Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ice Box and First Dude Lead Average Field in the Belmont

Belmont Park - Elmwood, NY

A steller lineup of six stakes races with four of those being Grade 1 including the return of Gio Ponti highlight an outstanding thirteen race card on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park today. Coverage of the Belmont under card can be found on ESPN today from 11:00 - 4:00 Central and then moves to ABC from 4:00 - 6:00 Central for coverage of the Belmont itself.

Belmont Stakes - Grade I - Purse $1,000,000 - Surface: Dirt - Distance 1 1/2 Miles
The same can't be said for the Belmont itself as with Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky both absent and no Triple Crown on the line for the fifth time in the last seven years 2010 has produced a rather average field of twelve to contest the 142nd running of the race that is called "Test of The Champion". Derby runner up Ice Box and Preakness runner up First Dude are getting the attention but several in the field could win.

Ice Box - Post 6 - Morning Line 3/1
He has been very consistent and is the closer type that does well in this race in a large field. He won the Florida Derby in March and after being stopped cold behind horses at the the head of the stretch he was charging down the lane to close 7 lengths on Super Saver in the Derby. Zito knows a bit about winning this race as he is going for his 3rd win in the last 5 years here today. Jose Lezcano rides for Nick Zito and his top owner Robert LaPenta.

First Dude - Post 11 - Morning Line 7/2
He led the Preakness while in a dual the entire race but was unable to hold off Lookin At Lucky in the end. He has been a solid performer who has hit the board in 6 of 7 career races but his only win came in a Maiden race. He looks to be the lone speed today and could be hard to catch if that is the case and if the rider uses that advantage wisely. Ramon Dominguez rides for Dale Romans.

Fly Down - Post 5 - Morning Line 9/2
He is the second Zito horse in the race and has a win and a third in two starts at Belmont Park. He has been very consistent but ran a huge race in winning the Dwyer by 6 lengths and earning a by far lifetime best Beyer in his last. As always, this means he could either be ready for a bounce off that effort or he could be sitting on another huge race again today. A bullet work at Saratoga last Sunday and Zito training indicates he'll be ready. The pick up of Johnny V as the pilot also is a plus and he also has a closer running style. Johnny Velasquez rides for Nick Zito.

Drosselmeyer - Post 7 - Morning Line 12/1
He ran second in the Dwyer to Fly Down after a troubled trip in his last and has been very consistent in hitting the board in 7 of 8 lifetime races. He is a high expectations son of Forty Niner but the breeding on his mother's side indicates he may well be a really good turf horse down the road. He has been training through foot problems his past couple races and Desormeaux being taken off the horse is interesting. The switch to Mike Smith who along with trainer Mott rode each other into the Hall of Fame as a legendary team in New York in the early 90's is also interesting. Mike Smith rides for Bill Mott.

Game On Dude - Post 8 - Morning Line 10/1
He has two wins in five lifetime starts but has not faced the likes of the top four in this race. He is here because he won the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in Dallas in his last and posted a bullet work at Santa Anita last Monday. The team of Baffert and his new young riding sensation have been on fire this spring which is why we are even talking about this horse today. Martin Garcia rides for Bob Baffert.

Others to Watch:
Make Music For Me - Post 4 - M/L 10/1 - 4th in the Derby with a steady Beyer climb. Joel Rosario rides for Alexis Barba.
Spangled Star - Post 2 - M/L 30/1 - 3rd in the Withers and Gomez up helps chances. Garret Gomez rides for Rick Dutrow.
Uptowncharleybrown - Post 3 - M/l 10/1 - A cut below these but new trainer is a plus. Rajiv Maragh rides for Kiaran McLaughlin.

The return of Gio Ponti and a field of eleven that includes most of the current US turf stars makes the 2010 Manhattan Handicap a great warm up for the Belmont Stakes today.

Manhattan Handicap - Grade I - Purse $400,000 - Surface: Inner Turf - Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Gio Ponti - Post 1 - Morning Line 2/1
He ran 4th in the Dubai World Cup in his last but losing to Gloria De Campeao is no disgrace. He ran second in his first start of the year in the Tampa Bay Handicap and Second to Zenyatta in the BC Classic last fall. Assuming he comes off the trip to Dubai in good shape, he should be ready to roll here. Ramon Dominguez rides for Christophe Clement.

Take The Points - Post 5 - Morning Line 9/2
He ran 5th in the Dubai Duty Free in March and again how horses handle the travel to and from Dubai is always a question. He has very consistent 100 + Beyers and a Grade 1 win in his only race over this track. The guess is his top trainer will have him ready and since Prado climbed aboard he has been hard to beat. Edgar Prado rides for Todd Pletcher.

