Thursday, January 10, 2008

Weekend Picks and Analysis

F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes
A nice even field has lined up for this listed stakes at the Fair Grounds. I think there is a decent opportunity to make some money with the hottest trainer on the grounds. Steve Asmussen has been winning the stakes races at the Fair Grounds at an alarming rate and once again he has a very strong hand this Saturday. Specifically in the Gaudin he has the favorite Stormin Baghdad, a horse who we opposed in this space last time out and he also has Gunfight a newly minted older horse. Stormin Baghdad won the Bonapaw Stakes last time out after it came off the grass. He has now won his last three races on the main track and two of them at the Fair Grounds but I think he is worth opposing again. Not because he may run poorly but because I think Asmussen's other horse, Gunfight, is much better. Gunfight actually smashed Stormin Baghdad when he broke his maiden. He was 5 lengths better on that day as the pair ran 1-2. Asmussen then tried to get him into the Triple Crown trail but he came out of a bad race in the Swale and was not seen again until November. I don't have any official word of the reason for his absence but I think it's safe to say he was injured during that time. He came back against older horses at Churchill and ran a game second to Vicarian. In his second race back he showed all the promise that was evident early in his career. He demolished his competition without being asked at any point. Bridgmohan had such confidence that he just hand rode him past the field. He got a nice figure for that race and Bridgmohan who rides first call for Asmussen at the Fair Grounds chose to ride Gunfight despite winning a stakes with Stormin Baghdad last time out. Clearly the stable is high on this horse and yet he's 9/2 on the board. Semaphore Man, Euroears, Island Warrior and Sumfun make this a tough race to win even if Gunfight beats Stormin Baghdad but I think he can handle this field and possibly propel himself into some graded stakes.


Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap
The morning line suggest that Sterwins at 7/2 may still present some value for his backers. I thought he might be something in the nature of 7/5 for this race. He will likely be bet down a bit from that 7/2 mark but I think 5/2 is still good value for him. Sterwins looks like a decent bet to improve of his win last out against basically the same crowd. He has never really run poorly on the grass and he is better on firm ground than soft. He has a better draw this time out and because of the lack of speed he might find himself controlling this race going into the far turn. A horse like Major Rhythm or Save Big Money will likely set the tempo but Sterwins should be in that garden spot looming large all the way around. I won't use Silverfoot as an alternative because frankly I don't like the fact that his last race came in 2006. This 8 year old has class and good form on the surface but I think he'll need this one. French Beret is an interesting horse at an interesting price. He has not won a race in a very long time so it's hard to have any real confidence in him but he is as good as Sterwins on his best day and since his connections have taken to running him from the back he has been finishing with interest. He was flying in a 7.5f allowance last time out and passed the winner just after the wire. A repeat of that effort will have Sterwins backers searching for the wire. At his likely price of 12/1 or more French Beret is an excellent choice for the exotics and maybe just for an upset.

French Beret

San Pasqual Handicap
Not a great deal of intrigue in this race but perhaps there is some money waiting to be picked up. I had this race last weekend and of course it washed off so much of this analysis is a reprint. 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.


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