Thursday, August 26, 2010

Travers Day Million Dollar Guaranteed Pick 4 Analysis

On Saturday, Saratoga Race Course will run a stakes filled card, headed by the Grade 1 Travers Stakes. There are 5 graded stakes on the card, all in the pick 6. There is a guaranteed cool million in the all-stakes pick 4, comprising of the Grade 3 Victory Ride, the Grade 1 Ballerina, Grade 1 King's Bishop and main event, the Grade 1 Travers Stakes. 3 sprints and a race at the classic distance make up the sequence. Here is this blog's rundown of the races in the sequence:

Race 9: Grade 3 Victory Ride S. - 6 furlongs

#1 Kid Kate Prado E 120
#2 My Jen Leparoux J 120
#3 Rapport Garcia M 116
#4 Sister Dawn Maragh R 116
#5 Worstcasescenario Garcia Alan 120
#6 Simply Spiteful Lezcano J 118
#7 Beyondallboundarys Borel C 120
#8 Touching Beauty Castellano J 123
#9 Katy Now Velazquez J R 118

This is a wide open race with a lukewarm 7/2 morning line favorite in #3 Rapport. She was last seen setting a blistering pace but fading in the stretch in the Grade 3 Azalea last out at Calder. She came back with several swift works in the interim. Before that, she had two stylish front-running wins at Hollywood. She is reunited with Martin Garcia. the jockey of her two wins. He will try to ration out her speed in an attempt to go gate-to-wire.

The selection is #8 Touching Beauty. This daughter of Tapit was last seen winning the Grade 3 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct last April. She has made several good work off the layoff, and her trainer has good stats off the layoff. The only time she stepped foot on this track in the afternoon, she won her debut going 5 1/2 furlongs. She should get a good stalking trip and run down the speed. Others to consider are #9 Katy Now, whose best race is arguably at this distance two back; #4 Sister Dawn, who goes first time dirt for SoCal trainer John Sadler; and #7 Beyondallboundarys, who rides a 2 race win streak and is 3-for-3 at 6 furlongs.

Race 10: Grade 1 Ballerina S. - 7 furlongs

#1 Rightly So Velasquez C 117
#2 Warbling Castellano J 119
#3 Jessica Is Back Trujillo E 122
#4 Informed Decision Leparoux J 119
#5 Qualia Maragh R 115
#6 Pretty Prolific Prado E 117
#7 Devil by Design Desormeaux K 115
#8 First Passage Bridgmohan J 117

This race is a two horse race for this blog, with the selection being #2 Warbling. This daughter of Unbridled's Song goes 3rd off the layoff for trainer Eddie Kenneally. She has tactical speed, but can rally as well. The distance will be no problem and she should float up from her 4/1 morning line. The other horse is the favorite #4 Informed Decision. She cuts back after a winning a rare race around two turns and looks to be in fine form third off the layoff. The distance is not a problem.

Race 11: Grade 1 King's Bishop S. - 7 furlongs

#1 Latigo Shore Dominguez R A 117 L
#2 Hurricane Ike Borel C H 119 L
#3 D' Funnybone Prado E S 123 L
#4 Discreetly Mine Velazquez J R 123 L
#5 Bulldogger Garcia M 117 L
#6 Bank Merger Garcia Alan 117 L
#7 In Jack's Memory Mena M 117 L

This blog will take a chance in the pick 4 by singling #3 D'Funnybone. He comes in off a brief freshening and has run well off the layoff. He is undefeated at the Spa and at the distance (4-4). He will have to hold off #4 Discreetly Mine, who is coming off a smashing win in the Grade 2 Amsterdam here at Saratoga. Both will sit off #5 Bulldogger, who has blistering speed but will get the class test in this race.

Race 12: Grade 1 Travers S. - 1m & 1/4

#1 Miner's Reserve Cohen D 126
#2 Trappe Shot Garcia Alan 126
#3 Admiral Alex Desormeaux K 126
#4 First Dude Dominguez R 126
#5 A Little Warm Velazquez J 126
#6 Ice Box Leparoux J 126
#7 Afleet Express Castellano J 126
#8 Fly Down Lezcano J 126
#9 Friend Or Foe Maragh R 126
#10 Afleet Again Velasquez C 126
#11 Super Saver Borel C 126

The main event is a real brainteaser, as only Super Saver has won at the distance before. Only two come in off a win. Most are untested at the distance. The division leader, Lookin at Lucky, did not make the trip from southern California due to spiking a fever on the return trip from his win in the Haskell. The lukewarm favorite is #5 A Little Warm. This son of Stormin Fever won the local prep, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy last time out. He stalked the #1 Miner's Reserve around the track and took over in the stretch. He has two good maintenance works in the interim. There are questions over whether he can last the mile and a quarter, especially with the expected quick splits. he will be attending.

