Friday, October 03, 2008

Weekend Picks And Analysis - Main Track

Alcibiades Stakes
I'm really surprised that Mani Bhavan showed up in this race. Two turns and speed killing Polytrack were chosen over Belmont's one turn mile. I certainly can't touch her at the windows. If she wins she is quite special. I really like Dream Empress as an alternative. She has never been on Polytrack but she has been on turf. Her debut was nothing to write home about but she was well backed. In her second outing at Saratoga she showed dogged determination and come through an opening and fend of a serious challenge. It was a very good race and connections are stepping her up in class right away. Wit hMani Bhavan and the Lukas horse you know the pace should be healthy. So often at Keeneland the winning move is the late wide move. Dream Empress should be the horse producing that. I also give a shout to Bon Jovi Girl. Her Delaware form is good and she has already stretched out successfully. She can stalk the pace so tactically she is in a better spot than Mani Bhavan but then again she did lose by 9 lengths the only time those two met. I'll probably just stay with Dream Empress. If you want a longshot consider Amanwella. I think she'll benefit from the surface change and her connections are obviously high on her.

Dream Empress

Lane's End Breeders Futurity
I actually don't like this race much at all. I don't want to start condemning a group of horses who still have a lot of improving to do but Advice is the only horse who I see a future for at this point. Despite his outside post I think he lays over the field. Reynaldothewizard is getting some attention but I'm not really sold on him and the stretch out probably won't help. Advice is already a comparatively seasoned router and I think the short stretch will help him keep his focus. I thought he let up a bit once he hit the front last time. Watch for him to keep running to the line this time. He ought to be the next good one for Winstar.


Frizette Stakes
This is a most interesting race. In most cases we're looking at completely untapped potential. Half the field enters the race off a maiden win and no horse has won any race other than their maiden. Of the recent maiden winners I'm most impressed with Gemswick Park. This filly really could be something but she showed sprinter type brilliance. We know that sprinters like Indian Blessing can dominate a race like this but the outside post has me a little wary. I'll be watching her price closely. I don't want her at any less than 3/1. Persistently strikes me as a benchmark type of horse in that I think she will always produce the same type of effort and it will either be good enough or it won't. Much like Balletto from a few years back. I think she's the safest show bet in the race but given the fact that she's a Phipps horse coming off a good performance in a graded stakes she is going to be well bet. I may prefer to just use her underneath. Collegiate is a horse that interests me. She was dynamite in her debut at Belmont then floundered a bit at Saratoga. She never ran poorly per se but she didn't build on her maiden score. Blinkers on will likely help her focus a little more and show some more speed. In the Schylerville I thought she ran well but was given a very curious and impatient ride. In the Spinaway she was simply too far back to have an impact. Hopefully she'll distribute her speed more constantly, if she does that I think she has as good a chance as anyone.

Gemswick Park

Champagne Stakes
I think this is the race of the weekend, certainly among main track stakes races. Ever since the Hopeful people have been wanting to see a rematch between the top four finishers. All of them aside from the winner, Vineyard Haven, feel that they had legitimate excuses and should turn the tables. The other 6 entrants are not without a shout either. Bobby Frankel mentioned to the press that often the horse who wins without an excuse is better than a horse who loses with one. I think he's dead on the mark. Cribnote did blow the turn but Vineyard Haven was not seriously tested in the lane. Munnings broke slowly, but he also broke slowly in his debut. There is no reason to believe he'll break on top here. One thing I do like about Munnings is that the Hopeful was a real education for him and he gutted it out pretty well. I think Break Water Edison was unlucky but he's got the same inside post here and it won't do him any favours. I think he's better than he showed in the Hopeful and I think he's better than he'll be in the Champagne but I won't be using him. Vineyard Haven was said to be a pretty special horse. Frankel put up his own money to buy him and he's campaigning him much harder than he does with other 2yo's. Vineyard is an imposing specimen, he is already thickly muscled like a 3yo router. The rest of the horses here will have quite a time beating him. Brave Victory is an interesting entrant. Although he's just 1 for 3 I think he liable to run a very good race. He has actually produced the most consistent speed figures in the whole field. I think he may have turned a corner when he finally broke his maiden. He looked super that day and I think he'll figure seriously in this race. He just has the look of a good one. Speaking of which so does Hello Broadway. His maiden score was extremely impressive. He simply wouldn't back down when he had every right to do so. I'm not sure I want to see him go hell bent to the front again but he easily could be the main speed. Vineyard Haven would prefer to be just off the pace I suspect. Tagg really likes this colt and and he's been sharpening him up in the mornings. I think he'll give a very good account of himself.

Vineyard Haven
Hello Broadway
Brave Victory

Spinster Stakes
I'm not quite sure what to do with this race. My instinct says just leave it alone and let it play out without you. Wake Up Maggie was my upset selection to beat Zenyatta last week. She scratched that day in search of an easier spot. This is definitely easier but I'm not sure I like her as much. This isn't California, the track plays differently and her price is likely to be much lower than it would have been in the Lady's Secret. Unbridled Belle is the 200 pound gorilla in the room. I'm not sure that anyone really knows what to do with her. She is the horse with the most proven class but overall she has been a slight disappointment this year. She has never run on synthetics and we really have few clues as to how she'll like it. If she can transfer her dirt form directly she will be extremely tough. I'm going to play against her though on the angle that no experience on turf or synthetics will play against her. Virtually every major stakes winner at Keeneland has had prior experience on turf or synthetics. This is during the Polytrack era of course. Little Belle, when she won the Ashland, is one of the few exceptions. My primary selection is going to be Carriage Trail. She ticks all the right boxes aside from Prado choosing Jiboom instead. She has good form on every surface but her best lifetime effort came in a route race on Keeneland's Polytrack. She is in super form right now having chased Wait A While in the Ballston spa. Shug McGaughey has had a lot of success in the Spinster and I think he had this race in mind for her since the spring. After seeing Cocoa Beach upset Ginger Punch one would be unwise to underestimate the Godolphin fillies. Little Belle a big better reputation already but I suspect the older fillies are better than the sophomores and I'll make my stand on that assumption. The one who really catches the eye is Say You Will. Her best form has undoubtedly come on synthetics and Keeneland specifically. She is a very effective closer and if this race backs up she could be picking up pieces at a price. I can't ignore Wake Up Maggie. I know California is different than Keeneland but she was quite impressive in her only synthetic race. She could be any kind on this surface. She has a really nice quickness about her. In the end I think Carriage Trail is the best bet but it's wide open so spread yourself over a few options.

Carriage Trail
Wake Up Maggie

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