Looking over the Oak Tree card for Saturday, it isn’t hard to tell that many horses are gearing up for their runs in the Breeder’s Cup championship races next month at Santa Anita. Some HUGE names dot the card, such as Street Boss, Hystericalady, and of course the super-filly Zenyatta – who when all is said and done could be the sleeper pick for Horse of the Year honors.
We’ve already taken a look at Curlin’s historic run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, as well as the equally exciting races that highlight the Belmont undercard, so now we’ll switch gears a bit and look at many of the Grade 1 races that highlight the Oak Tree card.
Race 5: The Lady’s Secret – Grade 1 – 1 1/16 Miles – $250,000
- Super Freaky – Doug O’Neil (M. Garcia) 15/1
- Wake Up Maggie – Julio Canini (Tyler Baze) 8/1
- Hystericalady – Jerry Hollendorfer (Garrett Gomez) 7/5
- Zenyatta – John Shirreffs(Michael Smith) 1/1*
- Santa Teresita – Eric Guillot (Michael Baze) 10/1
“She’s a super-freak, super-freak (she’s super freaky)…”
The 16th running of the Lady’s Secret is all about Zenyatta. The amazing daughter of Street Cry goes for her 8th consecutive win and attempts to keep her perfect record in tact. A small field of 4 other runners will contest her, with the most likely challenge coming from the classy Hystericalady on the front end.
It’s possible Hystericalady could wire this field and put an end to Zenyatta’s glorious run of consecutive victories, but I still think Zenyatta gets her at the wire. For those of you who are favorite-busters and abhor the taste of chalk, Hystericalady is the obvious choice as anyone else would be a jaw-dropping surprise.
Zenyatta’s an absolute freak of nature – and it’ll take the likes of a Curlin or a Big Brown to take her down – and even then it won’t be a foregone conclusion. Indeed, “from her hair down to her (hoof) nails” - she’s as super-freaky as they come. While she may not “need” the race, with her eligibility for the Breeder’s Cup already solidly confirmed, she’s the kind of competitor that always gives her best. Plus, I still think we’ve yet to see her absolute best. Freaky indeed.
Outside of these two, I thought Santa Teresita had the best shot of hitting the board, based largely on her performances in the Milady and Hawthorne Handicaps at Hollywood Park earlier in the year.
Selections: 4/3/5 ($1)
Race 6: The Ancient Title – Grade 1 – 6 Furlongs – $250,000
- Street Boss – Bruce Headley (David Flores) 9/5*
- Delta Storm – Mike Mitchell (Aaron Gryder) 15/1
- Decado – Patrick Gallagher (Alex Solis) 20/1
- Idiot Proof – Clifford Sise (Garrett Gomez) 4/1
- Sailors Sunset – Marcelo Polanco (Martin Pedroza) 12/1
- In Summation – Christopher Clement (Corey Nakatani) 3/1
- Esperamos – Wesley Ward (J.A. Garcia) 8/1
- Cost of Freedom – John Sadler (Tyler Baze) 5/1
The 24th running of the Ancient Title is highlighted by top California sprinter Street Boss – a horse I’ve been looking to single come Breeder’s Cup weekend for several months now. A closing type, many will be worried a bit about the rail post position, but all one need do is watch the replay of Street Boss’s amazing run in the Bing Crosby Handicap on July 27 at Del Mar to alleviate those concerns. Judging from that performance, this horse can do it all – and he should be fresh for Saturday’s rendition of the Ancient Title.
In Summation is the horse with the highest probability of pulling the upset, in my humble opinion. Looking back at the Bing Crosby, you can make a case that despite Street Boss having to circle the field, that it was In Summation who had the tougher trip. They were only separatedby 1 length at the wire, and it’s not hard to imagine Street Boss potentially encountering traffic problems today while In Summation explodes to the finish. In other words, I’d cover this number in the exotic wagers today.
Street Boss circles the field while In Summation encounters a bit of trouble in the Bing Crosby Handicap – 7/27/08
Cost of Freedom and Idiot Proof look useful to me underneath. Idiot Proof should be part of the pace and has a habit of sticking around and finishing in the exacta and/or trifecta. Cost of Freedom is moving up in class big time today, but there’s hints that this 5-year-old son of Cee’s Tizzy has rounded into fine form since joining the John Sadler barn. Note the sharp workouts and that sharp 110 Beyer figure last out.
