Overview: Another huge week of action. A lot of the focus will be on the 2yo's as there are a total of 4 G-1's for juveniles this weekend. Given that for most of these contenders it is also the first step up in distance this should separate a lot of wheat from the chaff. There are a ton of good stakes and hopefully everyone finds some good wagering opportunities. I won't analyse every race but like last week I'll feature some head to head picks. The one I will touch on just briefly is Surf Cat against Lava Man in the Oak Tree Mile. I'm looking for a huge performance from Surf Cat. He is one of the most talented horses in the nation and a nice win here could put him in the BC Mile.
Surf Cat vs Lava Man - Surf Cat
The Tin Man vs All Comers - The Tin Man
Bordonaro vs Gregs Gold - Gregs Gold
Ready's Image vs Majestic Warrior - Ready's Image
I'll be brief in this race. I've been tracking the progressive Rebellion for a bit and I pretty much made up my mind to take him when he starts stepping up. Motion is a very shrewd trainer and he often has great success at Keeneland. He looks somewhat like a turf horse but he actually had very good form on the all weather surfaces in England. Turf horses often do well at Keeneland on the main track as well so here's hoping.
I think this race is wide open. The Roundhouse should be favored and I personally am thrilled about that because I think he's a poor wagering prospect. His brother, Circular Quay, found the distance and surface not to his liking at this stage of development. Circular Quay was also far better than The Roundhouse is. This horse shows little to no speed and while he'll be running at the end I think he's a waste of money. Slew's Tiznow will get some play but he's hardly scary. I don't think the form of his last race was that strong but people will bet the big Beyer. On that note I think a horse is passing under the radar a bit. Briarwood Circle is the best 2yo in Canada and he's passing up a chance to flog his hometown rivals in Woodbine's biggest 2yo race. Any student of speed figures and particularly Beyers knows that Turf figures usually come up light and can't be compared directly to dirt figures. Well he's already got the 3rd highest last out figure and it come on turf. He is proven over Polytrack, has good tactical speed and is by the red hot Smart Strike. Briarwood Circle is also a pretty brave horse in that he doesn't mind being in and among horses. Many 2yo's have either gone straight to the front in their races or camped out on the outside clear of trouble. With a full field around two turns this could be a little awkward for some and I like a horse who's faced some of that. Two horses I fear are Wicked Style and Fidelio. I think both are going to be good horses but the outside posts are just killer, so maybe not this time out but they're definitely on the watch list.
First Lady Stakes
Since I'm taking shots in most of the other races I figure I should guarantee some money in this race. It's a tough race on paper but in the end I think it will be straightforward. I fully expect a repeat of the Cash Call Mile exacta. Lady Of Venice is too good for this group at a mile. I'm hoping she'll actually run well enough to persuade Biancone to send her to the BC Mile. Precious Kitten is the second best horse in the race and while Vacare does have claims to beat her out for second I think she'll managed to hold the place spot. She's in the form of her life at present ,it just won't be enough.
Lady Of Venice
Shadwell Turf Mile
I like betting against horses who are stepping back to a mile after being proficient at longer distances, even better when they're favored. Shakis is no spring chicken and some old dogs don't appreciate new tricks. He's the hot horse and I'm hoping that will inspire the public. I much prefer some alternatives. Chief among them is Astronomer Royal, ballydoyle loves to win this race and this classic winner has the ability to beat this group, which I have to say is somewhat lackluster. I know his last few races don't appear to be very good but I don't think this horse appreciates soft ground at all. First time Lasix is a great angle and when you couple that with the back class this horse has he is definitely worth a play. Cosmonaut is a money burner and although he always looks live he isn't getting any of my support. Spotsgone is having a career year and while he still has a little to find to be on par with the best here it is worth noting that in his only turf effort he held off Galantas who latter came back to run a great third in the Woodbine Mile. This race is no where near as tough as that one so if TD Vance doesn't keep him honest he may just slip away and light up the board. He got away from Lewis Micheal on the Polytrack earlier this year and paid $165 to win! Purim is a horse who I think will be overlooked. The odds maker gave him some respect at 6/1 but I think he's unlikely to be bet down further however he is a logical horse. If you isolate his Turf races at 8f-8.5f he's 6-3-1-1 lately. His best race doesn't look quite up to G-1 standards but I think this is a relatively weak race.
Last year in this race I had a soft spot for Spun Sugar but I loved Asi Siempre who was trying the surface for the first time. This year I find myself in a similar dilemma. I really think Lady Joanne has the stuff to be a dominant force, maybe even in the Distaff this year but definitely next year. She is as good as anyone and unlike Spun Sugar last year she is proven over the surface. The one negative I see is that there is a lot of speed in this race and while she has the capability to sit off the pace she is best served by closely stalking. She may wind up a little wide and going a little faster than she ought to in this race. Nafzger has said he thinks she'll run huge and i have to include her no matter what the pace looks like on paper. I loved Asi Siempre last year but this year I think she's just bad value. She could win, she's never lost on this surface and until her capitulation at Delaware she was ultra consistent on all surfaces. She's breathing fire in the morning but I'm hoping there is one filly who is up to out closing her. She's a first time Polytrack horse with very good Turf form. She's sired by Giants Causeway who never had trouble with any surface. She is very consistent but her trainer just seems to want to shake her up a bit. I'm speaking of course of Naissance Royale. She started off the year in exquisite form but then had to be sidelined. Her comeback effort was pretty good. The field went to sleep and the half went in :50, when going a flat mile that's nearly impossible to overcome. Naissance Royale really isn't a miler anyway but she ran very well and it should set her up to be in top form for this race.