Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Stakes Selections 8-25-12 and 8-26-12

This weekend belongs to Saratoga and Del Mar. On Saturday Saratoga hosts The Travers Stakes. The Mid-Summer Derby is the marquee race of the Saratoga meet every year.  The Travers which is for three year olds going  a 1 1/4 miles features Alpha, who won the prep race for the Travers, The Jim Dandy Stakes. The other major contenders are Nonios, Neck N' Neck, Street Life, and Liason. Leading up to the Travers which runs as race 12 are three other major stakes races.
On Sunday at Del Mar they run the biggest race of their season in the Pacific Classic. The million dollar race for three year olds and upward features the top older male in training right now Game On Dude, as well as Richard's Kid, Dullahan, Rail Trip, and the filly Amani. The Pacific Classic also has a great undercard. My selections for the Travers Stakes, the Pacific Classic, and much more are below.


Race 9 Grade II Ballston Spa Stakes $250,000
1. Hungry Island
2. Zagora
3. Summer Soiree

Race 10 Grade I Test Stakes $500,000
1. Book Review
2. Contested
3. Amie's Dini

Race 11 Grade I Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes $500,000
1. Ever So Lucky
2. Trinniberg
3. Currency Swap

Race 12  Grade I Travers Stakes $1,000,000
1. Alpha
2. Stealcase
3. Nonios

I tried to beat Alpha in the Travers, but no matter where I looked Alpha looked too good. Alpha is the class of the field. Alpha's Jim Dandy victory was very impressive. In a race with little speed Alpha took advantage and never looked back. His main challenger in the race was Neck n' Neck, who is a very good horse but in the last 70 yards Alpha was pulling away from Neck n' Neck suggesting that Alpha will enjoy the added distance, and Neck n' Neck may not. Alpha is just too good for this field and I look for him to win this years Travers Stakes from right off the pace. While I picked the favorite to win, I believe a horse that may not get that much attention is a major player to hit the board, Stealcase. Stealcase is improving with each and every start. He seems to be enjoying the added distance, and he may get a decent set up in the race. While there are a few deep closers in the race I look for Stealcase to be a little closer and get the jump on horses like Street Life. I am taking a shot by putting Stealcase in my top 3 but I believe he is really improving and should love the 1 1/4 miles distance so he is worth a shot at 15-1. Nonios ran very well in the Haskell Invitational last time out, and while I believe that was a strong race to finish second, he will get a real class test today, I look for him to hit the board, but I do not think he will beat Alpha. Alpha will be the favorite and in this years edition of the Travers Stakes, Alpha will be the winner.


Race 10 Grade I Personal Ensign Handicap $600,000
1. Royal Delta
2. Brushed by a Star
3. It's Tricky

Del Mar

Race 5 Grade I Pat O' Brien Stakes $250,000
1. Camp Victory
2. Capital Account
3. Coil

Race 7 Grade II Del Mar Mile $200,000
1. Mr. Commons
2. Jeranimo
3. Calimonco

Race 9 Grade I TVG Pacific Classic Stakes $1,000,000
1. Suggestive Boy
2. Dullahan
3. Richard's Kid

Game On Dude is  undoubtedly the horse to beat in this years Pacific Classic. He is undefeated in the United States this year, his only loss coming in the Dubai World Cup. Last time out he won the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup defeating Richard's Kid, but that was on the cushion track, and his win at Santa Anita earlier in the year was on dirt, Del Mar has a different type of synthetic surface, Polytrack. Game on Dude finished fourth in the 2011 edition of the Pacific Classic, and he really had no excuse. Game on Dude is better than every horse in this field but I believe he does not care for the Del Mar surface and I will take a stand against him. I believe he will finish fourth again. My pick is Suggestive Boy. Suggestive Boy will be making his third start in this country since being imported from Argentina. His last start in the Wickerr on the turf was very impressive. He will be making his first start on the Polytrack, but I do not believe that will be an issue. I believe he will love the distance and will get the first jump on the other major closers. I look for Suggestive Boy to pass Game on Dude in the last eighth of a mile and then hold off the other late closers like Dullahan, Richard's Kid, and Amani. Dullahan loves polytrack, he is 2 for 2 over the surface with two Grade I wins. I believe he is talented enough to compete with this field, and he loves the distance and the surface. Dullahan is not a dirt horse, he is a synthetic/turf horse and this race fits him perfectly. Dullahan does not have to be that far off the pace and I look for him to be mid-pack. He will get first run on Richard's Kid and thats why I like Dullahan to finish second. He also gets the services of Joel Rosario one of the best riders in the country. Richard's Kid loves Del Mar, he has won two Pacific Classic's. He won the race in 2009 and 2010 and did not compete last year. He loves the distance and the surface and should be flying late but with really good closers getting the jump on him I look for Richard's Kid to come up short this year. The Pacific Classic will be a very exciting race, and Game on Dude may get it done this year, but if they are going to beat him Sunday may just be the day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weekend Stakes Races 8/18-19/2012