Just As Well - Post 9 - Morning Line 10/1
He ran second in the Dixie to rival Strike A Deal and hasn't won that often lately. A second in a Grade 1 in Canada last fall and a second to Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million last August are the recent highlights. Still, Desormeaux takes the mount to replace the injured Leparoux and he is a top turf rider. He has had consistent 100+ Beyers. Kent Desormeaux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Court Vision - Post 6 - Morning Line 4/1
He has suffered from seconditis in his last three starts and comes close a lot more often than he gets there. While others went off to Dubai he stayed racing in the US and has a second to Take The Points in the Gulfstream Turf Hcp and a near miss to General Quarters in the Churchill Turf Classic in his last. He ran 4th to super star Goldikova in the BC Mile last fall and is usually on the board in his last ten starts all of which came in Grade 1 races. Robby Albarado rides for Richard Dutrow.

Others To Watch:
Strike A Deal - Post 2 - M/l 12/1 - Consistent 100+ Beyers and a win on the lead in last. Garret Gomez rides for Alan Goldberg.
Pinckney Hill - Post 3 - M/L 8/1 - A cut below these but always close. Rajiv Maragh rides for Angel Penna.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quality Road Leads Quality Field In Met Mile

Belmont Park

A quality field of 8 will contest Monday's $500,000 Grade I Metropolitan Handicap for three year olds and upward at Belmont Park. The Met Mile is the traditional Memorial Day feature at Belmont and is always one of the premier races of the Belmont Spring/Summer meet.

Quality Road - Post 7 - Morning Line 4/5
Quality Road has been off for 3 months since taking the Donn Handicap by 12 lengths at Gulfstream in February. He is 6 for 7 on dry tracks and his only two Grade I losses in 2009 came at the hands of Summer Bird on sloppy tracks. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Warrior's Reward - Post 4 - Morning Line 9/2
He won the Carter at Aqueduct in April over Musket Man & Munnings before taking second in the Churchill Downs Handicap in his last over an off track. He is 2 for 3 in 2010 and may appreciate the added distance today. Calvin Borel rides for Ian Wilkes.

Musket Man - Post 3 - Morning Line 5/1
Lost by a nose to Warrior's Reward in the Carter before running 3rd as the favorite in the Churchill Downs Handicap in the slop in his last. Posted an impressive bullet while posting the best time of 44 horses at the distance at Monmouth on May 23. After three straight declining Beyers he may be sitting on a big race today. Ramon Dominguez rides for Derek Ryan.

Tizway - Post 2 - Morning Line 20/1
Posted a 106 Beyer in winning an Optional Claimer in his only start in 2010 and a bullet work at Saratoga on May 23. He was competitive in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Whitney last fall before ending 2009 with a 12th place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt in December. He has run consaistent 100+ Beyers and likes this track. Rajiv Maragh rides for James Bond.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Super Saver is the Favorite But Preakness Looks Wide Open

As it has for the past 134 years this series moves on to Baltimore with one horse having captured the country’s attention and fueled the discussion among racing fans whether this could possibly be the year for another Triple Crown. Racing’s biggest party will again inhabit the infield and crab cakes will replace mint juleps as the food of the day. It’s Preakness Day at Pimlico and time to see if the Derby winner is for real.

Preakness ~ Grade 1 ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ Surface: Dirt ~ Distance: 1 3/16 Miles
Super Saver – Post 8 – Morning Line 5/2
This horse looked to be sitting on a big race before the Derby and a masterful ride by a jockey who owns Churchill Downs allowed his all world trainer to break an 0-24 streak in that race. Today, the decision is whether his lifetime best Beyer in the Derby and the fact that this horse loves the mud and Churchill means he is ripe for a bounce or is he just peaking at the right time. He deserves to be the favorite today and favorites win the Preakness around 50% of the time. Calvin Borel rides for Todd Pletcher.

Lookin At Lucky – Post 7 – Morning Line 3/1
The Derby favorite had no chance from post 1 and was bumped into the rail twice before they reached the first turn. However, many in the sport feel that horses who are constantly in traffic trouble will continue to find traffic trouble and the promise he showed as the 2 Year Old Champion has simply not been there this year. Baffert seems to be blaming the rider and has dumped the veteran Gomez in favor of the young Garcia. If he wins he would be the first beaten Derby favorite to come back and win the Preakness since 2001. Martin Garcia rides for Bob Baffert.

Jackson Bend – Post 6 – Morning Line 12/1
A horrible trip and a wet track in the Derby led to a 12th place finish but it will be dry today and a bullet work on Monday indicates he may be ready to rebound in here. If you throw out his Derby performance he still finished second to Eskendereya twice this spring and Hall of Famer Smith stays aboard. Mike Smith rides for Nick Zito.

Pleasant Prince – Post 3 – Morning Line 20/1
He ran a close second to Ice Box twice this spring including just missing by a nose in the Florida Derby. He didn’t seem to like the Keeneland Polytrack in the Blue Grass and ran third in the Derby Trial in the mud at Churchill. Missed the Derby on earnings but fits well with these. A sharp work last Sunday indicates he may be ready. Julien Leparoux rides for Wesley Ward.

