What a simply spectacular weekend of racing we have ahead of us--Opening weekend of Keeneland, six grade I races from Santa Anita, and a pair of major 2-year-old races at Belmont. Other than Derby and Breeders' Cup week, and opening weekend of Saratoga, there may be no better racing weekend on the calendar. Enjoy.
There are way too many races to analyze in depth so I'll keep it short and look forward to your comments and analysis of all the action.
In the Thoroughbred Club of America it looks like a two-horse race between Informed Decision and Carlsbad. I know a lot of people think Carlsbad will pull the minor upset but I am not one of them. Informed Decision is 3-for-3 at Keeneland and should be able to wear down Carlsbad, who could get pressure up front from Bold Union. Informed Decision for the win.
Forever Together is also unbeaten in two starts at Keeneland and should make it 3-for-3 in the First Lady, no matter how the turf is. She won this race last year and will rebound from her tough defeat last out. Acoma needs another race and Diamondrella has regressed a bit since the beginning of the year. Tizaqueena is the one I'll use in my exotics with Forever Together. She should enjoy the cut back in distance and could carry the lead a long way.
The Breeders' Futurity is a crapshoot. Two-year-old races on synthetics are tough enough to figure out without having 14 horses in the field. In this case, I'll try to beat the favorites--Dixie Band and Backtalk. I like Make Music For Me, who ships in from Cali with two good stakes efforts under his belt, Hockley, runner-up to Dublin two back, and Stately Victor, who comes off a route win on the turf.
The condition of the turf could play a big factor in the Shadwell Turf Mile. Mr. Sidney and Justenuffhumor like it soft, which it very well could be. As good as Justenuffhumor has been lately I think he is best suited for longer. On paper, Court Vision has regressed this season, but he was struggling with a health issue that was corrected with surgery in July. Despite not being at his best all year he has held his own in most of his five grade I races. He's back to 100% for this with an eye towards the Breeders' Cup. Adds blinkers and should be ready to run a big one. Hopefully the ground stays firm.
In Sunday's Spinster, I'll go against Swift Temper, who is unproven over Poly and does not have a work there this week. I'll go with the English shipper, Proviso, making her first start in the U.S. She has run some big races in France, including a group III win last out.
As we talked about on That Handicapping Show, there are many ways to go in a wide-open Goodwood. I like Parading, who makes his third start in Cali for Shug. He had a wide trip in the Pacific Classic and was still beat less than two lengths. He makes his first start at Santa Anita, but has been working well there. He has a big win over the Poly at Keeneland earlier this year. The cut back should benefit him and he gets Bejarano back. I'm hoping he doesn't get too much action, as I like him to win at a price.
I also like Colonel John, who is 3-for-5 at Santa Anita and makes his third start off a layoff, and Monzante, who ran some big numbers last year and was solid in his first start of the season last month. Tiago will be in all of my trifectas too. Mine That Bird is a throw out for me. He faces older horses for the first time and is in over his head.
Zenyatta will probably make it 13-for-13 in the Lady's Secret. I'll wait to the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic to beat her.
Dublin certainly looks like the real deal and all eyes will be on him in the Champagne. If he gets beat I think it will be by Homeboykris, who Dutrow says is more talented than D' Funnybone. It's a tall task for him in his stakes debut, but talent is talent. I'll box those two in an exacta.
I'm going against Awesome Maria in the Frizette. She has been terrific in her last two but had perfect trips in both. Now she has to deal with two other burners, Nonna Miss, who broke her maiden by 12, and Franny Freud, already a two-time stakes winner. I like Franny Freud, who Paul Pompa bought privately after her stakes debut in Florida. She seems to want more ground and has been working great. I hope she stays at 8-1.
Good luck to everyone this weekend. Who do you like?