Saturday Stakes Coast to Coast

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.


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


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


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


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!


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