Paddy O’Prado – Post 10 – Morning Line 9/2
He usually hits the board and ran a solid 3rd in the Derby with a positive Beyer move. Ran second to Stately Victor in the Blue Grass and won the Palm Beach on the turf at Gulfstream. The biggest question mark about him is that none of his seven lifetime starts have come on a dry dirt track. Would like him better on the turf but there is a lot to like if he takes to the surface. Kent Desormeaux rides for Dale Romans.

Dublin – Post 12 – Morning Line 10/1
He hasn’t won lately but has consistent high 90’s Beyers and is another who looked like he did not like the mud at Churchill Downs plus post 17 didn’t help either. Other than the top 3, this is a very similar field to what he has faced this year and trainer Lukas has won this race 5 times. Positive jockey switch to Gomez also helps his chances. Garrett Gomez rides for D. Wayne Lukas.

Friday, April 30, 2010

With Eskendereya out the Derby is Wide Open

For the second year in a row, the Derby favorite scratched the week of the race with an injury. This year more than ever the ability of horses to handle the synthetic to dirt transition will play a part in the outcome as the top two favorites are both synthetic surface horses. This year, another filly will attempt to beat the boys. It has now been 33 years since Affirmed became the last to capture the Triple Crown. It is the First Saturday in May. It is time to dream of what could be at least for two more weeks.

Kentucky Derby ~ Grade 1 ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ Surface: Dirt ~ Distance: 1 ¼ Miles
Devil May Care - Post 11 – Morning Line 10/1
Won the Frizette at Belmont last fall after a terrible break but didn’t care for the pro ride while running up the track in the BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. She won the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream in her last and her connections passed up favorite role in KY Oaks to run today instead. She has top notch breeding and her stalking running style suits this race. Pletcher is 0 for 24 in the Derby but this one has a chance to end that streak today. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Jackson Bend - Post 13 – Morning Line 15/1
He is 0-3 this year but ran a good 2nd to Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth & Wood Memorial. That one would have been a heavy favorite today before being forced out with an injury this week. He has never finished worse than 2nd in 9 lifetime races and his well respected owner and trainer are both very high on him. He is another who likes to stalk the pace and the addition of the game’s premier money rider can’t hurt. Mike Smith rides for Nick Zito and Robert LaPenta.

Lookin At Lucky - Post 1 - Morning Line 3/1
He will likely go off the favorite and deserves it. Lost by a nose after what looked like interference in the lane in the BC Juvenile and was bumped hard into the rail at the head of the stretch in SA Derby but still finished 3rd. Other than that, he has done little wrong and Baffert has been waiting a year since Pioneerof The Nile didn’t quite get it done in the 2009 Derby. On the plus side Baffert knows how to win this race and again looks like he has the best horse. On the minus side this is only his second race on dirt and he seems to always find traffic trouble plus he drew Post 1 which in this race means traffic trouble.. Garrett Gomez is aboard for Bob Baffert and Mike Pegram.

Awesome Act – Post 16 – Morning Line 10/1
He will be making his 4th North American start and has looked good in his first three running 4th in the BC Juvenile, winning the Gotham and then running 3rd to Eskendereya in the Wood after a terrible break. Irish Trainer Noseda only brings them here from Europe when they have a chance and the fact that Leparoux stays aboard while having other options confirms this as does a sharp work in the mud earlier this week. Covered him in exotics. Julian Leparoux rides for Jeremy Noseda.

Ice Box – Post 2 – Morning Line 10/1
He is a big closer who got up at the wire to win the Florida Derby and he also posted a bullet work in the slop a week ago over this track. He seems to be the second best Zito horse in the race but if he takes another step forward as he did in Florida, he could get his picture taken today. Your call as to whether 100+ Beyer in his last indicates he is sitting on a big race or ready to bounce off a lifetime best Beyer. Jose Lezcano rides for Nick Zito and R. LaPenta.

Super Saver – Post 4 – Morning Line 15/1
Ran 2nd and 3rd in two races this year but took the Kentucky Cup Juvenile impressively over this track last fall. He reunites with Borel today who knows a bit about winning this race. He is one of several speed horses in this race but if Borel can keep him out of a speed dual he has a chance. Pletcher’s horses are always ready to run and consistent high Beyers indicate he may be sitting on a big effort today. Calvin Borel rides for Todd Pletcher.

Others of Interest:
Line of David – Post 5 – M/L 30/1 – Longshot winner of Ark. Derby has won 3 straight - Berajano rides for Saddler
Dublin – Post 17 – M/L 12/1 – Best D. Wayne Lukas Derby horse in years - Thompson rides
Homeboykris – Post 19 – M/L 50/1 – Champagne winner is back with Richard Dutrow again - Dominguez rides Sydney’s Candy – Post 20 – M/L 5/1 – Post hurts and he has never run on dirt - Talamo rides for John Saddler

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dual Grade I's Featured on Opening Day at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA follows it's tradition of opening it's Winter / Spring meet the day after Christmas today. A pair of nice looking Grade 1 races highlight the ten race card.

