Saturday, August 27, 2011

Get Tied On

If not for Hurricane Irene, I would be spending Travers weekend at Saratoga. But plans need to be flexible when Mother Nature is as serious as she is this weekend, and I pray everyone stays safe.

Now the question is, will those of us in front of our TVs and computers have power all the way through to the Pacific Classic tomorrow night?

I’ll pray for that too.

I am still in front in the "Huddie" handicapper’s contest. But the pressure is mounting. Had nothing yesterday (a first!) and my 25 to 1 Shug firster in the 3rd, just ran fourth. I wasn’t sure what to expect of him, but his dam Salute was a favorite of mine so I gave it a shot. I will add him to my watch list, as he ran very professionally and should improve next out.

Some thoughts for the Stakes Action at Saratoga.

I will probably back Romacaca in the Balston Spa .The turf has just been upgraded to firm at the Spa which I think she prefers. A winner of 12 races, she can be on the lead or close to it and she is as honest as they come. Maybe Tapitsfly deserves a look too.

The 9th through the 11th comprises the late all stakes Pick 4. In the Victory Ride I think that Valiant Passion is the horse to beat.  The Steve Margolis trained Moon Buzz though totally untested is a bit interesting. Though 2 for 2, this is a huge step up but she could be a live longshot.

 Looking at both Tar Heel Mom and Sassy Image in the Ballerina.   One will be on the front end, and the other will be flying at the end. Both are coming off wins and sharp works since. Sassy Image has had a freshening, which always works with her.  I will use both in my Pick 4.

In the King’s Bishop I will single Cool Blue Red Hot. If Uncle Mo is “back” I’m fine with that. But I think this is asking a lot, after what he has been through, so maybe this is a good time to take a stand against him. I think the 7/8ths will suit the Penna- trained Harlan’s Holiday colt to “t” and I have to root for my “huddie” choice. He should be closing late.

Going with Shackleford in the big one. I have been a big fan since the winter, and there is not a more honest three year old than this big red colt. May not be the perfect distance but he’s coming to this race healthy and happy and I would love to see him win this.

Enjoy Travers Day wherever you are. Get tied on for some great racing and some nasty weather.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Alabama could have been "The Cottrell"

The Alabama Stakes for three year old fillies, is a true Grade 1 going the classic distance of a mile and a quarter on Saratoga's main track. The feature on Saturday in the 131st renewal. If you want to remember some of the best fillies on the east coast for the last 100+ years, just read the list of winners of the Alabama.

Prior to the late sixties,  some of the top class fillies that have won this race include Beldame, Miss Woodford, Maskette,Top Flight, Vagrancy, Busanda, Primonetta, Tempted, What A Treat, Miss Cavendish and Gamely. Many of these became blue hens, or dams of multiple graded stakes winners.

And the list goes on. Other, more recent winners are Shuvee, Fanfreluche, Optimistic Gal, Our Mims, Life's Magic, Mom's Command, Maplejinsky, Open Mind, Go For Wand, Versailles Treaty, Sky Beauty, Heavenly Prize, Banshee Breeze, Silverbulletday, Jostle, Flute, Pine Island, Proud Spell and Blind Luck.

Just a partial list, but impressive just the same.

I am always curious on how certain Stakes races are named. Most often they are named after famous horses, owners, jockeys, or trainers that have had success at a certain track.  According to the very limited information I could find on the naming of the Alabama, it seems it was named in honor of William Cottrell, who was from Mobile, Alabama. Because he was "too modest to have a race named after him personally, it was named after the state he lived in."

Who was this man? Hard to say, but maybe he had the right idea We could have been calling this race "the Cottrell". The Alabama is as prestigious a race as you can get in this country, and just the name is synonymous with class.  Whoever joins the list this year will be in the company of some of the greatest fillies American Racing has ever seen.

