Overview: Although there are not a ton of storied historical races there are actually a good deal of nice horses in action this weekend. The talented Day Pass reappears in a Gulfstream allowance for the first time since his debacle in Dubai. He has not been seen stateside since his romp in the Nashua Stakes. Lear's Princess and Dreaming of Anna comeback in the same stakes race at Tampa Bay. The Female Sprint division also heats up a bit as Control System and Sugar Swirl are both in action at Laurel and Gulfstream. I won't have selections in most of these races but I do think they will be fantastic contests. I will actually be away for this weekend, I won't return to this space until Wednesday so I hope everyone enjoys the holiday and the racing!
This might be the race of the weekend in terms of quality from top to bottom. Dreaming of Anna did not have a banner year as a 3yo but it may be lost on some that her Turf form was still exemplary. She is 7-5-2-0 on the grass and is an absolute bear to get past. Beautiful Venue and Pretoria Light may hold the key to the race as they seem to be the only ones capable of keeping her honest. More than likely, though, Anna will have things her own way. It is still hard to discount Lear's Princess, Meribel and Take The Ribbon. Lear's Princess is a G-1 winner on the dirt and many held the opinion that she is actually better on the grass. If that's true the rest of this field could be up against it. She is 2 for 2 on the grass and has been working extremely well for her return. I think she will represent poor value though because people will bet her reputation while in reality her Turf form has not been better than the rest of the field. I can't take the favorite based on the expectation that she'll show form better than what her competitors have already proven. I think the world of Meribel as a talent but she's been a consistent under performer for a while now. I expect her to make a great late run as usual but it's hard to see her winning. The most interesting alternative to Dreaming of Ann is Take The Ribbon. Although her form suggests that a flat mile is her best distance she has certainly faced the toughest competition in the grass perhaps only with the exception of Meribel. Nearly all her races contained Wait A While, Vacare, Precious Kitten or My Typhoon. She has decent tactical speed and has been working well for this race. The switch to Tagg is also an interesting one. Dollase is a more than competent trainer but perhaps Tagg can get a new dimension out of her. She will up against it to beat the 2006 juvenile champion but she is worth a gamble. Speed is not as deadly on the grass but Anna has class as well and I'll make her my primary selection. I would be quite surprised to see her miss the frame.
Dreaming Of Anna
Take The Ribbon
Sam F. Davis Stakes
Like the Risen Star last weekend this looks like a field with a lot of intriguing prospects. Most likely a good number of them will cease to be prospects at all after this weekend. For all the horses that have failed to win a stakes race so far this represents their big chance. If they fail to hit the frame they'll likely be off the Derby trail. Z Humor is getting most of the attention and it would be no surprise if he won but at the same time this horse is no shoe in. To me he seems a tad one paced and that might make him vulnerable depending on how the pace plays out. If a competitor suddenly changes the pace and moves away he could struggle to match them. I expect Gomez to keep him wide and in a good stalking position. Tampa can be a quirky track and Honey Honey Honey is one of only two horses with form over the surface. I fully expect at least one defeated horse to be excused by their connections because of the surface. Wise Answer is at a real crossroads right now. He was the best 2yo at Calder last year and the Calder form has held up very well. He ended his 2yo campaign in poor fashion but I think his trainer was more to blame than anyone. Cutting back to 7f after two races around two turns is not an easy feat, and then he was entered in a Turf race which he apparently didn't appreciate. This will be the test of what his prospects truly are. He was a very fast 2yo and if he's matured at all he could be a monster as a 3yo. I'm not a huge fan of the Zito horse Fierce Wind. I do like that he's undefeated around two turns but he's had things all his own way in both those starts. He has not been battle tested and I think the pace pressure here will see him fold. Smooth Air is an interesting horse on the stretch out. I'm inclined to oppose him, I think second or third is the best he can hope for. He just didn't look like a horse that would easily handle two turns. I think this is between Wise Answer and Z Humor. Z Humor can be counted on to run a steady race, Wise Answer is the horse with the brilliance to beat him.