11/08/2012 3:14PM

Weekend Warrior for Saturday, November 10, 2012: Real Quiet conditions suit Simon Eyes

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Tom Keyser
Bizzy Caroline is 3 for 4 over the Churchill turf course and may be able to spring a mild upset in the Cardinal Handicap.

It’s not the Breeders’ Cup, but Saturday is Florida Million Day at Calder Race Course, with eight stakes races for Florida-breds totaling $1 million in purse money. Otherwise, there are two Grade  3 turf events for fillies and mares on the schedule, the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, and the $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.

I was all set to use the Long Island, probably as the feature Warrior race. But a nor’easter that dumped more snow than anyone predicted left about four to eight inches of the white stuff around the area Wednesday. Even if it warms up – weather forecasters say it will, but who can really trust them after they so badly missed with this storm? – and the snow melts off the Aqueduct turf course, it has nowhere to melt but into the turf course. So, the Long Island’s status as a turf race is in obvious jeopardy.

Real Quiet Stakes

This is the headliner of the first Saturday card of the BetFair Hollywood Park fall meet, and Carving is the “name” horse in the race. Carving hails from the Bob Baffert barn, he won his debut at Del Mar, he romped in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex in his second start (earning a field-best Beyer of 83), and he set the pace before fading to fourth when in with much better in the Grade  1 FrontRunner last time out. Yet despite Carving’s obvious attributes, especially in relation to a Real Quiet field that is far from killer, I’m going to try and beat him. Although Carving was clearly the best in the Afflerbaugh, the field he beat was not strong. It is true that the good California-bred Monument was second in that race, but to this point, Monument is very slow from a Beyer standpoint. And in the FrontRunner, Carving was on the early lead on a day when speed was king. Given the bias, I think he should have done better than be beaten 10 1/2 lengths, even if he was in with tougher company.

The two other stakes winners in this field are Fury Kapcori and Glenco Kid, and while neither would be a surprise, they aren’t intimidating, either. Fury Kapcori beat four modest opponents when he prevailed in the Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno most recently, while Glenco Kid’s big win last time out in the Ascot Graduation at Hastings came in the slop, footing he is not getting this time.

I like Simon Eyes. Granted, Simon Eyes comes into this off only a maiden win, but there are several reasons to like him here. For one, after being in with stakes-class 2-year-olds in his first two starts in New York on dirt, Simon Eyes showed marked improvement last time out in his first attempt on a synthetic surface (don’t forget, he goes on Hollywood’s Cushion Track on Saturday) in a dominating score at Keeneland. He showed good, pace-prompting speed in that victory, suggesting he will be a major pace player here, and I liked the way he drew off late and ran right through the wire. That, along with a suitable pedigree, bodes well for his stretch out to two turns. I also like the fact that right after that Keeneland maiden win, Simon Eyes was shipped to Hollywood. That was an interesting move, and this is aggressive race placement for a Wesley Ward barn that knows how to win.

As an aside, don’t be misled by the start call in Simon Eyes’s score at Keeneland, which has him breaking 10th of 11. Simon Eyes did break slightly in the air, but he also came out on a line right with the leaders.

Cardinal Handicap

Daisy Devine ran a dynamite race when a narrowly beaten second in the recent Grade 1 First Lady off a five-month layoff, and over the same Keeneland turf course on which she won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley last spring. It goes without saying that Daisy Devine has a license to improve second start off the layoff, and yet she really doesn’t have to in order to win this race.

However, there are a couple of reasons for pause when it comes to Daisy Devine here. The first and most significant is distance. This will be the first time Daisy Devine will go as far as nine furlongs on turf. She might be able to handle it – she has won at 1 1/16 miles on grass – but we just don’t know. The other is the only time Daisy Devine finished worse than second on turf was her only previous start on the Churchill Downs course she races on Saturday. That might be an insignificant aberration and mean nothing. But like the distance factor, it is out there.

Bizzy Caroline is a logical alternative, and is my play. Bizzy Caroline went extended distances in her last three starts, and was second to the hard-hitting Hit It Rich in the Glens Falls two starts back, and comes out of the very tough Flower Bowl Invitational, the race that propelled Zagora to victory in last week’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But I think Bizzy Caroline is at her best at middle distances like this. She is also at her best on Churchill’s turf, where she is 3 for 4 in her career, including a victory in the Mint Julep Handicap in her last start on it. Elsewhere, Bizzy Caroline is 1 for 12.

Autumn Stakes

Pace is the biggest factor in this supporting feature on the Woodbine card. Specifically, there isn’t any. There is not one true front-runner in this field, and I think that spells a huge advantage for City Wolf.

City Wolf was in a similar situation last time out in the Durham Cup. Delegation was the only front runner in that race, and he parlayed that into a victory (and, notably, he came back to finish third in last week’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile). But City Wolf, who stalked that day, ran very well considering the adverse set up to be a game second. The positional speed City Wolf owns can put him in control of a very moderate pace here.