Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday's Northern Dancer at Woodbine

The 2011 Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes goes as the 8th race on the Sunday card at Woodbine. It is part of Woodbine Mile Day, and the second day of a turf-rich weekend in every division with Breeder’s Cup implications.

The Northern Dancer is at a mile and a half on turf and the traditional prep for the $1.5 million dollar Canadian International.

Not a stellar field in here, but some nice horses none the less.

There will be a lot of focus on the Euro, Wigmore Hall, because even the second or third string Euro is very often better than most North American turf runners. However, he will be a short price and, though he has run against better, keep in mind, he has never run at the distance and has never run over the Woodbine turf. And I am not convinced that he will like a firm turf course, either.

Second choice on the morning line is Bourbon Bay. He is a consistent sort having won on three different surfaces. And he is trained by a Hall of Famer. He has 3 wins and a second out of 5 tries at this distance, though never at Woodbine. He seems to get along very well with his new jock Joe Talamo, and Smokin’ Joe ships in for the ride. The thing I find the most interesting is his workout pattern. In the last 15 weeks he has run 4 times, but in between, every third work is 7/8ths of a mile. There will be no doubt about his fitness and soundness with this amount of work and I think he will once again give a very good account of himself.

Trainer Mark Casse has two in here. And while I prefer Seaside Retreat, his other horse Hailstone IS a half brother to Court Vision who will be trying to win his second Woodbine Mile on the same day. But I don’t see this son of City Zip getting a mile and a half.

Seaside Retreat is interesting though. The 8 year old gelding is getting his third start off a 3 YEAR layoff. That’s a LONG layoff. But he is rounding to form. Ignore this horse at your own peril. If he returns to his back form, at Woodbine, he could be very tough. Two triple digit numbers in 2008, in this very same race AND the Canadian International, shows he has what it takes. Will his back class resurface?

 Simmard deserves a look. Attfield always spots his horses well and he has more wins than any of them over the Woodbine turf.

Al Khali is a horse that I always thought could be a good one. But he always seems to find trouble.  Alan Garcia does get along well with him and if you are playing exotics, he could jump into the triple with a good trip. But will it ever happen?

Hotep and Laureate Conductor appear outclassed.

I like the looks of Seaside Retreat in here especially at his morning line of 10 -1. I might be willing to take a chance and hope that he returns to his glory days. I will use Bourbon Bay (5-2) and Simmard (8-1) if I dive into any exotic plays.

As one of the guest handicappers this weekend at the Handicapper's Corner at ThoroFan I urge you to visit their informative website. It's the site that gives a voice to the racing fan.
Good Luck and enjoy all the good turf racing at Woodbine this weekend. 

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