According to The Weather Channel, there is a 100% chance of rain at Monmouth on Friday—morning showers becoming steady in the afternoon, with rainfall totally around a half an inch, with another half inch overnight into Saturday. With that in mind, here is my analysis and picks for the three BC races on Friday. But first, let me preface my comments by admitting while I have learned to play with my head, sometimes my “gut” or my heart overrules it. These picks should be understood as catering to the latter.
Filly & Mare Sprint (6 furlongs):
Rain or shine, this race was always going to play out the same way: early speed duel between Dream Rush, La Traviata and possibly Shaggy Mane, with Miss Macy Sue coming up late while stalking the pace, and Wild Gams making a late charge. Both fillies are getting a lot of recent backing (Dan Illman and Steve Crist at DRF both pick Miss Macy Sue, as does Steve Haskin at Bloodhorse). However, I have loved Miss Macy Sue since the Masters Stakes at Presque Isle Downs—no bandwagon jumper here! I would be happy with either one winning, but am rooting for Miss Macy Sue. For a long(er) shot, I would be pleased to see Baroness Thatcher (now minus-The Cobra) take a big step forward here—despite the relative lack of wins this year (only 1), she has taken on the best, mostly in routes, and performed admirably for the most part. As a daughter of Johannesburg, out of a Gulch mare, she should relish sprinting.
1. Miss Macy Sue
2. Wild Gams
3. Baroness Thatcher
Juvenile Turf (1 mile):
As may be true with nearly everyone, I find it very hard to handicap this race—not so much because it is a turf race, but because it is two-year-olds who lack a lot of defining experience. Except for the European contingent, that is. However, you gotta question how well these youngsters can handle shipping in from Europe. Still, I’ll take a stand for Strike the Deal, a Kentucky-bred who has raced in France and Great Britain this year, where the turf has seen a lot of water. Not sure how much of a dent the rains will have on Monmouth’s grass, but trainer Jeremy Noseda is a 29% shipper to the U.S. I am a big Bill Mott fan too, and his Prussian (son of Danzig) looks very good here. To round out the trifecta, I’m counting on Robby Albarado to work his magic with Cherokee Triangle who hasn’t faced much, but has excellent route experience with strong speed figures.
1. Strike the Deal
3. Cherokee Triangle
Dirt Mile (1 mile, 70 yards):
If he goes here instead of Saturday’s Sprint, I would take a huge risk and go with Forefathers…one of those “gut” choices I can’t entirely explain. Without him, I want Corinthian to win, but…who knows which Corinthian will show up here? So, even though it is breaking my heart, I will make a play with Wanderin Boy who has excellent results on off-tracks—and bless his heart, but Nick Zito has had only one BC winner (Juvenile Filly Storm Song in 1996); I loved his sincerely choked up reaction to War Pass’ recent win in the G1 Champagne Stakes. Sentimentally, I’ll be rooting for Park Avenue Ball to fill out the trifecta, although he doesn’t appear to be the same powerful force that he was last year, so…I’m tapping local hero Gottcha Gold to hang in for a piece.
1. Wanderin Boy
3. Gottcha Gold