Archive for June, 2009

Bottom line, can either be beaten today?

June 27, 2009

A common question among racing fans today is: Can you make any money betting on Zenyatta and/or Rachel Alexandra today?

The answer is tough and ultimately it will be no in most cases.  However, there might be some ways you can pick off a decent exacta or trifecta, but let’s first take a look and see if either can be beaten.

MOTHER GOOSE – Rachel Alexandra

Chief Competition: Flashing and Malibu Prayer

After such a disappointing effort in the Black Eyed Susan it’s tough to consider Don’t Forget Gil a competitor for Rachel and Hopeful Image is simply an allowance horse.  Flashing has shown some potential in the past but her win in the Nassau County last time out was not nearly as good in reality as it looks on paper.  She staggered home after dueling her main rival into submission.  Her route wins have come when she was able to dawdle in the early stages and that will not happen today.  Malibu Prayer came to hand at once as she broke her maiden powerfully in a MSW at the Big A in April.  She followed up that win with a handy score at Philly in a N1X allowance race as she was never challenged on that afternoon.  She’s working steadily and is probably just as good when she can stalk the pace. 

Bottom Line: It seems highly unlikely that Rachel goes down.  A big exacta with Malibu Prayer seems a decent play.

VANITY – Zenyatta

Chief Competition – AllIcansayis Wow

After a win when she showed incredible versatility, Allicansayis Wow looked like a horse that might make some noise in stakes races.  After all, she was making only her first start in North America after eight efforts in the Emerald Isle.  Her first foray into American graded stakes company was the Milady, ultimately won by Zenyatta.  However, this other daughter of Street Cry did most of the dirty work that afternoon and was the only participant in the early pace that was in the vicinity of the big gal at the finish line.  She showed marked improvement in her 3rd place finish that afternoon and might just give the favorite a scare if she can get a better trip.

It is worth noting that Zenyatta’s worst race in her illustrious 10 race career was last year’s Vanity when she was fully extended to hold off Tough Tiz’s Sis.  Jockey Mike Smith moved her way too soon that afternoon and part of the reason for the premature run was a runaway speedster that abruptly came back to the field.  If #2 YOU LIFT ME UP is scratched so that she can run in tomorrow’s Beverly Hills Handicap, then #3 FOREST MELODY will be in position to take up the early running.  If a similar pace scenario plays out to last year’s Vanity, Zenyatta could be defeated for the first time.

BOTTOM LINE: Allicansayis Wow has an excellent chance to take down the leading lady.  Let’s play a big exacta with Zenyatta over Allicansayis Wow but reverse it and use both in multi-race exotics.

Note that show wagering has been cancelled in both the Mother Goose (G1) and Vanity (G1) today because of the likelihood of minus pools thanks to the gigantic favorites we’ve discussed.  Also, the 5th and 6th races are off the turf today at Belmont but the three events surrounding the Mother Goose in the $350,000 guaranteed Pick 4 are still on the weeds.

As Zenyatta seeks her 11th consecutive victory today, I’ll leave you with a view of Cigar’s 11th win in his magical 16 race win streak.

Saturday looking long on lovely ladies

June 22, 2009

The two best horses in America are slated to run on Saturday.  One will appear at her Southern California base looking for her 11th consecutive victory while the other will make her first start since a spectacular score in the Preakness Stakes against males.  They are separated by 3,000 miles, they probably will never face one another, but they are the best we have.  And they are females.

Fillies and mares like Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra don’t come along very often, but are universally cherished when they do.   One is a monster of a gal who does everything with inimitable ease, her ears never pinned back and her rider’s stick always in its holster.  The other seems to gallop her rivals into the ground, often giving her showboating jockey an opportunity to begin his celebration a few strides before the wire.  Their running styles are quite different, and the differences don’t stop there.

The biggest difference between the two may be the (un)aggressive nature of the campaigns their respective connections have created for them this year.  Rachel Alexandra romped against 3YO females in four starts this spring before she was purchased privately by current owner Jess Jackson.  He wanted a very quick return on his investment and announced that he’d start his newest horse against males in the Preakness Stakes.  With regular rider Calvin Borel clad in yellow and maroon, she defeated 12 males in wire-to-wire fashion.  Jackson said afterwards that the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro would definitely face males again in the future.

