1. Icon Project (1)
2. Zenyatta (2)
3. Music Note (3)
4. Careless Jewel (4)
5. Acoma (5)
It's the calm before the storm in the Ladies Classic division. All five of the mares should be in action over the next two weeks although probably few of them will face each other. Zenyatta will go to the Lady's Secret, Careless Jewel to the Cotillion, Music Note will take on the Beldame and I fully expect to see Acoma in the Spinster. Icon Project is the undecided wild card. She will either go in the Beldame or the Spinster and if she is to retain that #1 ranking she probably shouldn't lose either race.
The Beldame makes sense because Icon Project has already performed very well there but connections will be curious about her synthetic track form so the Spinster is a draw as well. One caution I would make is that Keeneland's form has not necessarily held up in California. They are very different surfaces despite both being synthetic. You'll see a lot more turf horses having success at Keeneland than you will at Santa Anita. The good news for Icon Project is that she's already proven she can handle turf and dirt. She is better on the dirt but turf has not been a problem.
Zenyatta's inactivity has created a scenario where people are actually forgetting that she's quite a mare. The close call in her last start only added fuel to the fire. But make no mistake Zenyatta is still a running machine. It would take a lifetime best effort from any of these fillies to beat her.
European Rainbow View does enter my thinking for this race but at this point I'm not willing to accept that she is automatically as good as the rest of these. Being European does not entitle her to some higher level of performance. I think many Europeans will be overbet this year because people are like sheep. They're going to chase the perception that Turf horses and Europeans specifically have a major advantage. As always it should be evaluated on a case by case basis. In Rainbow View's case were looking at a horse that has mostly underachieved after a scintillating juvenile campaign. The surface switch might help wake her up but I have legitimate questions about how good she really is.
Filly and Mare Turf
1. Dar Re Mi (1)
2. Midday (2)
3. Forever Together (3)
4. Pure Clan (5)
5. Gozzip Girl (4)
I didn't make any major changes to the rankings this week other than flip flopping Pure Clan and Gozzip Girl. The reason I did so is because of the news that Gozzip Girl is headed to Keeneland for the QE II instead of staying at Belmont for the Flower Bowl. I would have much preferred to see her against older horses prior to the Breeders' Cup. I also like the timing of the Flower Bowl better. The QE II Challenge Cup is three weeks before the Breeders' Cup whereas the Flower Bowl gives you five weeks. Pure Clan incidentally will be in the Flower Bowl and if it comes up firm she should have a big shot. She's not the kind of filly that I expect to see in the winners circle regularly. She just has to run well to show that she's in good form.
Forever Together is not ranked in third because of her failing in Canada. I had actually moved her to third prior to that race and I expected a sub par performance on a track that she just doesn't handle as well. Some just thought it was the ground that did her in last year so they're puzzled as to why she didn't win on firmer ground this year. I always suspected that it was the one turn configuration she didn't like. In two turn races on the grass she is 5-5-0-0 with an average Beyer of 102.8. Around one turn she is 5-1-2-2 with and average Beyer of 95.8. Her only win around one turn on the grass was in a listed stakes at Arlington. You should see Forever Together back in form at Keeneland.
I do, however, think that Dar Re Mi and Midday might be better horses than Forever Together. Defending her crown against these Europeans might be extremely tough.
Filly and Mare Sprint
1. Ventura (1)
2. Informed Decision (2)
3. Indian Blessing (4)
4. Sara Louise (new)
5. Carlsbad (3)
Dropped: Game Face (5)
I was personally quite thrilled with the Gallant Bloom and despite the fact that it's in vogue to doubt Indian Blessing on synthetics I'm going to step up and say that she has a real shot here. Indian Blessing had been favored in everyone of her lifetime starts until the Gallant Bloom where she was 1.40/1 to Sara Louise's 1.35/1. Indian Blessing has never been longer odds than 1.80/1. It's pretty incredible really. But at this years Filly and Mare Sprint you're going to see 5/1 or higher on her. That represents great value on a horse that has missed a grand total of one exacta placing in her entire career.
She did have that terrible race at Hollywood, which is why the doubters abound but it was her first race back from Dubai. Those comeback efforts are often below par. It was also run over Hollywood's brand of synthetic which of course does differ from Santa Anita's. At Santa Anita she is actually 3-2-1-0. Her only loss came to Ventura in last year's event when the pace was very sharp. Indian Blessing is a major threat to win this race and she may be the best value of her life.
I've dropped Game Face from my top 5 not through any fault of her own but due to the fact that Sara Louise and the Godolphin stable as a whole have really come on this fall. They also have Seventh Street for this race but I'm not as big a fan of hers. I'm not sure that she has the stuff to dig out a win when she needs to. Sara Louise is a horse that really impressed me last year. In fact I picked her to beat Rachel Alexandra in the Golden Rod because her move in the Pocahontas was so explosive. At the time I thought she was the filly that was destined for greatness. She has done little wrong as a 3yo. Although she hasn't tried synthetics she looks like a good fit for them. She definitely has the potential to upset Ventura and Informed Decision who have looked nearly invincible for so long.
1. Beautician (1)
2. She Be Wild (2)
3. Blind Luck (3)
4. Awesome Maria (4)
5. Midst (5)
Dropped: Mi Sueno (2)
The news we received yesterday about the injury to Mi Sueno was pretty sad. Not only did she have a big chance in the Breeders' Cup but she also might have turned into a very good horse. Now her entire career is in jeopardy.
Since Hot Dixie Chick is most likely not going to be attending the Breeders' Cup party this race may seem like a consolation prize of sorts.
Beautician is still my #1 selection, I expect her to face off with She Be Wild in the Alcibiades. That ought to be an exciting contest. I think Beautician has been the better horse to date but the pint sized over achiever from Chicago can't be taken too lightly. Wayne Catalano is very good with young horses.
So is Stanley Hough and I was very impressed with his Awesome Maria in the Matron. She just looks so physically imposing even at this early stage. She's going to be a well built muscular filly. I like that she is able to break well and even keep pace early on in sprints but finishing is really her forte. I think two turns will be a good fit. The one downside to her is the schedule she is currently on. Not many horses these days run in the Matron, Frizette and Juvenile Fillies especially when they have to ship cross country. I don't want her to come to the juvenile without a route prep race but most likely if she gets one her cautious trainer won't be inclined to ship her to California. We'll have to wait and see. She's a good horse and she fully deserves to be on this list.