Archive for September, 2010

Road to the Breeders’ Cup: Woodbine Mile

September 19, 2010

Despite being a new stakes race by general standards, the $1,000,000 Woodbine Mile has quickly become one of the most important Breeders’ Cup preps in North America.  A bulky and competitive field has been assembled and that’s basically the norm for this event.  Let’s take a closer look and hopefully assemble the correct pieces in this handicapping puzzle:

Aside from a failed bid against top competition at Leopardstown, #12 FAMOUS NAME has had a perfect 2010 and seems to be at his best in this, his 5YO season.  Trainer Dermot Weld, who has a history of shipping horses into the United  States with success, all the way back to Go and Go, including Dimitrova, Pine Dance, and Winchester.  There was basically no chance he was going to class up with horses like Cape Blanco and Rip Van Winkle in the Irish Champion, so this can be construed as a class drop.  This son of Dansili has run well on wet turf courses and the super-size lawn at Woodbine was still a bit damp on Saturday.  If you are of the belief that boggy courses generally favor late runners then #2 VICTOR’S CRY is one to take a long look at given his price.  He was bested by #11 THE USUAL Q.T. last time out but this son of Street Cry is more of a miler and should benefit from the one-turn configuration given his roots as a sprinter.  The Usual Q.T. has done absolutely nothing wrong in his stellar career as he continues to rack up wins left and right.  His 4th place finish in the Dubai Duty Free, which might be the toughest turf race in the world, will never be appreciated by those that are unfamiliar with international racing.  I’m anticipating the winner comes from these three but can understand why anyone would give a local like #13 GRAND ADVENTURE long look as he loves this course and now returns to a distance at which he can be successful.  SELECTIONS:  12-2-11-13

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Road to the Breeders’ Cup: Garden City

September 18, 2010

I previewed which races I’d be taking a look at on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup last week and there are two Grade I races this weekend that have ramifications for the two-day extravaganza at Churchill Downs.  Today it’s the Garden City at Belmont, which goes as Race 9 and is also the 3rd leg of the $300,000 Guaranteed Pick 4.

GARDEN CITY:

You don’t often see performances that are as dichotomous to the flow of a race as the Virginia Oaks effort from #1 CHECK THE LABEL.  After breaking slowly she was relegated to the back of the pack, continued to race well behind a very slow pace, advanced under skillful handling then inhaled her rivals under no more than mild urging.  After the Lake Placid was washed off the turf trainer Graham Motion opted to give this gal a bit of time and she comes into this event with a steady worktab.  There’s enough pace to set up her late bid and a damp late summer course will give her no issue.  #7 SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN is getting an extra furlong to work with after coming up short in consecutive races at a mile on the Saratoga inner turf course.  This gal has lacked the killer instinct it takes to win graded stakes races and is certainly going to have to elevate her game to contend for a major share here.  That doesn’t preclude her finishing second or making noise in the final furlong.  SELECTIONS: 1-7-4

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the Woodbine Mile.  Best of luck!

Belmont’s arrival means Cup looms

September 13, 2010

It took some time for me to collect my thoughts after the recently concluded Saratoga meet.  It was another special 40 days at America’s grandest racetrack and my own visit reminded me why it is the single place that any racing fan must go in their lifetime.  From the intoxicating Adirondack air to the majestic old grandstand to the Hattie’s chicken sandwiches, oh I could go on and on.

With racing shifting to Belmont we still have plenty of terrific racing to look forward to as the first of nine Grade I races will be run on Saturday.  The Garden City will be headlined by Check the Label, the Sands Point and Virginia Oaks winner who was scratched out of the Lake Placid upstate when it was transferred to the main track.  The major Breeders’ Cup preps kick in on September 25 with the Gallant Bloom and continues on October 2 with “Super  Saturday” featuring the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Beldame, Flower Bowl, Vosburgh, and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.  The following Saturday there are three more Grade Is including the Jamaica, Frizette, and Champagne.

Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup, the post times for Friday and Saturday, November 5th and 6th have been released.  These will be the post times on Friday the 5th for the Breeders’ Cup races, with the order still to be determined (all times EDT):

5th Race 4:10 PM
6th Race 4:50 PM
7th Race 5:30 PM
8th Race 6:10 PM
9th Race 6:50 PM
BC Ladies’ Classic 7:30 PM

This is what the line-up will look like on Saturday:

4th Race 1:50 PM
5th Race 2:30 PM
6th Race 3:15 PM
7th Race 3:55 PM
8th Race 4:40 PM
9th Race 5:20 PM
BC Turf S. 6:00 PM
BC Classic S. 6:45 PM

We are destined to see a handful of races under the newly installed lights at Churchill Downs and that is certain to add to the excitement of the proceedings.  In an effort to get prepared for the Breeders’ Cup I’ll have some handicapping thoughts up for the following races over the next five weeks:

Sept 18-19: Garden City (Bel), Woodbine Mile (WO)

Sept 25: Gallant Bloom (Bel), Super Derby (LaD), Pennsylvania Derby (Parx)

Oct 2: Cotillion (Parx), Full card Belmont, Hawthorne Gold Cup (Haw), Indiana Derby (Hoo), Norfolk (OHO), Goodwood (OHO), Lady’s Secret (OHO), Yellow Ribbon (OHO)

Oct 3: Kelso (Bel), Oak Leaf (OHO), Clement Hirsch (OHO)

Oct 8: Alcibiades (Kee), Phoenix (Kee)

Oct 9: Jamaica, Frizette, Champagne (Bel), First Lady, Shadwell Mile, TCA, Breeders’ Futurity, Woodford (Kee), Ancient Title & Oak Tree Mile (OHO)

Oct 16: Queen Elizabeth (Kee)

In the meantime, I’ll be back each Tuesday to update my Top 5 for each Breeders’ Cup division beginning this week.  These divisions will obviously be in flux throughout the next 6 weeks, so be sure to stop back each week to see any changes.  In the spirit of the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll leave you with a replay of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic.  See you Tuesday!