09/05/2013 2:39PM

Weekend Warrior for Sept. 7: Picks for Iroquois, Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, Arlington-Washington Futurity

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Tom Keyser
Dame Marie looks dangerous cutting back in distance for the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf.

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There is a little something for everyone on Saturday’s national stakes schedule, including a derby, a bunch of turf races, and a couple of Win and You’re In 2-year-old races for the Breeders’ Cup.

The Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs is supported by a raft of undercard stakes. The Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at Belmont Park and the Grade 3, $200,000 Kent at Delaware Park, are the day’s two big turf stakes, although there is a trio of $150,000 grass stakes on the opening-day card at Kentucky Downs. Those two Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup races are the $150,000 co-features on the evening card at Churchill Downs, the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes and the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. There is also the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

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Iroquois Stakes

Rise Up is the lone stakes winner and lone two-time winner in this field, and he now makes his first start for trainer Tom Amoss, who wins with 31 percent of newcomers to his barn. Nevertheless, Rise Up is up against it here. Even though he was much the best last time out in the Mountaineer Juvenile (his second straight decisive victory since adding Lasix), Rise Up is meeting a much, much tougher brand of horse on Saturday.

Ride On Curlin, on the other hand, is very dangerous. Ride On Curlin was impressive both visually and against the clock in his near eight-length, track-record maiden victory at Ellis Park in his most recent appearance. But that outing was almost two months ago. It’s also interesting to note that while the runner-up to Ride On Curlin, Union Hall, came back to notch his maiden win at Remington Park in his next start, he did so with a Beyer Figure of only 66, three points lower than what he got for finishing second to Ride On Curlin. It might be nitpicking, but it is enough to question if Ride On Curlin’s 91 Beyer for his maiden win is completely solid.

I like Tapiture. Yes, I know Tapiture is a maiden, but he ran well enough finishing second at Saratoga in his only start to win the vast majority of 2-year-old maiden races. Tapiture ran into Strong Mandate in his debut. Strong Mandate improved dramatically with blinkers on that day, and he, of course, came back to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last Monday by the length of the stretch. In any case, Tapiture gamely chased Strong Mandate all the way, while also finishing three lengths clear of a well-regarded Todd Pletcher-trained juvenile named Rebranded. Tapiture is stretching out to two turns here, but he is bred to handle a route at least this long.

One word about Honorable Judge, who recently won going two turns in his debut at Parx, and who is not without a shot here. Honorable Judge was under the whip on the far turn and at several points through the stretch in that race, so he wasn’t nearly as easy a winner as his comment line of “speed to spare” would imply.

The Pocahontas is also a very interesting race. I’m against Elena Strikes, whose third in the Schuylerville last time out looks better on paper than it really was as she just clunked along in a race that totally fell apart in the final quarter. I’m also against Tapiture’s stablemate Untapable, because I don’t care for the stretch out from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles off a 2-1/2 month layoff.

I prefer Stonetastic over Milam. Stonetastic was visually impressive winning her recent debut at Monmouth by an enormous margin, and she hails from the barn of Kelly Breen, who has outstanding numbers with 2-year-olds going from sprints to routes, which is what Stonetastic is doing Saturday. According to DRF Formulator, Breen has won with 15 of 33 juveniles making this move over the last five years, and 8 of 16 over the last three years, with a healthy flat-bet profit.

Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf

As is the case with many Kentucky Downs stakes, this one is wide open. There is a good amount of pace lined up, and that would play to the favor of Sisterhood, who is logical, anyway, off three straight respectable performances in graded stakes. But Sisterhood has had a little trouble closing the deal lately, and she won’t be that great of a price, so I’m looking elsewhere.

Dame Marie is my play. Dame Marie also comes into this off a series of solid performances, though not all at the class levels Sisterhood is familiar with, and is much improved this year at 4. Her win and narrowly beaten second at Churchill two and three starts back are good enough performances to contend here, and she maintained her form with a decent fourth in the Modesty most recently to Ausus, who came back to be a respectable third in the Grade 1 Beverly D. But what I really like about Dame Marie here is her cut back in distance to a mile after competing in longer events. I think that will make her formidable in the late stages.

Arlington-Washington Futurity

High Roll delivered a decisive maiden victory as the favorite in his only start, and European shipper Captain’s Affair has intent written all over him with Mike Smith named to ride. But High Roll has a lot of other early speed to contend with here, and it’s anyone’s guess how good Captain’s Affair really is.

I can’t resist Whyruawesome. You really need to see the replay of his debut win. After being bumped from both sides at the start and falling back early, he rallied on the far turn and into the stretch, only to lug in so severely that he could barely be ridden from upper stretch to the wire. Despite all of that, Whyruawesome still got up to win by a half-length (it could have been six or more if he cooperated, and his gallop out looked strong), and remarkably earn a Beyer that is co-tops in this field. Whyruawesome must behave better in this tougher field, but the hope is he will with the experience he gained.

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