05/26/2010 11:00PM

You can trust Tizaqueena


NEW YORK If you are searching for the highest ranked stakes races Saturday, you have to look at either end of the country, namely Hollywood Park, where the feature is the Grade 1, $250,000 Gamely Stakes, and Belmont Park, where the main event is the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap. But in between, in a sort of geographical graded stakes sandwich, if you will, are four Grade 3 events. Arlington has two of these events -- the $150,000 Arlington Matron and the $100,000 Hanshin Cup -- while Churchill Downs hosts the other two -- the $100,000 Dogwood and the $100,000 Aristides. Also of interest Saturday is the $250,000 My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Arlington Matron

Someone could write a book on this race alone because it involves so many different angles and philosophies that it could serve as a general handicapping primer unto itself. For one, Floating Heart covers the subject of class. Three of Floating Heart's last four starts in main track races like this one came in Grade 1 and 2 races in Southern California, and she was reasonably close to the likes of champion Zenyatta, the formidable St Trinians, and Zardana, who upset Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies earlier this year. Euphony would have the area of hidden form covered. She has lost five straight, but her recent Beyer Figures say she is essentially the same horse she was last year when she won this race, a victory that was the fifth in a six-race win streak.

Askbut I Won'ttell addresses the topic of course preference. Last time out, over this track, Askbut I Won'ttell made her first start on a synthetic surface and turned in by far the best performance of her life. She scored decisively, earning a Beyer of 107 that is significantly better than anyone else in this race has ever earned. Haka could handle comparative handicapping. When Haka won the Doubledogdare Stakes most recently, she beat Funny Moon, who came back to win the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap at Belmont.

Floating Heart, Euphony, Askbut I Won'ttell, and Haka all merit respect, but all also have flaws. Floating Heart's good California races came in fields lacking depth, meaning someone had to finish third or fourth. Euphony seems to have lost her positional speed, often a sure sign of a horse in decline. Askbut I Won'ttell's big win last time came in an off-the-turf race over a short field, and the Beyer looks fluky because the runner-up bested her previous career-best Beyer by six points in the 17th start of her career. Haka beat Funny Moon who, while accomplished, is also quite slow.

I'm going with Tizaqueena. While it is true that Tizaqueena has never run on a synthetic surface before, her very solid turf form -- last year she was competitive with such top-notch turf mares as Forever Together, Diamondrella, Pure Clan, and Dynaforce -- bodes well for a successful surface switch. So, too, does the versatility Tizaqueena has shown by also being effective on dirt. Finally, Tizaqueena should be a major pace player in a race here that lacks a lot of genuine speed.

Lamplighter Stakes

Only seven were entered in this co-feature at Monmouth. But I am hoping that Lethal Combination and Fantastico Roberto, representatives from the high-powered barns of Kiaran McLaughlin and Todd Pletcher, will, at least in part, help the one I like here, Lighthouse Sound, fall through the parimutuel cracks and offer some betting value.

Both Lighthouse Sound and another entrant in this spot, Thunder Brew, made their last start in separate races on the Preakness undercard. And while it is true that even in defeat Thunder Brew earned a higher Beyer in what was unquestionably the stronger race, I was still impressed with Lighthouse Sound. Unlike the way he led at every call in a blowout win in his grass debut two starts back, Lighthouse Sound came from well off the pace after tipping four wide on the far turn on Preakness Day, and yet still won by a sizable margin. Lighthouse Sound is a vastly improved performer since moving to turf, I like how he has dominated using contrasting running styles since switching surfaces, and think he is certainly capable of taking another big step forward Saturday.

My Juliet Stakes

If Grade 1 stakes winner Cat Moves wins this race in her first start in almost eight months, I will tip my hat to her. I certainly can't bet on her, however. This is a tough spot, and even an in-form Cat Moves isn't appreciably better than some others in here.

Pinkarella is the play. Pinkarella didn't run well two starts back in the Inside Information Stakes, but Warbling was lights out winning that day, and runner-up Tar Heel Mom came back to win the Grade 2 Distaff. Pinkarella romped at this distance at Gulfstream three starts back, though, and she ran away with the Sugar Maple Stakes most recently. Okay, the Sugar Maple was at Charles Town, but don't let that fool you. The filly Pinkarella left 6 1/2 lengths behind in second in that race, Sweet Goodbye, had won four of her previous five starts, including the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie.