I do not think that the condition of the Turf course will have much of an impact on the outcome. From what I’ve observed only two horses will be effected. Transduction Gold moves down and Shamdinan should run better than he did in his last two if the course is less than firm. However neither of those horses will impact the results under any circumstance along with Fri Guy they’re the worst horses in the race. Dylan Thomas is a single for most people but definitely not for me. First off, he should handle soft going but he’s much better on firm ground. The tight turns will make a difference for him but the worst charge against him is that he’s not fresh. He has not had any sort of break since his season began in April and I think that’s a huge negative. Enough of a negative to make this obviously superior horse be mortal for a day. Horses without a recent layoff are 0 for 50 in the BC Turf and among the slain were Sulamani, Falbrav, Hurricane Run, Montjeu, and Fantastic Light. I think Dylan Thomas will be over the top after his tough race in the Arc and journey stateside. I don’t like the way he veered in the Arc and I think this is a horse who can be out dueled. In Europe all his losses came when a main rival got first run on him. He was unable to get by them once they were in full flight. That puts English Channel in a strategically good position. Fri Guy should set the pace and he should get first run on the favorite. English Channel loves Monmouth and the ground is no concern. The one thing I don’t like about him is that this race is 12f and he has always been beatable at 12f. He is solid and consistent but beatable because he does not have great stamina. Better Talk Now will get some play because most believe he is a better horse on soft ground. Look at his PP’s, his results seem to be constant no matter what the ground is like. I might use him as an alternative but the price is not great, I’d need more than 10/1 and the lengthy spell on the bench is a worry. The horse I prefer is Grand Couturier. He adores the distance and that really is the key with him. All of his races at a distance were excellent, his form is only muddled because he’s had a few races at shorter distances. His record looks very much like Better Talk Now’s did back in 2004. He is in the form of his life and I think he can beat English Channel again at 12f. Still use Dylan Thomas in exotics and multi race wagers but do not ignore Grand Couturier.
This is the deepest field we’ve had since 1998 and actually it would not shock me at all to see this race mirror the 98’ running. Okay I don’t expect George Washington to finish near the outside fence like Swain did but I do expect a wild finish with 4 horses within a length of each other at the finish. Like 1998 we have a sharp focus on the two big guns with several more adding real depth to the field. I think there is simply not much between Curlin and Street Sense. The race between them will come down to pace and who gets a hold of the track better. The pace favors Curlin because I think they’ll go quick but not crazy. Street Sense being a late runner will be slightly disadvantaged. But the track favors Street Sense, he is the more agile horse. Tight turns don’t bother him at all, he’s as quick as a cat around the bends and the bigger more powerful Curlin will struggle a bit. The off going is a slight worry as only Hard Spun and Lawyer Ron have ever won on an off track. Street Sense is the only other horse to face one and he ran well that day without winning. Any Given Saturday will either become the wise guy selection or the forgotten horse. He’s beaten Curlin and Hard Spun on the strip and has been flawless recently but there are a few questions about his physical well-being. Keep a sharp eye on him, there is a worry that he’s lost weight and is not in tip top shape. Losing flesh is often a sign of being over the top. But back to the pace, I think Hard Spun controls this race. Lawyer Ron will back off of him in first half mile but should launch an early attack perhaps midway on the back stretch. That will be the key to Hard Spun’s demise. If they let him roll until 3 furlongs from home he may be too good to catch, especially on a wet surface. But I think this field will be mindful of Hard Spun’s quality and he won’t get away with anything too slow. At the top of the stretch Hard Spun should hold a narrow advantage over Lawyer Ron with Any Given Saturday on their outside. Curlin should be trying to get revved up right behind them and Street Sense will be closing ground but still a few lengths off the lead. I think Any Given Saturday leads this race to the 1/8th pole. A stubborn Hard Spun is trying hard to stay with him just a length back. Lawyer Ron has faded just slightly, the effects of a long season, no recent layoff and his rank habits taking their toll. Curlin is running hard but not closing as fast as he needs to and Street Sense comes down to the line with Any Given Saturday. I think Any Given Saturday holds him off for the mild upset but it would not shock me to see him edge past. I’ll play both outcomes. Curlin and Hard Spun are brave and beaten less than a length but beaten all the same. It’s a matter of inches between this elite group and I think a big powerful horse like Curlin will just be disadvantaged too much by the turns and surface. Mud is not usually kind to powerful long striding horses like Curlin, but he has such quality that he’ll still be close. Tiago, Awesome Gem and Diamond Stripes will have a negligible impact on this race. The cream should rise and I think the cream is Any Given Saturday, Street Sense and Curlin. I’m opposing Curlin only because of the track.
Any Given Saturday