06/18/2008 11:00PM

Sailor's Cap can build on last race

Email

NEW YORK - Turf is the name of the game Saturday as the four graded stakes on the national stakes schedule are all grass events. Colonial Downs has two of these races: the Colonial Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and the All Along Stakes for older females. Both are Grade 3 events. The other two are the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont Park, which is also for older females, and the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park, which is for 3-year-olds.

Colonial Turf Cup

By virtue of the fact that both were deemed worthy enough to have made their last starts in the Kentucky Derby, Adriano and Court Vision will attract a good bit of betting action. And they aren't the only ones in this race who are refugees from Triple Crown races. Kentucky Bear made his last start in the Preakness. But as for Adriano and Court Vision, both of whom are trained by Bill Mott, they might not be as formidable as their class lines suggest. Adriano, winner of the Lane's End on Polytrack, has won twice on turf, but he didn't run especially fast or beat very much in either victory. Court Vision, a first-time starter on turf, won the Remsen last year and finished third in the Wood Memorial two starts back. But he has, to date, lacked the kind of turn of foot that successful turf horses have.

Sailor's Cap looks strong in this spot off fine performances in his last two starts. The first was a breakthrough win for him on the turf at Keeneland. But it was his near miss in the Crown Royal American Turf most recently that was especially compelling. Over an off turf course at Churchill Downs that, in my opinion, was strongly speed-favoring, Sailor's Cap managed to mount a good run from off the pace that fell just a neck shy of catching the front-running winner, Tizdejavu. Not only is the 93 Beyer Speed Figure Sailor's Cap earned that day the equal of anything any horse in this race has received, the form of the American Turf got a big boost when Tizdejavu came back to dominate last week's Jefferson Cup with a 96 Beyer.

Cinema Handicap

The Warrior normally wouldn't feature a race with a five-horse field like this one. But the New York Handicap also came up with a field of five (plus one main-track-only entrant). And while I feel Mauralakana will be hard to beat as the strong favorite at Belmont, I think I might be able to squeeze a little value out of the Cinema by going with Tiz West.

Tiz West lost for the first time on turf most recently when fourth in the Will Rogers Stakes, finishing behind Polonius and Ez Dreamer, two he must face again Saturday. But Tiz West did not have the most favorable setup that day. He tried to keep the loose-on-the-lead Polonius somewhat honest in front, a thankless task, and jumped shadows on the far turn, yet still was beaten only two lengths. This time, Tiz West might fall into a perfect trip as Liberian Freighter might go after Polonius early, and he is taken to capitalize.

Charles Town Dash Handicap

I just couldn't resist. How can a handicapper who is even the tiniest bit adventuresome not take a shot at a $200,000 stakes for older horses going 4 1/2 furlongs on dirt?

It's easy to see that the favorite will be either Joey P., the pride of New Jersey who hardly ever runs poorly, or either of the Tony Dutrow-trained pair of Pete's Wonder or Sir Silver Fox, who between them sport wins in 5 of their last 6 starts. But they will be making their first starts at Charles Town, and there's a local tiger there who I believe is ready to school them named Lacewell.

Sure, Lacewell, who was cut out to be a good horse in his younger days, could have been claimed for $10,000 only four races ago. But he won that and his three starts since, all over this track, and three at this distance. And a look at the replay of his most recent win - yes, I watched it - shows he has crazy speed if he wants to use it, and he is also very game.