The selection is #7 Afleet Express. This son of Afleet Alex, sire of three in the field, finished a lackluster 3rd in the Jim Dandy. This blog feels that the race was an aberration caused by the odd spacing between his last two races and the fact that the horses who ran 1-2 were 2-1 the whole way around. There have been two steady works in the interim, and he deserves another chance. At 6-1 on the morning line, he should offer some value, but by no means is a single.

Others to consider are #8 Fly Down, who was the favorite in the Jim Dandy but failed to produce his best and #11 Super Saver, who won the Derby but was well beaten his last two starts. This blog is taking a stand against #2 Trappe Shot, who may end up the favorite off of his 2nd in the Haskell. This blog doesn't feel that he is at his optimum at this distance, and his depressed price creates zero value in the sequence

To recap, the ticket is:

Victory Ride: Touching Beauty, Beyondallboundarys, Rapport, Sister Dawn, Katy Now
Ballerina: Warbling, Informed Decision
King's Bishop: D'funnybone
Travers: Afleet Express, Fly Down, A Little Warm, Super Saver

A $40 ticket in total.

This sequence lacks any heavy favorites, and could easily pay over a thousand dollars. This blog wishes all good luck and great betting!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How the Divisions in Southern California Stack Up

As the biggest race of the Del Mar meet will be run this weekend, several divisions are in flux. Leaders have been lost due to different reasons. Some have not have a clear leader for a while. Others have a standard-bearer that has been around for years. Today's post will competitively rank the 8 main divisions in Southern California. The 8 divisions are Older male, Older female, 3yo male, 3yo female, Sprint - male, Sprint - female, Turf - male and Turf - female. I combined the 3yo categories due to the constant crossover from one surface to the other in the male division made it hard to separate the two groups.

The criteria for these rankings are: Biggest star in the division, depth, overall records, results from outside SoCal and overall perception of the division

1. 3 year old female - Top horses: Blind Luck, Evening Jewel, Harmonious
The top division in Southern California is the three year-old fillies. The top two in the country reside here in Blind Luck, who shipped out once again, this time to Saratoga, to win the Grade 1 Alabama, and Evening Jewel, who won her third straight grass stakes with the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. She defeated Grade 1 winner Harmonious and the eastern invader Perfect Shirl. The only reason this group does not have a ten is that it does not have its top sprinter in Tanda, currently taking some time off and being pointed for a December return. Harmonious finished second in the Del Mar Oaks after an extremely wide trip.

Ranking: 9 Chocolate-covered Pickles

2. Older female - Top horse: Zenyatta
The second spot goes to literally just Zenyatta. Without an able foil currently in training, this blog could not put her division in the top spot due to the lack of depth. Zenyatta is clearly the best horse in Southern California, but she does not have anyone to go with her. The 2nd best older filly is maybe Lilly Fa Pootz on the grass, or maybe Sweet August Moon sprinting, but they are so far back of the top spot that the do not lend enough support to move this division higher.

Ranking: 8 1/2 Chocolate-covered Pickles

3. Male Sprint - Top horses: California Flag, EZ Gentleman, Kinsale King
This division has parity in it, but is buoyed by the return of California Flag to the turf flank of the division. EZ Gentlemen was unable to catch lonely leader Smiling Tiger in the Bing Crosby, but has a chance to avenge that loss this Saturday in the Pat O'Brien. Kinsale King, the winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen, has returned to Southern California after an excursion in Europe and is on the worktab, with the most recent work happening today at Hollywood Park.

Ranking: 6 1/2 Chocolate-covered Pickles

4. Older Male (Turf) - Top horses: The Usual Q T, California Flag, Victor's Cry
This division has a clear leader in The Usual Q T, who easily won the Eddie Read handicap last night. He will try the Del Mar Poly this Saturday in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. The number two is the aforementioned California Flag, who returned off the bench to win the Green Flash Handicap last week. Victor's Cry finished 2nd behind Q T in the Eddie Read.