The $300,000 Grade 1 La Brea for three year old fillies at 7 furlongs on the Pro Ride is carded as the 8th race on the day with a field of 12 contesting the race.

Horses To Watch in the La Brea
Gabby's Golden Gal - Post 10 - M/L 4/1 - Smith / Baffert
Evita Argentina - Post 5 - M/L 9/2 - Rosario / Sadler
Kays And Jays - Post 1 - M/L 6/1 - Bejarano / Mitchell
Dani Reese - Post 3 - M/L 8/1 - Desormeaux / Hendricks

The $300,000 Malibu for three year olds at 7 furlongs on the Pro Ride is carded as the 9th race on the day with a field of 13 contesting the race.

Horses To Watch in the Malibu
Misremembered - Post 1 - M/L 4/1 - Espinoza / Baffert
M One Rifle - Post 13 - M/L 5/1 - Smith / Headley
Papa Clem - Post 7 - M/L 6/1 - T. Baze / G. Stute
Strong Bid - Post 11 - M/L 6/1 - Rose / Motion

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zenyatta Tries To Make History in the Classic

Santa Anita Park

Day 2 of Breeders' Cup 2009 on Saturday fetures 8 outstanding races and the undefeated Zenyatta putting her 13-0 record on the line while trying to make history by becoming the first female horse to win the Classic.

Here are some Horses To Watch for Day 2 of Breeders' Cup 2009:

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 2) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Mile (Turf)
Interactif – Post 11 – Morning Line 4/1 Very impressive since moving to the turf for his last two starts winning on both firm and yielding turf. He is a closer in a race with considerable speed. The outside post may hurt but he seems to be a good American runner against a field of mediocre Europeans. Kent Desormeaux rides for Todd Pletcher.

Viscount Nelson – Post 2 – Morning Line 6/1
He ran second in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster earning a Racing Post rating of 112 for that effort. He is 2 for 2 at this distance while landing in the money in all four career starts. He has improved in each of his starts and could be sitting on a big race today. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brein.

Pounced – Post 4 – Morning Line 9/2
He ran second in the $500K Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagerdere on the Arc Day undercard at Longchamp in his last, a step up to Group 1 company from his Maiden win. Trainer Gosden won this race last year and the switch to top rider Dettori is a major plus. He will contend at a repeat of his last effort. Frankie Dettori rides for John Gosden.

Buzzword – Post 12 – Morning Line 6/1He has been in the money in 6 of 7 career starts earning five straight 100+ Racing Post ratings. His only out of the money start was his last in a Group 1 at Newmarket but while 5th he was only 2 lengths back. He finished third behind Pounced at Longchamp in his other Group 1 start. He looks to have the talent but we can’t dismiss the fact that this outfit’s go to rider, Dettori, is riding another in this race. A. Ajtebi rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
California Flag – Post 3 – Morning Line 7/2He ran up the track in this race last year after dueling in a first quarter of a deadly 20 seconds flat which doesn’t seem likely here. He has been very impressive in all three races of 2009 which he won beating most of the rivals in this race. It appears Canadian Ballet is the only other speed so if this guy gets out without a lot of pressure, it’s over. Joe Talamo rides for Brian Koriner

Diamondrella – Post 9 – Morning Line 4/1
She threw in a clunker two back over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle but she has won 7 straight on grass. She beat Forever Together in the Just A Game at Belmont three back. This is her first try against males but this barn wins at a 44% clip in stakes races. Rajiv Maragh rides for Angel Penna.

Lord Shanakill – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
He has raced in five straight Group 1 races, winning the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly two back and losing by a nose in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket before that. He has faced the likes of Sea The Stars and Rip Van Winkle (entered in the Classic) during that stretch. This is his first start for the barn of Richard Mandella who won 4 races on the day when the Breeders’ Cup was at this track a few years back. He gets first lasix today and his regular rider comes over to ride. He would be no surprise. J. Crowley rides for Richard Mandella.

Strike The Deal – Post 12 – Morning Line 15/1
This is a race where several others deserve mention but I have chosen to give you this horse in my top 4 today. He has two straight sprint wins in Europe winning a Group 3 at Newbury in his last. The horse he beat that day went on to win a Group 1 at Longchamp in his next start. Noseda always comes to this event with a surprise in store (can you say Wilco at 35-1 in 2004) and Fallon has been aboard for those last two wins in which he seems to have turned this horse around. Looks to be much more live today than his odds indicate and Timeform rates him at 134. Kieran Fallon rides for Jeremy Noseda.

Breeder’s Cup Sprint (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 6 Furlongs
Zensational – Post 1 – Morning Line 7/5
He has won 4 of 5 in 2009 with the lone loss coming at a mile on this track. He seems to be the speed and if he can avoid trouble on the rail, the race should be his to win. He is trying for his 4th straight Grade 1 win today. He has run 4 straight 100+ Beyers and has turned in 4 straight bullet works. Victor Expinoza rides for Bob Baffert.

