Category Archives: Graded Stakes

BIG BROWN vs OLDER HORSES & and OFF TRACK

Big Brown is such a star that Monmouth Park has carded a race just for him, the Monmouth Stakes at 11/8 miles on turf.  I suppose the idea was to get an easy prep in for the BCClassic, but this has turned out to be anything but for the presumptive 3yo champ.  The half-million dollar purse has attracted a full field of Graded stakes winners, older turf specialists itching for the chance to take down the Derby winner. 

SHakis, trained by Keiran Mclaughlin for Darley, just won the Baruch at Saratoga.  11/8 miles is his bitch. 

Proudinsky was 6th by only 2lengths in a blanket finish to Shakis in the Baruch, and Frankel has him tuned up for a victory this time.  He may get it, too, because along with the older horses and the grass, Big Brown may also have to overcome turf less-than-firm.  Weather predictions are calling for rain saturday, which could even pull the race off the grass and onto the main track. 

Silver Tree has a win over the Monmouth turf course already, and was game in his last narrow win in the Oceanport. 

How sweet would the stretch call be if Fugeddaboudit Sal won? 

Despite his record thus far, Big Brown does not have me wholly convinced of his greatness.  He has been beating a questionable crop all year.  His peers, whom he so thoroughly wolloped, have been barely beating each other (sloowly) .  What will happen when he gets in with the senior class? 

I like Proudinsky and Silver Tree, or Shakis on top if the course is dry.  Drum Major may be a dangerous upset play, after a year layoff and a 7th place finish in the Baruch.  Get Serious, BAllonenostrikes and Kiss the Kid are local Monmouth horses looking for some big-time cred.

If Brown can pull off a win here, it will go a loooong way in convincing me — like Curlin last year.  I was not on the Golden Warrior’s bandwagon until he beat my buddy LAwyer Ron in the JCGC. 

At least Brown is attracting positive attention to the sport.  Memphis is the dead zone of racing coverage, and even people here are talking about him.  They may even flip over from the Southern Heritage CLassic to catch the race on TVG (3:30pm Central).  Who am I kidding?  Memphians skipping a football game?  LOL…

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Filed under Graded Stakes, Handicapping, Monmouth Park, Turf racing

FINAL SAUHBR SELECTIONS!

FOREGO:

1)LUCKY ISLAND
2)FOREFATHERS
3)TASTEYVILLE

alt:First Defence

WOODWARD:

1)CURLIN
2)OUT OF CONTROL
3)DIVINE PARK

alt: Loose Leaf

ONTARIO COLLEEN S:

1)LICKETY LEMON
2)FAREENA
3)FORESTRY’S MAGIC

alt:Sugar Bay

DEL MAR DERBY:

1)KILDERRY
2)GIO PONTI
3)SKY CAPE

alt:TizWest

LINCOLN HANDICAP:

1)PEPPER’S PRIDE
2)SILVER EXPRESSION
3)MISS POSSIBILITY

alt:Letthemusicbegin

PENNSYLVANIA DERBY

1)SMOOTH AIR
2)ATONED
3)READY SET

alt:Numaany

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Filed under Del Mar, Graded Stakes, Handicapping, Saratoga, SAUHBR

SAUHBR Week 6: FINAL FURLONG!

Curlin, The Golden Warrior

Curlin, The Golden Warrior

Tomorrow will be the beginning of the end for SAUHBR Round 1.  BT’s Pick Power selections represent the best of the final Summer Stakes from around the country.  It being a holiday weekend, BT has chosen a Monday race to keep the party going just a little bit longer.  After this weekend, most of my faves will be starting in their last BC Preps.  The next edition of SAUHBR should be the Breeders’ Cup itself – 2 days of top-caliber racing on a surface many have not ventured a hoof upon!  Drama, drama, drama!  The opportunities for upsets abound, and then there are the Euros!  But that’s for another blog.  I will post my OFFICIAL SELECTIONS later!

This final slate of SAUHBR stakes are:

Saturday at Saratoga:

FOREGO S. Gr1 — A lot of the excitement got sucked out of this race when Benny The Bull retired, but now Lucky Island and Tasteyville are the headliners.  I like Forefathers and First Defense to show up in there, too.
WOODWARD S. Gr1 — Curlin’s dirt return, his first race at Saratoga…Divine Park is making a race of it, and AP Arrow is in there again…if he runs his race, the Champ is gonna do it easily.  They’re even giving Curlin the Key to the city!

Woodbine: ONTARIO COLLEEN S. — Have no idea who’s running, but the name Lickety Lemon is priceless!

Sunday’s grab bag of tracks:

Ruidoso Downs: LINCOLN HANDICAP — Pepper’s Pride shoots for the moon & her 17th straight victory.

Del Mar: DEL MAR DERBY — Gio Ponti makes a cross-country trip to continue his winning ways on turf.  Tizwest and Nownownow challenge.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY STAKES!!

