Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Picks and Analysis

Iowa Sprint Handicap
Last year this race served as the official coming out of Benny The Bull this year it may signal the rise to prominence of another horse. We all know that Noonmark is good. He has been a quality horse since early on in his career. The problem with him is that he often gets beaten. He is almost always well backed but he has won just twice in his last 8 contests. I'd be shocked if he was worse than third in this race but I like another to maybe just claim his scalp. Sing Baby Sing has pretty good hidden sprint form. If you isolate his last 4 tries under a mile he has gone 4-3-1-0 with his only reverse coming last out where he lost by a head in his seasonal debut. His last effort was a lifetime best and I like playing the angle where a horse achieves a lifetime best in their seasonal debut without winning. If they're given sufficient time before wheeling back (and he has) they often go one better next time out and since they didn't win there is more value there. This race has a fair bit of speed and Sing Baby Sing should be stalking mid pack just like Noonmark. The pair ought to sweep to the front together and it's there that I expect Noonmark to find a way to lose.

Sing Baby Sing

Landaluce Stakes
I find the task of interpreting 2yo form to be a very unique one. There are so many different angles to consider and you have very little evidence to go on. Many of the contestants will have already run their best race, while the others might get significantly better. One thing to keep in mind is that maiden winners rarely improve. All the horses in both this race and the Debutante, at Churchill, who won their first start regressed slightly in their next try. That means although Cosmic Queen appears to be a standout I don't believe her to be untouchable. I think she'll regress slightly. There is a very interesting form circle in this race. Cosmic Queen beat Trifecta King who then came back to beat Atka. Atka had previously beaten Glitter City and Glitter City rebounded from that effort to beat Emmy Darling. Emmy Darling is the only maiden in the race but aside from Cosmic Queen she likely ran the most impressive debut of the lot. She was well backed in her first race and it seemed like a good learning experience for her. The extra furlong will help her whereas it may hurt some of the more speed oriented contenders. Emmy Darling should offer great value.

Emmy Darling

Suburban Handicap
Much like Noonmark the likely Suburban favorite A.P. Arrow is a rather reliable loser. All the signs point to him running a good race but the signs always seem to point to him running well and he's just 2 for his last 13. I think you have to oppose him here, use him underneath in exotics but focus the win pool money on horses who find the wire first. The trouble with this race is that there are 4 logical alternatives who could all either win or run out of the frame. Rising Moon has received the most press out of the quartet but I like him the least. I don't think he's good enough and I think he got a very easy race last time. Harlington is another contender but I'm not sold on him. He, like Rising Moon is coming into the Suburban second off a long layoff. Both ran brightly in routes in their first start back. I don't see them taking another step forward here. Two alternatives I do like are Solar Flare and Merchant Marine. Solar Flare was a useful horse in Argentina and looks to be quite a useful horse in America. Larry Jones has been having a super year in terms of results and he's likely got another gem here. The Flare gets first time Lasix and this might be the last time we get a reasonable price on him. Another horse to fear is Merchant Marine trained by the savvy Allen Jerkens. He doesn't jump off the page as a sure stayer but Jerkens took this race with Political Force who seemed certain not to stay. At least with this horse we simply don't know. I do think he's a runner and he's getting better. I think he also might have a bit of a recency/fitness edge on the other 4 main dangers. He loves Belmont and he has to be used.

Solar Flare
Merchant Marine

Hollywood Gold Cup
You have to get excited for this race. Heatseeker and Tiago round four. It might be last time we make a big deal about this rivalry because both horses are likely to stay on all weather tracks for the rest of the year and so far Heatseeker has proven to be a vastly superior horse on all weather tracks. I don't like Tiago at all in this race. I think the pace is against him and Heatseeker is simply far better than he is. I think main challenge will once again come from Go Between. People forget that he nearly got to Heatseeker in the Big Cap. Many blamed the ride that day and he gets a 7lb shift in the weights today. In my mind he is the second best all weather horse in the nation. The problem I have with him here is that Mott himself has expressed some concern over his readiness for this race. He's had three works since the Ben Ali in April. Will that be enough? I'm not sure although he only had 4 works off a layoff in the Sunshine Millions and that worked well for him. Big Booster is a must play as well. He loves Hollywood and he is actually the only horse to beat Heatseeker at this track. He is not as brilliant as the favorite but he is in good form and he is capable of big race performances. The pace is the main worry with him but I actually believe that he'll be ridden closer to the pace here. He is somewhat known for coming from the clouds but he is far more effective in mid pack. I don't expect that he'll be much more than 5 lengths off the pace at any time and this will give him a great chance to win. I see no real reason to doubt Heatseeker but I also don't think it's a one horse race.

Big Booster
Go Between

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