This weekend features major racing from Arlington Park, Del Mar, Saratoga, Monmouth, and Woodbine. The spotlight will be on Arlington Park which hosts the GI Arlington Million  as well as two other Grade I's and the new American St. Leger Stakes. Saratoga has two Grade I's on Saturday the Sword Dancer Invitational as well as the Alabama Stakes, and both are loaded with talent. Del Mar has graded stakes action on Saturday and Sunday including the GI Del Mar Oaks. Last but not least, Woodbine and Monmouth host very competitive grade II's.

Arlington Park


American St. Leger Stakes $400,000
1. Jakkalberry
2. Lake Drop
3. Suntracer

GI Secretariat Stakes $500,000
1. Daddy Long Legs
2. Silver Max
3. Bayrir

Daddy Long Legs is my selection to dethrone Silver Max Saturday. Daddy Long Legs showed in the UAE Derby he runs well fresh. He should not have an issue with the distance and will put pace pressure on Silver Max, leading me to believe he wears Silver Max down in the final eighth of a mile.

GI Beverly D. Stakes $750,000
1. Aruna
2. I'm A Dreamer
3. Mystical Star

I believe Aruna was better than Mystical Star last time out as she was very wide. With a better trip and staying a little closer to the pace Aruna will not allow Mystical Star to get the jump. The distance is perfect for Aruna. I'm A Dreamer is the biggest threat she seems to fire every time and that gives her a great chance to hit the board.  

GI Arlington Million Stakes $1,000,000
1. Crackerjack King
2. Boisterous
3. Afsare

Crackerjack King ran into some of the best horses Europe has to offer last time out at Sandown. He ran into Nathaniel, and Farhh. Farhh returned to run second to the best horse in the world, Frankel. Prior to that effort Crackerjack King was a Grade I winner in Italy. The Arlington Million provides class relief for Crackerjack King as Nathaniel, Farhh, amd Twice Over would be odds on in this race if they were to run. Crackerjack King gets the relief on Saturday and will establish his dominance in his American debut. Boisterous is the best of the American horses. He will not be good enough to win but he always fires, and I look for him to hit the board.

Del Mar

GI Del Mar Oaks $300,000
1. Lady of Shamrock
2. My Gi Gi
3. Eden's Moon


GIII Rancho Bernardo Handicap $150,000
1. Winding Way
2. Sugarinthemorning
3. Rumor



GI Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes $600,000
1. Point of Entry
2. Brilliant Speed
3. Center Divider

GI Alabama Stakes $600,000
2. Grace Hall
3. Sea Island

This was the hardest race of the weekend to handicap. Many of the fillies in this race are evenly matched, but the major difference is no can put pressure on Questing early. Questing is 2 for 2 since Kiaran Mclaughin has put her on dirt. She went gate to wire last time out in the Coaching Club American Oaks and I look for her to repeat that effort. Based on their prior races the rest of the field does not have the speed to put pressure on Questing. Grace Hall is very talented and I look her for to chase Questing all the way around and run a very solid second. Sea Island could improve the most with the stretch out in distance and I look for her to be a factor late.

GII Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes $200,000
1. Stephanie's Kitten
2. Better Lucky
3. Somali Lemonade

Monmouth Park
GIII Phillip Iselin Stakes $150,000
1. Toby's Corner
2. San Pablo
3. Gourmet Dinner


GII Sky Classic Stakes $250,000
1. Pender Harbour
2. Smart Bid
3. Forte Dei Marmi

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Weekend Stakes Races 8-4-12 and 8-5-12

          This is just one of many summer weekends that features Grade I racing coast to coast thanks to Del Mar and Saratoga. Del Mar host's the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch for fillies and mares on Saturday and the Grade II Best Pal Stakes for 2yo colts as well as two fillies on Sunday. Saratoga has a weekend full of top class racing. On Saturday three stakes races headline the card. The Whitney Invitational Handicap is the race of the weekend. $750,000 and a trip to the Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is on the line in this Grade 1 event. The card also features the Grade I Prioress Stakes for sprinting 3yo fillies, and the ungraded but very deep De La Rose Stakes. On Sunday the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes is the feature, the race for older male sprinters is shaping up as a good one.  Last but not least Mountaineer Racetrack in West Virginia has its biggest day of the year on Saturday. Headlined by the West Virginia Derby, the entire card is made up of stakes races making for a wonderful day out there. Lastly the talented filly Stopshoppingmaria, who finished second in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last November makes her seasonal debut in the first race at Saratoga on Saturday a race to certainly keep an eye on. My selections for the major races of the weekend are below.

