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Friday, September 22, 2006

Notes - Sept 22

- After hedging a bit on the Oct 7 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Aidan O'Brien has boooked John Velazquez to ride Dylan Thomas at Belmont that day. Johnny V already has had a nice view of Bernardini's rear from his rides on Bluegrass Cat in the Preakness and Travers, so he should be in a familiar position, assuming that O'Brien is merely using the race as a prep, as he says. Of course, the race is also a prep for Bernardini, and if he had acted like a mortal horse thus far, we could speculate that Albertrani may not have him cranked up either. But the way he's been winning, the thinking here is that the trainer couldn't tone the horse down even if he wanted to.

- John Ward is really talking up the physical development of Strong Contender, and provided Jerry Klein of with an excuse for the Haskell: "In the Haskell, everyone wanted to be on the same part of the racetrack and we were like the lead blocker in roller derby — just getting bounced around bad." Ward is looking for the colt to run back to his 109 Beyer in the Dwyer, but it may (or may not) be worth noting that his two races around two turns have been his weakest efforts to date. Perhaps they can be excused - one was in Sinister Minister's freakish Blue Grass, and the other was the Haskell behind Bluegrass Cat.

Klein's occasional columns on the (ugh) Fox site are always informative, and this week he also discusses Cash's Girl, starting for Tim Ritchey and Cash Is King in the Grade 1 Matron at Belmont tomorrow. She won her debut at Delaware by 11 lengths. No mystery here why Cash Is King was interested in acquiring this one. She's by Northern Afleet, the sire of Afleet Alex, out of Jolie Hawk, a half-sister to the same. Though she has the least experience in the six horse field with just that one start, she comes in with the best last-out Beyer in the field.