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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday's Grade 1 Races

For those interested in who picks a winning $2 (and $4) Pick 6 ticket, here’s the whole story of the father and daughter who each claimed $576,040 from the big Hollywood Park payout on Monday. You know, sometimes luck does favor those who deserve it. Good for them!

Wow, there are so many big races this weekend, including six Grade 1 events on Saturday. Unfortunately, some of those are underwhelming due to small fields. At Hollywood, only four go in the $300,000 Vanity InvitationalBallado’s Thunder, Hystericalady, Balance and undefeated (but lightly raced) Nashoba’s Key. Question: do they redistribute the purse since $6,000 is supposed to be the fifth place award? I’ve got no preference here one way or the other. All four fillies come out of the same prior race, the G2 Milady Handicap at Hollywood so no unknown element here.

Even with its small five-horse field, the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth does look to be a competitive race, with Better Talk Now, English Channel and the mare Honey Ryder. I would like to see the filly beat boys here, but then again that would require me to actually root for a Toddster charge…urgh!

The $250,000 Prioress Stakes at Belmont sees a field of nine going 6 furlongs, including Steve Asmussen’s Appealing Zophie, Nick Zito’s Silver Knockers, and Todd Pletcher’s….wait, OH MY GOD! There’s no entry from Todd Pletcher…in a G1…at Belmont! How can this be? Julien Leparoux must be taking the red-eye back from the West Coast (where he won the $1 million G2 CashCall Mile last night on Lady of Venice) to ride Her Majesty for Patrick Biancone. I like this Giant’s Causeway filly, and she posted an impressive :46.2 bullet work from the gate 4 days ago. She may just upset the favorite Dream Rush. Richard Violette’s charge is shortening up from her last race, the one mile G1 Acorn which she led until passed by Cotton Blossom, losing by just one length. Moreover, her owners, West Point Thoroughbreds, are having a banner week, with High Finance’s upset win over Commentator in the G2 Tom Fool, so, again, I fear chalk will rule.

Nine are also slated for the Triple Bend Invitational at Hollywood, where Surf Cat makes his first appearance in more than a year. His works at Santa Anita have been outstanding this year, including an incredible 4f bullet of :45.3 on July 2. The big question mark, however, is how will he handle the cushion track since he has never run on all-weather track or even turf? I’ll take a calculated risk here and go with Richard Mandella’s El Roblar who is coming off a nice win on this very track in the G3 Ack Ack Handicap. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Silent Name up there at the end, if he has recovered from his crushing defeat in the G1 Metropolitan. If I were going for a longshot here (hell, why not), I must say I like Gotaghostofachance’s chances. Very nice workouts recently…and he’s breaking from the seven post. 7/7/07…lucky 7?

In the $750,000 American Oaks Invitational, a nice international field is led by Australian filly Anamato. Considering how the Japanese fillies did in the CashCall Mile last night, I’m not thrilled with her jaunt across the Pacific. That doesn’t bode well for Japan’s Robe Decollete either, I guess. I do think Valbenny is a sharp choice here, considering her recent success, and her 3 wins in 3 tries at Hollywood. While I liked Baroness Thatcher earlier this year, I’m not sure about the switch to turf and obviously Biancone sent Leparoux back to New York to ride Her Majesty and picks up Corey Nakatani for the first time here. Panty Raid also goes on the turf for the first time, but has a good track race on all-weather surfaces, so she may do well here with regular rider Edgar Prado up for Todd Pletcher. However, I want to take a big longshot here: the Irish-raced Supposition, who is apparently going to be turned over to trainer Bobby Frankel after this race. Hasn’t raced since last September and no posted workouts? Sure, why not!

The biggest field (13) is the $500,000 Princess Rooney at Calder, also 6 furlongs. With no overwhelming horse present (Indian Flare doesn’t scare me much here), I’m looking at several choices. Shaggy Mane has 6 wins in 7 tries at this distance, and has posted several impressive bullet works at Hollywood since her last race, the 7 furlong G1 Humana Distaff which she led before weakening to finish fourth behind Hystericalady. However, her foray into Florida in January resulted in a nearly 8-length victory over Swap Fliparoo in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream. Todd Pletcher’s G City Gal makes her second start of the year, coming off a nice allowance victory at Monmouth on June 1. She has never finished out of the money in nine tries at this distance, and even has experience over this track, placed second in last year’s G3 Azalea Breeders’ Cup Stakes. Finally, I’m going way out there in supporting Miraculous Miss, who hasn’t raced since November 2006, but has posted four very nice workouts since June 1. All of her speed is late, so hopefully Jose Lezcano can find a nice inside path to bring her along in time.


Marshall said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Los Al father-daughter team that hit the Hol Pick 6 twice. His biggest previous win was $800. Amazing. Perhaps I'll retrack my vow to never play the Pick Six again. I'll just make sure I keep my tickets small.