Del Mar


GI Clement L. Hirsch Stakes $300,000
1. Amani
2. Include Me Out
3. Switch


GII Best Pal Stakes $150,000
1. Scherer Magic
2. Know More
3. Heir of Storm


GI Whitney Invitational Handicap $750,000 *Race of the Weekend

The Whitney is loaded with speed. Rule, Endorsement, Trickmeister, and Fort Larned are all horses who need to be on the lead, if not, right off it. The pace will likely be too hot for any of these four horses to hold on and hit the board. Rule is a solid horse and I look for him to put in a big effort. He may be the slowest of these four horses which may put him in a decent spot, but I do not think he is good enough.  Endorsement will not run as poorly as he did last time out in the Suburban. The issue for Endorsement is that he is inside of Trickmeister who will apply constant pressure. I look for these two horses to get in a speed duel early. Trickmeister is 1 for 1 at Saratoga, but this race reminds me a lot of the Donn Handicap and Trickmeister was just not good enough that day, I see a similar outcome on Saturday. Fort Larned has a developed into a very good racehorse, but not a Grade I racehorse, I think he will chase the pace, but in the end is simply not good enough to hit the board against these horses.
I believe the race sets up for a closer, this leaves Hunters Bay, Caixa Electronica,  Ron the Greek, Flat Out, and Hymm Book. Ron the Greek will be the post time favorite based off of his two Grade I wins this year. He has every opportunity in the Whitney to cement himself as the favorite for the Breeders Cup Classic, and Horse of the Year. I do not believe in Ron the Greek though. He got a perfect trip in the Stephen Foster last time out to nip Wise Dan by a nose. Although the pace scenario is in his favor again I am still not sold on Ron the Greek, so I will take a stand against him on Saturday. Hymm Book has been disappointing since his victory in the Donn Handicap. He has a similar closing kick to Ron the Greek, they both grind away late, neither possessing a devastating late closing kick. I liked his last race in the Suburban, He ran into Mucho Macho Man who demolished the field. I think he will enjoy the return to two turns, and hopefully the one turn race sharpened him up a bit. I look for Hymm Book to hit the board and out finish Ron the Greek, but I do not think Hymm Book is your winner. Flat Out returned off a layoff in the Monmouth Cup and his race was encouraging. He chased the pace came out late and could not run down Rule. He should improve in his second start off the layoff and he loves Saratoga which was proven by his two seconds here last year. I look for Flat Out to have first run on the horses running from deeper back in the field, but I think he will be second best. This leaves two big prices, Hunters Bay and Caixa Electronica. My selection is Hunters Bay. Hunters Bay has gotten good, he was won 4 out of his last 5 and comes into the Whitney off his first graded stakes score in the Dominion Day Handicap. Trained by Reade Baker, who is going to have a giant day (Tu Endie Wei) Hunters Bay to me provides the most upside in a race that has horses who are very similar. Hunters Bay faces a lot of adversity, he comes off a win on the Polytrack at Woodbine, now he comes to the dirt at Saratoga, and is running against the best horses he has ever faced. He is versatile and I look for him to sit a good trip in behind horses and get first run on the horses coming late. He is also a big price, which enhances the pick. I am taking a shot in here because I am not sold on the Older Male division and I am looking for a new player, and I believe Hunters Bay is that player.
1. Hunters Bay
2. Flat Out
3. Hymm Book

GI Prioress Stakes $300,000
1. Tu Endie Wei
2. Judy the Beauty
3. Jamaican Smoke

De La Rose Stakes $100,000
1. Julie's Love
2. Dealbata
3. Dancinginherdreams


GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes $400,000
1. Hamazing Destiny
2. Shackleford
3. Emcee


GII West Virginia Derby $750,000
1. Hansen
2. Penn's Grant
3. Le Bernadin