Ranking: 6 Chocolate-covered Pickles

5. 3 Year Old male - Top horses: Lookin at Lucky, Sidney's Candy, Smiling Tiger
The reason that this group is this low is that generally feeling that this division nationwide is weak, especially on the main track. While the division leader resides in Southern California in Lookin At Lucky, that does not necessarily make this ranking higher. Sidney's Candy lands number two after his fast win in the La Jolla Handicap. Smiling Tiger got away with an easy pace last time out while upsetting the Bing Crosby, and now will attempt to validate that win in this weekend's Pat O'Brien.

Ranking: 5 1/2 Chocolate-covered Pickles

6 (tie). Older Male (Main Track) - Top horses: Awesome Gem, Dakota Phone, Temple City, Richard's Kid
This division is lead by Awesome Gem, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup last out. He always comes with his run, and finally got his elusive Grade 1 win last out. Dakota Phone finally got his graded stakes win last out when he won the local prep for this race, the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Temple City finally got the graded stakes monkey of his back with a win the Grade 3 Cougar Handicap. Richard's Kid is still looking for his first win since February. The reason this group is ranked so low is two-fold. One, the top two horses in the division are currently not a part of it. Rail Trip, who was considered the division leader until his loss in Gold Cup, has been moved by his owners to the East Coast. Misremembered has only had one recent work since his win the Santa Anita Handicap, and is looking to make a return in a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Two, the top two who are currently running have a tendency to finish for minor placings more often than not. These reasons are why this division is ranked so low.

Ranking: 4 Chocolate-covered Pickles

6. (tie) Female Sprint - Top horse: Sweet August Moon
This already underwhelming group was further weakened by the injury to Free Flying Soul, which caused her to scratch from the Rancho Bernardo Handicap. Sweet August Moon has won the last two graded stakes for female sprinters out here. This group awaits the return of Mona De Momma, who parlayed the Las Flores Handicap into a win of the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. Until then, this division has a steady but unproven leader.

Ranking: 4 Chocolate-covered Pickles

8. Older Female (Turf) - Top horses: Lilly Fa Pootz, Gotta Have Her
This division was left without a leader when Tuscan Evening tragically passed away last week after a workout. This division is like the older females on the main track, in which there was a clear leader. Without her though, this division is in disarray. The current leader is former $16k claimer Lilly Fa Pootz, who finished 2nd to Midwest invader Wasted Tears in the Mabee Handicap. Gotta Have Her finished behind Lilly in the race. This division lakes a clear leader and is punished since only Gotta Have Her has shown her quality repeatedly in stakes.

Ranking: 3 Chocolate-covered Pickles

There is this blog's ranking of the divisions in Southern California. Some may disagree with this list. If so, this blog invites you to "give your ten cents" worth and put up your own list in the comments. This weekend's stakes action will have a definite impact on the rankings, so let's see how things unfold.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Few Odds and Ends

This is just a quick update on a few things, including the (tentative) schedule for the postings for the rest of the week.

First, this blog is now a proud member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization and hope to do justice to the proud tradition set before by such blogs as Handride, Equispace and Zipseatthetrack.

Second, I will be making my 2nd appearance on the YouBet Blog Talk Radio show with Claire Novak and Joe Depaolo this Wednesday the 25th, where i talk about the Late Pick 4 @ Saratoga. I will post a link in the comments, when it becomes available.

Finally, here is the (tentative) schedule for the rest of the week:

Wednesday: Ranking the different divisions in Southern California, with the return of the Chocolate-covered Pickle rating system!
Thursday: A post about the stakes being run at Saratoga this Saturday. Might be just selections, might be about one specific horse in one of the stakes races. Maybe a combination of the two. I still haven't decided.
Friday: Pacific Classic preview
Saturday: Personal Ensign: Life At Ten v Rachel Alexandra.
Sunday: Recap
Monday: SLEEP!

