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Friday, October 03, 2008

Saturday Morning Notes - Oct 4

- Gio Ponti(8-5), returning from his second in the Del Mar Derby, heads the Jamaica Handicap, the 6th at Belmont. Christophe Clement is off to a slow start at Belmont, but he sure looks tough in this spot. Court Vision is the 2-1 second choice, and here's a horse I love to bet against. He'll take money for sure on the grass here, since he missed by a nose to Clement's colt in the 1 1/4 mile Virginia Derby. Gio Ponti was three wide on both turns that day, and had never raced further than a mile and a sixteenth. At this shorter distance, I think that this classy son of Tale of the Cat holds a big advantage on his rival.

I'll try to create a little value by leaving Court Vision out of the #2 spot. Thou Swell (15-1) couldn't keep pace with the speedy Woodbine shipper Marlang in the Saranac, and faded after chasing that one fruitlessly. But there's no such speed in here, and this son of Aptitude, returning to blinkers and Samyn-on-the-green on, could have the lead to himself from a favorable post. Five week layoff since two tough races at the Spa, with a nice bullet work indicates that he's fresh and ready to roll for trainer George Weaver. Wesley (5-1) edged Thou Swell late in the Hall of Fame after than one set a modest pace; may face a similar scenario today. Roman Tiger (8-1) surely merits more respect on the tote board than he's gotten lately, and figures close again.

- Talent Search (2-1) is a favorite with some question marks in the Phoenix Stakes, the 5th at Keeneland. Given Frankel's record with layoff horses, maybe I'm not that concerned with the fact that he hasn't run since his second to the since retired Benny the Bull in the DeFrancis in November. But add in the fact that he's never been on a synthetic track and the question mark looms larger. Don't you just love these synthetic track angles? Who was it who said it would be boring?

Having said all that, Talent Search looks tough here, especially considering the fact that the track played very kind to speed and close to the pace on opening day. Not to mention huge Beyer and Moss Pace figures over the rest of the field. So I can't advocate taking a reckless stand against him. But in the interest of principled value handicapping, I'll mention Pictural (10-1). IEAH bought this one privately off an entry level allowance race at Del Mar which has produced three subsequent winners. Very intresting....the colt has showed steady progress on the California synths; and wasn't bad at all in a turf race around two turns. Huge jump in class here, but, considering the record of the connections and their trainer Richard Dutrow, I take that more as confident placing than wishful thinking. He's by El Prado, out of a stakes winning Mr. Prospector mare; a half-brother to the stakes placed Indy Dancer, with inbreeding to the influential broodmare Number, through Nureyev and Fairy Bridge, the dam of Sadler's Wells.

Greeley's Conquest (6-1) hasn't been on synthetic either, but the price will be more palatable. This son of Mr. Greeley has displayed tremendous progress this year, and cuts back to his preferred six furlongs after his second at 38-1 in the Forego.