find himself farther off the early pace than he prefers.

I'm going with Shillelagh Slew, who dramatically improved on his 2-year-old form when he romped in his only start this year, crushing the horse who later finished second in the Plate Trial. And Shillelagh Slew owns a closing style that figures to be flattered by a contested pace.


Colonial Downs: All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes
Fillies and mares, 3 and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-4:55 p.m., Central-3:55 p.m., Mountain-2:55 p.m., Pacific-1:55 p.m.
New Kent, Va., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 85¦

1Film Maker1001051009-5
3Joint Aspiration9693639-2
4Art Fan97878815-1

Track odds

Colonial Downs: Colonial Turf Cup
3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-5:40 p.m., Central-4:40 p.m., Mountain-3:40 p.m., Pacific-2:40 p.m.
New Kent, Va., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 85¦

1Showing Up96991006-1
2Stream Cat8887767-2
3International Cat82797730-1
5Roman Dynasty9777818-1
6Prime Diamond81795430-1
7Lewis Michael102908515-1
8Rock Lobster81747815-1
9Unbridled Behavior90767020-1
10Can't Beat It84948920-1
11Yate's Black Cat80898415-1
12Chin High59887620-1
13Go Between8687914-1
14Kip Deville9967819-2

Track odds

Woodbine: Queen's Plate
3-year-olds, foaled in Canada, 1 1/4 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-6:07 p.m., Central-5:07 p.m., Mountain-4:07 p.m., Pacific-3:07 p.m.
Rexdale, Ontario, Canada, forecast: Sunny, 77¦

2Atlas Shrugs75838120-1
3Shillelagh Slew8765528-1
4Thinking Out Loud70676630-1
5Sterwins10166  6-1
6Ascot Bill79676520-1
7Pyramid Park65886830-1
9Wanna Runner9892769-5
10Pipers Thunder81765510-1
11Hot Deputy56717550-1

Track odds