San Pasqual Handicap
This race features a very interesting collection of talent. Well Armed is the obvious class but there have to be some lingering doubts about his Breeders' Cup performance. Slew's Tizzy, Past The Point and Cowboy Cal still look like somewhat undeveloped talents. Throw in the tough old campaigner Ball Four and the Canadian invader Marchfield and you've got a race that could go many different directions. One of the things that I've taken to doing in my handicapping lately is not relying on any one type of speed figures. Beyer's, BRIS speed figures and even DRF Variants all have their place. I don't think that any one type of speed measurement is reliable but a compilation of all the speed figures available has served me fairly well. I think six of the twelve entrants are fast enough to win this race: Well Armed, Ball Four, Marchfield, Cowboy Cal, Slew's Tizzy and Mostacolli Mort. I'll limit myself to choosing between those six. As much as I like angling for a price any conversation about winning this race has to include Well Armed. Sure he failed badly in the Breeders' Cup but he could have been over the top after a long season. He should be very tough to beat here. The main concern for his backers will be seeing how the pace unfolds. Ball Four is a committed front runner and if he stays in I see him setting a healthy pace. Horses like Well Armed, Past The Point, Slew's Tizzy and Cowboy Cal all have the speed to set the pace if he scratches but I think they'd likely prefer to stalk closely. Well Armed is drawn a little wide but should get a look at the pace unfolding and get himself in a good spot. From there it's just a question of whether or not he fires. Slew's Tizzy is really disadvantaged with that outside post. Although I like his chances based on form I think he'll have a tough time overcoming the wide trip. Because this field is a little front heavy I've got an eye out for some closers. Marchfield and Mostacolli Mort seem like the best candidates. Marchfield looks light according to Beyer but the other figures suggest that he's more than fast enough. This will be a class test for him but his confidence should be high after a string of solid results. I'll have to wait and see what the final prices are like because Mostacolli Mort has more than an outsiders chance but I want him at probably 10/1 or higher. He has never beaten this kind of competition but he goes to a new barn and has been working a hole in the wind. There is too much going for him for me to leave him off my ticket.
F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes
It's not a very high profile contest but I do like a bit of an outsider who should benefit from a surface switch. Mutadda has been inconsistent all his life but the one constant has been his form in dirt sprints. He is 3-2-1-0 in dirt sprints and 14-1-2-1 in all other races. He does have a few lengths to find to upset the favored pair but i think he's sharp and sitting on a breakout race.
Marshua's River Stakes
Ginger Brew is one of the best talents who is not yet widely known. A win in this race is unlikely to change that but I'm hoping it'll be a springboard to something much better. A lot of the Stronach home-breds improve as they mature, horses like Ginger Punch, Citronnade, Sugar Swirl and Sugar Shake all took some time to get good. Ginger Brew was better than all of them as a three year old and I'm hoping she can establish herself in the top tier this year. Eight lifetime races on all three surfaces and she has yet to run worse than second. She has won 4 of her last 5 races with her only loss coming in a 10f race against males. This race shouldn't be a pushover, there is plenty of quality in the shape of Mushka, Remarkable Remy and Waquoit's Love but I think Ginger Brew will prove to be another class.