Zenyatta made her first start on May 23 against females in the Milady and won with typical ease, another handy win in what have been 10 terrific efforts to start her career.  Afterwards, when asked about shipping his super mare to other racetracks, her trainer said, “With the Breeders’ Cup out here, what’s the need?” he said. “When it gets closer to [Breeders’ Cup] time, you don’t want to ship around too much. Saratoga is a long way.” 

Forgive me for sounding harsh and don’t think for a second I lack any respect for Zenyatta, her accomplishments, or her connections, but that proclamation by Shirreffs was infuriating.  Zenyatta is going to be remembered as one of the best mares ever, but how good will she be considered if she comes across the country and wins the Go For Wand at Saratoga, or the Personal Ensign, or the Spinster?  What if she meets up with Rachel Alexandra in any of those events?  I suppose it’s easy to say that the onus of getting Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta into the same starting gate falls on the former’s connections with the Breeders’ Cup being on the west coast.  But, isn’t it at all possible that we could see these two square off on dirt?

Whether we get to see Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta face each other on dirt, on synthetics or at all won’t take away from the fact that we’ve seen so much from both individually.  This Saturday looks like it’ll just be another entry into the greatness tome describing this spectacular duo.  I’ll leave you with Zenyatta’s greatest performance to date, the 2008 Ladies Classic.

Saturday Stakes Coast to Coast

June 20, 2009

With horrible weather looming once again in New York, the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (G2) is now definitely the most anticipated event of the afternoon.  Let’s take a look at it plus the $250,000 New York Stakes (G2) at Belmon and the All Along (G3) at Colonial and the Affirmed (G3) at Hollywood.

NEW YORK STAKES

Can the de facto East Coast turf queen #3 CRITICISM be de-throned here?  It looks like a distinct possibility given the talent of her rivals, especially #6 DYNAFORCE.  That daughter of Dynaformer is making her 2nd start off a layoff after failing as the 9-10 favorite in the Gallorette on Preakness day.  She should be wound quite a bit tighter today and the expected turf condition really plays into her hands.  She prefers it damp, as evidenced by her strong 6 furlong breeze on a soft turf course last Tuesday.  The aforementioned favorite Criticism has done little wrong this year, winning three graded races and finishing a game third in another.  She has had everything her way in those three victories as she cruised on easy leads in each one.  The top pick will keep her a bit more honest early and the jury’s out on whether she can win from off the pace.  Nonetheless, she is the “now” horse and will be a deserving fave.  #4 DRESS REHEARSAL beat the top pick in the Orchid as she relaxed off the scorching pace set in that event.  She is returning off a break for trainer Bill Mott, who also conditions the top pick.  She will lay back and make one run, which will make her a late threat.
PICKS: 6-3-4

ALL ALONG

With both #4 I LOST MY CHOO and #5 ICON PROJECT staying in NY for the New York Stakes this field lacks a standout as the former of those two loomed the one to beat.  The pace situation is a bit murky in here and that could draw one to #9 JULIA TUTTLE.  Once a runaway speedster, this daughter of Giant’s Causeway has learned how to harness her speed and exhibited a nifty late kick in her most recent outing.  She may be tapped for a bit more speed today with very little early foot signed on, so look for her to get to business right away.  #12 ASTROLOGIE will be cutting back sharply in distance today after a dull effort in the La Prevoyante at Calder.  She was given a horrible ride that afternoon as she was rating off the pace, then prompted from the outside, re-bid and tired when asked the question.  She’s been freshened by trainer Christophe Clement and should appreciate the cutback in distance.  #7 INDESCRIBABLE is a consistent daughter of Pleasant Tap who is a graded stakes winner on turf and synthetics and is graded stakes placed on dirt.  She is going 3rd off a layof today and even though her last effort was a bit of a disappointment, she paired up her Thoro-Graph figure from the Doubledogdare victory.  She should be ready to roll based on her sharp worktab and with two of the main contenders scratched, she stands a big chance. 
PICKS: 9-12-7