See you folks tomorrow!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coast-to-Coast Filly Face-Offs

This weekend, the top of the 3yo filly division squares off on the dirt and the turf in the two bastions of summer racing, Saratoga and Del Mar. The Grade 1 Alabama S. going a mile and a quarter on the main track at Saratoga, while the grass fillies will be going a mile and an eighth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks over the Jimmy Durante turf course. These races may provide some clarity to each division, as most of the division leaders are running in these races. Or maybe the divisions will be thrown into further disarray, if this blog's selections are correct. Let's start with the Alabama, then come out west for the Del Mar Oaks.

#1 Acting Happy Lezcano J 121 12-1
#2 Devil May Care Velazquez J 121 7-5
#3 Tizahit Prado E 121 20-1
#4 Blind Luck Rosario J 121 8-5
#5 Connie and Michael Maragh R 121 10-1
#6 Havre de Grace Rose J 121 4-1

The morning line favorite is #2 Devil May Care. This daughter of Malibu Moon has rebounded from a sub-par effort in the Kentucky Derby to easily defeat her two compact fields in the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 1 CCA Oaks. (Her Oaks win below)

She has trained well in the interim, but the distance may be a question mark. Also, both times she ran third off the layoff, a poor performance ensued, with the caveat that both times had extraordinary circumstances attached. I'm not a big fan of not having any works beyond 4 furlongs for any race going a mile an an eighth or further. She is a contender, but not the pick.

The second morning line choice by the slimmest of margins is #4 Blind Luck. This daughter of Pollard's Vision comes off another one of her trademark cardiac victories, getting up by a nose over #6 Harve de Grace in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks (below).

Blind Luck worked steadily in the interim, keeping her top form. But one has to worry about the distance with her as well, as her pedigree does not scream 1m & 1/4. Also, this her 4th cross country trip (Oaklawn, Churchill, Delaware) this year, since she returns back to her SoCal home base after each race. That amount of travel can wear down anything. Is today the day all that traveling gets to her? She is another contender, but not the pick.

Who then is this blog's selection? It is #1 Acting Happy. This daughter of Empire Maker was defeated by Devil May Care in her last start, but it was her first start in 2 months and she ran a little short. She comes in 2nd off the layoff, a favorite angle of the blog, with two maintenance works in the interim. She should have less of a problem with the distance based on her pedigree than the two favorites. Her last race before the CCA Oaks was her victory in the G1 Black-eyed Susan (below).

She will be tracking from just off the pace of (assumed) pace setter #5 Connie and Michael. She will have first jump on both of the favorites, make her move turning for home, and hopefully will hold on to pull off the huge upset.

This blog will be betting Acting Happy to win, and exacta boxes with Blind Luck and Devil May Care. No matter what, this should be a very interesting race.

Now we head clear across the country to "where the turf meets the surf" Del Mar for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Here's the field:
#1 Berg Bahn (IRE) A O Solis 122
#2 Antares World F Alvarado 122
#3 Perfect Shirl C Sutherland 122
#4 Evening Jewel V Espinoza 122
#5 Distinctive (GB)B Blanc 122
#6 Harmonious M E Smith 122
#7 It Tiz (D R Flores 122
#8 Weekend Magic A Quinonez 122
#9 Crisp R Bejarano 122
#10 Warren's Jitterbug P A Valenzuela 122

The favorite probably will be #4 Evening Jewel. This daughter of Northern Afleet will attempt to win another Grade 1 race after her win in the Ashland at Keeneland over the Polytrack. She has great positional speed, and should be in a good spot. She has had three steady works over this course, where she won the local prep for this race, the Grade 2 San Clemente. However, at each of races at this distance, she has been life and death to hang on at any race past a mile, like today's race distance of a mile and an eighth. With some of the new faces she is facing for the first time today, this blog thinks she is very vulnerable.

The East Coast invader #3 Perfect Shirl is a stretch-running daughter of Perfect Soul who won the Grade 2 Lake George Handicap at Saratoga last time out. Her training at her home base of Woodbine has come along nicely since the win, and she brings in tow her jockey Chantal Sutherland, who was aboard for her first two victories of her career. This 1/2 sis to multiple graded stakes winners Shakespeare and Lady Shakespeare But this Del Mar course will have the shortest stretch of any course she has run on in her career. She is also a smallish filly who is shipping for the 2nd time in under a month. The fact that she will probably be an underlay in the betting is the final reason she is not the selection, but remains a must-use in the exotics.

