Because of the holiday weekend I'm doing my weekend handicapping a day early. I have not yet seen the morning line for the Rushaway but I am becoming quite smitten with the Motion horse Icabad Crane. Since he has not been well backed in either of his career starts and Miner's Claim seems to have more hype surrounding him I think there might be a square price of about 5/1 on him. Icabad Crane is undefeated in two starts and was extremely impressive in his last race. He ran down Duke of de Buqe under a hand ride and won as easily as he liked. Duke of de Buqe came back to score impressively and is entered in the Lane's End. Icabad Crane has not run January the 20th but shows a steady pattern of works since early February. It's probable that he had a slight issue or sickness after his allowance victory and Motion has decided to take his time with him. Greame Motion is another reason to like this colt. He is a very savvy shipping trainer. I am going mostly off the visual impression that he made but his figures do look competitive, mind you they were recorded on dirt. If he takes to the Polytrack surface he should be very tough. Miner's Claim is a good horse but struck me as a bit ordinary. He'll need to get much better against this group and Casse has historically done pretty poorly south of the border. I'll use Targe and Big Glen underneath instead. Targe is a very consistent Polytrack horse and I think he could improve here. Big Glen was explosive 2 starts back but was ridden a bit closer up in the field last time. He got trapped and had to steady at a vital time and both the top finishers came from well back. Watch for his connections to drop him back and make one run with him again. That should see him improve and he'll be a big threat late on.
Lane's End Stakes
Halo Najib became a favorite of mine as a 2yo at Keeneland. At one time I thought he could improve and become a real Derby contender. That hasn't panned out, but what is becoming apparent to me is that he is a very good horse on Polytrack. He looked phenomenal in both his maiden and the race at Ocala but ordinary in his dirt starts. I suspect that on Polytrack he is too good for many of the horses in here. I think this race is actually not a great deal better than the Rushaway. I think Duge of de Buqe will control the pace and he is one of the biggest dangers. Todd Plethcer has won this race with unheralded horses before and he does have a knack of placing his horses in spots that fit even if bettors don't recognize it. That's why his percentage with first time stretchouts and first time turf horses is so good. Duke of de Buqe is a younger sibling of Balto Star's and he looked a good deal like his brother when winning last time out. There doesn't seem to be any speed in here at all aside from stablemate Chitoz so Duke of de Buqe has to be included everywhere. Another horse I respect is Racecar Rhapsody. I'm not sure that I love the fact that this is his first start of the year, or that the form from his last two races has not worked out but he is a very decent colt.
Duke Of De Buqe
San Luis Rey Handicap
I think this race is pretty straightforward. On the Acorn is both the best horse and the horse that is best suited to the conditions. I liked his race last time out and thought it was the kind of effort that would set him up perfectly for this race. The rest of the field is rather non-descript aside from Obrigado who is good but a pattern loser. Some are quite questionable at the distance and those who aren't don't look like they're anywhere near good enough to beat On The Acorn or Obrigado. The pace should be slow but in these types of races it doesn't really matter.
On The Acorn