08/08/2013 4:40PM

Weekend Warrior: Picks for the Fourstardave, Monmouth Oaks, La Jolla

Barbara D. Livingston
King Kreesa has won two in a row, including the Grade 3 Poker at a mile in fast time.

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Capped by the $500,000 Fourstardave at Saratoga, featuring reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, the most prestigious races across the country Saturday are mostly on turf, with the Grade 2 La Jolla at Del Mar being another example.

So the Warrior is ready to do some handicapping for the grass.


Not having lost since the Stephen Foster on dirt last June – a win streak of seven races while racing exclusively on turf – Wise Dan is impossible to fault. He shows up all the time.

But if there is a time to take to chance against him, the Fourstardave is the time. Wise Dan, toting 129 pounds as the highweight, breaks from the hedge and will be targeted by every other opposing rider, whom will undoubtedly seek to keep Wise Dan and John Velazquez boxed in along inside.

Of course, similar tactics were tried in the Firecracker at Churchill Downs when Wise Dan last raced, but Wise Dan found a way to win, bulling his way through along the hedge in an effort to secure room.

The difference this time in the Fourstardave – the field is deeper and superior to the group he just faced, with horses like Za Approval and King Kreesa part of the six-horse supporting cast.

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Inside trip and hefty impost aside, Wise Dan is still a likely winner. But as the 3-5 favorite, he just doesn’t appear to offer the wagering upside to justify his short price.

The value play of the race is King Kreesa, a streaking New York-bred who has won two in a row, including the Grade 3 Poker at a mile in fast time.

He is in receipt of 12 pounds from Wise Dan, and should get a good trip, either setting the pace or sitting just to the outside of Skyring, if by chance that horse shows speed, as he does periodically.

Although a recipient of setting a favorable pace in his two most recent wins, King Kreesa may once again get that kind of setup. The inkling here is that with all eyes on Wise Dan, none of the opposing riders is going to want to get their mounts softened up by dueling with King Kreesa early.

Monmouth Oaks

Less than 15 minutes after the Fourstardave, the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks goes to post at 5:59 for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Monmouth Park.

Favored at 5-2 and likely to go off around 9-5 or less come post time, is graded stakes winner Seaneen Girl, a filly whose accomplishments on dirt are far superior to what others in the field have done.

Yet as attractive as that dirt form appears, she is difficult to back at a short price after running last of six in the Arlington Park Oaks. Granted, that loss came on Polytrack, a surface over which she doesn’t seem as quick on as she does on dirt, but the opinion here is that she still should have run better than she did.

Perhaps it is a signal she is off form, particularly in light of a very active schedule this summer. This race will be her fourth since mid June.

Makayla’s Angel, fourth in the Delaware Oaks on July 13, could make for an alternative value-based wager, particularly if Seaneen Girl is bet down, as expected. Additionally, support for Lucky Rag Doll, the second betting choice on the line, could very well drive up the price on Makayla’s Angel.

An experienced router, Makayla’s Angel never got involved in the Delaware Oaks when farther off the pace than usual, and will likely be put in this race more from the start. She seems at her best when pushing the pace, not when racing sixth early, as she did in the Delaware Oaks.

La Jolla

With the quality of the 3-year-old turf runners who competed in two divisions of the Oceanside at Del Mar on July 17 having been unimpressive, the play is to go for a new shooter to the turf scene at Del Mar in the La Jolla on Saturday.

That new shooter is El Camino Real Derby winner Dice Flavor, whose two starts this summer came on the synthetic Cushion Track surface at Hollywood Park, where he ran fourth in the Affirmed and third in the Swaps.

His last race in particular, his third in the Swaps, was a deceptively good effort – as it came with him not showing his customary closing style. With the favorite, Chief Havoc, the lone speed of the race, he grew keen and raced close to the pace – in stark contrast to how he raced in all of his preceding races.

Despite this, he ran quickly, posting a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, a number that if repeated on turf would make him a likely winner.

Expect him to run just as well on turf. This is a horse who is by a superb grass sire in Scat Daddy, and in a pair of turf routes over the winter, he won a maiden race at Hollywood Park and finished third in a slow-paced allowance at Santa Anita.

A slow pace seems unlikely to unfold in the La Jolla, allowing him to return to his style of rallying from the middle or rear of the pack. Rosengold, a free-running speedball, typically stretches out the field in his races by running as fast as he can for as long as he can.