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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Belmont Friday

- Contessa has 14 winners out of an astounding 172 starters at Belmont thus far; that's well more than twice as many runners as Dutrow, who has the second most. That's only an 8% win percentage, which is below his overall 2008 rate of 15%, which is also his overall winning percentage at NYRA tracks over the last five years (13% at Belmont, 17% at Aqueduct). So I figure he has a few more winners in him before they go to Saratoga, where, unlike at Belmont nowadays, the competition really is tougher, and his percentage is 7%. He had a winner and a nosed out second on Thursday, so maybe he's warming up now.

In the fifth, Big Stick is the 7-5 morning line favorite for McLaughlin. This gelded son of Grand Slam caught a yielding course in his first race against winners, finishing nearly ten lengths behind Sailor's Cap, who's a neck shy of two Grade 3 wins since then. Big Stick drops for a tag here, and certainly figures given the previous Beyers he's earned on the grass. But as we've been noting, the barn is cold - 0 for 24 here (1 for 29 overall). That could also mean that McLaughlin is due; but still, it seems worth taking a shot against him with a strong favorite such as this.

Cross the Atlantic (5-2) moves up in class for Contessa, who claimed him for 35K three back. This horse comes in with a similar pattern to that of Jeux de Danse, who won Thursday's fifth for this barn. Cross the Atlantic has taken to the grass well in both tries on the surface. In fact, his grass debut was in this class; he took up sharply turning for home, yet closed for third from out of the picture, doing so totally against the pace grain. Choice for the mild upset in the return to grass for this half-brother to the popular NY-bred Spite the Devil.

In the 6th, Flahsbulb Breeze (3-1) looks like a routine selection, with Contessa once again. Well-bet when jumping in class and trying grass for the first time at Monmouth, this daughter of Peruvian (Conquistador Cielo) put in a solid rally to miss by 3/4's after taking a bump at the start. Wasn't a great field, but no great shakes here either.

The 8th is a wide open starter allowance. It's for horses who have started for 50K or less, AND are non-winners other than; it carries a purse of $49,000, nice. You can make a case for any number of these, including Contessa again, with Debbie's Fast Girl (6-1); or with Anxiety, who I picked when she won last out for Frank Alexander. But let's take a flyer with Fourth Chapter (12-1), moving up to face winners for trainer Richard Stoklosa (10-1-0-4 on the meeting). This daughter of Touch Gold has improved markedly since moving onto grass and, especially, getting Javier Castellano on board; and while climbing the claiming ladder too. Lots of trouble two back in a hard-charging close third; and on graduation day, she just blew by the field while wide on the turn to draw off to an easy win. That was a 40K maiden claimer, but not too horrible of a field, as it's produced two subsequent seconds and two thirds. Steady trend of improving Beyers could have her close if she continues to progress here. Good luck and have a great day!


Anonymous said...

NY Post reports Dutrow is on thin ice with IEAH from the drug positive plus they found out about it via the media--Dutrow never called them. I guess Winstrol does not count.

Anonymous said...

Best news I saw yesterday is that Perfect Drift is going in the Hollywood Gold Cup on Saturday! Still running in Grade I mile and a quarter stakes at age 9, ya gotta love it; they say, though, he's a nasty old bugger in his stall despite being a gelding. Good luck to the old "guy" on Saturday, would be great to see him win it! /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Regarding Gary Contessa ..

Check his stats (DRF Formulator) on turf and dirt and you see why his overall win percentage is dropping of late, when a lot of races are on grass. Statistically, he's much much more effective with horses on dirt than grass.

Alan Mann said...

Mike D - Good point re: Contessa, thanks. I can see just on the Form stats that he's only 9% on the grass. Hmmm, I picked him in two turf races today....but he did win a grass race yesterday, so I'll hope for the best!

Anonymous said...

In the 5th, I am using Pure Devil.He ran 3rd in his turf debut and followed up with a 2nd in the slop and was claimed. Prado gets the ride.

Alan Mann said...

>>In the 5th, I am using Pure Devil.

Trainer has had some success off the claim too.

Anonymous said...

Not this time.