Fatal Bullet – Post 3 – Morning Line 5/2
He has won 9 of 11 on synthetics and ran 2nd in this race last year to Midnight Lute. He has turned in 6 straight 100+ Beyers on synthetics. He beat Capt. Candyman Can at Keeneland in his last and has been working very well for this since. E.R. Da Silva rides for Reade Baker.

Gayego – Post 5 – Morning Line 5/2
He has won both US starts since returning from Dubai this past summer and ran down the speed to win the Ancient Title over this track beating rival Crown of Thorns. In Dubai over the winter he ran 2nd in the Godolphin Mile on the World Cup undercard. He has been a different horse after turning to sprinting after the 2008 Triple Crown races and he is 4 for 4 at this distance. Garrett Gomez rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Fleeting Spirit – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
She ran 4th in the Turf Sprint here last year but that was on the grass and this mare has never raced on synthetics. However she has a win and three seconds to show for sprinting in four straight Group 1’s in Europe in 2009. Rider switch to Dettori likely shows she is ready and if she doesn’t break slowly which she often does, she has a big chance in here. Frankie Dettori rides for Jeremy Noseda.

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 1/16 Miles
Lookin At Lucky – Post 13 – 8/5
Undefeated at 4 for 4 and winner of the Del Mar Futurity and the Norfolk, the latter over this track is an often indicator of the Juvenile winner. He has turned in two solid works going into this and his only problem, if there is one, is that post 12 & 13 are 0 for 28 at this distance the past two years. Garrett Gomez rides for Bob Baffert.

D’ Funnybone – Post 5 – Morning Line 5/2
He has looked awesome since moving to the Dutrow barn this summer and he won by open lengths in both the Saratoga Special and Belmont Futurity in his last two. He will take a lot of the betting behind the Baffert horse but an East Coast horse who has not tried two turns or synthetic surfaces may be a bit of an underlay at 5/2. Edgar Prado rides for Richard Dutrow.

Noble’s Promise – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
He has won 3 of 4 lifetime and will be trying for his 4th straight win today. He won the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in his last over rival Aikenite and is 2 for 3 on synthetics. He tends to come from off the pace which may be a plus with some of the speed types in this race. Willie Martinez rides for Ken McPeek.

Aikenite – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
He ran 3rd in the Hopeful at Saratoga and 2nd in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland to rival Noble Promise. He has yet to beat winners but he has improved in each start and turned in a bullet work last Saturday at Belmont. Allan Garcia Rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeder’s Cup Mile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 Mile (Turf)
Goldikova – Post 11 – Morning Line 8/5
She won this race last year over Kip Deville and has three Group 1 wins in 2009. She is 9 for 14 on the turf and 9 for 11 at this distance and has won more than $3 Million in her career. She has the top Timeform rating in the race at 149 and is clearly the class of the field. The downside is the far outside post but without traffic trouble, she should win this. O. Peslier rides for Freddie Head.

Delegator – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1He won the Celebration Mile at Goodwood over rival Zacinto before running 3rd behind that one to Rip Van Winkle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in his last. He has been facing the best in Europe all summer and holding his own and should be able to get a nice stalking trip in here today. It would be no surprise if he pulls the upset. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Zacinto – Post 8 – Morning Line 8/1
Good looking 3 YO has been first or second in all 5 career starts and comes in here after second place finishes in the Celebration Mile and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He too should be able to stock the pace and trainer Stoute is 50% with horses making their first North American start. It also would be no surprise if he were to win. Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Cowboy Cal – Post 3 – Morning Line 6/1
He won the Oak Tree Mile at this track and at this distance in his last over three rivals from today’s race. He is 10 for 11 in the money on the turf and is 3 for 3 at this distance. He turned in a bullet work last Sunday and has been working well for this race. He doesn’t run a bad race and they will have to catch him today. Reunites with primary pilot Johnny Velasquez who rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Mile
Mastercraftsman – Post 1 – Morning Line 6/5
He won a Group 3 over the Polytrack by 5 lengths in Ireland in his last and has 8 Group 1 turf races in his PP’s winning 4 of them. Only losses in 2009 came against Europe’s super horse Sea The Stars. He will likely have to win in a stalking trip today. His trainer, Aiden O’Brien is 0-11 in North America the last two years. He will be taking a lot of money and may well win but the value will be there if you try to beat him. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aiden O’Brien.

Bullsbay – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1He won the Whitney at Saratoga two back before running into Rachel in the Woodward and he has been outstanding on dirt in 2009. He is 6 for 9 in the money on synthetics with 2 wins but his only recent synthetic race was a 10th place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup this summer. He has run 100+ Beyers in his last two. Jeremy Rose rides for Graham Motion.