COLONIAL TURF CUP

Past winners of the Colonial Turf Cup include champion English Channel, Showing Up, Summer Doldrums, and the late Sailor’s Cap.  Ten horses are bidding to join that strong group, including probable favorite #8 BATTLE OF HASTINGS.  Since coming to America this son of Royal Applause has won the Baldwin (G3) and La Puente at Santa Anita.  He ran a game second in the Crown Royal American Turf on Ky Oaks day, an oddly run race where most of the favorites never fired.  He’ll be stretched out a furlong off of his last start and the added ground may prove troublesome.  He’s also benefited from good pace setups in the past, so the jury’s out on how he’ll finish in a slow-paced longer race where a quick burst will not work.  #10 LIME RICKEY scored a decisive win in a N1X allowance at Belmont Park last time out and it was really an even better race than it looks on paper.  He broke poorly and was relegated to the back of the pack entering the backstretch.  He launched a woefully premature and wide move but stayed on gamely in the final furlong.  That win came against older horses, making it a very strong feat for a 3YO in May.

Of the two chalks I’m more inclined to take the latter.  However, there could be some serious value available with #6 MARK S THE COOLER.  A son of Johar, this guy’s connections obviously thought a lot of him from Day 1.  He was pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year despite still being a maiden.  He also ran in both the Real Quiet and CashCall Futurity (had something to do with the sponsor) as a maiden later in the year.  He finally earned his first victory in January on the lawn and that prompted the ill-conceived notion that he could be a Ky Derby horse. After three poor stakes races on dirt and synthetics he wound up back on the weeds last time out and ran a very strong race given the setup.  The pace in said N1X allowance was very slow as they went the opening half in :48 and 4/5.  He surged once clear in the lane and finished powerfully, showing that he really likes the weeds. 

The pace looks like it should be honest in here with #4 STRAIGHT STORY shaping up as the one to catch.  He should be joined towards the top by #5 TAKE THE POINTS, #7 FINAL COUNT, and #9 DOVER STREET ART to an extent.  That should set things up for Mark S the Cooler quite nicely, so let’s try to get him home at a good price.
PICKS: 5-10-4

AFFIRMED

All eyes are on the two railbirds in this heat as both #1 MISREMEMBERED and #2 GRAZEN have both won two in a row, including sharp allowance scores.  Both are winners around two turns and each likes to do his running on the front end.  That could make things a bit dicey in the early stages, especially since #6 FIDDLERS AFLEET has some speed of his own.  #3 CAPE TRUTH deserves a long loko as he returns to the Cushion track after a failed bid in the Lone Star Derby.  He scored a N1X victory back in late April under Garrett Gomez at this oval and he’s obviously a stakes-caliber competitor on synthetics.  Doug O’Neill’s other trainee, #5 SCOREWITHCATER, should also appreciate the return to synthetics as his dirt efforts went in descending order: good, okay, terrible.  He was last seen on the west coast winning a N1X under Garrett Gomez and he’ll benefit from a hot pace, should it develop.
PICKS: 3-5-2

Good luck on Saturday!

Sunset Racing, no turf, huge carryover

June 19, 2009

Things will get started a bit later today as first post at Belmont is 3:00 PM EDT and a decent card looms even despite what will be a host of scratches thanks to all turf races being moved to the main track.  Click here for analysis on Friday’s Belmont card.

Churchill Downs will run the first night card in the history of the illustrious racetrack with first post slated for 6:00 PM EDT.  The middle Pick 4 (Races 4-7) will have a guaranteed pool of $100,000 and a $.50 minimum.  The racing at Churchill should end right about the time that the Pick 6 begins at Hollywood Park.  There’s a massive carryover of better than $522,000 and you can bet a great deal will be put into the pool thanks to it being a Friday night.

I’ll be back later with a look at the Hollywood Pick 6 and any thoughts on the first ever Churchill Downs night program.

