Friday, July 20, 2007

Weekend Picks and Analysis

Weekend Preview: Turf racing takes the center stage this weekend as 7 of the 9 Graded stakes on tap are being contested on the sod. Personally I am very excited to see Canadian Horse of The Year Arravale back in action in the Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine. If she has come on at all as an older mare she could be a serious Eclipse Award contender. The only stakes being run on dirt this weekend are the San Diego Handicap and the Coaching Club American Oaks. The Oaks has yet another short field and Octave really only have one challenger in Godolphin's Folk. The San Diego will be a much tighter affair with Buzzard's Bay, Arson Squad and many other solid contenders.

Del Mar Race #4
I love handicapping 2yo races, especially maidens, in fact I may start a new feature on it next week for the Saratoga meeting but this spot offers the chance for a little practice. One of the toughest things about handicapping 2yo maidens who are largely unraced a day before the race is run is that you don't get a chance to see how the public bets them. Often the best way to find a live firster is to watch the board. Especially the "opening" prices as compared to their morning line. If the horse was 10/1 on the morning line and is down to 3/1 when betting opens on the race they might merit a closer look. I have not yet seen the morning line for this race but I do like the look of Grace Anatomy for O'Neill. O'Neill is not particularly good with first timers but he quite effective with 2yo's as a whole. He made changes to his 2yo program last year and the results were very good. This will be his first entire 2yo season with his new method. Grace Anatomy has been working very well and is by the red hot Aldebaran who at this time is 60% with first timers. Baffert, unlike O'Neill is very good with first timers and he brings the high priced More Happy in here. She is by Vindication, who is likely to have a lot of representatives at this meet. No clue yet as to how his progeny will handle the track. More Happy is one of those who could go either way. I would not take this horse if she isn't hot on the board. BR's Girl is the one they'll have to beat. Sadler put her right into stakes company first out and then she just got caught against maidens. Obviously this is a runner and she must be included.

Grace Anatomy
BR's Girl
More Happy

Virginia Oaks
I love this race because it gives me the opportunity to get onto the kings of Colonial at decent prices. Edgar Prado and Graham Motion both have fantastic records at Colonial and in my opinion any horse they are connected with has a huge chance. The odds for everyone else will be great because Dreaming of Anna and Christmas Kid are both in this race and they have big reputations. I don't like Dreaming of Anna going this far and while I respect Christmas Kid I do not think she is one bit faster than the rest of these. The horse I really love is Motions Bees. Bees is bred for grass up and down but has never been on it. Instead she has run 5 times on dirt or Polytrack. She did much better on Polytrack which suggests a preference for Turf. She finished just a long neck behind Panty Raid at Keeneland and that one came back to win not only the Black Eyed Susan but also the American Oaks which is the biggest Turf race for fillies. Last time out Bees was 4th behind Moon Catcher and Winning Point who came right back last week and ran 1-2 in the Delaware Oaks. She already fits in this group on form. She is working well and could be a world beater on the grass. At 15/1 she is too good to be true. Bit Of Whimsy also has a huge chance for Tagg and Prado. She has been beaten only once and managed to dead heat with Rutheriene, a horse who is considered by many to be the top turfer in the East. Prado negotiates this course like no other. A real bomb I am enticed by is Snow Cone. I love Wolfson shippers as I think he is one of the best domestic shippers in the nation. Especially with his turf horses. No rider has been named and she has not won this year but she is coming back from a rest and Wolfson is also very good with those types.

Bit Of Whimsy
Snow Cone

Virginia Derby
Class tells on the Turf and this race has seen more than its fair share of class achieve success. It seems like the horse who is truly the best always ends up as the victor. That means this race will be very telling as the top 5 horses in this division are all here. In my gut I feel like the best horse is Strike A Deal. He has never been worse than second on the sod. He is quick, versatile and classy. I think he was disadvantaged in his last start. It was his second off a long layoff, he had relatively short rest between starts and worked hard in his comeback. He could have been a little drained physically. He also did not get a very good trip. I think the trouble he faced was more than equal to the head margin he lost by. As the distance gets longer I think his superiority over Summer Doldrums will be more apparent. I am also quite intrigued with the KY Turf horses. Until I saw Strike A Deal I thought Duveen was the best thing out there. He got conclusively beaten in his last race but that was a nightmare. He never settled and Guidry never put and pressure on the leader who went wire to wire. Prado gets on this time and that automatically moves him up a notch in my book. Most people will write off Duveen's last conqueror as a fluke but it's possible that Inca King is nothing of the sort. He has never been beaten on the grass and no horse has even gotten near him. He's been a longshot in every race he's had on the grass but clearly he is much better than the public thinks he is. Is it possible that he could steal this race on the front end? Early speed tends to fare pretty well on this course so I do not think it's out of the question. Pletcher's "other" horse is the one I find to be the most enticing of his entrants. Top Cross is very quick and in my opinion he is talented enough to be a factor. He has never lost with Decarlo on board and his last race looked like a breakout performance. He does perhaps appear to be more of a miler. This race would surely be the edge of his effective range but just maybe he could pull it off. It would not be the first time for Pletcher. But for my official picks I'll stay with more proven class.

