What a pleasant surprise to find Tough Tiz’s Sis can dance through the slop! She’s a filly whose bandwagon I’ve been on since last March’s WinStar Oaks at Sunland Park, but unfortunately I wrote her off in the G1 Ruffian given her three previous poor efforts on off-tracks. Obviously, she’s developed into a much more mature 4-year-old, and I’m just so thrilled with her going into the BC Distaff (yeah, that’s what I’m calling it...none of this Ladies’ Classic crap). What a race that’s going to be! Honestly, I’m looking forward to it more than any other.
I did have a win bet on Backseat Rhythm ($11.80) in the G1 Garden City, but my exacta was ruined when Princess Jess finished behind the coupled Pure Clan and Ariege. Thankfully Julien Leparoux’s frivolous claim of foul was disallowed against the winner. The G1 QE II at Keeneland is next for Backseat Rhythm.
How about Delightful Kiss? The gorgeous gray won the 12f G3 Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes, earning a start in the new BC Marathon (and shouldn’t someone at the Breeders’ Cup be bright enough to realize that calling a 12f race a “marathon” is a joke, especially to Europeans and Australians who card a number of races over 2 and even 3 miles?). It was Delightful Kiss’s first run on a synthetic surface, and visually he appears to float over it coming down the stretch. And, shockingly, Calvin Borel didn’t even ride the rail with him!
Several quality races at Woodbine on Sunday and, assuming all three stay on the turf, here’s my analysis:
G2 Canadian Stakes (Race 4):
Augustin Stables’ Forever Together has thrived since transferring to turf, most recently seen winning the G1 Diana at Saratoga. Sealy Hill just missed winning this race last year and appears in good form after an allowance win last out. However, given the lack of early speed, I really like The Niagara Queen here. She should be able to set a moderate pace and still have enough left at the end, like in her last race, the G2 Dance Smartly. Plus she’ll like a little give to the turf, and this daughter of Langfuhr out of a Lord at War mare has never finished worse than second in four attempts at 9f.
G1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Race 7):
I’ve read a number of handicappers picking Cloudy’s Knight, but, sorry, this 8-year-old isn’t the same horse he was last year when he won the G1 Canadian International. Definitely no. Strike a Deal has tipped-toed around a breakout performance this year, finishing 1-1/2 lengths back in the G1 Manhattan and a neck behind Presious Passion in the G1 United Nations; this son of Smart Strike out of a Dixieland Band mare could be ready for a big effort. My heart, however, with be with Better Talk Now who, at age 9, has put in three increasingly-stronger performances since returning from Dubai in March, including rallying nicely to finish second behind Grand Couturier in the G1 Sword Dancer last out. What a joy it would be to see him victorious here!
G1 Woodbine Mile (Race 9):
Kip Deville is, undoubtedly, a force to be reckoned with, but did get beaten in this race last year by Shakespeare. This year Bobby Frankel’s filly Ventura will deliver the knockout blow to Kip. She fires first off a layoff, but a firmer surface may be more to her liking. Depending on the performance of Strike a Deal (and Seaside Retreat) in the Northern Dancer, I may give Rahy’s Attorney a shot, but my longshot flyer here for a piece of the exotics is Ice Bear with Chantal Sutherland up.