Here comes the rain again…

June 18, 2009

The steady rain that’s falling at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, NY will do more damage over the weekend than what will fall at Belmont Park.  However, if you’re getting tired of rain, sloppy tracks, and races taken off the turf you are not alone.  Since Memorial Day there have been 63 scheduled turf races at Belmont Park and an amazing 28 of them have been transferred to the main track.  Included in the races moved to the dirt was the Hill Prince, which lost its graded status and became the first graded stakes race to be moved off the turf in New York this year.200236712-001

The forecast for this weekend is not pretty, you can see it here, as rain is expected today, tomorrow night, and all day on Saturday.  Are you wondering if the New York Handicap might be transferred to the main track?  That would take a deluge the likes of which is not being predicted but remember that meteorologists have one of the only jobs in the world where you can be consistently wrong and stay employed.

For those of you who use DRF Formulator, you can edit the running lines in races that are taken off the turf so you can see only wet track efforts.  You can also delete scratched horses, which is advantageous in races reduced to just a handful of horses.

Good luck with Thursday’s program and to any of you playing the Pick 6 carryover at Hollywood Park.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at stakes races around the country.  Until then, here’s a replay of the Sheepshead Bay Handicap, won by Criticisum, who will be a heavy favorite in Saturday’s soggy New York Handicap.

The Week Ahead: Virginia is for lovers

June 17, 2009

While the racing world is focused on Ascot, we Americans must find something stateside to latch onto and this Saturday’s $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (G3) is awfully appealing.  It has drawn a field of ten with Battle of Hastings installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite.  He is extremely vulnerable in this spot because of the increased distance and his inability to handle any trip-related adversity.

The All Along (G3), which is quickly becoming one of the toughest G3 stakes races of the year, supports the CTC and has drawn a bulky field of 12.  Note that there are $0.50 trifectas and $0.10 superfectas on all races at Colonial Downs.

The feature on Saturday at Belmont is the $150,000 New York Handicap for older fillies and mares going 10 furlongs on the inner turf course.  Multiple graded stakes winner Criticism, who is 3 for 4 this year against stakes company, looms a strong favorite based on her recent tally in the Sheepshead Bay. 

I’ll be back later in the week to look at a number of stakes races nationwide, including the Affirmed at Hollywood, which serves as a local prep for the Swaps in July.  Until then, take a look at last year’s Colonial Turf Cup, won by recent Poker winner Sailor’s Cap in a driving rainstorm.

Saturday at the Races…Live!

June 13, 2009

MACHO AGAIN?  RAIL TRIP=OVERRATED

I will readily admit that I’m not a Macho Again fan.  In fact, I attempted to block most of the also-rans from the 3YO division last year out of my mind.  He proved me wrong today as he worked out a good trip, benefited from the 3rd and 4th place finishers having trip problems, and had just enough pace to set up his late run.

In the other major stake in the handicap division, Informed scored in the Californian from just off the pace.  The new strategy for 2-1 favorite Rail Trip didn’t make much of a difference as he looked good coming off the turn but tired late, proving clearly that he is not a 9 furlong animal.  It’d work best for trainer Ron Ellis to shorten him up and look at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile rather than the Classic.  Of course, the progeny of Jump Start have done well on the turf as well…

I’ll be back in the morning to discuss the Belmont Pick 6 pending weather-related changes. 

PRESIOUS PASSION WON’T BE DENIED!

They don’t get much more game than Presious Passion.  He was headed around the far turn of the Monmouth Stakes but came back gamely to score.  What a race!

UGH…NON-STARTER AND NO ZIPSTER

Our Pick 4 was done before it started as #7 CALL TIGER was declared a non-starter, giving us an extra ticket on #6 BULLARA.  Of course, that runner finished a well-beaten third and we had no part of #11 THE ZIPSTER.  Looks like time to cover in a Pick 3.

 PICK 4; CHURCHILL STAKES BEGIN

The first of five stakes races at Churchill Downs just finished with jockey Alan Garcia taking them all the way on Florentino, who’s proven to be a very useful turfer.  The All-Stakes Pick 4 at Churchil is about to begin with the Northern Dancer.

