Updated on 09/18/2011 12:19AM

Tables can be turned in Donn


NEW YORK - It's a big day of racing Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the $500,000 Donn Handicap heads a card that also includes five other stakes worth an additional $650,000.

Donn Handicap

Suave was the 2-1 favorite when he lost by a head to Magna Graduate when both made their last start in the Clark Handicap in late November. I'm hoping that result, combined with the powerful team of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez behind Magna Graduate, will make Magna Graduate the solid favorite this time. I'm hoping for that because I think Suave is a firm play here.

One of the more surprising things about the Clark was that Magna Graduate was in front of Suave in the early stages. While he is versatile, Suave is most effective when a part of the early pace. Before the Clark, he was a good fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic after disputing the early pace, and when he dominated the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap last summer, he made all the running despite a stumbling start.

Perhaps the reason why Magna Graduate was in front of Suave early in the Clark was that he drew closer to the inside. This time, Suave drew more toward the inside, and should be in front of Magna Graduate in the early stages. In fact, if On Thin Ice, who breaks from the rail just inside of Suave, is patient early as he was when he won the Hal's Hope last month, Suave could wind up with a relatively easy lead. It also doesn't hurt that Suave has demonstrated on a couple of occasions the ability to win off layoffs.

King Cotton Stakes

The term "bounce" has become one of the most misapplied terms in the game. But it may legitimately apply in this race to a prime contender, Beau's Town. He turned in a gut-wrenching effort last month in the Duncan Kenner Breeders' Cup, opening a clear lead in midstretch, drifting, and then getting nailed. The fact that effort came off a 14-month absence suggests that Beau's Town is a candidate to come up flat this time,.

With this in mind, I like Top Commander. He tired in the Kenner after showing speed, but it was the kind of race that could move him forward since he was coming off a six-month layoff. Top Commander now moves to Oaklawn, where last year he won twice in the biggest performances of his career by far.

Holy Bull Stakes

Barbaro was overwhelming winning all three of his starts on turf, and given the way he has worked on dirt, and the fact that his pedigree isn't entirely grass-oriented, he might easily make a successful transition to dirt in this race. The problem is, he will be the favorite, and it is never a good bet to take a horse attempting to do what Barbaro will be trying to do as the favorite.

The logical alternative is Flashy Bull, who gave the highly regarded Bluegrass Cat everything he wanted when second in the Remsen. But Flashy Bull drew post 8, and with the very short run to the first turn going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream, it's easy envisioning him getting caught five wide on the first turn.

I'm going with Sunriver. I'll be the first to admit that Sunriver's Beyer Speed Figures don't match up to others in this race. But I do like that from three career starts, Sunriver has two solid nine-furlong races to his credit. I also like his ability to close, which could be helpful if a lot of his opponents send early trying to get good position on the first turn.


Gulfstream Park: Holy Bull Stakes
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles

Approximate post: Eastern-4:50 p.m., Central-3:50 p.m., Mountain-2:50 p.m., Pacific-1:50 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fl., forecast: Showers likely, 80¦

1Big Lover73698530-1
2Doctor Decherd8566878-1
4Hemingway's Key8072-10-1
6Fagan's Legacy64817820-1
7Saint Augustus7289736-1
8Flashy Bull9271804-1
9My Golden Song75778115-1
12Park Avenue Prince83837210-1
Also eligible:
13Great Point83766110-1

Odds by Kenny Peck

Gulfstream Park: Donn Handicap
3 And Up, 1 1/8 Miles

Approximate post: E-5:20 p.m., C-4:20 p.m., M-3:20 p.m., P-2:20 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fl., forecast: Showers likely, 80¦

1On Thin Ice104103746-1
3West Virginia97909810-1
4Magna Graduate106106967-2
5Super Frolic1081051053-1
6Seek Gold9194889-2
7Andromeda's Hero9799999-2
8Pies Prospect96101849-2
9Brass Hat10396828-1

Coupled: Seek Gold, Andromeda's Hero, and Pies Prospect; odds by Kenny Peck

Oaklawn Park: King Cotton Stakes
4 and up, 6 furlongs

Approximate post: E-6:02 p.m., C-5:02 p.m., M-4:02 p.m., P-3:02 p.m.; Hot Springs, Ark., forecast: Partly cloudy, 54¦

1Top Commander8096925-1
2Rogue Scholar48959530-1
3Level Playingfield9294956-1
4Two Down Automatic87899215-1
5That Tat831059910-1
6Joe Six Pack951051058-1
7Rodeo's Castle9792935-2
8Stolen Time945510010-1
9Beau's Town96981033-1
11Take a Shot66876930-1

Odds by Kristin Sadler