First things first, there was exciting news from trainer Christophe Clement regarding likely Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti. He’ll be back in 2010 and his early season target will be the Dubai World Cup, slated to be run over a synthetic surface for the first time.
In other news regarding Breeders’ Cup participants (or those who wouldn’t make it in the gate in this case) Quality Road arrived safely at Churchill this morning and will van to Belmont Park on Monday morning. He’s slated to begin his stay in NY with a lengthy gate session with former NYRA starter Bob Duncan. Here’s to hoping he bounces back quickly and we can see him in the Cigar Mile, a race I firmly believe plays to his strengths.
As far as stakes racing nationwide today, there’s no stake race in NY, a rarity nowadays, but the Stuyvesant failed to draw sufficient entries and was cancelled. The biggest race on the national landscape is the Mrs. Revere and a terrific 14 horse field has been drawn for the 8.5 furlong turf event.
It seems reasonable to bet against #7 HOT CHA CHA despite her consecutive wins in graded stakes races on the turf. She enjoyed an absolutely perfect trip in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland last time out and while she should get another great setup pace-wise, these are the types of horses you should steer clear from at what’s likely to be an underlaid price. #1 C.S. SILK has been a disappointment this year but seems to have found a niche on the turf with two wins in three starts. She probably wasn’t prepared for graded stakes company on the grass when she ran in the Pucker Up back in September at Arlington Park. She rebounded out of that event in fine fashion taking a N3X on the weeds at Keeneland four weeks ago. She should get a good trip in here stalking the pace as there are confirmed speedsters to her outside.
I’m not particularly keen on Valley View, Division 1 winner Bluegrass Princess but some of the also-rans in both of those events deserve prime consideration here. #10 MISS KELLER has run on two boggy courses since coming to America and she ran a significantly improved race last time out when narrowly missing in the aforementioned Valley View. She ran the best race of her career on a good-firm course at Down Royal in June and thus should move forward on a dry course. Like many of the late runners in here she seems poised to enjoy a great setup pace-wise as there are no fewer than 3 definite speedsters in this bulky field. I’ll use 1,3,10,11 and back-up with 4,5,7,14.
BONNIE HEATH TURF CUP
In this race a year ago, #8 SOLDIER’S DANCER was expected to cruise as he was sent off at 1-1. He lost his rider at the start and so went his bid for a third consecutive stakes win. He’s battled some injury problems this year but has been very good when at his best and is certainly facing a field that is vastly inferior to him talent-wise. The most likely upsetter might be #6 MEAN SAX, who ran a much better race in his last turf outing than it might appear on paper. He made the first move into a collapsing pace that afternoon and ended up tiring in the final yards. He should enjoy a good stalking trip in this spot given the little amount of speed and his proven early ability.
CARL G. ROSE CLASSIC
Trainer Marty Wolfson is unleashing an onslaught on the Florida Million program and he has the heavy favorite, #3 IT’S A BIRD in this spot. He has run two dreadful races in a row in the Woodward at Saratoga and the Meadowlands Cup at the Swamp in Jersey but he should move forward facing softer company this afternoon and really seems to tower over the other entrants in here.
Good luck with all of the Saturday races, including the large number that we didn’t highlight here! Remember that TVG has a free qualifier for the DRF/NTRA Handicapping Championship available at www.ntra.com. There’s no entry fee and the top three finishers win entries into the NHC.