Midshipman – Post 4 – Morning Line 6/1He won the Juvenile here last year for Baffert but was purchased by Godolphin and taken to Dubai after that race. A soft tissue injury has left him with no races for 11 months and his only race since then is a more than 3 length win in an Optional Claimer at Belmont in September. He won $1.2 Million in 2 races over this track last year but whether he is good enough to win this after taking 11 months off with only one minor level prep is the question. Garrett Gomez rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Neko Bay – Post 5 – Morning Line 20/1He is the 4th horse in here by default. Pyro is clearly a much better horse but he has terrible synthetic form. This one has run 1st or 2nd in 3 of 4 synthetic starts. He is 4 for 6 at Santa Anita and is 2 for 3 at the distance and he has posted five 100+ Beyers in his last 7 races. That’s the good news. However, he has run in only 2 graded races winning neither. He won a mid level allowance in his last with Smith aboard. How many times have we seen Mike Smith make that big closing run to win with a horse who doesn’t look like he belongs in the race. This one could be live. Mike Smith rides for John Shireffs.

Breeder’s Cup Turf (Grade 1) ~ Purse $3,000,000 ~ 1 ½ Miles (Turf)
Conduit – Post 2 – Morning Line 7/5Winner of this race last year is only 1 for 4 in 2009 but that win was in the King George VI Stakes at Ascot two back. He then finished 4th in the Arc but was very close to 2nd in Europe’s biggest race. His race in the Arc signals that he may be sitting on a big race today. Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Dar Re Mi – Post 5 – Morning Line 3/1She ran 5th in the Arc after staying with the leaders but fading in the final 150 yards. She won three straight Group 1’s before that. She gets first lasix today for a trainer who wins at 33% with horses making their first North American start. Attracts Dettori and the world’s best jockey is the best big money player there is on the grass. She stands a huge chance to score the upset. Frankie Dettori rides for John Gosden.

Spanish Moon – Post 7 – Morning Line 5/2He has four wins and two second by a nose races in his last 6 starts. He won the Group 1 Prix De Saint Cloud at Saint Cloud two races back beating Youmzain in the process. He lost the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic by a nose to Eastern Anthem at Nad Al Sheeba on World Cup day and he is 5 for 6 at this distance. He gets first lasix today and also seems to be a threat to score the upset. Before being off for 4 years, Fallon like Dettori was a major big race rider. Kieran Fallon rides for Sir Michael Stoute.

Presious Passion – Post 6 – Morning Line 4/1
He did not like the soft course when finishing 8th in the Arlington Million but in his other six starts of 2009 he was first 4 times and second twice. Two of those wins were in Grade 1’s winning the United Nations at Monmouth this summer and the Clement L Hirsch over this track last out. He is 3 for 5 at this distance and has been in the money in both turf races at Santa Anita. He has a chance but it would be a surprise against the top 3. Elvis Trujillo rides for Mary Hartman.

Breeder’s Cup Classic (Grade 1) ~ Purse $5,000,000 ~ 1 ¼ Miles
Quality Road – Post 12 – Morning Line 12/1
He has been running second to Summer Bird in his last two over sloppy tracks in New York after coming back from a quarter crack injury that kept him out of the Kentucky Derby. He fits much of the profile of recent Classic winners as 3 YO have won the last two years. He has the tactical speed to not let Post 12 be his undoing and while he has never raced on synthetics, other Gone West horses like the surface a lot. A lot to like but there are 11 Grade 1 winners in the field and most of them have a decent shot to win this. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Rip Van Winkle – Post 10 – Morning Line 7/2Remember the Euros ran 1-2 in this race a year ago and in doing so beat a two time Horse of the Year who was on top of his game. He won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in his last two and his three 2009 losses came at the hands of Sea The Stars whom he almost beat in the Eclipse Stakes three back. O’Brien has been pointing him toward this race ever since Henrythenavigator took second here last year. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aiden O’Brien.

Einstein – Post 8 – Morning Line 12/1He is the horse who won the Santa Anita Handicap over this track at this distance last spring and who just got caught by Richard’s Kid and finished 2nd in the Pacific Classic. He doesn’t always win but he wins when you least expect it and he seems to like the synthetics in California. He is seven now and what a fitting way to close out his remarkable career if he were to win this in what will likely be his last race. You know he will be in there trying and he will get a good ride with Leparoux aboard. Julien Leparoux rides for Helen Pitts.