The field for the Grade 1 Alabama:

1) Royal Delta / J.Lezcano
2) Pinch Pie / J. Velazquez
3) Plum Pudding / M. Garcia
4) It's Tricky / E. Castro
5) St.John's River / R. Alberado
6) Inglorious / L. Contreras

Who will win the Alabama this year?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Laughter Could Be A Key

A Look at the Sword Dancer Invitational

The Gr. 1 Sword Dancer Invitational is the feature race at Saratoga on Saturday. It is a mile and a half on the inner turf course for three year olds and up with a purse of $500,000 and is a prep for the Breeder’s Cup Turf. Named for the Horse of the Year in 1959, Sword Dancer was owned by the Brookmeade Stable and trained by Elliot Burch. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

A very good field of 8 are entered, with trainers Bill Mott and Christopher Clement both entering 2.  Clement has said that Grassy will scratch if the turf is too firm. His other charge is the Firestone’s homebred Winchester, who might be conceived as the class of the field. This will be his second race off a layoff, and though he is working well, his trainer has said that coming back in three weeks might not be ideal.

The highweight (123) in the field is Teak’s North who is looking for his 3rd Grade 1 win of the year. However he has never been the distance of a mile and a half.

Drosselmeyer, last year’s Belmont winner, HAS won at the distance, but that was on dirt. He tried the turf twice as a two year old, but did not win. However, a sharp work on Monday on the grass, indicates the surface switch should not be a problem. Mott’s other horse Al Khali seems to be going in the wrong direction.

Rahy’s Attorney is a 14 race winner of over 2 million dollars and though perhaps a cut below these, always tries.

Though Bim Bam did beat Champion Gio Ponti in the Manhattan, I think he does his best running when there is some cut in the ground. He has not won this year, and I can’t recommend.

The horse I like in here is Boisterous (a very good name for a son of Distorted Humor!). He is a Phipps homebred out of Emanating, who is by Cox’s Ridge. They are becoming scarce, but when I see anything out of a Cox’s Ridge mare I know they can run all day.

He is trained by the very patient Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McCaughey, who is having a very good Saratoga meet winning at 31%. And leading jockey John Velazquez has won on him 4 times.

His numbers are improving with every start and he can run on any type of turf. Yes, he is stepping up, but his effort in the Gr. 1 Man O War proves that he deserves another chance. And I think the added distance will suit him. He is 4 to 1 on the morning line, and he could stay around the third choice.

Boisterous is my top choice in the Sword Dancer. I think this could be his day to run a big one and win a Grade 1. I may make a “Distorted Humor exacta “with Drosselmeyer as my second choice.

A big Thank You to ThoroFan and the Handicapper’s Corner for giving me the opportunity to express my opinion, and don’t forget to check out fellow-blogger, “the Turk’s” review of the Arlington Million.

Good Luck if you are wagering this weekend!

Monday, August 8, 2011

And Why Not

By Street Cry out of the AP Indy mare, Alchemist, And Why Not broke her maiden at first asking yesterday at Saratoga. Ridden by Julien Leperoux, the bay filly lagged behind early, saved ground and drew off smartly in the stretch. The slowish time, more than likely, was a result of a drying out racetrack.

This is a good looking filly with a lot of substance. And while Trainer Michael Matz is not known for sending out debut winners, this filly was ready enough.

Bred in partnership by Matz’s wife, DD and sisters, this filly was bought at auction just a year ago at Fasig Tipton Saratoga for $775,000 and is owned by DD’s mother Helen Groves.The dam, Alchemist, is a black-type winner and 100% producer, now having 4 starters and 4 winners. She herself is out of the Grade 1 winning Storm Cat mare Aldiza, and a half sister to the graded stakes winner, Altesse. This is a very strong female family going back to the good foundation mare Courtly Dee.

You know how those big Street Cry fillies can be especially as they mature. There could be some talent here. She has all the right credentials. And Why Not is a filly to watch.

Tar Heel Mom is back to her winning ways with an easy win in the Gr 2 Honorable Miss. The 6 year old mare by Flatter is now 11 for 28, with 7 seconds and 5 thirds.

And while kudos to the game Sean Avery, the winner of the Vanderbilt, Trappe Shot ran too good to lose.

 Nothing clever about my choices on Sunday at Huddie, but still loose on the lead with 13 more contest days to go. Lots of good handicappers breathing down my neck, but I intend to hold on to the wire.