Archive for June, 2010

Big Weekend on tap in Iowa

June 25, 2010

It’s the biggest weekend of the year, racing-wise, in the State of Iowa.  Tonight there are three stakes races on tap and three more are slated for tomorrow.  The centerpiece tonight is the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, and this year’s field will enable the folks at Prairie Meadows to make a strong case for it to be made a Grade III in 2011.  The very tepid morning line favorite is #8 ATTA BOY ROY, who burst onto the national scene with an upset win in the Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard.  He was last seen in the Aristides finishing a solid second after breaking slowly from his rail post.

The first stakes event on tonight’s card, Race 6, is the $100,000 Saylorville, a 6 furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.  The morning line favorite is #7 SECRET GYPSY, who enters off a 2nd place finish in the Winning Colors at Churchill Downs on Memorial Day.  I’ll be going to #4 MISS HEATHER LEE, who’s making her first start for trainer Chris Hartman, the 3rd leading trainer at PrM.  Each of her siblings have won on dirt and this gal ran a couple of bang-up races at Hollywood, which has the synthetic surface that most resembles dirt in California. I’m also using #3 PALANKA CITY, who comes in off of a handy win in a handicap at Fairmount Park.  She is a mare who doesn’t have to bring her racetrack with her as she’s earned 11 wins at 6 different tracks in her 21 race career.  Her 2010 debut didn’t go terribly well as she was beaten handily by One Smokin Lady in the Spring Fever at Oaklawn.  She did exact some revenge, though as she cruised in the Carousel later in the meet, rating kindly off of a white-hot pace and kicking clear late.  Her speed and versatility make her very dangerous in here as jockey Chris Emigh should be able to put her wherever he wants in the opening stages.  Emigh has won 9 times when riding this gal from 13 attempts.

Good luck with tonight’s stakes races at Prairie Meadows, I’ll be back tomorrow to recap these races and preview the three stakes on Saturday night, which include the Iowa Oaks, Iowa Derby, and the G2 Cornhusker Handicap!

The seventh race is the $100,000 Iowa Distaff for older fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth.  Bob Baffert is shipping in #1 WYNNING RIDE off of a 2nd place finish in the Milady for her 3rd start off a lengthy layoff.  This daughter of Candy Ride made two starts on conventional dirt last year and the first resulted in a 3rd place finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks.  The other came in the Alabama and was disastrous as she finished 7th of 8, beaten over 30 lengths.  Her two efforts this year have been respectable but you have to wonder if she’s ready for stakes company. 

#3 EUPHONY is back at Prairie Meadows, where she’s picked up stakes wins each of the last two years, including this race in 2009.  That was actually her last win but that’s of little concern considering she has caught sloppy tracks and tougher company since then.  She enters off of a 3rd place finish in the Arlington Matron and she and many other closers in that field were compromised by the dawdling pace set by eventual winner Tizaqueena.  They’re probably not going to fly early in here but jockey Cliff Berry should have this daughter of Forest Wildcat positioned right off the pace and pounce when ready.  Trainer Donnie Von Hemel is a dazzling 44% with horses going from synthetics to dirt and his ROI with those types is $2.91.


Belmont Pick 6 Carryover LIVE!

June 9, 2010

1:13 PM EDT

What did Champagne D’Oro, Winchester, and Drosselmeyer leave behind after their upset wins on Saturday?  A massive Pick 6 carryover of more than $930,000.  The card for Wednesday was drawn long before any of those longshots scored and it’s definitely one that will challenge punters with a mixture of turf sprints, conditioned claimers, and NY bred events.  Note that the 9th race will be run on the main track after being transferred from the inner turf course due to the impending rain.

I’ll be back throughout the day with thoughts on the sequence, click here to view my selections and analysis for the entire card.  Good luck!

Carryover, stakes make for bountiful Belmont

June 5, 2010

The Belmont Stakes is now only hours away and while the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown may lack the Derby and Preakness winner, it has no shortage of quality.  There are two colts, First Dude and Ice Box, on the verge of ascending to the top of the 3YO ranks with a win in the “Test of the champion.”

Here’s a look at all of the graded stakes races on the program.  Best of luck and I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap.

Race 6, The Woody Stephens

#1 EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY is cutting back in distance off of an uncharacteristically bad effort in the Derby Trial for trainer Gary Contessa.  This guy has run a couple of very nice races this year at 6 and 7 furlongs, so the cutback is going to do him a world of good.  The rail draw will force jockey Ramon Dominguez to send this colt to the lead, but that’s his game and he’ll be very tough to catch if able to get free and clear down the backside.  #2 REMAND is a bit of an outsider given his apparent lack of class and somewhat dull recent efforts, but the pace stands to be in his favor.  Trainer John Terranova has hit at a rate of 19% with horses cutting back from routes to sprints on the dirt over the last five years.  This colt will likely be last of all headed around the far turn but should make some noise in the stretch drive.  #5 D’FUNNYBONE looks like he might be moving in the wrong direction after a very poor effort in the Withers last time out.  He now cuts back to seven panels and should be stalking right from the outset given the strong inside speed.  A return to the good form he was in earlier this year will make him plenty dangerous at a relatively fair price in the 5/2 neighborhood. 