Zenyatta – Post 4 – Morning Line 5/2
It is hard to knock 13-0 and it is hard to knock putting that on the line to try to make history by being the first female to ever win the Classic. However, if she were my horse, she would have taken down number 14 in the Ladies Classic and went out with one more win than Personal Ensign who retired undefeated at 13-0 in 1988. She certainly likes the synthetics (12 for 12), she certainly likes racing in California (12 for 12) and she certainly likes Santa Anita (4 for 4). She has taken down the best mares around the past two years but has not looked all that impressive doing it in 2009. Jockey Mike Smith talks about it is hard to tell if we have reached her bottom or if she even has one. Hopefully she brings that reserve with her today as she will likely need this against this incredibly deep field of world class colts. Everyone wants to see her finish at 14-0 and everyone salutes them for trying her in the Classic. Can she win Classic, she seems to have proven that by the big races she has already won. You may notice that the horses who won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Arlington Million, Belmont Turf Classic and Pacific Classic this year did not get a mention here nor did the horse who won the Travers and Santa Anita Derby in 2008. Those horses would be Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, Geo Ponti, Richard’s Kid and Colonel John and they are all in this race. Will she win the Classic? It won’t be easy. Mike Smith rides for John Shireffs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Breeders' Cup Returns to Santa Anita

Santa Anita Park

A strong European contingent and most of the top horses in North America are gathered at Santa Anita as the 26th Breeders' Cup is set to take place this Friday at this track for the second straight year.

Horses to Watch on Friday's Ladies Day at the Breeders' Cup:

Breeder’s Cup Marathon ~ Purse $500,000 ~ 1 3/4 Miles
Mastery – Post 6 – Morning Line 9/5
He won the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster in September and took down the Group 2 Derby Italiano at Campanelle in May. He likes the distance but his lone start on a synthetic track was a 4th in the Kentucky Derby Challenge at Kempton in March and the winner of that event was grilled in the Blue Grass Stakes never to be seen again. He is much improved since that race and if his grass form in Europe = synthetic track form at SA, he will be in good shape. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Nite Lite – Post 3 – Morning Line 4/1He won the Fall Challenge at Turfway by more than 5 lengths in his only start on a synthetic surface. He was 2nd in the Brooklyn with today’s pilot and more recently was 2nd in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. He looks to like the lead but also looks to be bred to run all day. He seems to be a major contender. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Man of Iron – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/1
He is 2 for 3 on synthetic tracks and ran 4th to last year’s winner of this race in his only synthetic loss. That horse, Mastercraftsman, missed by just a length to the undefeated European super horse Sea the Stars in August. His 3 for 8 record this year shows he likes to win but he has been running a little cheap compared to today’s rivals. Must respect world class connections. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brein.

Father Time – Post 5 – Morning Line 3/1
He ran 3rd to Mastery in the St. Leger Stakes in September and has a great distance pedigree. His Maiden win came over a synthetic track in the UK but he has only one win in a year since then, although he has been in or close to the money in all races. He is lightly raced and looks to be improving and he gets first lasix today so he could go either way here. E. Ahern rides for Henry Cecil.

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 Miles (Turf)
Lillie Langtry – Post 8 – Morning Line 3/1
She certainly looks to be the best horse on paper. She has been in the money 6 out of 6 in her career and has won 2 of her last 3 including the Group 2 Debutant Stakes at Leopardstown. She has been the odds on favorite in each of her last three races but this is her first attempt beyond 7 furlongs. DRF Formulator says trainer Aidan O’Brien is 0-23 with foreign shippers for the past three years. That includes the likes of Soldier of Fortune last year and Dylan Thomas in 2007. That aside, she is a contender. Johnny Murtagh rides for Aidan O’Brien.

Junia Tepzia – Post 11 – Morning Line 8/1
She has won both of her races to date with a Timeform rating of 123 coming into this. Having said that, she has not faced this level of competition in Italy. The fact that she attracts Fallon is a major plus and the guess is that this open lengths winner of both lifetime starts will improve again today. Kieran Fallon rides for Peter Schiergen.

House of Grace – Post 7 – Morning Line 4/1She has looked good winning both lifetime starts including the Jessamine stakes at Keeneland in her last over two of today’s rivals. The trainer is winning at a 32% clip going from synthetics to turf and she will actually be shortening up in distance today. Mike Luzzi rides for Ken McPeek.

Rose Catherine – Post 4 – Morning Line 8/1
She broke her maiden in her last start and fired a 91 Beyer to do it. She is another sired by Speightstown who has looked promising and then turned out to really like the turf. She has not faced the likes of these so far but the guess is that another step forward from her turf debut puts her in the mix here. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Breeders’s Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 1/8 Miles
Always A Princess – Post 11 – Morning Line 6/1
Won her Maiden race at Del Mar then ran 2nd to Blind Luck in the Oak Leaf on this track. Works since arriving at Santa Anita have been outstanding as she has posted two bullets, the latest of which was this past Monday. Others could win here but you can’t go wrong with Baffert in this race. Garrett Gomez rides for Bob Baffert.

Blind Luck – Post 3 – Morning Line 3/1
She is 2 for 3 on synthetics including her big win in the Oak Leaf which could send her off as the favorite. Hollendorfer will have her ready to go and she will be coming late with plenty of speed to run at in Connie & Michael and Always A Princess. Tyler Baze rides for Jerry Hollendorfer.

She Be Wild – Post 8 – Morning Line 8/1
She is 3 for 4 and ran 2nd to Negligee in the Alcibiades at Keeneland in her last. She is also 3 for 4 on synthetics and could improve in her second two turn start. She seems to be a leading contender for a barn who took this race with Dreaming of Anna three years back. Julian Leparoux rides for Wayne Catalano.