In the $350,000 guaranteed Pick 4 at Belmont, here’s our ticket which is adjusted for scratches:

Race Seven: 2,6,7,8

Race Eight: 1,5,8

Race Nine: 3,6,8

Race Ten: 1,4

TOTAL: $72

Good luck!

RAIN ON THE WAY

We’re one race away from the Pick 4 starting and the rain is on the way.  Click here to view the current radar image.  Remember that if you play the Pick 4 and one race in the sequence is moved from turf to dirt then that leg plays ‘ALL.’

I’m constructing my ticket now and will be back after the 6th with musings from that event and my ticket.  Good luck!

WHAT WAS THAT?????

Javier Castellano ought to have some explaining to do.  What exactly prompted him to make that ridiculously premature move on Music Note?  He effectively forced his entrymate into a quicker 3rd quarter and softened her up for the final furlong when she was passed by Seattle Smooth.

Hats off to the winner but a big “what were you thinking?” to Castellano. (2:45 PM EDT)

DOMINGUEZ DIRECTS BEAUTIFUL MUSIC

If indecision clouds your vision then Ramon Dominguez’s sight must be 20/10.  Part of the reason why I’m such a fan of the lanky, whip-flailing jockey is because he is incredibly decisive.  When Edgar Prado and Seattle Brew, the expected pacesetter, got out of the gate slowly (which is becoming the norm for Prado) Dominguez took the initiative and never looked back aboard Laureate Conductor to win Race 3. 

The turf looked fine and the slow splits had a lot more to do with a pitifully mundane tempo.  It’s very frustrating that the 7th and 10th were taken off the turf, not only because they’re part of the Pick 4 sequence but because the 5th was left on the weeds.  Let’s hope for a lot of sunshine in upstate NY in August because a Saratoga meet full of “the 5th is on but the 7th is off and the 1st was switched to the Mellon” sounds like no fun.

Good luck in the Ogden Phipps…the three-headed monster currently has better than 64k of the 67k in the place pool.  (2:10 PM EDT)

Sumptuous Saturday Stakes

June 13, 2009

The Triple Crown may be over but there are still a number of terrific races week in and week out across the country.  The centerpoint of today’s action is the $700,000 Stephen Foster (G1) for older horses at Churchill Downs.  The Ogden Phipps at Belmont and Californian at Hollywood both feature a number of major players in every major division and the Monmouth Stakes has a nice lineup of older turfers.

STEPHEN FOSTER

#4 ARSON SQUAD has had two very unlucky trips in his two starts in 2009 as he raced against the grain of a strong track bias in the Donn.  He then endured a horrendous trip in the Dubai World Cup as he was checked sharply down the backstretch and nearly fell over the rail.  He has generally needed a race off the bench in the past but he’s going to get a great pace setup today and it’s awfully encouraging that the best jockey in the country is taking the mount on this son of Brahms.  #5 RESEARCHER is making his first start off a short layoff having recently scored in the inaugural Charles Town Classic.  He has been at his bst over the Chuck Town bull-ring but he’s getting a great rider on board today and his running style makes him a good fit in this spot.  #6 BULLSBAY has been sensational in three tries over the CD main track and he exits a sharp win in the Alysheba on Ky Oaks day.  He will get the jump on a horse like Arson Squad and will also benefit from the pace scenario.
PICKS: 4-5-6

OGDEN PHIPPS

The three-headed monster of #1 SEVENTH STREET, #1A MUSIC NOTE, and #1A SEA CHANTER will be very, very tough as Sheikh Mohammed’s operation seeks another Grade I score.  Music Note is undoubtedly the most well-known part of the entry as she won multiple Grade I races in NY last year.  Her stablemate Seventh Street is an up and comer as she recently scored in the Apple Blossom, which was her first stakes win in only her 2nd try.  They will be a tough combination, even if Sea Chanter doesn’t fire.  #3 SEATTLE SMOOTH earned another graded stakes win last time out, her third in a row, as she scored with a nifty late move once clear.  She is going 3rd off a layoff today and should get a decent pace setup.  Consider her a major player for the win.  #4 COLOR ME UP is a cut below the entry and the 2nd pick but she deserves some consideration given that she ran from start to finish in her last outing.  She should be within striking distance throughout but will need some luck to visit the winner’s circle.
PICKS: 1/1A/1X-3-4