Race 7 ,The Just A Game Handicap

This is a serious class test for #4 FANTASIA as she has come up wanting in the stretch of each of her prior efforts in America.  Her best races in Europe came against softer company but she did not have a clean trip last time out and some of her races across the pond give the indication that she is better on firm turf.  Trainer Jonathan Sheppard had the option of running Rainbow View or this gal here and he opted for this daughter of Sadler’s Wells, which speaks a bit to his confidence in her.  #5 PROVISO defeated males in the Frank Kilroe Mile last time out with an electrifying burst of speed from just off the pace.  Her turf accomplishments speak for themselves and she’s been working lights out for her return to the races.  The biggest knock on her is that she enjoyed a perfect trip in the Kilroe and the final time of that event was slightly slower than straight 3YOs ran in the Pasadena an hour and a half or so before.  All signs point to this gal as the one to beat but don’t kid yourself, there are some question marks.  #3 PHOLA has found a way to get good pretty quickly for trainer Todd Pletcher as she’s won a Grade III then Grade II and now looks for the coveted Grade I.  The wet turf probably helped her in her last two starts but her record between 8 and 9 furlongs on the lawn is very strong and you can count on her moving in the right direction late.

Race 8, The True North

It’s tough to argue with what #2 CUSTOM FOR CARLOS has done this year as he’s a neck away from being 3 for 3 during a carefully managed campaign by Eddie Kenneally.  He gamely tracked down Chief of Affairs last time out and that runner came back to win a sprint race at Indiana over the Count Fleet show horse, Riley Tucker.  The latter then reversed the decision in last week’s Aristides, so this guy beat live horses in his Oaklawn triumph.  The rail is a bit of a tricky draw but it wouldn’t be surprising if jockey Jose Lezcano gets this guy out quickly and takes the race to his rivals right from the gate.  #5 SNAPSHOT was bet down to 2-1 in the Maryland Sprint Handicap last time out  and a dull break from the gate completely ruined his chances.  He stayed on well while racing between horses and wound up checking in 5th beaten just over two lengths.  The move from the inside to the middle of the field post position-wise will help this son of Awesome Again.  #8 CHECKLIST broke through with a tremendous performance in a N2X optional claimer last time out, so he obviously arrives here in terrific form.  The lead could be his for the taking if some of his rivals inside take back, but this son of Gone West does not need it to be successful. 

Race 9, The Acorn

#6 AMEN HALLELUJAH is cutting back in distance for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. after trying the Kentucky Oaks in her most recent outing.  That effort pretty much sealed the deal that this gal is a sprinter/miler who’s going to be more effective around one turn.  Thus, the setup today is completely in her favor and she seems to be preparing beautifully for this event with four workouts since the Oaks day 6th place finish.  #8 MUCH REJOICING is chief among the “fresh faces” in here as she’ll be trying stakes competition for the first time with her 2-2 record in tow.  She was a rather handy winner at first asking for trainer Jimmy Toner, who very rarely wins with firsters, so talent is something this gal clearly possesses.  She beat a very strong field in her last start at Keeneland as four horses from that race came back to win their next starts, including a couple of stakes races, including that of #9 BUCKLEUPBUTTERCUP on the Derby undercard.  If this gal benefited from the time off she’ll be involved from the start under Alan Garcia.  #2 TANDA has quickly become the best 3YO filly sprinter in California and she’s now stretching out to a mile for the first time today.  Her pedigree indicates the stretchout won’t be an issue and her dam has dropped three foals to race prior to this daughter of Sweetnorthernsaint, with all of them winning multiple races on conventional dirt.  A poor effort from this gal would surprise me.

Race 10, The Manhattan

Sometimes you have to think outside the box and that type of approach makes #11 EXPANSION a win candidate at a huge price in this affair.  He has run two rather ordinary races in a couple of graded stakes events this year but he had valid excuses in both and that’s enough to give him a pass for those two.  His Red Smith win came when he rallied from well off a very sluggish pace before unleashing a tremendous late run.  The pace scenario will work in his favor today and this daistance has always been a nice fit for this son of Maria’s Mon.  #1 GIO PONTI needs no introduction as he had a phenomenal 2009 where he won all over the map.  Trainer Christophe Clement seemed a bit nervous when asked about his condition because the horse coughed two weeks ago. Clement assured everyone he’s fine but that’s just another item to heap on a growing stack of reasons to try and beat this heavy fave.  #9 JUST AS WELL rallied gamely in the Dixie last time out but came up marginally short at the end.  This guy has had a hard time finding the wire and that has to make you nervous, but the fact that he’ll be moving late into a solid pace helps his chances.

Race 11, The Belmont

For someone who liked and bet on #6 ICE BOX in the Kentucky Derby and #11 FIRST DUDE in the Preakness, it’s tough to toss that allegiance aside but #5 FLY DOWN gets the nod in this “Test of a Champion.”  His handy Dwyer win was absolutely spectacular as he just subjugated the field after a big move into the stretch.  The distance will be no issue as he’s kin to multiple dirt route winners and his running style makes him a nice fit for this affair.  If the big ‘Dude gets hooked a bit early then this son of Mineshaft will be in position to capitalize.  The aforementioned First Dude is coming off a tremendous 2nd place finish in the Preakness where he made the lead, was confronted then nearly held off his rivals late.  The lead looks like it’s his for the taking today and that makes him particularly dangerous as Ramon Dominguez can win races from anywhere on the track.  If Ice Box can get his motor cranked then he’ll be heard from in the waning stages, especially if jockey Jose Lezcano can nurse him along before turning this into a two furlong dash. 

Click here for the rest of my selections, available for each NYRA racing day