What a GLORIOUS day for racing this Saturday is! Rather than focus on one track in particular, we’re going to be all over the place in true ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) fashion. I’ve got 7major stakes races for which to give out selections, comprising races at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Hollywood Park. I’ve listed them by post time, since we’ll be going fast and furious today in our best Matt Carouthers “:58 Flat” impression. So sit back, buckle up, grease up the old wagering monkey (I don’t know, it sounded good as I was typing), and enjoy the ride.
2:49 EST – Aqueduct Race 6: The G2 Demoiselle (1 1/8 Miles)
- #5 Sky Diva (3/5*)
- #2 Ain’t Love Grand (7/2)
- #4 Springside (6/1)
The 87th running of the Demoiselle at Aqueduct is highlighted by the super-filly Sky Diva. Two for three lifetime, her only defeat has come at the hands of the even more super-terrific Stardom Bound, and even then she was only 3 lengths away. She gets lighter company here, and should sit a nice stalking trip and get a good crack at things turning for home.
There appears to be a couple of horses with apenchant for going to the lead in here (Stormy’s Smile, Boleyn, etc.), but my choice for speed of the speed is Ain’t Love Grand. I also think this daughter of Dixie Union will get the 1 1/8 mile distance of the Demoiselle with no trouble. Love him or hate him, it’s hard not to give a Rick Dutrow runner a big fighting chance here.
Underneath I like a combination of Bluegrass Princess and Springside. Since it’s a short field, you could probably add Stormy’s Smile and Boleyn to the bottom of the tickets if you wish to go that deep.
$1 Trifecta: 5/2,4,6/2,4,6 ($6)
3:19 EST – Aqueduct Race 7: The G2 Remsen (1 1/8 Miles)
- #6 Old Fashioned (2/1*)
- #7 American Dance (8/1)
- #2 Idol Maker (7/2)
The 95th running of the Remsen has been circled on my calendar for about a week or so now for one main reason: Old Fashioned. I’ll clue you in on a little secret, my newest “horse watch” stable online (which I plan on adding here shortly) has this guy in it as one to watch for the 2009 “Road to the Roses.” Old Fashioned’s trainer Larry Jones is one of the best in the business with younger horses. He looks versatile enough to be able to stalk here and get a clean trip. If he shows up this one should be academic.
American Dance is a sneaky play underneath in the exactas. I think 8/1 is an incredible steal on this son of A.P. Indy who would appear to have a world of upside. As the DRF notes, he’s kin to Saint Liam, a Horse of the Year winner, and has been working strongly for the Todd Pletcher barn.
Idol Maker is another to watch in her that could potentially hit the board. He’s been working with American Dance and most recently was a shade faster in the A.M. drills. He cashed at 17/1 last time out and is being touted at 7/2 on the morning line. My guess is we’ll get somewhere in between those two figures, say about 5/1 or 6/1.
Outside of those, Jassandthemagician looks playable, although he’s also entered in the Kentucky Jockey Club at 4:27 PM several states to the west. To be honest, I’m not sure where this guy runs today. His odds are longer in the KY Jockey Club, but that may be his better win chance. Rip Rap and Atomic Rain also look playable to me underneath. Since we’ve got a $.10 superfecta we can play with here, why not go a bit deep, eh?
$.10 Superfecta: 6/2,3,7/1,2,3,4,7/1,2,3,4,7 ($6)
3:28 EST – Churchill Race 9: The G2 Golden Rod (1 1/16 Miles)
- #3 Dream Empress (9/5)
- #1 Sara Louise (8/5*)
- #4 Rachel Alexandra (2/1)
My selections came up a bit chalky for the 66th running of the Golden Rod, and do note that we’ve jumped across town to legendary Churchill Downs for these selections. Dream Empress exits a victory in the G1 Alcibiades and a tough 2nd place finish to Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Since Stardom Bound is not here, I’ll guess that she shows she is the “best of the race” here in the Golden Rod. The concern is of course that the Golden Rod is on true dirt and not synthetics, but this filly has shown the ability to win on turf and the artificial stuff, so I’ll guess that she’s handle the dirt just fine. Trainer Kenneth McPeek (the “man who found Curlin”), has been on fire this year and doesn’t make many wrong moves. He’s had Dream Empress training at Churchill ever since the Juvenile Fillies. Hopefully he’s liked what he’s seen.
Sara Louise exits back to back victories, including over another of today’s arch rivals (Rachel Alexandra) in the Pocahontas earlier in the month. We know she can run well on Churchill’s main track as she crushed the field that day to win by 3 3/4 lengths. If for some reason Dream Empress doesn’t take to the dirt, this should be your winner.
Rachel Alexandra, War Echo, and Pearl of Valor were my selections to fill out the trifecta, and I’ll give Rachel Alexandra a small chance of cracking the exacta as well. Really to me though, this race will be all about Dream Empress and whether she takes to the dirt or not. Everything else is secondary.
$1 Trifecta: 3/1,4/1,4,6,7 ($6)
3:48 EST – Aqueduct Race 8: The G1 Cigar Mile
- #4 Bribon (6/1)
- #2 Arson Squad (5/1)
- #5 Tale of Ekati (12/1)
The 20th running of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile came up rather interesting with many directions for bettors to go. We’ve got a competitive mix of 3-year-olds and older runners to choose from. Ultimately I thought this one was all about the early pace, with potentially Monterey Jazz, Storm Play, and Wanderin Boy all assuring decent early clips. I think that sets things up for the off-the-pace types, and of those I prefer Bribon and Arson Squad.
