In this race I'm looking to play back a horse who I loved last out. I'm hoping he goes off at just about the same price. It's doubtful because this field is just about the same quality as the Hall of Fame stakes at Saratoga and almost everyone could see that Deal Making had some trouble in the lane. Horses that have rough trips often get over bet next time but I don't like him because he was unlucky last time. I like him because I think he's set to take another step forward in his progression. The Saratoga stakes race was the first big step up for him and quite often you see under developed horses struggle the first time they're thrown in. But they learn plenty and improve. Graham Motion was pretty cold when Deal Making last ran but now he's 4 for 6 in the last two weeks. I really do think that this will be the last time Deal Making is considered just an equal with this type of horse. I think Adriano is a sucker bet and Wesley, although good, will be just about the same quality he has always been. The stranger that is dangerous is Luck Money. I always respect Pletcher on the grass and he looked very nice last time. It worries me a bit that Prussian ran a stinker when he returned but Luck Money has every right to improve and throw a wrench in the mix. However I do still prefer Deal Making. Back on his home course and ready to run for a hot stable.
This race will likely not be a great spot to make money in the win pool because Curlin needs to run well below expectations to drop this race but there are enough interesting things to discuss that I figured this race is worth a paragraph of free webspace. It seems like an eternity since Curlin ran a good second in the Man O'War there has been so much speculation and conversations and where he would go and should go. I think as a next step the Woodward is the perfect spot for him. It's a bit of an interesting scenario we've got here because in looking back at past Woodward winners most of them were coming into the race fairly fresh (no more than 3 races into a form cycle) which Curlin is but they were also coming in off career high or near high Beyers which Curlin of course is not. In fact he hasn't been near his career top all year. If there was actually another decent dirt horse in training I might be inclined to use them against him. But the class this field has attracted is not really good enough. There is only one horse I will use defensively and that is Wanderin Boy. Zito loves to upset the apple cart and in Wanderin Boy he has a very capable horse. He ran a huge race last time out to signal that he is as good as he's ever been and at his best he's a good horse. He did not disgrace himself in run-ins with Bernardini and Invasor, although it was clear that he was inferior he did do quite well. He will surely get to the lead on his own. No one else has the natural speed to compete with him. He may just run the rest of the field off their feet, I say "the rest" because Curlin is likely to come and get him no matter the pace scenario. Wandering Boy often runs his best races when coming off bullet works and he's showing one here. You also should use Out of Control underneath, he's a good horse who will love the distance and he actually has a 3-2-0-1 record on dirt. He ran in those race before he became "good" so perhaps he's improved on the surface to the point where he could beat some nice horses. I think Past The Point is an improving type who should have a stakes future but he'd have to be delighted to be third. Hopefully for the Saratoga fans Curlin is back to his best and puts on a powerful display. If not I hope Wanderin Boy takes them all the way around.