As racing fans, we can't ask for much more than what's on tap this weekend. We get Curlin in his first turf start in the Man o' War, a full day of stakes at Calder, a full weekend of stakes at Delaware, great turf racing at Arlington and the Swaps at Hollywood. What a stellar card!
For our purposes we will focus on the Breeders' Cup Challenge events - the Smile Sprint and Princess Rooney Saturday at Calder, and the Delaware Handicap on Sunday.
Don't forget to join the Breeders' Cup Fantasy Challenge on breederscup.com and email me your handle. To be eligible for my contest, I'll need your handle by July 14. Also, in event of a tie there will be a tiebreaker contest that will be explained at a later date.
Also, here is the first edition of "That Handicapping Show," a new video that I do with Tom LaMarra. Let me know what you think.
Let's get handicapping!
This is a very interesting and challenging race. The way I see it, five of the seven starters have a decent chance of winning. My decision came down to Dream Rush, Mistical Plan and Miraculous Miss.
I think Dream Rush is the class of the field and will improve a lot in her second start of the season. Looky Yonder, who beat Dream Rush in the Vagrancy, will regress. Mistical Plan tries six furlongs for the first time since breaking her maiden in 2006 and with her early speed, she looks very appetizing. Miraculous Miss hasn't won since 2006 but has been improving while racing in grade I company and has thrown in a pair of bullet works the last two weeks.
The pick: Because Dream Rush will be bet down to nothing, I have to take a shot at a bigger price. I'm going to take a chance with Miraculous Miss. She was less than four lengths back of Benny the Bull when taking on the boys two races ago in the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash in November, finishing a respectable third. Then, trainer Steve Klesaris threw her into the grade I Humana Distaff after a more than six month layoff May 3 on Derby Day and she finished strong despite being fourth. With a quick pace in here, I think this race will set up well for a closer like Miraculous Miss. And the price should be right.
Speaking of Benny the Bull, how do you bet against this monster? I'll tell you how, you go for a price. Even if he wins it won't cost you much in the contest. He'll probably be odds-on and pay about $4 to win. It's the perfect spot to try to beat him.
The question is, with who? I took the hardest looks at Man of Danger, Indian Chant, Ravalo and Rockerfeller. Man of Danger has been runner-up in his last four events, three of them in graded company. He'll be on or near the lead again, but will he hold up? Indian Chant is a tough customer. This 5-year-old gelding isn't as tested as many of these, but he is always right there and six furlongs is his specialty. Ravalo has won three in a row and six of seven against lesser. The 4-year-old will likely battle Man of Danger for the lead and is probably a little bit faster. Rockerfeller seems to be hitting his best stride since Marty Wolfson took over this year, and he loves Calder.
The Pick: I'm going with Rockerfeller. This 4-year-old was stuck in allowance company while running on the Woodbine Polytrack nearly all of last year, without great success. He started off poorly when shipped to Fair Grounds late last year, but seems to have found a home on the Calder dirt. He won by six in optional claiming company in May and by seven in his stakes debut last month. He has posted two straight 100-plus Beyers. He has also tossed in two tremendous works. I love betting horses in top form.
Great race here. Hystericalady and Unbridled Belle are at their best and the class of this field. But what price will we get on them?
Unbridled Belle won last year's Delaware ‘Cap and two of her graded stakes three wins have come at this track. But for me Hystericalady is the better horse. She has fared better in graded company throughout her career and enters off a 7 1/2-length romp in the Fleur de Lis. And she should have won the Humana Distaff.
The only other horse I considered here was Spring Waltz, who is a lightly-raced 5-year-old mare but has been dominating in winning her last four. She was much the best in her stakes debut - the Rampart Handicap at Oaklawn. But that was more than four months ago.
The Pick: With a quality field in here I don't think anyone will get hit too hard at the window. I can't pick against Hystericalady. She is 3-1 on the morning line and if I get anything close to that I'll be satisfied. Jerry Hollendorfer always has his horses ready. She is a five-time graded stakes winner, is in top form, threw in a bullet work a few days ago, and will probably appreciate the added distance.