06/16/2010 11:00PM

Taking a stand against Paddy O'Prado


NEW YORK - After a few consecutive weekends of heavy stakes activity, this weekend's schedule is relatively light by comparison, not only in terms of number of stakes but also field size. Colonial Downs has the richest race in the nation on Saturday with the Grade 2, $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup, which is supported by the Grade 3, $150,000 All Along Stakes. And Charles Town has the second-richest race in the country Saturday in the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes.

Elsewhere, the Grade 3, $200,000 Pegasus is the feature at Monmouth Park; the Grade 2, $150,000 New York Stakes is the headliner at Belmont Park; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Affirmed Handicap is the main event at Hollywood Park.

Notably, only the Affirmed attracted as many as nine entrants. Only six were entered in the Pegasus, and just seven were entered in the Colonial Turf Cup, the Red Legend, and the New York. It sure seems like an opportune time to own a couple of decent stakes horses.

Colonial Turf Cup

Paddy O'Prado is certainly the name horse in here off his third in the Kentucky Derby, beaten less than three lengths. That, combined with the fact that he won the Palm Beach Stakes in his last start on turf, ensures that Paddy O'Prado will be a short price in this race. That's fine with me, because I'm happy to try and beat him. I believe Paddy O'Prado's performance in the Derby was enhanced by the sloppy track. It was by far the best race he has ever run, including from the standpoint of Beyer Speed Figures, but he failed to validate that form when a soundly beaten sixth in the subsequent Preakness on a fast track. As for Paddy O'Prado's turf ability, sure, he likes the grass. But it's not like his Palm Beach -- his only career victory, by the way -- was an extraordinary effort, and his prior turf outings were rather ordinary.

Doubles Partner, who figures to vie for favoritism with Paddy O'Prado, is, in my view, more dangerous here. Doubles Partner is 3 for 3 on turf, including a score in the American Turf last time out on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. But I am wondering just how strong the form of the American Turf really was. Although Workin for Hops, who finished fifth in the American Turf after a poor start and who also is in this race, came back to win the Arlington Classic, the second and third finishers in the American Turf both came back to lose in last week's Jefferson Cup, earning significantly lower Beyers than they did in the American Turf.

I'm going with Kindergarden Kid, who has been handled very patiently by trainer Barclay Tagg and looks ready to deliver on his potential. Kindergarden Kid only began his career in February, and the fact that he notched his maiden win going 11 furlongs in his second start says the distance of this race is well within his scope. But Kindergarden Kid really broke through in his last start with a strong allowance score at Belmont. The field Kindergarden Kid beat at Belmont was not special, but the way he finished in that race was. According to DRF Formulator, Kindergarden Kid went his last three furlongs of that nine-furlong race in a fast 34.35 seconds. Moreover, the 93 Beyer he earned that day matches Paddy O'Prado's best turf Beyer and puts him in the ballpark with Doubles Partner.

Affirmed Handicap

Alphie's Bet is the most proven horse here, and Golden Itiz is this field's hot new shooter. And while I wouldn't be surprised if either won, I'm going against them. Alphie's Bet, who will certainly be happy to be back in with straight 3-year-olds and back at a distance he is more familiar with after facing his elders last time in the 12-furlong Jim Murray Handicap on turf, ran well when he won the Snow Chief and Sham on the main track. But Alphie's Best just isn't all that fast in terms of Beyers. Golden Itiz ran off and hid in an entry-level allowance race most recently, but that was a poor field behind him. The runner-up has since lost two straight, the third finisher returned to be a distant last in the Laz Barrera, and the fifth finisher came back to be last at 4-5.

I liked Skipshot last time out in the Barrera Memorial, and though he finished fifth, I'm giving him another chance. While Skipshot's performance was only fair, he still earned an 89 Beyer that is better than what anyone else in here has ever earned. Two starts back, in his last outing in a two-turn race like this one, Skipshot made a very nice middle move in the paceless Santa Anita Derby, running his third quarter-mile in 23.75, and his fourth quarter in 23.65. There are no Sidney's Candys or Lookin At Luckys in this spot, so if Skipshot can produce another half-mile run like the one he made in the Santa Anita Derby, it should be good enough.

New York Stakes

Lady Shakespeare has found her niche going extended distances, but she had a very easy trip when she won the Bewitch last time out. Bewitch runner up Changing Skies might like the shorter distance in this race, but I can't take a horse who lost after setting an incredibly slow pace last time. Ave was a sharp third in the Gallorette in her U.S. debut, but who knows about that race after winner Rainbow View came back to be third in the Nassau Stakes at even money.

I like Daveron. Granted, Daveron beat a much softer group in her recent U.S. debut, but she looked really good doing it, showing a lot of ability running an internal half-mile in 46.31. She should like the longer distance she gets in this race.