It’s hot. Damn hot. And frankly I don’t feel like doing much of anything except sitting in the air conditioned house and indulging in some online horse betting. With Del Mar opening on Wednesday and Saratoga on Friday, it’s truly the beginning of summer.
I went to Equibase to see if entries were up yet for either boutique meet, and found only an all-hurdle card to be run at Saratoga on Sunday. But, look who's running in race 1, a maiden special weight going 2-1/16 miles? 7-year-old Steppenwolfer, my 2006 Kentucky Derby horse (sorry, Barbaro fans). Good to see the gorgeous grey with a second career.
So, where to focus my attention on Saturday? Looks like good turf racing at Colonial Downs and Arlington. I’ve already handicapped the G2 Virginia Derby as part of the TBA’s association with ThoroFan—you can view that analysis here. Needless to say, Paddy O’Prado looks to be the winner, but Interactif wouldn’t surprise me either (and I’m still hoping Two Notch Road outruns his pedigree). Ditto in the G3 Virginia Oaks with Jungle Tale, who’s now with Jonathan Sheppard—if anyone can stretch her out, he can. I liked Kilmore Quay in the American Oaks, but she was a complete non-factor; maybe with Rajiv Maragh up she’ll do better (he’s certainly got a way with fillies). In the Kitten’s Joy, Pleasant Strike looks to get back on track with Javier Castellano aboard for the first time; still, he hasn’t done much this year, has he? On the other hand, Baltimore Bob looks in form, and wouldn’t it be something if Vanquisher won one for George Steinbrenner?
At Arlington, the G3 Modesty features Tuscan Evening who’s on a 5-race win streak, but looks vulnerable stepping outside of California. Rainbow View has been working sharply for this start, and I give the local Hot Cha Cha a good chance of getting a piece.
The G2 Delaware Handicap (who Kevin at Colin’s Ghost wrote this great history) looks to be Life at Ten’s race to lose, but I’m loving Milwaukee Appeal who looks ready to fire a big one in her third race off a break. I’m also going to try and beat Ibboyee in the New York Derby—with the Smarty Jones colt Shrewd One. Only a 4-horse field for the Bold Venture at Woodbine, with Hollywood Hit in the midst of a 6-race win streak, and Fatal Bullet turning back from his first foray into routing.
In the 1 1/2 mile Greenwood Cup, I’m hoping to get a great price on A.U. Miner, although with Frankie Pennington up, I’m sure he’ll take a lot of local money. At Belmont, the G3 Jaipur on the inner turf looks made for Formidable, but I’m hoping Jean-Luc Samyn can bring Yield Bogey in for a piece. In the G2 A Gleam at Hollywood, rooting hard for Foolish Pleasure descendent Free Flying Soul.
For a longshot flyer, in race 6 at Ellis Park (1 mile turf race for 2yo filly maidens), I like Neversaidiwassweet.
I promise I'll get back to more hard-hitting observations soon :-)