Philly Park: PENNSYLVANIA DERBY — Perhaps the best of the weekend, with Smooth Air, Ready Set, Two Step Salsa, and Atoned and a bunch of others!  14 entries, that’s truly a “derby”!
 

Also on Manday, a long-lost favorite of mine returns to the track after almost a year off — Mr. Franks!  This colt filled out a nice exacta for me at Oaklawn back in, um…2005?

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Travers Good Times

This year’s Travers turned out to be one for the ages, with Col. John and Mambo In Seattle practically dead-heating it (if not for today’s advanced digital photo tech, I am sure it would have been deemed DH officially).  It also tells me that despite Big Brown’s perceived weaknesses, he really is an outstanding individual.  The rest of his crop guts out whisker victories against each other, yet even in his last less-than-stella outing he still managed to beat them by 1.5. lengths.  I liked Asmussen’s suggestion of a public workout between Curlin & BB — neither side has anything to lose, and it would somewhat appease the infielders who are clamoring for them to face each other.  But I digress.

Travers.  The stakes record for the race was set in 1979 by General Assembly, a look-alike son of Secretariat.  The time of 2:00 flat for the 1.25 miles is also the track record for the distance at Saratoga, and General Assembly destroyed the field by 15 lengths at the wire.  Here’s the race:

GA was a top 3yo of ’79, but he had the misfortune of racing in the shadow of Spectacular Bid,who, coincidentally, missed the Travers bc he was still recovering from the Belmont “safety pin” issue.

Affirmed & Alydar made their last start together in their legendary rivalry the 1978 Travers. It was a rough-run race for Alydar, who had to check at the top of the stretch when Affirmed came over hard into him on the rail.  Affirmed won, but was placed second for the interference.  Would Alydar have won if he hadn’t been cut off?  You be the judge:

The 1930 Travers featured Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox.  However, like so many times in racing, the heavy favorite didn’t get the job done.  The winner was 100-1 shot JIM DANDY.  More on the 1930 Travers can be found at this excellent blog: Colin’s Ghost

Jaipur and Ridan dueled the entire length of the race in 1962.  It was almost a shame to have one winner, but Jaipur prevailed at the wire.  The photos from the stretch are some of the more memorable ones at The Blood-Horse archives.  Here’s the vid:

Cicada, C.T. Chenery’s champion filly, was in the field that year as well.

Finally, here’s my favorite Travers that I actually lived through (on TV):

THUNDER GULCH!!  ❤ that horse!!

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Filed under Graded Stakes, Saratoga, Thunder Gulch Love

TRIFECTA!BATTLE ROYALE HEATS UP LIKE AN AUGUST AFTERNOON!!!SAUHBR Week 3 RESULTS!

The SAUHBR action kicked it up a notch this past weekend, leaving Borderland Totalisator and me in a dead-heat for Total (amateur) Handicapping Domination – 65-65!!

YEHAW!!  TRIFECTA, BABY!  1st TRI in SAUHBR was hit by yours truly in the Secretariat Stakes!  Winchester (1)-by daylight-Plan (2)-Tizdejavu(1)!!  Winchester’s victory was so visually impressive he’s going into my new fave category, and the final time wasn’t that bad, either -2:01:76.  TRIPLE POINT BONUS! 12 points!!

But that’s not all — In the Beverly D, Mauralakana (4) and Communique (1) galloped under the wire for an EXACTA!! YESS!  DOUBLE BONUS! 10 points!

Then, as I predicted, the Million was the Euros’ race to lose — they swept the top 3 spots.  Spirit One lead them wire to wire, with Archipenko (2) and Mount Nelson (1) rounding out the tri.  I didn’t hit the winner, but I *did* get the place/show.  Stream Cat was 6th behind Einstein — the best US placing was 4th finisher Silverfoot, who may just have taken my advice on that John Henry juju.  3 points!

BT, on the other hand, didn’t have such stellar luck at Arlington — Tizdejavu got him 1 pt in the Sec, he was shut out in the Bev D, and Archipenko won him a point in the Million.  What happened to you, Glen?

Sunday’s 2yo Sprint Stakes were a little Crazier but I still did pretty decent with the picks …  BUT!  I have a Scoring Q that must wait ’till BT gets back to his computer!!

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Filed under arlington park, Brag sheet, Graded Stakes, Handicapping, results, SAUHBR, Turf racing

GRASS & GO: Arlington Million XXVI/ Two-Year-Old SPRINTS! +SAUHBR Week3 PICKS

My race choices this weekend are polar opposites: Gr1 Turf classics on Saturday at Arlington, and Two-Year-Old Sprints on dirt/poly on Sunday!  Whee!

