Friday, January 04, 2008

Weekend Picks and Analysis

Canadian Turf Handicap
Going back to the well for another shot at Thorn Song. He has become one of my favorite horses to back because he is almost always well spotted and the prices are usually very good. He should be the first or second choice here but that should still mean 3/1 or more. In my opinion that's a very good price for a horse who has really come into his own. Last time out he was a bit rank and went very wide on both turns despite no one really to his inside. He still managed to run down the classy Cosmonaut and I think it was just a case of him feeling very good and wanting to get right to the front. He had a nice work a few days back and should continue to improve. I like that his connections have been rating him in his last few. Although he fought against it a little last time, it will serve him well as the company gets tougher. This race has a lot of speed but I think Gulfstream favors those who are near the front. I think Host is terrible value at 3/1. His form is good enough but now he's 8 years old and he loses far more than he wins. If I'm going to back a old frequent loser I'd take Dreadnaught. Much better price and similar prospects. He should be well suited by the cutback in distance and getting blinkers back on could shake him up. I'll use him underneath Thorn Song for sure. I also like Big Prairie and Kiss the Kid as alternatives. Big Prairie is another closer who could benefit from a pace collapse and Kiss The Kid has the same style as Thorn Song. Good tactical speed, can lead them all the way or stalk closely. I think Kiss The Kid is going to keep on improving this year and maybe win himself a graded stake. But this race it's all about Thorn Song. He's fast, he's tough, he's consistent and he absolutely loves the grass.

Thorn Song

San Pasqual Handicap
This is a two horse race and hopefully it doesn't get cancelled by the drainage issues at Santa Anita. Molengao is a horse in search of his former form and Racketeer finally looks ready to confirm his promise. I thought a great deal of Molengao last year. I thought he had the talent to go on and thrust himself into the top tier of the older division. But unfortunately he was body sore by June and has been off ever since. Lobo has a very good record of bringing horses off a layoff and Molengao in particular has often done very well first time back. He is the horse to beat but he might have his hands full with Racketeer who is second off the shelf and looking sure to improve. Well Armed may try to steal this one on the front end but I think that if Molengao is in form he can run down any of these with ease. Since both Molengao and Racketeer will be short prices I'll just select Molengao and put most of my money on an exacta linking the two.


Mr. Prospector Handicap
A very interesting contest with a lot of different angles. I have great respect for the talent of Keyed Entry and his is the first name that jumps off the page. He's got the highest figures and is undefeated on the track. But do we trust him off of those two horrendous finishes? There was clearly something amiss with him and there have been different reports about what his problems were. But for us we have to decide whether we think he is fit mentally and physically. He gets blinkers which is an interesting addition. My judgement is that he is too good to leave off. There is significant other speed in here but he is the speed of the speed and if he comes to run I don't think they'll catch him. But one has to respect the fact that Finallymadeit and Mach Ride are very quick horses themselves and the most likely scenario after a Keyed Entry tour de force is a pace meltdown. Roi Maudit, Noonmark and Grand Champion are essentially equals in terms of ability and running style. They will try to stalk the pace and be right in behind the speed as they turn for home. I have a slight preference for Noonmark. Roi Maudit is trying this class for the first time and I wasn't thrilled with the competition, nor the way he beat them, in his last. I'm not sure he'll step up. Grand Champion is a good horse but I fear not quite fast enough to tangle with the likes of Keyed Entry and Mach Ride. I would use him for second or third but no higher. Noonmark has always been a good horse but for most of his career he's been a loser. He routinely lost races he should have won. But his last race looked like a breakout performance. For the first time in eight races he failed to lose ground in the stretch. Not only did he go by the leaders when asked but he also drew away. He has every chance to repeat the feat here.

Keyed Entry

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