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Friday, September 09, 2005

More Belmont Stakes and a Pick 3

- In the Woodward, Shaniko is out, leaving a field of five horses, three betting interests, and just two trainers. Taking no chances, Dutrow will send out both of his rabbits. Show Boot seems quicker from the gate, so perhaps he’ll attack first, and Crafty Player can come in a second wave. But Commentator got to the six furlongs in 1:09.3 and 1:08 in his last two races, and these two can barely get there that fast themselves, so they’ll have to attack early and often, and hope it takes its toll for Saint Liam late.

Dave Liftin in the Form has his doubts about the 123 speed figures Commentator and Saint Liam were assigned for the Whitney.

By my figures, Saint Liam's best race (115-114) was last year's Woodward. This gives him a possible edge on Commentator, whose only one-turn race beyond seven furlongs was a wet-track mile.
I think Saint Liam is the best dirt horse in training, and I was getting ready to declare him a lock in the Woodward. But Liftin also correctly points out that he runs his best races with far longer rest than the month and a few days since the Whitney.
The return in five weeks should be considered a real sticking point. A breakdown of Saint Liam's graded stakes history shows that his best races come with lots of time between starts:

RACE/ DAYS SINCE LAST RACE/ FINISH
Whitney/ 49/ Second (at 3-5)
Stephen Foster/ 105/ Won
SA Handicap/ 28/ Sixth (at 1-1)
Donn/ 71/ Won
Clark/ 76/ Won
Woodward/ 161/ Nosed(by Ghostzapper)
Oaklawn Handicap/ 34/ Third
New Orleans Hdcp/ 42/ Second

With 10 weeks or more between starts, Saint Liam is 3 for 4, and the loss was arguably his best race. His worst defeat came on four weeks' rest.
OK, well I’m sticking with Saint Liam, but with a little trepidation. He’ll have 7 weeks until Breeders Cup day.

- The Garden City Breeders Cup is a Grade 1 race with 6 3 yo fillies, none of whom have won a graded stakes. Bill Mott’s equisitely-bred My Typhoon came the closest, missing by a head to Naissance Royale in the G2 Lake Placid in a thrilling stretch duel. My Typhoon earlier pressed Ready’s Gal on the pace, and Mott said "That was not a good spot for her to be in....I think she is probably better with a target in front of her." [Daily Racing Form]

But looking at this field, My Typhoon doesn’t figure to have anyone in front of her this time either. Only the seemingly outclassed Dynamite Lass has raced on the lead but that was in allowance company at a snail’s pace, and My Typhoon’s rider Jerry Bailey will have to strangle his filly to keep her behind that one.

The presence of two European fillies make this a puzzler from a betting standpoint. I can’t understand how people handicap races without any fractional times or positional call, despite the expanded comments. I guess one just gets used to it. Patrick Biancone has an interesting filly in Asi Siempre (El Prado), who comes off a win in France and has a couple of close in-the-money finishes to Irish Oaks winner Shawanda. She shows a quick half mile work of :46.4 at Saratoga the other day, and picks up Gary Stevens.

Luas Line has been here before, finishing an OK 4th with an inside trip in the American Oaks, dominated by Cesario in one of the more exciting performances of this year. But Luas Line was just a length back of Singhalese, who went on to win the G1 Del Mar Oaks. Since then, she’s won two listed stakes in Ireland with higher Timeform numbers than Asi Siempre, so she's presently on a roll. But this is her third race on two continents in less than six weeks, which may be a lot to ask.

Insan Mala won a restricted stakes at Saratoga, benefiting from a ground saving trip by John Velasquez, who hops off for Luas Line. That race was less than two weeks ago. But what the hell, when is she ever going to get a better shot at a Grade 1 win, so why not give it a shot?

I had gotten excited becuase I read somewhere there was a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4 on the stakes, but that is apparently not the case. There's a Pick 3 on the Gazelle, Garden City, and Man O'War. I'll take a shot singling Leave Me Alone in the Gazelle - then will try to beat My Typhoon with the two European filles - and use Angara/ Vangelis/ Relaxed Gesture in the Man O'War.

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