Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekend Picks and Analysis

Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes
The morning line of this race has me a bit puzzled because if Einstein fails to go off as the favorite I think there is something really wrong with the bettors in Florida. Stream Of Gold and Shamdinan seem to be getting all the good vibes from the press. Stream Of Gold is a horse I'd oppose with both fists. He's lost his last 12 races after going 3 for 5 at the start of his career. He has not won a race since April of 2005 and during that time he's had 3 trainers, run at 9 tracks in 3 continents over 7 different distances. It would be accurate to say they've tried everything with him and still he's winless. While he is capable of running at a high level I don't like 3/1 on a loser like this. Shamdinan I think is worth opposing simply because he has never really been that good. He's has all the sudden become heir apparent in the Turf division because he happened to clunk up for second behind English Channel in an absolute bog. No one did any running that day aside from the winner so I'm not putting much stock in that performance. Over firm ground Shamdinan has been very poor and although there is a slight chance of rain I think the turf will be firm tomorrow. Einstein by contrast has proven that he has the talent to be one of the best, even if he has been a tad inconsistent. We know he likes Gulfstream, we know he is more than capable of beating this group and he's been sharp in the mornings following the failed experiment in the Donn. The only worry for me is if his speed can last. We know that Thorn Song has speed and Notable Guest could be a wildcard going for a new trainer. I don't expect either of them to really take the bull by the horns but early speed is always a bit vulnerable in Turf races. With that in mind I also have to give a little shout out to Dave who is the best closer in the race. The distance is right up his alley and Tagg had him in the best form of his career at the tail end of last year. I don't think he is better than Einstein but he is a definite must use in the exotics. Thorn Song is a favorite of mine but the distance is really a question mark for me and I have no idea what he was doing in his last start. I'll keep my hands off for this race but hopefully he runs well and gets back into form.


Fountain Of Youth Stakes
This could be a telling race for the Derby futures of many of the contestants. Certainly horses like Court Vision and Anak Nakal will get a free pass to the next stage even with a bad race but effectively they may not be real Derby contenders if they can't run in the Top 3 in this race. Z Humor is definitely at a crossroads. He must prove that the Sam Davis was an aberration. What is most interesting to me about this race is the fact that the class of the race is comparatively slow while it's many of the horses stepping up who seem to be faster on paper. Court Vision, Anak Nakal, Halo Najib and Z Humor all have plenty of stakes experience and yet none of them aside from Z Humor has really run a fast race. Court Vision is of particular interest because he'll be the favorite. Despite his poor figures it's hard to ignore him because of his winning attitute, he really wants it. However at 3/1 I think he's likely not the best way to play this race. I think Anak Nakal and Halo Najib have to be opposed as well. The former has never impressed me, while the later has a bad post, is better on Polytrack and is just using this race as a "tightener" for the Lane's End. Z Humor on the other hand is the best of the "class" horses to play. His back class is definitely good enough to beat this group and if washing out really was his only problem last time he could be very tough here because the one advantage he'll have on the other class horses is the pace. There is virtually no pace in here and if Velasquez fails to send first time stretch out Make The Point the pace may end up being glacial. Z Humor will be able to closely stalk the pace from his post and he should get first run on the others. Because of the lack of pace I am naturally interested in any horse who might be setting that pace and I think it might be Golden Spikes. Golden Spikes is my play for this race because I think he has too many advantages to ignore. First off I love his connections, Marty Wolfson is a genius and he is very good with second time stretch outs, he is also 3 for his last 5 according to BRISnet. Golden Spikes was involved in a very hot pace last time but he was still able to move quickly and willingly to the lead. Bejarano in fact looked quite confident on him, he didn't even begin urging until Cool Coal Man came right to him. Golden Spikes then struggled to regain momentum but he never gave up and went past his rival again in the gallop out. At the time when I saw the race I immediately thought that he'd beat Cool Coal Man if they faced each other next time. With a slower pace and possibly even getting loose on the lead Golden Spikes will be a very tough horse to pass. I think Cool Coal Man will try to lay in the pocket just like he did last time and I do consider him a danger as well but I think his rally won't have the same effect it did last time out. I've gotten through all this analysis without even mentioning Monba once. Oddly enough I would have said prior to seeing this field that Court Vision and Monba are two best candidates to go on and be real Derby contenders. I've decided to oppose Court Vision because I think the price is not reflective of his actual chances. As for Monba I'm not really sure. I think he has the talent but I don't like the way he dropped back in the Futurity. It is also worth noting that the form from that race has worked out as strongly as I figured it would. I may just use Monba underneath. So it's Golden Spikes for the upset win with a hedge on the classy but overlooked Z Humor.

Golden Spikes
Z Humor


peeptoad said...

These are a couple of tough 'capping races. They both drew in relatively large, competitive fields. I think the condition of the turf will tell the story in the GP Turf S. With any give at all in the sod I think you have to give Shamdinan a shot, although he's completely beatable at short odds. Still, he's a horse who favors good-soft ground and that will give him the edge on some of these if it rains. I agree with opposing Stream of Gold. He's had every chance to win, and failed in the past. He's been beaten by better, and he's been beaten by weaker. Pass at short odds. Einstein is for sure a threat on the front end, but if he gets pressure from Thorn Song, and poss. one or two others, then he may not be able to last. He's a classy horse and should hit the board regardless. I find the Tagg horse interesting since he should appreciate the added distance, but all he's beaten since coming stateside is an allowance field at the Big A. He'll have to do better, but may be worth a look at a price. The horse I'm most interested in is Zann. He's been facing the best the west has to offer repeatedly and almost always finishes in the money. He's been kept in the mile division until now and he really seems the type (pedigree and otherwise) to relish a route of ground. An off-turf would be a question for him, but he's just switched to a high % trainer, and this could be a breakout race for him. Best yet, I think his odds may float up as the public focuses on the some of the more high-profile runners. In a competitve race like this, I'm willing to gamble on a better price:


The FOY is a tough race because many of these horses have something to prove. 3yos at this time of year are a difficult read. I'm not set on this race yet, but I'm leaning towards playing the turf to dirt angle with Adriano since he is accomplished on that surface but has a pedigree that is really more suited to dirt. I think his odds will fall though, since AP Indy is such a popular sire right now. Kentucky Bear had a nice debut, but I'm leary of playing horses off a debut race thrown into stakes company, esp. trying 2 turns for the first time. There does not seem to be any real speed here, though my guess is that Z Humor, Ready Set, Make the Point, and Cool Coal Man may all flash early speed. At least they are the ones capable of it. I'm inclined to side with horses with good recent 2 turn form: Elysium Fields, Golden Spikes, Adriano, and possibly Monba. Still looking at this one...

Anonymous said...

I think your comments the other day, about the necessity of a Kentucky Derby of having two preps,
is spot on. I was surprised about the stat that there were at least 17 colts who went into the gate with so little preparation in that regard. Thanks for the information.

Thus far I haven't put together a top 10 Derby contender list.

War Pass could be for real. I like Pyro a lot based on his pedigree and the fact that, I believe 10 panels, is not going to be a problem for him. I guess the other colt I like right now is Colonel John.

Thanks/ chicago gerry