Garden City Stakes
Tough race with many interesting options. Rutherienne will be favored but I think people will be a bit skeptical about her. She has never run really fast figures and she is coming off a lifetime best performance and a round trip to California on short rest, or at least what passes as short rest these days. Despite demonstrating her devastating acceleration on numerous occasions she's only 7/2 on what is best described as a wide open morning line. If she stays at 7/2 she's good value plain and simple. I'd be more than willing to accept the risks of running back after a potentially tough trip for that kind of price but at 2/1 I'm less enthusiastic about her chances. The greatest threat to her would seem to come from the Europeans. Missvinski should take some money after taking Darjina all the way to the line in her last but I like her least of the Euros. That race against Darjina came on soft ground and that's the Darjina's greatest weakness. Missvinski is not bred to go past a mile and most of her races have come on soft ground. I much prefer Alexander Tango. Her Racing Post Ratings are not all they could be but she has some decent back class of her own having been just nosed out by Peeping Fawn on firm ground. I think she'll take to the conditions well and first time Lasix never hurts either. She's a bit of a wild card but if she's forgotten at the windows she's worth a play. So is Costume the Juddmonte homebred. She appears to love firm ground and you have to respect any horses that Juddmonte decides to send to America. This one is staying with Frankel after the race so clearly they think she is one that will love the type of racing we see here. Given their track record she is a must include on your tickets. She but in a great performance against Darjina as well but I liked it better than Missvinski's for a number of reasons. It came on firm ground and was Darjina's best lifetime effort, she was only beaten 4 lengths and she was still a maiden at the time. She has come on quite a bit since then in terms of improvement and this might be her breakout performance. It's worth noting that the pace is likely to be controlled by Sharp Susan and its possible that no one will go with her. That sets things up for Bit Of Whimsey who had no chance last time because of her break. She is a dangerous horse and might be overlooked because popular opinion will be that the Euro's and Rutherienne will dominate this race. In the end I'll take Costume on top with an eye on the board to use Rutherienne and Bit Of Whimsey as well.
Bit Of Whimsey
Another short field like the Personal Ensign and similar to that race we have another that could be won by any of the entrants. I consider Teammate the least likely. She was horrible in her last 3 starts and I can't use her against this field having lost to all of them aside from Rahy's Appeal. Teammate will still have a hand in the outcome though. I think the idea of her presence is to set a quick pace for Miss Shop. They tried the tactic in the Ogden Phipps and it backfired but it may not have dissuaded them. Miss Shop is a horse I don't like though. I think she runs her race too rarely to take her off of a win and she is 0 for 4 at the distance. I prefer not to take her. Rahy's Appeal is a dangerous horse as she's run a few races that are good enough to threaten, especially when going Turf to Dirt. She'll be stalking and may be the prime beneficiary of a pace meltdown, but at the same time she really would have to step up in order to win. I think she's best used in the exotics. That basically leaves the two obvious horses Ginger Punch and Take D'Tour. Both horses are coming in off a win and solid bullet workouts. Both are very consistent and it is truly difficult to separate them. Entering a rabbit to press Take D'Tour seems rather foolish since she routinely runs fast early on whether pressed or not. She's just a fast horse. Her trainer has been trying to keep her fresh this year and its worked very well. She's performed at a high level all year long and I think her connections know just how good she should run here. The wildcard is Ginger Punch, was her last race really that good? I'm inclined to think that it wasn't. Part of the illusion of her drawing off was due to the fact that Teammate absolutely gave up. I would go against her only because I think you need to single someone in this race but she could easily win.
Man O'War Stakes
This race presents me with the chance to lean on one of my favorite bet against angles, the second race Europeans. Europeans frequently ship over here and have success but you will frequently see a regression from Europeans who run well first off the plane then run back without a layoff. Doctor Dino and Shamdinan both fit this angle and they will both be well regarded. I hate the pair of them and if they win I'll lose. Yellowstone is a much better option. He'll be first off the plane, going for top notch connections and he gets Murtagh who jumps off Doctor Dino. The thing I don't like about him is that his form is only average on firmish ground and he's here on just 18 days rest. It's possible that O'Brien has him razor sharp and wants to capitalize but at the same time you'd think this horse would be the barns leading St Leger hope. I find it curious that he was sent here and at his likely odds of 3/1 I'd pass but still respect him. I think Sunriver is a worthy favorite but I hope some Europeans take more money than him. He may not be the "now" horse but he is the best suited for victory. He figures to have the pace all to himself on firm ground on a course that he loves. All signs point to the winners circle. My longshot play for this race is Trippi's Storm. I thought he ran fantastically in his last race. He inherited the lead sooner than ideal and his jockey had to set sail for home. But the horse was stretching out to a distance that was always a question for him and I think he was simply exposed too soon. Now he gets a slight cutback and a reliable pace presence in front of him. I think there is little danger of him being produced too soon and he should run back to his top form. I'm not sure if that's enough to beat Sunriver but at 12/1 I'd be willing to use him.