Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Stakes Analysis

--Brian DiDonato

GII NEW YORK S. (Saturday, Belmont, Race 6) - The filly and mare turf division has been very muddled this year with no clear divisional leader, so up-and-coming types should be given extra consideration. #2 PRIZE CATCH fits the bill. She's already four, but wasn't stepped up into stakes company until her seventh career start last time, when she took an overnight event going 1 1/16 miles. She got her final 5/16 in a speedy :29.16 to overcome a slow early pace, and has shown similarly impressive late acceleration in the past. The daughter of A.P. Indy out of a Seattle Dancer mare who also produced MGSW router Lead Story (Editor's Note) should relish the added ground.

GI MOTHER GOOSE S. (Saturday, Belmont, Race 9) - Joyful Victory was exposed in the GI Kentucky Oaks last time when fourth as the 2-1 chalk, and while she faces a slightly softer group here, she's still guaranteed to be overbet. #5 BUSTER'S READY will be tough to beat off her last--that runner-up effort in the GII Black-eyed Susan was a significant improvement on her previous efforts, but it's not like it came  under advantageous circumstances. She chased an above-average pace three wide, and still dusted her fellow pacesetters while earning the field's highest Beyer Speed Figure of 96.

GIII DEBUTANTE S. (Saturday, Churchill Downs, Race 10) - #3 TIPPY TOES will have to improve to win, but she is the only juvenile filly in this field who has proven she can rate effectively--a key in a race that will be contested at a distance farther than any of these have gone before. While some might view the fact that her connections ran her for a $50K tag in her first two starts as a negative, she was facing colts in the debut and with early 2-year-olds there really isn't much difference between higher-level claimers and straight maidens. It's very possible that she'll just be outclassed here or that one of the more talented members of this group will prove capable of rating, but a double-digit price on Tippy Toes will offer more than fair value to take a shot that the race will collapse.

SWEET AND SASSY S. (Saturday, Delaware, Race 9) - #7 BELLE OF THE HALL began her career very promisingly last year at three, taking two stakes races and running third in the GI Test. She finished off her sophomore campaign by finishing last in the GI Gazelle, but that was her only route attempt and can easily be thrown out. She returned in January to be seventh in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, but the West Point colorbearer was always caught between horses and never had a fair chance to get uncorked in the stretch. We can toss her last because it came on Tampa's quirky main track, and all of a sudden her form looks much more inviting. Trainer Tom Albertrani hits at an 18% clip off the bench with dirt sprinters (courtesy of DRF Formulator), so Belle of the Hall should come out ready to run.

GIII BOILING SPRING S. (Saturday, Monmouth, Race 10) - This is one of the more interesting races of the weekend, and one where you could go a number of ways. It's possible that Summer Soiree will like the turf, but her performance in the Kentucky Oaks was so poor that it would be wise to play against her at what figures to be a relatively short price. She hasn't been very good at all besides her two races for Larry Jones. Pontenuovo's 2010 French form puts her about a furlong ahead of this group--after annexing a Group 3 while still a maiden Aug. 1, she was third behind colts in the G1 Prix Morny three weeks later. Winner Dream Ahead returned to take the G1 Middle Park S. at Newmarket by nine lengths, and runner-up Tin Horse upset the G1 French 2,000 Guineas last month. She was last of five when stretched out to a mile, but the ground was heavy that day, so that's not enough evidence to conclude she doesn't want to go this far and her fourth-place finish in a Group 3 at Newbury last time Apr. 16 also probably puts her on top here. With all that being said, however, she's probably a play against. Conditioner Patrick Biancone is 0-for-7 with his imports over the past year (courtesy of DRF Formulator), and you should never take the lower-priced Euro in a field where there's more than one. So, I'll take the higher-priced Euro invader, #9 JANICELLAINE. With only two mediocre starts in Britain under her belt, there isn't much form to go on here. But the confidence displayed by Roger Attfield, who hasn't had this horse for long, to ship down from Canada for a graded event is something to note (her only published work came at MTH, but I'm assuming she originally arrived at Attfield's WO base). Attfield has only shipped two runners to the Jersey Shore over the past five seasons--one of them, Red Birkin, finished first in the 2007 renewal of this event before being DQ'd to third. Attfield has exceptional numbers over a much larger sample size in New York, so when he ships to the East coast, he means business.

C. BARLEY S. (Saturday, Woodbine, Race 4) - Despite being a half to Bridgetown (Speightstown), #7 CLEMENT ROCK was ignored last time in his turf debut, posting the upset at 11-1. If that effort is any indication, he has a bright future on the lawn. Towards the back early, the homebred had to make his rally along the rail, displaying several quick bursts of speed in the process. He got his final 5/16 in an exceptional :28.31--nearly a full second faster than the runner-up. There's not much to contend with in this group, and it's very possible that Clement Rock's 6-1 morning line quote is double what his odds will be at post time, but look for him to be flying late.

MY DEAR S. (Saturday, Woodbine, Race 7) - Virtually every member of this 14-horse field can win, so it's important to seek out value. #6 HENNY'S HEART figures to be the biggest overlay of the bunch. She's still a maiden, but fell 3/4 of a length short of first-out success against the boys here May 15. The horse who beat her, Banner Bill, came back a week ago to take the Victoria S. by 5 3/4 lengths. Henny's Heart came up one slot short again June 11, but the front-running winner slowed the pace down and simply got the jump on her. Henny's Heart's ability to rate is an asset, and she should appreciate an extra 1/16 of a mile to get uncorked.

GII KING EDWARD S. (Saturday, Woodbine, Race 8) - Grand Adventure took this race in impressive fashion last year, and a repeat of that performance would be tough to best, but the 5-year-old just doesn't seem to be the same horse this year--he's a play against. This is a definite spread race in multi-race wagers, but #3 SILVER ROCK is the most likely winner. After breaking through in his fifth start following a few close calls, the Melnyk homebred has strung together three wins--all with fast late rallies. There's an abundance of speed signed on here, and Silver Rock figures to get a perfect set up in search of his fourth-straight victory.

QUEEN'S PLATE (Sunday, Woodbine, Race 10) - It's tough to land on the chalk in a 17-horse field, but #13 CHECK YOUR SOUL is the best horse in this race, and might even offer a tiny bit of value at his 3-1 morning line (Inglorious could take more money than expected and help inflate Check Your Soul's price). He has overcome slow paces and been extremely visually impressive in his two wins over the track against better competition than what Inglorious and Queen'splate Kitten beat last time. Traffic trouble is probably his biggest potential obstacle. Since this race can be such a head-scratcher and the next two choices will be slightly overbet, I'll take some shots for second with Bowman's Causeway, Imhotep, Pender Harbour and Enduring Star.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another masterpiece by TDN's celebrity blogger...