Overview: This is an odd sort of weekend because the best racing will happen on Monday because of the Memorial Day long weekend. That leaves very few top notch races for Saturday and Sunday. My plan is to return sometime this weekend or even on Monday to handicap the big races like the Met Mile, Gamely BC and the Shoemaker Mile. Not to mention the trio of crack races at Lone Star Park. For Saturday and Sunday I think the highest profile race is the Sheepshead Bay Handicap that pits Honey Ryder against emerging stablemate Safari Queen. These may be the two best 12f Turf mares in the nation. Safari Queen has had a hot hand this year and has ridden that form to 3rd in the division as of today. Honey Ryder is a more classy mare but she has not really gotten on track this year being ranked just 10th.
Hanshin Cup Handicap
There are no major players in this race, it is however a contentious race and is about the quality you should expect from a G-3 at Arlington. Most of the focus will be on Lewis Micheal. He has the flashy sibling in Dreaming of Anna and is coming off a good second in the Commonwealth. He has also always had the aura of a talented horse. His promise has been mostly unfulfilled at the moment because I don't think his connections have truly found his niche. He's been on turf, dirt and polytrack from 6f to 9.5f and they still seem to campaigning him as if they do not know what his preference is. I think he is best as a Turf or All-weather horse, dirt does not suit him as well and he is at his best around one turn but not in pure sprints. 7f to 8f seems just about right for him and I think his connections have him well spotted. Despite his apparent inconsistency I think he is a solid favorite in this race and is well positioned for victory. There is however one horse I love as a value alternative. Connections was born to run over the Polytrack. In both his races he absolutely destroyed his rivals. Although they were lower class races the competition was not poor. He beat horses like Yes Yes Yes, High Cotton, First Word and Seek Gold. His trainer hits a high percentage of his runners when Ferrer is aboard and the horse has been working the lights out at Arlington. Really the only question with him is the distance. He's a sprinter and this is a flat mile. But it's a mile around one turn and he likes to come from off the pace, he is also bred to like more ground so hopefully that will put him in good stead. I think with Polytrack races you always have to be ready for the freak out races from runners with their first start over the surface. Turf horses have been especially dangerous and that moves up Purim and Fort Prado. Both are extremely capable and I give the slight edge to Purim because of his recent form. Lewis Micheal has run well but lost both his Polytrack races to horses freaking out on the day. As solid as he is it would not shock me to see the same thing happen here with either Connections or Purim.
If my current handicapping form was better I may be tempted to single Always First. I would pretty much take any price on him but I expect that he will not get much lower than 7/2. I wrote a piece that mentioned him yesterday and those thoughts can be applied to this race. I think he is the most legitimate 12f horse in the race and I think he will simply outstay every other horse in here. Tom Voss is very good with marathon Turf horses and the pace would seem to set up well for a closer. Hotstufanthensome is a horse who I have a bit of a soft spot for. He's kind of unlucky but very capable. I think 12f stretches him to the limit but his trainer looks like he's been trying to get him to go long and he did finish very well in the Pan American. I don't really like Cloudy's Knight, Transduction Gold or Ramazutti. All of them could win if things turn out well and likely one of them will hit the frame but I just don't trust any of them. Cloudy's Knight more so because of the distance and his price as opposed to consistency. My longshot in here is Drilling For Oil. McPeek and Desormeaux have combined well in the last while. He is another that will truly relish the distance. He closed well in his last under Albarado and his trainers feeling was that he may have run better with a jock that knew him more. Kent D has been on him 3 times and he may just be poised for a big effort.
3)Drilling For Oil