Negligee – Post 10 – Morning Line 6/1She is 2 for 3 and won the Alcibiades at Keeneland in her last. She also has looked sharp in the morning and is 2 for 3 on synthetics. Her new barn is a 43% winner on synthetics. She seems to be a major player. Rajiv Maragh rides for John Terranova.

Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 ¼ Miles (Turf)
Magical Fantasy – Post 4 – Morning Line 3/1
She tries for her 4th straight Grade 1 win and 5th straight win overall and she is 2 for 2 over this turf course. She hasn’t been flashy in these wins but she has shown up and gotten it done. She is a major player in this outstanding all-star field. Alex Solis rides for Patrick Gallagher.

Midday – Post 6 – Morning Line 4/1
She won the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood two back before running 3rd in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp in her last. She has been in the money in all 4 of her Group 1 races this year and carries the top Timeform rating of 137 into this race. T.P. Queally rides for Henry Cecil.

Forever Together – Post 2 – Morning Line 5/2
She has been in the money in all eleven turf starts and has 5 Grade 1 wins to show for that effort. She took the Diana at Saratoga this summer and won this race last year on this track. She likes the harder turf better than soft which should set her up well for this. Consistent top notch Beyer numbers around 100 also don’t hurt. Another major contender. Julian Leparoux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Rutherienne – Post 3 – Morning Line 8/1In a race where it would be no surprise if 7 of the 8 horses in the race win, I’ll give you one of my favorite horses as my 4th horse to watch in this race. She is 21 for 22 in the money on the turf and is always in a position to win as they are heading down the stretch. Very consistent with her last nine Beyers between 96 and 99 with the last 4 being 98 or 99. The main knock against her is she has never won a Grade 1. Maybe this time. Alan Garcia rides for Christophe Clement.

Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade 1) ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 7 Furlongs
Ventura – Post 9 – Morning Line 8/5
She is 4 for 6 on synthetics and has two wins and two 2nd place finishes in 2009 since winning this race last year. She won the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on this track last winter and lost by a nose to rival Informed Decision at this distance at Keeneland in the spring. She won the Woodbine Mile in September her only race since April. Se has been working well for this. Garrett Gomez rides for Bobby Frankel.

Informed Decision – Post 7 – Morning Line 5/2She is 6 for 6 on synthetic surfaces and 5 for 6 at this distance. She beat Ventura at Keneland in the spring and has done nothing wrong in 2009. She posted a bullet work for this over the Poly at Keeneland on Monday and looks ready for this. Julian Leparoux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Sara Louise – Post 2 – Morning Line 9/2
She has a win and a second in two 2009 starts with the loss coming to champion sprint mare Indian Blessing in a great finish in her last. She has posted triple digit Beyers in both races this year. She has never raced on synthetics but has shown three solid works for this since arriving at Santa Anita. Must respect world class connections. Frankie Dettori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Seventh Street – Post 8 – Morning Line 4/1
She has been first or second in all nine starts over the past year but has been running longer distances lately. Has a second in her only graded race at the sprint distance but she is always competitive. Barn boasts a 50% win percentage in the route to sprint move but she has never raced on synthetics. Rajiv Maragh rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic (Grade 1) ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 1/8 Miles
Careless Jewel – Post 1 – Morning Line 2/1
She ran away to win the Alabama at Saratoga by eleven lengths and took a Grade 2 at Philadelphia Park in her last on her way to five straight wins. She is 2 for 3 on synthetics and they will have to catch her. However, she hasn’t faced the likes of these. RC Landry rides for Josie Carroll.

Music Note – Post 7 – Morning Line 9/5
She has a third place finish to show for her only synthetic race but has won 5 of her last 8, all Grade 1’s. She won the Balerina at Saratoga and the Beldame at Belmont in her last two with triple digit Beyers in both. She ran third to Zenyatta and Cocoa Beach in this race last year. Major player. Rajiv Maragh rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Life Is Sweet – Post 2 – Morning Line 8/1She is 3 for 8 on synthetics and won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at this track and this distance in March. She has not won in her last four starts but ran 3rd to the boys in the Hollywood Gold Cup and took on Zenyatta in the other three losses. That undefeated mare opted for the Classic against the boys this time. She is 2 for 2 at this distance and 3 for 4 at this track. Garrett Gomez rides for John Shirreffs.

Cocoa Beach – Post 6 – Morning Line 8/1She ran second to Zenyatta in this race last year but she has been far from the Cocoa Beach of old in 2009. Yes, she did win an overnight stake at Saratoga and has been in the mix in her other races but has not looked very good in those races. However, her third to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret over this track in her last along with two strong works over this surface may indicate that she is ready for a turnaround. Richard Migliori rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Saturday's Horses To Watch will be posted Thursday evening.