Thursday, October 02, 2008

Weekend Picks And Analysis - Turf

First Lady Stakes
Talk about a deep field. The First Lady kicks off this Breeders' Cup prep weekend in style. There is no chaff in this race. Bayou's Lassie is the longest shot on the morning line and she's beaten Dreaming of Anna and Ventura at this distance. Certainly even the "worst" horses in this race are more than capable. Four of these contestants ran in the Jenny Wiley on this course back in April and Rutherienne was the victor that day. I have a feeling that a half furlong less will make a huge difference. The analysis of any turf race that includes Dreaming of Anna has to start with Dreaming of Anna. She's fast and she's tough and at a flat mile she may just be the best horse in the race. You have to notice the fact that she isn't the only speed. Rosinka and Bayou's Lassie both have a lot of speed and will likely be sent right to the front. As much as I think of Anna I do believe that the pace will be her undoing. I'd include her in any exactas or trifectas though. So we're looking for a good horse with a miler's quickness that can come from slightly off the pace. The favorite Precious Kitten fits that bill but she has been extremely inconsistent. I prefer a horse with a similar style at a better price. Roshani is a miler and may have even won the Jenny Wiley had it been run at a mile. She's in good form this year and Pletcher is good with layoffs.


Shadwell Turf Mile
It's a very intriguing race that contains more up and comers than established G-1 horses. Despite believing that Rahy's Attorney is the horse to beat I do think that opinions will vary widely for this contest and even favoritism will be hard to predict. As anyone who reads this space regularly will know I firmly believe that a mile is a specialist distance so I tend to focus on the horses I consider to be true milers. It means I'm not interested in horses like Shakis or War Monger. They can win and I'd likely use them underneath but I prefer to have my money on horses who might be less classy but are more suited to the distance. There are many specialists in this race, I count six different horses who look like milers. Despite some decent races I'm going to toss Buffalo Man and Lovelace. Both look a little below the requisite standard. As I said before I think Rahy's Attorney is the horse to beat. He has never lost a race shorter than 9f on the Turf and he's a very difficult horse to get past in the stretch. He's a G-1 winner and is in the form of his life but for those looking for more interesting angles you could take courage from these two facts. He has never been away from Woodbine's Turf so the mile he is used to running is a one turn mile. Keenelands two turn mile is a new challenge for him. He is also a horse that likes to cover up and closely stalk the pace. The 12 post is not the best place to do that. He could end up with one of those wide chasing trips that so often leaves horses empty. The first alternative I land on is a horse who seems similar to Rahy's Attorney in ability. Society's Chairman suffered his first career defeat at Rahy's hands but was only a half length back. That was his only loss in 4 tries on firm turf and his most visually impressive effort came right at Keeneland running a flat mile. His form looks muddled because of a 9f turf race on yielding ground followed by two Polytrack efforts but he bounced back to form in the restricted Halton stakes at Woodbine. His figures do look light but his best career effort does give him a chance. At 15/1 he's a live longshot. you have to love Thorn Song, I know I do. He goes about his business in nearly every race and he looms the lone speed in this event. He's a very dangerous horse when he's allowed to lope along in front. Karelian and Rahy's Attorney both like stalking closely but they're in the two widest posts. War Monger will likely be the horse who keeps the closest tabs on him. I'm a bit cool on Thorn Song because of his lack of recent activity but he has to be respected. As far as specialists go one must keep an eye out for Karelian. He is 5-4-1-0 at the distance. The problem with him is that he has the same tactical disadvantage as Rahy's Attorney but he doesn't seem to be as good. A sharp recent workout shows he's in good form and who knows, he could be building up to a career best effort. I'll spread out in this race.

Society's Chairman
Rahy's Attorney

Nearctic Stakes
I don't generally have a lot of success with turf sprints but since this is one of the big races of the weekend I suppose I'd better have a tilt. The horse to beat is Heros Reward. His last race doesn't scare me off too much he's the class of the field and he's quite adept at both course and distance. He doesn't have many holes. But Turf sprints can end up as crap shoots so I'll likely be using horses like Off Duty and Hellvelyn. Off Duty likes 6f but has never run that distance on the grass. You could see in his last race at Woodbine that he didn't see out the trip. He should see out every yard of this race and his class makes him a very dangerous horse. For the price he'd likely be my primary pick. A closer like Hellvelyn is likely to prefer Woodbine over tighter courses like Saratoga. He also likes soft going which is a big plus since that's what he's likely to be facing. His American debut does give a bit of confidence. He could easily improve a touch and sweep by them all. If you want an absolute bomb there is nothing wrong with Santiago Atitlan. The savvy German trainer Andreas Wohler brings him here off a Polytrack prep race against horses out of his league. Back on turf he could be in line for an improvement. He hasn't won since September of 06' but these horses are not of terribly high quality. He might just be able to pull it off.

Off Duty

E.P. Taylor Stakes
I think it's hard to see around the European invader Folk Opera. I suspect that she is simply better than all these horses. She is the only horse with a graded stakes win at the distance and the top American, Hostess, came in search of firm ground and is likely not going to get it. J'Ray is classy enough to get a piece but she's a little filly at 10f over testing ground will probably dull her kick quite a bit. Toque De Queda was nowhere near the quality that Folk Opera was in Europe and I don't think she'll give her much grief here.

Folk Opera

Canadian International Stakes

Like the EP Taylor the International has a really classy European entrant that everyone else will struggle to deal with. Doctor Dino is world class and is going to take a lot of beating here. We know that Quijano is a tough horse but Dino beat him with ease when they met in Hong Kong. I'm also not a fan of playing Europeans second off the plane, unless they're going to be huge odds. Quijano might be set for a regression after such a tough race. Champs Elysees is the only horse I give a real chance to other than the favorite. He'll have to run a new career best but maybe he's finally ready to step up and win a race like this. He looked good in the Northern Dancer and hopefully he holds his form. 7/2 is not a great price though, I much prefer Doctor Dino at 2/1 but watch the board. It's possible that Doctor Dino could be even money and Champs Elysees could drift. As a Canadian I hope that Marlang gives a good account of himself. He has looked quite impressive in his brief turf career. He really is more of a horse for next year but I hope this race gives him something good to build on.

Doctor Dino

1 comment:

peeptoad said...

I like Marlang too. With a bit more improvement and experience I think he'll be a top turf horse. He should benefit from lack of any other real speed in the International, but I don't think he's quite up to the task of beating this caliber... yet.