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Friday, July 29, 2005

A Jim Dandy Double

- I was going to pick against Flower Alley in Saturday’s Jim Dandy, but why bother? Pletcher has recovered from having only one winner and three odds-on losers on opening day to pick up five on days 2 and 3. Flower Alley ran a terrific race in losing to Roman Ruler in the Dwyer, picking up a lifetime best fig of 103. Draw a line through the Derby, and his lines are quite impressive, and considering how close he was to the Derby pace, that wasn't so bad either. Pletcher told David Grening of the Form “I think he's probably a better mile-and-an-eighth horse, and a better two-turn horse than he is a one-turn mile-and-a-sixteenth. I think with a little bit of improvement and some recency, he should be sitting on a big race." He also told Dave Liftin: "I think he was a race away from being where he needed to be.."

It seems to me that Pletcher is usually more reserved about his horses’ chances, isn’t he? Besides, who’s going to beat him? Andromeda’s Hero is a throwout in my opinion; this is far too short unless he’s vastly improved since the spring. Reverberate seems to love Belmont; this horse was simply rushed into the Belmont after his second to Oratory in the Peter Pan. Now we learn from the Form that he will race with patches to protect quarter cracks on both front feet, but [trainer Sal] Russo does not see that as an issue. We’ve heard that kind of stuff before when it comes to quarter cracks, and then after the race the connections are using them as excuses.

Mr. Congeniality faltered in the Dwyer, but this is his first try around two turns, so you could play the angle that he might like it, and that he could come back with a better effort after bouncing off a couple of fast races to start the year. He’s by Chester House out of a Wild Again mare and the female family of Darn That Alarm. Noble Causeway is difficult to figure here; he’s eligible for N2X allowance......oh yeah - so is the rest of the field. Well, you have to respect the way Zito got Sun King back to winning form, and a repeat of Noble Causeway's efforts in Florida certainly puts him in the mix.

King of Jazz has never been worse than third in 6 starts, and he comes out of that slowly run Queens Plate. I picked him there, figuring he would improve, and perhaps he can do so here. He signaled his readiness with a nice 5 furlong work on Monday, and Prado, warming up with 2 winners Friday after a slow start here, rides for Carl Nafzger, whose 25-1 shot Ominous ran second in the 5th on Friday.

Some intriguing challengers, but I’m not going against Pletcher here. I don’t like Reverberate and Andromeda’s Hero, so I’ll check out the exotics pools with Flower Alley on top of the other three.

- And there’s always the late double. The tenth is a 50K claiming affair on the turf. Run to Victory is the morning line favorite not counting the MTO horses; he ran a field high last Beyer of 93 winning at Monmouth for Alan Goldberg in his first race in nine months. But it was a grueling affair with a battle to the wire, and this looks like a finale favorite just aching to get beat.

Sabre Baby has been finishing midpack against allowance horses, but last year ran competitively against 65-75 claimers. He finished evenly in his last against an unfavorable pace scenario, and should be competitive at this level with Prado for Juan Rodriguez. Massoud ships in off two nice efforts at Colonial for Graham Motion and gets the Windmill, Ramon Dominguez. It’s his third start in this form cycle and further improvement and the rail could put him close.

But out in the 10 hole is the unfortunately named Matzoh Toga. He closed well for 3rd, beaten 1 1/4 by Run To Victory at Monmouth. It was his first race off a two month layoff, and he’s shown improvement in the second off a respite in the past. He won here last year over the inner course against 35 claimers, and he’s certainly shown a pattern of improvement that suggests he can handle this level now. And, he’s trained by Linda Rice, a live barn right now. She’s sent out three horses here so far, winning with class jumper June the Tiger and with Embraceable You, and her Who’s Cozy ran a nice 3rd in the Lake George at 6-1. Camelio Velasquez is 3-10 for Rice at Saratoga since last year. Could be a Flower Alley-Matzoh Toga double, and I'll probably have savers on the other two mentioned, both of whom break from better posts.


Anonymous said...

NPR has a story on Pink Ribbons, a sulky filly on this morning. Interesting.

Her winnings go toward Breast Cancer.

What ever happened to Ops Smile, the horse that ran to make money for Operation Smile?

Anonymous said...

Just as your willing to draw a line through Flower Alley's race, i'm willing to draw one through Reverberate's Belmont, where i don't think he was fit. I like him more than you do in here. If he's strictly a Belmont horse, then i agree he'll struggle here. But i think the Peter Pan was more a sign of his progressing, and i think a return to that race sets him up nicely here at a decent price.

Anonymous said...

okay, hotshot, this round goes to you -- though i may have put a little scare into you at the top of the stetch! i backed up the win bet on Reverberate by playing him underneath in the exacta, so it wasn't a total wipeout. but Flower Alley did look much the best, and Reverberate wasn't quite as strong late as i had hoped.

Alan Mann said...

i get something right every once in a while. at least you collected something, i ran 2-3-4 with the horses i used in the late double.