Overview: I don't think anything will happen that will shake up the divisional rankings in a meaningful way. Cowtown Cat does have a chance to redeem himself and get back on track. While the Aristides at Churchill could identify a top sprinter who may go on to later impact the division. Out West the Californian is serving as a major prep for the Hollywood Gold Cup. Expect at least the top three finishers to go to face Lava Man and Molengao.
Just a reminder with the handicapping selections at Kennedy's Corridor. These are not attempts to pick the first 3 finishers. Every horse listed as a selection is a win selection. In some races there are singles in other races there are more horses. It is more likened to selections for a multi-race exotic than the typical win, place and show spots.
I never like to say that a horse can't lose but Strike Softly definitely appears to be a single in the Woodbine feature. Her current form is razor sharp, her Turf record is excellent and she simply appears to be better than everyone else. Essential Edge, who did beat her last year, has been off form for a while. I don't think she has improved as a 4yo. May Night and Elle Runaway should chase Strike Softly all the way to the line but I think this race is really a formality for the Sam-Son filly. Her sire Smart Strike has been having a decent run as well.
Who says the fields in California are always short? The Cushion Track may have something to do with it but it is impressive that they got 12 high quality runners for this G-2 event. There are 5 G-1 winners in the field and 4 millionaires. After seeing Spotsgone romp at 81/1 in the Hanshin Cup last week I'm a little wary of tossing anyone. There is no question that All-Weather surfaces toss some odd results. I think the reason for this is because most horses are not tested on it and many jocks have not figured out the best way to ride it. One horse who is tested on the surface is A.P. Xcellent. He is 3 for 3 on this track and 0 for 7 elsewhere with just one in the money placing. Clearly they'll want to run this horse at Hollywood as often as they can, but he drew the 12 post. With a short run to the first turn this speed horse may get the worst of it. Kip Deville is coming back off 5 days rest and makes his debut on the surface. It's possible that he could "freak" although he is less effective beyond a mile. Unless the surface totally changes him I don't think he'll pull it off so I'm going against him. Perfect Drift has adapted very well to the surface but is there a more consistent loser in all of racing? He has now lost his last 13 starts and this is a step up in company for this 8yo. Use him in your trifecta's but not in the win slot. The horses I'm going to focus on are Boboman and Buzzards Bay. I think if they're 100% these are clearly the two best horses in the race. Buzzards Bay is in the 9 hole but there is not a single ounce of speed to his inside. I think he'll have very little trouble gliding over and he may just control the race. A.P. Xcellent will likely be used to get in front of him but I think his chances of slipping away are greatly inhibited. Buzzards Bay did not run badly in his reappearance and should come on for the effort. Last year he looked phenomenal in the Oaklawn so we know he has a big performance in him but I expect he prefers to be right on the pace as opposed to 8 lengths back as he was in his last. Boboman looks the more dangerous of the pair. A G-1 winner on the grass and G-1 placed on the dirt he is a versatile horse who has really stepped up his game in the past few months. He gets blinkers on which is an interesting switch and he has been working superbly over the course. He should be placed mid-pack and generally the course is pretty fair. He has a great closing kick and should get to Buzzards Bay in time.
Dogwood Breeders Cup Stakes
Maybe I'm just in a confident mood but Lady Joanne looks an awful lot like a single as well. Last year she looked like an Oaks filly but she wasn't ready for her debut until days before the Oaks. She won the 6f event that day despite the distance being short in my opinion. She runs for the deadly Nafzger/Borel combination and her last work was blazing. I think she's ready to go and build on her campaign. This race is no walkover though. Silverinyourpocket and High Again figured to give her all she can handle. High Again will like the move back to one turn but it will still be a task for Mott to get her back into top form. Her recent work does offer some encouragement in that regard. Silverinyourpocket is also a contender as she is still unbeaten on conventional dirt. The one charge I do hold against her though is that she has not seemed to improve. In the La Troinne last time out she really did not do any better than she did in her maiden or allowance wins, speed figure wise. Perhaps she has peaked, Lady Joanne on the other hand looks to be on the cusp of a big move forward and she should have the beating of this field here.
Support will be coming back in for Cowtown Cat in this race and I'm reluctant to get on board. Cowtown Cat was actually the most successful part of my Derby handicapping as I selected him to finish dead last and he more than obliged. So can he rebound here? This is certainly his type of horses and with the right setup he could win but I don't want any of that at 2/1 which is likely where his price will settle. I prefer a trio of horses with better prices. The first of them is Moyer's Pond. The Lone Star Derby seemed to be a disaster for everyone aside from Slew's Tizzy the winner but connections of Moyer's Pond may chalk it up to a learning experience. Much like Curlins race in the Derby. I think Moyer's Pond has a ton of upside and will be very tough to beat. I also like Asmussens late runner Reporting For Duty. He broke his string of second place finishes with a 5th in the Lone Star Derby but he had some traffic issues. I think he is the best closer in this race and he should come running in the lane. I think he is best blend of class and consistency in the race. Another horse I give a shout to is Delightful Kiss. His recent form looks spotty but he is a pretty good horse on the dirt. He's really never run poorly on the dirt and I think getting away from Street Sense and Curlin can only help the results he achieves. He moves Turf to Dirt and that was the key in his only win on the main track. He stays very well and if Starbase goes fast enough early maybe this field will come back a bit. I don't really like Forty Grams. He is consistent and he could hit the frame but I don't see him turning those 3rd place finishes into wins. Often horses who get stuck in a rut like that need a move backwards before they go forwards.
Reporting For Duty