Selections: 1/4,6,8/4,5 6,8 ($9)
Race 9: The Yellow Ribbon – Grade 1 – 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) – $400,000
- High Heel Sneakers – B.D. Cecil (Victor Espinoza) 30/1
- Vacare – Christopher Clement (Cory Nakatani) 3/1
- I Can See – Steve Knapp (J. Rosario) 15/1
- Black Mamba – John Sadler (Garrett Gomez) 9/2
- Valbenny – Robert Frankel (Alex Solis) 10/1
- Solva – B.D. Cecil (Aaron Gryder) 6/1
- Gula Gold – Jerry Hollendorfer (Michael Baze) 30/1
- Marzelline – B.D. Cecil (Tyler Baze) 20/1
- Live Life – Leonard Powell (J. Couton) 20/1
- Wait a While – Todd Pletcher (J. Velazquez) 7/5*
The 32nd running of the Yellow Ribbon gives us a 10 horse field with several options to chose from. Wait a While looks like a deserving favorite to me. She’s got 11 wins in 22 lifetime starts, and is near perfect over the Santa Anita turf. The key with her will be how she handles the outside post draw. She’s classy enough to overcome that positioning, as evidenced by her victory from the outside post in the 2006 edition of the Yellow Ribbon, but she does seem to bounce up-and-down on the Beyer scale, so perhaps this is a day to take a shot against her?
Black Mamba looks like a live competitor to me. Her victories in the Mabee and Beverly Hills Handicaps looked better visually than they appear on paper, but clearly with her Beyer potential she ranks as a legitimate threat to Wait a While. Vacare is another classy runner that it’s hard to get a firm fixture on. Wait a While was able to defeat her on the Saratoga turf when they met last summer, but she’s eligible to turn the tables if she gets a solid trip.
The early speed in this race doesn’t look too formidable for the off-the-pace types to overcome, and I’m expecting a thrilling finish here with as many as 4 horses having a real shot at reaching the winner’s circle. As a longshot choice, consider tossing in the Steve Knapp runner I Can See. I Can See has been literally”right there” with Black Mamba a couple of times in recent memory, and one gets the feeling that things may break her way at some point. Still, you’d have to expect Wait a While and Black Mamba to have a better overall chance of winning.
Valbenny and Solva are also horses that could be right there in the thick of things as the field turns for home, and both warrant consideration and closer inspection during the post parade.
Selections: 10/2,4/2,3,4,5,6 ($8)
Race 10: The Goodwood – Grade 1 – 1 1/8 Miles – $500,000
- Zappa – John Sadler (Jonathan Rosario) 8/1
- Tres Borrachos – Beau Greely (Tyler Baze) 20/1
- Informed – Doug O’Neil (M. Garcia) 30/1
- Surf Cat – Bruce Headley (David Flores) 6/1
- Slew’s Tiznow – Dough O’Neil (Alex Quinonez) 15/1
- Albertus Maximus – Vladimir Cerin (Garrett Gomez) 8/1
- Well Armed – Eoin Harty (Aaron Gryder) 3/1*
- Tiago – John Shirreffs(Michael Smith) 7/2
- Spirit One – Philippe Demercastel (I. Mendizabal) 10/1
- Mostacolli Mort – Julio Canini (Martin Pedroza) 12/1
- Mast Track – Robert Frankel (J. Velazquez) 9/2
The 27th running of the Goodwood is technically the “feature” race on the card, despite the presence of Street Boss and Zenyatta in earlier races, and offers a glimpse into how certain horses may handle the synthetic track during the upcoming Breeder’s Cup Classic. At one point it was rumored that Curlin was possibly coming for the Goodwood. While we don’t have a Curlin, per say, we do have a wide open field with numerous horses that could pull off the victory.
Well Armed will likely take most of the play at the windows as he has the kind of speed that could result in a gate-to-wire victory here. I ended up siding with him in second place and took a shot on an x-factor horse for top honors, namely the turf sensation Spirit One, who scored an upset over Archipenko and others in the Arlington Million in early August. If Spirt One’s turf form transfers to the synthetic track at Santa Anita – watch out, as we my just have another contender for the Classic on our hands.
Tiago is a horse I’ve historically used in my selections, and while I like how he’s training since his latest freshening, he hasn’t quite been the same over synthetics since his victory in last year’s Goodwood. Well Armed will give him something to run at, but he might need this race as a prep for the Classic.
Surf Cat, Zappa, and Mast Track are all runners I’d also consider using in some fashion – as anyone could find the board.
Selections: 9/7,11/4,7,8,11 ($6)
Best of luck to all and as always be sure to check for late changes and/or scratches.