The pick is the horse who is most likely to be the 2nd or 3rd favorite, depending on the money on Perfect Shirl, #6 Harmonious. This daughter of Dynaformer won the Grade 1 American Oaks last time out. (below)

She hasn't missed a beat in the morning since, with 5 works in the 49 day interim. Her trainer has little problem bringing horses back off this kind of layoff, and the distance will give her no problems. She gets back the services of jockey Mike Smith, who rode her in all starts prior to her last race. There seems to be enough speed to allow her to get a mid-pack tracking position early on, making her move at the top of the turn and hopefully winning going away.

The two foreign invaders #1 Berg Bahn and #5 Distinctive both present interesting prospects, but my limited knowledge of European racing makes it almost impossible to comment on their chances, other than to note that Alex Solis comes in from Saratoga to ride the #1.

Saturday shapes up to be a great day of racing for the fillies, no matter the surface or the coast. Will we have some clarity to the divisional rankings? Or will we have calamity instead? Either way, it will be fun. Good luck everybody!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

John C. Mabee Handicap - No Use Crying Over This One

The 53rd running of the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Handicap brings together a field of eight fillies and mares going a mile and an eighth on the Jimmy Durante Turf course. Previous winners of this race are the wonderful two-time champion turf female Flawlessly, the champion older filly and mare Escena and "the little filly that could" Megahertz. Who will join this list of champions? Here is the field:

#1 Wasted Tears R Maragh 121 5/2
#2 Lilly Fa Pootz J Rosario 119 6/1
#3 Spring Style (IRE) P A Valenzuela 119 15/1
#4 Gotta Have Her M E Smith 121 3/1
#5 Turning Top (IRE) B Blanc 119 5/1
#6 Princess Haya R Bejarano 121 10/1
#7 Gozzip Girl J R Leparoux 121 7/2
#8 Oui Say Oui (IRE) V Espinoza 119 20/1

The favorite, the selection and a blog favorite is #1 Wasted Tears. This daughter of Najran is on a 6 race winning streak, and a 9 race turf winning streak. This blog fell in love with her during her win in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Handicap on the Fountain of Youth undercard at Gulfstream Park. She cleared over from the post #13 that day to win. She is a true front-runner who goes to the front and asks you to come and catch her. She has had a series of steady works since her win in the Grade 3 Ouija Board at Lone Star Park on Memorial Day. Rajiv Maragh ships in from Saratoga for the mount. The distance is the major question for her, as she has never gone this far. She also has a to fight the speed-averse profile on this turf course. Hopefully the front-end win by Sidney's Candy yesterday portends good things for 'Tears'. She does appear to have an advantage from a pace perspective, as she is the only true front-runner. This should lead to a gate-to-wire victory

The main threat is #2 Lilly Fa Pootz. She is a hot horse, having been in the exacta 8 out of her last 9 and riding a modest two-win winning streak. She won the ungraded Osunitas Stakes over this turf course last time out. She has steadily climbed the ranks from the $16k claiming ranks to this level. She has blossomed under the care of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who could use someone like her to at least partially replace the gaping hole in his barn that Tuscan's Evening sudden death last week during a workout left. Lilly has three steady maintenance works during the interim. She is a rallier, the preferred style on this course, but gets the acid test today.

The blog does not think that #4 Gotta Have Her will be much of a threat, as it looks like she is going farther than her optimum distance. For a crazy longshot to spice up the exotics, the #8 Oui Say Oui would the one we shall use. She is probably not fast enough to win, but she will be probably sitting right behind Wasted Tears during the opening quarters of the race. She could just draft behind her and get dragged along to good placing behind the winner. I think the added distance will help her, and at 20/1 on the morning line, she is worth inclusion in your horizontal plays.

This blog will play Wasted Tears on top of the Lilly Fa Pootz and Oui Say Oui in the exacta, and throw in #7 Gozzip Girl in the 3rd spot.

Good luck everybody!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The La Jolla Handicap: The New Kid in Town

Another great weekend of racing is upon us at Del Mar. This weekend's features are a couple of interesting stakes going a route of ground over the Jimmy Durante turf course. On Saturday, 3 year olds go a mile and a sixteenth in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. On Sunday, older fillies and mares go a mile and an eighth in Grade 2 John C Mabee Handicap. Let's start with the boys in the La Jolla. The next post will be on the Mabee.

Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap - 1m & 1/16th (turf)

#1 Leroy's Dynameaux R Bejarano 118 9/2
#2 Sidney's Candy J Rosario 121 7/5
#3 Macias M Garcia 118 8/1
#4 Summer Movie V Espinoza 116 12/1
#5 Kid Edward (IRE) D R Flores 115 9/2
#6 Face and an Ace B Blanc 115 30/1
#7 Golden Itiz P A Valenzuela 118 4/1
#8 Alphie's Bet M E Smith 119 12/1

The morning line favorite is #3 Sidney's Candy. This son of Candy Ride was last seen being narrowly defeated in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. Today is his first start over the turf. His sire was the undefeated multiple graded stakes winning Candy Ride, who won both on the main track and the turf. He is a speed horse, and that has been a detriment on this course, as less than 15% of those who were on or near the lead have won. He will also have company up front by # 3 Macias and maybe #6 Face and an Ace. Macias is a speedball who will go as far and as fast as he can go, with no chance of rating. Can Sidney clear Macias? Can he rate effectively? This blog says "No" on both parts.

The pick is #5 Kid Edward (IRE). This son of globe-trotting multiple Group 1 winner Singspiel is lightly raced with only three starts. Last out, he cleared his 1st allowance condition with a stylish win over this course opening week. He has a couple of steady maintenance works in the interim and is one of only two who has won at the distance on the grass. When he broke his maiden two starts back at the beginning of the Santa Anita meet, this blog thought he had a chance to be the best three year old on the grass out here in Southern California. Nothing he did in his last race has changed the opinion of him.

The reason that this blog was so high on Kid Edward was that the day he broke his maiden, his race was a split of the same condition. Another race with the same conditions was run as the 8th race on the same card. 7 horses came out of the two races combined to face off at the same level a month later. Only one of the horses who came from the 2nd split of the race beat a horse from the 1st split. Furthermore, the only horse in the field who did not come out of one of those races ran 2nd. Going forward throughout the meet, this weakness continued to show in the division with many horses coming over from the main track to beat the top grass horses. Every stake run at a mile or further on the grass for 3 yo in Southern California this year has been won by a "new shooter". Horses such as Line of David, Make Music For Me, Leroy's Dynameaux and Alphie's Bet would routinely win. Then, other horses who had not run against these fields continued the trend, even at the allowance level. #4 Summer Movie came off the layoff to easily beat the best n1x horses on the grounds. This group of 3yo has parity and is ripe for the taking.

This blog will be betting Kid Edward to win, and then playing some exotics with Sidney's Candy, Summer Movie and Leroy's Dynameaux underneath. No matter what, this is shaping up to be a competitive race. Good luck everybody.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blame Gets Through the Road Block

Blame is the winner of the 2010 Grade 1 Whitney Handicap.

This blog hoped that this post would begin with the above statement. Even with Blame being the selection, a blog favorite AND the blog's choice to win the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, this win was a bit of surprise. There was a not-so-small part of this blog that thought Quality Road would crush this field. Going in, he was a formidable opponent and a worthy 1/2 favorite. He had three superb wins this year, setting a track record in one of them. Those led him to be the deserving highweight in the field, Most of the others had a least a fighting chance. But they had no one to Blame once the race had been run.

As the field was in the gate, Haynesfield broke through it prematurely, acting very fractious, but was allowed to run. After the first quarter mile, Quality Road look to be in complete control. After half a mile, Quality Road looked on his way to a blowout win. After 3/4 of a mile, Blame looked like he had a small chance. After a mile, Blame looked like he had a good chance. At the 1/16th pole, it looked like he had a great chance. At the wire, Blame had cashed in his chance and crossed the wire first, under a hand-ride. No whip needed. His jockey Garrett Gomez never lifted the stick.

Before the Whitney, this blog was committed to shouting from the mountaintops that Blame was this year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner, but nothing else. Now with the win, the phrase "Blame - 2010 Horse of the Year" has entered into the lexicon. He has now moved to the top of the handicap division. But how will he accomplish that goal? It looks like that his next race will be the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont October 2nd, then the Breeders Cup Classic. This schedule leaves no margin for error. A loss in the JCGC will take him out of contention. On the flipside, it leaves him in a nice position as a fresh horse. Hopefully this carefully plotted course will have a happy ending come November 6th.