Bribon exits a 105 Beyer effort at the optional claiming level, and really 3 of his last 4 races look good enough to put him in serious contention here. The question will be how he handles the acid test moving up into the Grade 1 rankings today, but he certainly looks on paper like he’ll handle it well.
Arson Squad will likely take some serious play at the betting windows for the Rick Dutrow barn. He exits a Grade 2 victory over Anak Nakal and certainly appears to have turned the corner since switching back to dirt from the synthetics of California.
Underneath I think Tale of Ekati has a chance to hit the board, and I love the 12/1 odds. I wouldn’t totally toss out Wanderin Boy (who has finished 2nd to a bevy of more talented runners in his career), Kodiak Kowboy (another candidate for a great trip), and the speedy Monterey Jazz.
$.10 Superfecta: 2,4/2,4,5/2,4,5,8,9/2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 ($6)
4:27 EST – Churchill Race 11: The G2 Kentucky Jockey Club
- #3 Beethoven (7/2)
- #4 Stormalory (6/1)
- #8 Capt. Candyman Can (8/5*)
We move on to two-year-olds in the 83rd running of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Most of the selections I’ve seen favor morning line favorite Capt. Candyman Can to rattle off his 3rd lifetime victory. I think he’s a talented runner, but on a day filled with big College Football games as well, allow me to break out my Lee Corso impression and say “not so fast, my friends!”
Beethoven is my selection here as I feel he’s in top form coming into this for trainer John Ward. Jockey Jordan Leparoux jumped ship to stick with the favorite, but Beethoven picked up the services of Calvin Borel as a concession. Not bad, huh? Might we have a masterpiece coming?
Stormalory got beaten by a neck facing Beethoven last out, and these guys could be finish one/two yet again. I do think Capt. Candyman will hit the board, I’m just not sold on him enough to play him at 8/5. I’ll roll the dice on Beethoven over these two, and toss in Zion, Jassandthemagician (if he runs here rather than the Remsen), and Star of David underneath. If he makes a favorable post parade impression, I’d consider using Coal Barron, who does have some useful angles to consider.
$1 Trifecta: 3/4,8/4,5,6,8 ($6)
2:32 PT (5:32 EST) – Hollywood Race 5: The G3 Generous (1 Mile – Turf)
- #1 Bittel Road (9/5*)
- #2 Mr. Rod (6/1)
- #7 Bourbon Bay (3/1)
We switch not only coasts but surfaces for the 26th running of the Grade 3 Generous at Hollywood Park. The first of many stakes races at the “turf festival” out at the ‘wood. Bittel Road looks tough to beat to me. I, like many others, thought he was playable in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but he wound up finishing 8th out of a field of 12. That’s certainly a tad disconcerting here. Prior to that he had been unbeatable though. He had an extreme outside post position that day at Santa Anita, and now moves back to the more friendly inside (at least for him according to his past performances). He also picks up the services of veteran jockey Michael E. Smith, and with the speed he’s flashed before should be in contention for this the whole way around the track.
Mr. Rod is likely the early speed here, and the question for him will be whether or not he can hang on. I’ll wager that he stays around for place or show. Hype, Bourbon Bay, and Battle of Hastings are in my next tier of horses. Ultimately I gave the nod for 3rd choice to Bourbon Bay by virtue of his addition of blinkers and jockey Rafael Bejarano. Don’t sell Hype or Battle of Hastings too short though as both are eligible to make their presences felt.
$1 Trifecta: 1/2,3,7/2,3,4,7 ($9)
4:35 PT (7:35 EST) – Hollywood Race 9: The G3 Hollywood Turf Express Handicap (6 Furlongs – Turf)
- #10 California Flag (7/2*)
- #9 Carrilero (6/1)
- #1 Delta Storm (5/1)
We wind up with my least favorite type of race to handicap, a turf sprint in the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express Handicap. At least this one came up deep and looks interesting. California Flag was a trendy pick for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but was compromised by frast early fractions due to the presence of Mr. Nightlinger. He should get an easier trip of it today, but he must not burn himself out. We should know fairly early on whether he’s in position to hang on or to start moving backwards as the wire approaches.
Carrilero is a major threat here in my opinion. He was on the bench for almost half a year before returning and cashing last out against softer competition. He should be more fit now and has every reason to move forward off that last effort. If he does, watch out…thief alert.
Delta Storm I’m picking just because this feels like the type of race that Aaron “the rider” Gryder finds a way to grind out. The last couple of times he’s been positioned along the rail he’s done well, although if he were to hook up withCalifornia Flag at all it would likely ruin the chances of both of them. My guess is he’ll find a comfortable spot to rate, maybe even save some ground, and try to muscle his way through at the end. I’ll also use One Union and Joe Bravo underneath to round out the ticket.
$1 Trifecrta: 10/1,9/1,2,8,9 ($6)
Best of luck to everyone and as always be sure to check for late changes and/or scratches – and be sure to watch the post parades!