Between Woodbine, Belmont, and Louisiana Downs, this weekend has shaped up to be a very intriguing and deep graded stakes calendar. Let's try to make it a profitable one.
The Woodbine Mile was good to me last year, as I banged Rahy's Attorney at 12-1 and had the $700+ tri. Hopefully Sunday will produce the same kind of results, but I don't expect the prices to be as big. I can't get past Ventura here. I know the field this time around is much deeper and she has been off since April, but I expect her to run a big race. Look at her two efforts this season--lost by a nose to the best turf horse in the country, Gio Ponti, in the Kilroe Mile, and was beaten a head in the Madison by Informed Decision, who has won six of seven this year. She ran a winning type race on the yielding course in the 2008 Woodbine Mile and firm course on Sunday should benefit her even more.
Bribon was installed as the 5-2 favorite and he should be the biggest challenge to Ventura. The optional claimer he won at Saratoga was brilliant in his first turf start in more than a year, suggesting that he has found a new home on grass. He's won three in a row and a win here would make him a legitimate threat in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Goldikova and all. He's in the best form of his career.
I'll try Ventura for the minor upset and key Ventura and Bribon over all in a trifecta. It's a bit chalky but that's how I see it.
The Northern Dancer also came up a great race. It's tough to separate Marsh Side, Champs Elysees, Just As Well, Marchfield, Quijana, and even Musketier.
I made a nice score with Marchfield in the Sky Classic last month, but I think that was the perfect distance for him. He's won at 1 1/2 miles before and I see him running a nice race, but not for the top spot.
Marsh Side, Musketier, and Just As Well all finished runner-up to Gio Ponti as some point this season, and I expect one of them to win this thing. Now, it's just a matter of picking the right one. I'll lean toward Marsh Side, who won the Canadian International over this course last year. He's in his third start off a layoff after a failed try in Dubai. He nearly beat Gio in the Manhattan over a yielding course at 15-1 and could be an attractive price once again. This horse doesn't seem to get much respect at the windows.
I also like Just As Well, who seems to be at his best right now. But this is his first time at the distance so I can't take him to win.
I'm going to play Marsh Side to win, and box Marsh Side, Just As Well, Marchfield, and Musketier in exactas.
In the Canadian Stakes, how do you go against Forever Together? She was third in this race last year and towers over this field. Points of Grace, at the right price, would be the only horse I'd think about trying to beat her with.
The Futurity may be the race that vaults D' Funnybone to the top of 2-year-old ranks, and establishes him as the early Derby favorite. His Saratoga Special was scary good and the connections couldn't be any higher on him. We'll see how he does at seven furlongs. He'll have to catch Discreetly Mine, who was huge in his maiden breaker at Saratoga on Aug. 22. Drawing the inside post could spell lights out for the rest of them. Soundman also has good speed though, and could pressure him up front.
I don't think it's a great betting race so I'll layoff, but for the record I'm taking D' Funnybone. My longshot pick would be Grand Rapport, who could benefit from a quick pace. Take a look at his maiden score at Saratoga in the mud. He was 16 lengths back after the opening quarter.
Worstcasescenario will be a popular pick in the Matron but I think there is chance for an upset here. I would box her with Southern Truth and Awesome Maria in exacta.
Rutherienne looks like a single in the Noble Damsel.
The Super Derby didn't come up especially strong. I like Blame, who should relish his second start at two turns. If it rains, he's even more attractive. I'd box him with Soul Warrior and Massone, who will be tough if he likes dirt.
Good luck this weekend. Who do you like?