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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sunday Stakes

- Leroidesanimaux heads the $1 million Grade 1 Atto Mile at Woodbine Sunday. Bobby Frankel’s “king of the animals” is heading towards the Breeders Cup Mile, and has been installed as the 9-5 choice. He was an easy winner in his first start in six months at Saratoga on Travers Day, when nearly everyone at the track had him leading off the big Pick 4. He’s won 7 in a row.

A couple of horses who have finished within a length of Leroidesanimaux will take another shot at him here. King of Happiness is a very consistent sort himself, but seems to be consistently a tad slower than the favorite. A To Z had an interesting prep for the Atto, disposing of jockey Omar Figueroa at the break. Trainer Paula Capestro explained "He got to the front and ran a beautiful race all the way around on the lead and won by five. He pulled himself up after and waited for the pony. The pony took him off the track, so he thought he won." [Daily Racing Form] Imagine his surprise when he tried to cash his tickets.

- The Arlington-Washington Futurity was once the richest race in the country and a major stop on the 2 year old circuit for future champions like Buckpasser and Spend a Buck. But now it’s a Grade 3 race run on the same day as the Futurity in New York, and the Form’s Marcus Hersh points out that it’s now either is a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, or just a nice chance for decent regional 2-year-olds to run for a $200,000 purse.

Indeed, half of the ten entrants are coming off their maiden victories, including the morning line favorite Grand Survival (Grand Slam), a $1 million Barretts purchase in March. He’s trained by Patrick Biancone, who says of Grand Survival’s Breeders Cup prospects, "The answer will be on Sunday afternoon.” Oh please, we constantly see Biancone push his horses to the limit whether they are ready or not, and given the purchase price, it will take a dismal performance to keep him from looking to October 29.

He was bet down to 9-5 in his winning Saratoga debut, and beat a field which has produced three next out winners, including Steve Asmussen's well-regarded Cab, as well as Superfly, who in turn ran second best to the Discreet Cat, the fastest horse in the world. But he figures to be overbet, and I’m not going for the hype; he stretches out to a mile from 6 ½, and there are some others in here with a chance.

Red Raymond (Deputy Commander) and Sorcerer’s Stone (Gulch) both come off minor stakes wins, the former in a 7 furlong race at Ellis Park, where he beat a nice looking colt named Deputy G, who’d won the G3 Bashford Manor. He’s benefited from blistering fractions in his two wins and needs a similar setup here. Sorcerer’s Stone should be the one to catch, but it’s a huge stretch from 5 ½ furlongs to a mile, so he could make for a handy target.

Let's try one of the decent regional 2 year olds running for the $200,000 purse. Mr. Pinstripe (Yankee Victor) has improved in each of his three starts, the last two of them wins. In his last, he threw in some quick internal splits to keep up, and still had enough to draw away under a hand ride to win by 3 in a final eighth of 12.4, and a Beyer second in this field only to Red Raymond. The second place finisher came back to run second in a stake at Prairie Meadows. He worked a bullet six furlongs for this, and the jockey-trainer combo of Shaun Bridgmohan and Steve Hobby is quite a potent one - to the tune of 11 wins and 27 in the money out of 35 races! Still, Mr. Pinstripe is stretching out from 6 furlongs to a mile, so I’d demand something close to his 5-1 morning line. With the Yanks hot on the Red Sox' heels, perhaps a good hunch bet as well.


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