09/21/2008 11:00PM

Simply ignore Real Estate's last


NEW YORK - Thanks to smart scheduling, Philadelphia Park, Louisiana Downs, and Suffolk Downs - tracks you wouldn't normally associate with the biggest races in the nation on a fall Saturday - have the richest races in the nation on this Saturday. The $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion is the feature at Philly Park, the $500,000 Super Derby is the headliner at Louisiana Downs, and the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap is the main event at Suffolk Downs.

James B. Moseley Sprint Handicap

As much as I like trying to beat odds-on favorites, I just can't in good conscience pick against Commentator in the Mass Cap, for he looks to be the best horse in that race by a long way. But in this supporting feature at my old stomping grounds of Suffolk, the projected favorite, Suave Jazz, does look vulnerable – if he starts. Suave Jazz's best race this year was his close second in the Maryland Sprint Handicap on Preakness Day. The field in that event was not strong, however, and that race was not run in particularly fast time. Moreover, Suave Jazz has not raced since he lost his rider after a bad start in late July, and I'm not crazy about the 17-day gap between works that preceded his first workout this month.

Real Estate is the play. Real Estate's most recent running line in the Grade 1 Forego looks ugly, but it is best ignored. He was virtually eliminated at the start of the Forego when he was bumped, then stumbled, and then was taken up in the same incident that eliminated the heavily favored Lucky Island. Before that, however, Real Estate showed high speed and courage winning two straight. In May he set a very quick pace in a middle distance allowance race at Belmont Park, and came again after being passed in the stretch to win going away. Real Estate followed with another strong effort sprinting at Saratoga, setting the kind of fast pace after missing his break that makes him the main speed Saturday, and coming back after being momentarily headed in the stretch to prevail. He beat Aquino, who came back to win on the Travers undercard.

Fitz Dixon Cotillion

Speaking from personal experience, I know being a track morning-line maker is a thankless task. No one notices when you do a good job, but everyone notices when you get one wrong. That said, the morning line hung on Proud Spell in this race of 8-5 seems ridiculously high. Proud Spell has won two Grade 1 races and three Grade 2 races while none of her opponents Saturday has won a graded stakes of any type. Heck, Proud Spell just regained status as the top 3-year-old filly in the country by winning the Alabama over Music Note, who came back last week to win the Grade 1 Gazelle as easily as you will ever see a horse win.

Knowing that Proud Spell will be closer to 3-5 than 8-5, and considering she is coming off a very hard race, I will try and beat her with Seattle Smooth. Seattle Smooth romped in her two career fast-track dirt races, conditions she gets Saturday, and the 101 Beyer Figure she earned most recently for dominating Delaware Park's Go for Wand Stakes equals Proud Spell's best Beyer. But this is not an anti-Proud Spell pick. It's more to do with Seattle Smooth perhaps being an overlay.

Pomona Derby

It might be a mistake to go against Martin Pedroza and Trevor's Clever in here. After all, doesn't Pedroza win every race at Fairplex? Actually, it only seems that way. And I think Dakota Phone can deny Pedroza and Trevor's Clever in this spot.

Dakota Phone has gotten good of late. It took him seven starts to get his maiden win, which he accomplished on the grass at Hollywood Park, but he has now won two straight, thanks to a solid allowance win most recently over Del Mar's Polytrack. And it is worth noting that Wink at the Girls, who was up the track behind Dakota Phone in that race at Del Mar, came back to miss by a nose to Trevor's Clever in the Jim Kostoff Stakes at Fairplex.