As opposed to the ho-hum Jim Dandy, the G1 Haskell looks to be an exciting race. Unfortunately for his connections, West Coast speedball Stormello has scratched from the Haskell with colic, thus, I feel, opening the door even more for Hard Spun or Any Given Saturday to win over Curlin. I give the edge to Hard Spun who, with Mario Pino back up and needing to prove something, looks sharp in recent workouts. Any Given Saturday put in an impressive performance in the Dwyer, though over a mediocre field. I can’t choose between the two of them! I just like them both. The unknown factor is local hero Cable Boy who doubtlessly has the early speed, but can he hold on for 1-1/8 mile?
Also on the Haskell undercard, I like Giant Wrecker in the G3 Oceanport, especially this being his second race back off a layoff, and his game finish in the Sussex Stakes last out. He also has 3 wins in 3 tries over this track. However, he is also listed as a runner in the G2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, so we’ll see where he ends up. In the G3 Matchmaker, I’m going with Hopes and Dreams.
In the G2 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar, I am rooting for a big upset by Tough Tiz’s Sis, the only three-year-old filly facing her elders in this race. She caught my eye with her big win in the WinStar Oaks, and I have been following her works in my Virtual Stable since then. She didn’t like the muddy Kentucky Oaks track, but rebounded to win the G2 Hollywood Breeders’ Cup Oaks over the cushion track at this distance last out. She gains top Cali jock David Flores, and a big weight advantage (113 lbs) over veterans Balance (122 lbs) and Nashoba’s Key (120 lbs).
On Monday, Nobiz Like Shobiz makes his turf debut in the G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, drawing the outside 6 position. He does not have a strong turf pedigree. What he does have, apparently, are sensitive ankles and hoofs, and Barclay Tagg is hoping he can run more comfortably over the grass. From his workouts, that appears to be true, but why I like him here is he gets a huge weight cut, from 123 lbs last out in the Dwyer to 115 lbs—the lightest he’s run since his victory in last year’s G2 Remsen Stakes. His sharpest competition here should come from Todd Pletcher’s Distorted Reality, who won the grassy Lexington Stakes last out.
Teuflesberg did a credible job today over the grass, finishing second in the Glow Stakes as second choice. Unfortunately, he was unable to withstand an outside rally by 9-1 shot Pays to Dream who angled out from a wall of horses in the stretch and put on a monstrous late rush to win by 1-1/2 lengths (and paying $20.20 for the win). Favorite Mysterious Peintre finished dead-last.
Speaking of Teuflesberg, watch for the possible debut of his two-year-old full sister at Saratoga. Her name is Phi Beta Mom, and she put in a nice five-furlong work on Saturday, breezing over the dirt in 1.02:01 (17/36). With Laurel’s short summer meet beginning next Friday, I will also be anxious to see if Tim Salzman reveals Southwestern Heat’s half-brother X Rated Cat. The two-year-old colt worked four furlongs over the Laurel track on Saturday in 47.60 (1/38), a full second faster than the next closest horse. With the kind of workouts he has this year, he looks to be a speed monster, just like his half-brother, and dear mother Xtra Heat! Here’s a photo of X Rated Cat, posted on the Pedigree Query website:
My only winning selection in the DRF Public Handicapper’s contest this week was Maryland-bred One Eyed Joker who, at nine, won the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes at Ellis Park today, paying $44.40. And, no, this was not a shot-in-the-dark longshot pick. I liked One Eyed Joker for several legitimate reasons: he was one of only two horses who had run and won over this track, his trainer Michael Maker is high percentage here (7 of 11 in the money prior to today), and I liked his late pace figures in his last two starts. By the way, the 50-cent Pick 4 at Ellis Park paid $4,876.85. Wow! Admittedly, I went for big money over a sure thing in the Test Stakes, selecting Akronism over Dream Rush, and took a stab in the dark in the Claiming Crown Jewel, picking Ricardo A, who was close in the beginning, but faded to ninth. My West Virginia Derby pick, Song of Navarone scratched (apparently, according to a rather gleefully naughty Randy Moss, due to diarrhea) and my second pick Delightful Kiss started to make his trademark late rush as they rounded the final turn, but rather abruptly stopped forward gain as they entered the stretch. My third pick, Zanjero held on in a photo finish. I was high on Zanjero earlier in the year, and disappointed by his Kentucky Derby performance, but it is very nice to see him on the upswing. Bwana Bull’s second place finish surprised me; Moyer’s Pond was a logical third.