MONMOUTH STAKES

#5 STRIKE A DEAL looks like he was in need of a race when he went postward in the Dixie (G2) last time out on the Preakness undercard.  A wide trip in mid-pack behind a slow pace left him a tad short in the stretch drive but he certainly gained a great deal from that outing.  He ran the best race of his 2008 campaign with CC Lopez aboard and his running style seems to make him a very good fit in this affair.  #1 PROUDINSKY excels on turf that’s less than firm and the rating on the Monmouth oval at present time is ‘good.’  He came up short in the Turf Classic on the Derby undercard but that probably had a lot to do with the quality of competition.  He’s another who likes to stalk from mid-pack and make one late run, so the expected steady pace should help his cause.  #7 PRESIOUS PASSION will have to deal with #6 BUDDY’S HUMOR in the early stages but he showed the ability to stalk the pace and fire when ready in the Sunshine Millions Turf back in January.  Similar tactics today would make him quite tough, especially given that he’ll be wound tighter off the short layoff.
PICKS: 5-1-7

CALIFORNIAN

The connections of probable heavy favorite #3 RAIL TRIP made their intentions clear in this spot the other day and they’re planning to go right to the top from the starting gate.  He chased the wire-to-wire winner in the Mervyn LeRoy, #8 BALL FOUR, last time out but if he hooks that one in here the beneficiaries will be those at the back of the pack early.  #11 DAKOTA PHONE finished a game third in the LeRoy, only a half-length behind Rail Trip and the moderate pace that day certainly worked against this son of Zavata.  He should be wound tighter for this, his 3rd start off a layoff and given the large amount of speed in here, he’ll be on the move late.  #7 INFORMED is going 2nd off the Dubai trip and returns to the synthetic Cushion Track today.  He seems to be better on the synthetics than on dirt and that will help him this afternoon, as will the projected hot pace. 
PICKS: 11-7-4-3

I’ll be back later with periodic live updates throughout the Belmont card.  Note that Races 7 and 10 have been taken off the turf.  With today being the 2nd annual Monmouth Stakes, here’s a look at last year’s edition, which was won by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown:

Life after the Belmont…

June 10, 2009

My dear mother said to me on Sunday afternoon, “what happens in racing now that the Triple Crown is over?”  I had to think about it for a second because when you’ve just emerged from the thick of racing’s unofficial first half, you forget that the Breeders’ Cup does loom on the horizon.  There’s still a long way to go and the first of numerous big cards across the continent will be this Saturday at Churchill Downs where the $700,000 Stephen Foster Handicap will be contested under the Twin Spires.

At Belmont Park, the $300,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) will be the centerpiece of the weekend.  Up to this point, it seems like the Ogden Phipps may have Godolphin blue wrapped all over it.  Recent Darley-to-Godolphin transfer Seventh Street is scheduled to make her first start since an emphatic victory in the Apple Blossom (G1) way back in early April at Oaklawn.  She’ll be joined by stablemate Music Note, who is slated to make her first start of 2009.  She was a multiple GI winner in 2008 and ended her campaign with a sharp 3rd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic behind Zenyatta. 

As of Monday the only other confirmed starters for the Ogden Phipps were Seattle Smooth and Color Me Up, the 1-2 finishers in the Shuvee last month.  Neither half of that pair inspires much confidence as Seattle Smooth looked awfully uninspiring in her Shuvee victory.  She’s yet to run a fast race in two tries since returning from a long layoff, and she’ll probably be overbet in this spot.

The aforementioned Churchill card will include, in addition to the Foster, the Fleur de Lis, Regret, Jefferson Cup, and Northern Dancer.  I’ll see you back on Friday for a look at the major stakes races of the weekend!