Blame was given an opportunity and seized it. Now, how will he and his connections react with the pressure on? As the line from Shakespeare Henry IV says, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Test for Blame

This Saturday, there will be several great races. Zenyatta will attempt to continue her undefeated streak alive in the Clement L. Hirsch. Several great two year old races will be run, with the chance that a future star might emerge. But this blog will be paying the most attention to Saratoga. Why? Blame. Blame will be taking on the leader in the handicap division, Quality Road, and 4 others in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap. But first we will discuss race before (Race 9), the Grade 1 Test.

Test S. Grade 1 - 7 furlongs

#1 Pica Slew M R Cruz 118 7/2
#2 Buckleupbuttercup J R Leparoux 118 6/1
#3 Champagne d'Oro M Mena 122 8/1
#4 Bonnie Blue Flag J R Velazquez 116 6/1
#6 Lovely Lil A Garcia 116 20/1
#7 Belle of the Hall R A Dominguez 116 10/1
#8 Ash Zee R Maragh 116 10/1
#9 Christine Daae P Fragoso 116 15/1
#10 Tidal Pool C H Borel 116 15/1

One horse missing is #5 Franny Freud, who was the morning line favorite. I took her off the entry list because she has unfortunately been withdrawn, and subsequently retired, due to an injury. It is nothing serious, but it was enough to end her racing career. May she enjoy happiness in her new life as a broodmare.

The selection is #2 Buckleupbuttercup. This daughter of Najran (who is also the sire of blog favorite Wasted Tears) finished an onrushing 2nd last time out in the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes at Calder Race Course last time out, being beaten by #1 Pica Slew. "B-cup" gets another furlong to work with to unleash her stretch run. She has had two steady works in the interim and keeps Leparoux in the saddle, who was aboard last out and for her win in the G3 Eight Belles.

2nd choice is #7 Belle of the Hall. This undefeated daughter of Graeme Hall won the Jostle S. at Philadelphia Park last time out. She lured Ramon Dominguez from his base at Belmont to come out for the mount. She has had 6 steady works for her 1st start in 2 months. She will make her run from mid-pack.

The 3rd choice is #9 Christine Daae. This daughter of Giant's Causeway comes off a 5th place finish against the boys in the G3 Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park. When last seen against her own sex, she lost a photo in a 100k stake. Christine was consider a trendy pick for the Kentucky Oaks after her maiden and first-level allowance wins this winter at Gulfstream, but she was hooked in a speed duel in the G2 Bonnie Miss S and was on the shelf until that 100k stake. She has 2 fast works since her last race and should get a decent trip sitting just off the leaders.

Picks: #2 Buckleupbuttercup, #7 Belle of the Hall, #9 Christine Daae

Now the main event, the coup de grĂ¢ce, the star of the card, the Grade 1 $750,000 Whitney Handicap.
#1 Mine That Bird C H Borel 118 12/1
#2 Blame G K Gomez 121 4/1
#3 Quality Road J R Velazquez 126 2/5
#4 Haynesfield R A Dominguez 116 12/1
#5 Jardim (BRZ) J R Leparoux 113 30/1
#6 Musket Man R Maragh 117 6/1

It will come to no shock to those who read this blog that the selection is #2 Blame . This son of Arch has had 6 steady works in the interim, including the last two over the surface. According to my sources, he is doing well and has taken to his upstate surroundings with ease. Blame is getting 5 pounds in the weights from Quality Road. (Which in this blog's eyes is not enough, but oh well) He should be sitting 3rd or 4th behind the two front-runners Quality Road and Haynesfield, with Jardim either right in front or right behind Blame. Blame will take over from a softened-up QR in deep stretch and win by 1/2 a length.

If #2 Quality Road can avoid being too eager to chase down Haynesfield, he probably will win by open lengths. Make no mistake: Quality Road at a mile and an eighth is a dangerous animal. Blame will have his work cut out, but this blog believes that he will be able to pull the upset.

This Saturday at Saratoga, The 3yo fillies will have a new leader among the sprinters, and the older males will have either a finer "Quality" to it or there will be someone to "Blame" for a clouded picture. Either way, it ought to be a great day of racing. Good luck everybody!