This year’s Million looks to be a Euro romp, unless by some chance Silverfoot catches the Jambalaya/Tin Man/John Henry spirit and pulls a major upset.  Archipenko is the early fave, with Einstein leading the US contingent.  But here are my picks:

 

1)Mount Nelson
2)Archipenko
3)Stream Cat

alt: Einstein

Mount Nelson just won a hard-fought Coral Eclipse stakes and O’Brien has been on fire this year.  Archipenko will give him a run, but I see the son of The Rock pulling through.  Einstein has to do scads better than he has in his last 2 to even get close to the Euros.  Stream Cat actually won his last out, at Arlington, so I give him an edge over the Scientist. 

Beverly D.

1)Mauralakana
2)Precious Kitten
3)Communique

alt: Ciao

Secretariat Stakes

1)Plan
2)Tizdejavu
3)Winchester

alt:Snoose Goose

 

SUNDAY: SUPER SPEEDY FUTURITY DAY

BEST PAL STAKES Gr2 Del Mar:

1)Captain Steel
2)Azul Leon
3)Charlie’s Moment

alt: S.S. STone

VANDAL Stakes Woodbine:

1)Silver Rocket
2)El Brujo
3)Bucephalus

alt: Win and Reign

Man, this turned out to be a short field.  The top three look pretty well matched, but Silver Rocket had the best workout.  

Northwest Stallion STRONG RULER Stakes Emerald Downs:

1)Burgundy Road
2)Enumerator
3)Toss’Em Again

alt: Nickel Nickel

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Haskell Heartstopper + SAUHBR Results Week2 BT 47, The Infield 39

Big Brown squeezes between Atoned (left) and Magical Forest (right) around the first turn in the Haskell. photo by mel evans/AP/bostonglobe.com

Big Brown squeezes between Atoned (left) and Magical Forest (right) around the first turn in the Haskell. photo by mel evans/AP/bostonglobe.com

What a race!  Big Brown nipped Coal Play at the wire in a thriller Haskell, despite every effort by jockey Desormeaux to lose the race.   I’m not saying Kent was trying to lose, but it just seemed like he wasn’t riding with any confidence in his horse.  After shooting out to the lead at the break, he immediately reined Brown back as Coal Play ran up to challenge.  The Big Horse followed Zito’s rabbit around the track in second, but when the time came to blow past for the win, he didn’t respond.  Coal Play opened up 2 lengths on him and Cool Coal Man and looked very much the winner.  It was more than halfway into the stretch before Big Brown responded to any of Kent’s urging, right-handed whip action.  He raced somewhat greenly, drifting far out to the middle of the track.  Still Coal Play lead, and Cool Coal Man was advancing (albeit sloowly).  Finally, in the last few yards, Big Brown’s mystical “energy button” kicked on, an he somehow managed to pass the pacesetter with enough momentum to carry him across the line 1.5 in front.  In the gallop-out, Brown fought Kent every step of the way, throwing his head up with his mouth hanging open.  It wasn’t pretty. 

For Brown’s next race, they should put Prado back on and see what a difference it would make.  Jock changes aren’t uncommon even with the Big Horses.  Jean Cruget got taken off of Seattle SLew.  Steve Cauthen didn’t always ride Affirmed.  Jerry Bailey didn’t always ride Cigar.  

The partnership between horse and rider was severely shaken up in the Belmont and in SUnday’s Haskell, it seems the ties finally broke.  If we’re only going to enjoy Big Brown 2 more times on the track, the connections would do well to consider the jockey switch.  The horse deserves the best chance he can get for optimal performance.  Especially if it’s up against Curlin, who he must beat for any Horse of the Year honors.

Of course, all of this will be moot if ZENYATTA goes in the Classic instead of the distaff.  That filly is the queen of the Cali condomtrack!   

SAUHBR WEEK 2 RESULTS!!

HASKELL: 1)BIG BROWN (4) 2)COAL PLAY 3)COOL COAL MAN (1)

OCEANPORT: 1)SILVER TREE (1) 2)GIANT WRECKER 3)HOTSTUFANTHENSOME

MATCHMAKER: 1)J’RAY 2)DYNA’S LASSIE 3)COZZI CAPITAL — NO POINTS!!  TOTAL SUCKAGE RACE…

WEST VIRGINIA DERBY: 1)READY SET 2)WEB GEM 3)REAL APPEAL — NO POINTS!  MAJOR BOMB RACE…

WV GOVERNOR’S STAKES: 1)ZANJERO (4) 2)BETTER THAN BONDS(1) 3)BARBICAN  EX BONUS 5

ROYAL NORTH: 1)AKRONISM (4) 2)BECKY SHARP 3)MARINA BALLERINA

TOTAL SCORE after 2 weekends: 39 POINTS!

This race is just gettin’ started!  I have PICK POWER this week, and there just happens to be a few grass races at Arlington that usually draw a crowd up there in Illinois…

Sunday’s races are proving more difficult, though — I’ll figure something out before Wednesday.

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