Strike A Deal
Inca King


peeptoad said...

Re: Del Mar race 4 tomorrow. This is a tough one. 2yo races can be tough anyway, but the new surface this early in the meet is a tough read. BR's Girl does look good , especially in light of that nice effort on the Cushion, but who knows how that'll translate onto the Poly. She is one of only 2 in here with a prior start(s), and that should give her a definite edge. If she can stalk the pace, then I'd give her a very good shot. And Nak is already riding at 43% after only a couple of days. Downside is her odds will likely be rock bottom but, as you say, it's a good practice race. I think the O'Neill horse is worth watching if for no other reason than the sire-angle, and I'm interested to see how the 1 performs since that one appears to have a pedigree that could go either way in terms of the surface...

Anonymous said...

the race i will be looking at in terms of KC's post is the Virginia Derby // i like KC's top choice< Strike a deal for the reasons stated and also the reverse finish (Eddie Murphy) aspect in regards to Summer Doldrums which a handicapper encounters more times than not when the same horses faces each other for the second time // i have seen this angle reach down to even the 4th place finisher on many occasions after a decent effort by that finisher // CQ is still one of my favorites despite all his failings, but i really do believe, based on my experience that a front runner has a better chance on the switch from dirt to grass than a closer like CQ // for example Sunriver // i don't recall right not if Panty Raid was a front runner or closer when she won off the switch form dirt to grass recently, but my guess is she won from either a front running or stalking position // in the end it would not surprise me though to see CQ finish in the money based on his pedigree and connections // thanks/ chicago gerry

Anonymous said...

well "The Sun Also Rises" // what I like about handicapping is that there is always another day; after you have been knocked down and you get back up and dust yourself off, there is always another race to make sense of it all // in many respects handicapping has a redemptive quality when you can prove to yourself yet again, and to your satisfaction, that you can be right on occasion and you are not a total failure // it is for this reason, I suppose, that, despite the torture one puts themselves through in this game, there is very little looking back and there is always a bright spot of optimism ahead // In some ways I think most handicappers are somewhat attention seekers and possess a puffy ego // this is not meant to be a disparaging remark toward handicappers because it is all part of the fun // handicappers want others to enjoy their successes and think highly of them much as a person who would make a 30 foot jump shot in their driveway // you might have fun making that 30 foot jump shot while being alone(in my case an underhanded set shot)// on the other hand, for some people, if you are alone, did you really make that shot ? // in my opinion, it is much better to share that triumph with other both for the fun of it and for the affirmation coming from others // in the end you want to be right at least some of the time, else like a meteorologist being wrong all the time, others will not provide the attention you seek // and so unabashedly, as a handicapper who has had a short run of being miserably wrong, I saunter forth and continue my quest to have fun and be right some of the time // thanks/ chicago gerry

Anonymous said...

regarding racing at Arlington Park, i think this is going to be a good card today (07/21/07 // i have noticed the past few Saturdays that victories have been spread evenly among jockeys and trainers // i have tried to pick out some contenders who will be a price but i think, as in my case recently, when a person does this over and over one starts to see things that it not really there and it is incumbent upon that person to get back to the basics of handicapping // that being said i am going to continue to try to get a price because we can all figure out who the logical favorite is or who the probable contenders are // that being said, i do think that the DRF consensus has probably got it right this Saturday in terms of probable contenders and possibly the winner on top for almost every race on the card / my favorite selection this week is Systematic Saint in the 5th // one might get somewhat of a price ranging from 9/5 to 3-1 depending because of so many class droppers and last out claimed horses in this race // i like this horse because he is dropping in class and unlike most other horses he seems to thrive from the outside where ie starting from today // we will see// one might get a good price price and a good effort from Macho Camacho in the 2nd race // Macho Camacho gets Albardo and has speed and the rail // Cornbred in the 3rd flashed early speed in his last and could surprise at a price // My late pick four beginning with the 7th race is as follows: Clerpak, Camptown King/ with/ Pleasant Strike, Perfect Casting /with/ Cosmonaut /with/ Almonsoon, Sohgol // good luck to all and thanks /chicago gerry