Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekend Graded Stakes Analysis

--Brian DiDonato


KEE R8 - GIII Phoenix S. - Cajun Breeze is 50-1 on the morning line--anybody want to give me 40? I can't resist this horse considering the price he'll be, which I'm guessing will be more like 15 or 20-1. His Gulfstream form early this year was solid enough and it just seems like there was enough going against him in his last four tries to warrant giving him one more chance to return to his best races. The turnback from a fifth-place finish going a mile on the Saratoga turf adds to the appeal big time. I like that he was able to show speed on the lawn, which could translate to an ability to handle Polytrack, plus I thought Cajun Breeze ran a big enough race considering how wide he was on the first turn and how quick he went early. A pace collapse seems inevitable considering the 3-year-olds in here, so I'll look for Cajun Breeze to take back and make one run, like he did when almost winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Other turnback Night Party and GII Commonwealth S. winner Lonesome Street will also be on my exacta and pick four tickets.

KEE R9 - GI Alcibiades S. - What an excellent betting race--definitely a spread in the pick four--but I'm looking forward to getting a good win price on 'TDN Rising Star' Pure Indy, who my esteemed colleague Steve Sherack is even higher on than I am. Backed down to 3-1 for trainer Craig Dollase and West Point/Lakland Farm first out at Del Mar going 5 1/2 furlongs Sept. 1, the leggy chestnut lagged at the back early before switching out and inhaling her foes for a going-away success. She never looked comfortable, however, as the 7-5 favorite in Fairplex's Barretts Debutante S. two weeks later, and came under an early ride before checking in fifth. I'm willing to excuse that performance over a quirky surface, and think the move back to Polytrack plus the added distance will suit Pure Indy well. She's out of an A.P. Indy half-sister to MGISW turf router Pure Clan (also a MGSW router at two on dirt and third in the Kentucky Oaks), who was by the same sire as Pure Indy in Pure Prize. Pure Indy's GSW second dam also produced Greater Good, a GSW dirt router at two and three who was third in the 2005 Derby.


BEL R8 - GI Champagne S.  - The New York-based 2-year-old males haven't impressed me yet for the most part this year, and I especially can't buy into the Archwarrior hype. His debut was fine, and obviously he's bred to prefer more ground, but you're definitely supposed to let him beat you if he's actually going to go favored over stablemate Shanghai Bobby. I'm against the latter, too, but could see playing him if the Archwarrior steam gets out of control. The obvious alternative is Goldencents, who romped by 7 1/4 lengths going box to wire at Del Mar Sept. 2 with a field's-best last-out Beyer of 93. His Moss Pace Figure line precludes me from liking him too much, however--he went his first quarter in a time that was 15 points below par on the Moss scale. He still flew home, so I'll use him in the pick four, but I can't take him to win. That leaves European invader Chief Havoc, who's certainly an intriguing entrant here. He's still a maiden, but looks to have some sneaky ability and could take to the dirt. The tall, green Kentucky bred came on late to be third on debut over the Kempton synth Aug. 29, and was second against a tough group of winners at Newbury just two weeks ago--both starts were at a mile. He kind of reminds me of Dullahan before he broke his maiden in last year's Breeders' Futurity--you know there's talent there, it's just a matter of when he'll figure it all out. One would think, being by Giant's Causeway, he might be best on turf, but there's enough dirt pedigree on his dam's side that it wouldn't be shocking if he takes to the main track--the price will be right to find out. Out of versatile La Reina (A.P. Indy), winner of the GIII Tempted S. going a mile on the dirt at Aqueduct, Chief Havoc's second dam is champion older mare Queena, a Grade I winner on dirt at 7f, 8f and 8 1/2f. Queena also produced the good turfer Brahms. Trainer Jeremy Noseda took the 2010 GIII Gotham S. on the Big A main track with Awesome Act, and he scored on this card last year with Western Aristocrat in the Jamaica.

BEL R9 - GI Jamaica H. - While Cogito is 4-1 vs. Summer Front's 5-1 price on the morning line, I'm hoping Summer Front gets backed down to second choice behind the very formidable favorite Dullahan so I can get a more generous price on the only possible upsetter. Some handicappers have claimed that Dullahan's just a synthetic specialist, but he's run well on turf before and he's probably a better horse now than he was last time he tried grass... if you think there's actually a meaningful difference between the two surfaces (especially the Polytrack brand). I'm much more against Summer Front, who I think has proven he has very little chance of beating Dullahan at his best. Cogito, on the other hand, has maybe a 30 or 40% chance of being just plain old better than Dullahan and an 80% chance of winning if Dullahan doesn't show up. His runner-up effort in the G2 Prix Eugene Adam in July has been seriously flattered ever since, and I think he was clearly best that day. He was switched out into the clear far too soon, while winner Bayrir drafted in behind horses for much longer. Bayrir has obviously been productive since that event, convincingly annexing the GI Secretariat in front of Summer Front and finishing second in the G2 Prix Niel back in France. He was a late supplement into Sunday's Arc and is a bit intriguing in there. Additionally, and less apparent to American bettors, Eugene Adam third-place finisher Fractional has won twice since, including taking a Group 3 at Deauville last time; and fourth-place finisher Starboard scored in the G3 Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp Sept. 22. I also like that Cogito's adding blinkers--trainer Brian Meehan was adding the hood for Red Rocks when he took the 2008 GI Man o' War S. and for Dangerous Midge when he upset the 2010 GI Breeders' Cup Turf.

KEE R8 - GI Breeders' Futurity S. - He's Had Enough's debut was similar to Pure Indy's. Unveiled going 6 1/2 panels at Del Mar Aug. 12, the grey overcame a very slow pace to get up from last to first and earn his diploma over a well-bet frontrunner. That visually impressive effort earned him 7-2 favoritism in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf S. Sept. 5, but the Reddam colorbearer settled for a close-up sixth despite some trouble. In last early behind a pace that looks very hot on paper, but held up reasonably well, He's Had Enough was forced to make his move very wide into the stretch and was then herded out and interfered with by another foe in the lane. He was never really able to get his feet under him due to all the interference, but still earned the fastest final quarter in the field. Runner-up Power Broker returned to take the GI FrontRunner S. last Saturday. There appears to be plenty of pace signed on here to set up He's Had Enough's late kick, and I like the switch back to Polytrack and the addition of blinkers. The distance should also be right up his alley--he's by Tapit out of a stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare who also dropped recent GI Joe Hirsch third-place finisher Kindergarden Kid. His second dam's a MGSW who produced the useful European runner Bertolini, and his third dam is Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee. The 12-1 morning line quote might be a bit high, but anything over 6-1 is enticing. 

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