Until then, here’s a look at the 2008 Stephen Foster, won by Horse of the Year Curlin, called by the late Luke Kruytbosch:

Initial Belmont Day observations

June 7, 2009

Belmont day has come and gone and we were treated to a number of awesome performances with the day capped by Summer Bird’s victory.  Here are some idle thoughts:

1. Does Just Ben’s smashing victory go another step towards validating the Gulfstream track maintenance staff despite all of the flak they received after Florida Derby day?  Just Ben got a 95 Beyer in breaking his maiden at Gulfstream and after a poor race on a sealed track at Churchill he’s run two big races again.

2. The Desormeaux Pick 3 of Convocation-Pennington-Sette E Mezzo was most impressive because only the first of the trio really stood out as a strong favorite.  Pennington was given a masterful ride as KD took the initiative right from the gate and found his way into a perfect pacesetting trip.  3

3. Is there a horse in the country that’s more fun to watch than Fabulous Strike when he’s on his game?  After a heart-breaking defeat in the Carter he was given some time to re-group and he rewarded Todd Beattie for his patience.  Fabulous Strike has all-time great speed when he does his thing.  It’s also great to have Benny the Bull back as there was no shame in his runner-up effort.  Now if only we could have a dirt surface for them to run on in November…

4. Overbet/Overrated horse Part 1: Desert Key- After a good summer in 2008 Desert Key was considered an upper tier sprinter as the calendar turned to 2009.  He is now winless in two starts and ran today like he will never contend with Grade I sprinters.

5. If you’ve been following Belmont for the last five weeks you know this quite clearly: Angel Penna, Jr. is the best trainer no one knows or talks about.  He has been winning with all types of horses of late and Diamondrella NEVER looked like a miler to me.  He just missed last week with Warm Shower (coming off a MSW win) in the Sands Point, won an optional seller on Sunday with Baletti and now won the Just A Game with Diamondrella.  Quite a week.

6. Forever Together doesn’t like heavy turf.  That seems clear as she’s never had the same kick on wet turf, so it’s a good thing when it counts this year the turf will be firm.  That is unless you think some weather pattern will descend on Santa Anita in early November.

7. My day would have been a complete disaster if not for Munnings.  I had a bit of win money and singled him in a Pick 3 but didn’t have the courage to play the Pick 4.  Not a bad thing all in all because Summer Bird was one I planned to let get by me in the multi-race plays.

8. Is This Ones for Phil a good horse?  I just can’t seem to decide as he’s now had two troubled trips in a row with ground-saving runs, so perhaps he’s a horse who prefers being outside.  He’s going to be the best price he’s been in a while the next time he goes to the post so I’m keeping the faith for now.

9. Overbet/Overrated Horse Part 2: Hello Broadway- This Barclay Tagg trainee needs the turf, a rest, or something else because he is woefully off form and really seems nothing like the horse who finished 2008 in good form.  He has been quite bad since running 2nd to Capt. Candyman Can in the Hutcheson.

10.  Are you already excited about the King’s Bishop if the field includes (with more to come):

Munnings
Capt. Candyman Can
Cash Refund
Everyday Heroes
Zensational  

11. Sunland Park’s march towards consideration as a serious winter/spring racetrack picked up even more steam with Gabby’s Golden Gal scoring in the Acorn.  Granted, her win may have been aided by the track condition but a 1:34 and change mile is awfully strong.

12. Dear Bob Baffert,

Please ditch California and come to the east coast.  You really, really, really need a dirt course to run your horses on.  Your win rate on dirt over the last two years is 32%.  Pack up Jill and the youngster and trek eastward. 

13. Gio Ponti and Better Talk Now are two of my favorite horses of the last ten years, so the finish of the Manhattan was quite exciting.  Of course, if the latter had gotten going a bit sooner my Pick 3 would have been pretty solid.

14. Overbet/Overrated Horse Part 3: Zambezi Sun- Has this guy been a dud or what? 

15. Summer Bird is a good horse.  I had been among his biggest detractors for quite some time and can admit that he proved me wrong.  It’s nice to see horses from unknown backgrounds win big races and in that vein, the Triple Crown series has been satisfying. 

16. Isn’t the summer and fall looking exciting with the 3YOs proving to be a deep lot whether on turf, dirt, sprinting, or going long?  I’d say so.

Here’s the Belmont replay, in case you’ve somehow missed it.