At this point, it really is impossible to predict year-end championships in almost every division. The way things are going in 2011 the Breeders' Cup will settle most of the Eclipse Awards, with the Classic probably deciding Horse of the Year.
In the 3-year-old division, Shackleford and Ruler On Ice have a chance to jump to the top of the standings with a win in the Haskell, but the Travers outcome is just as important and the BC Classic trumps them both. The Jim Dandy is a prestigious race, but it's a grade II and anyone who wins will have to come back with a repeat performance in the Travers to make it stand up.
So I guess what I'm saying is, let's just watch and bet this weekend's races, try to make some money, and let the chips fall where they may.
The draw was very important in that Coil drew the rail. Drawing just to the outside were Joe Vann and Pants On Fire, who both have early speed, and so it almost assures that Coil will have to go to the front. Even though Bob Baffert said he showed another dimension in his most recent work, he hasn't shown the ability to sit behind multiple horses in the past. We also know that Shackleford will be right up among the leaders, so the Haskell is shaping up to have a pretty solid pace.
In that case, it might set up for a horse that will sit mid-pack off of that solid pace-someone like Astrology. If you're willing to toss the Iowa Derby, which was a clunker where he had no excuse, Astrology is an interesting proposition. Before that race he had never run a bad one, hitting the board in all eight tries including two wins and third-place showing in the Preakness. He's a very well bred Stonestreet homebred and a spectacular looking horse. He broke his maiden at Saratoga and now switches back to Julien Leparoux. There are things to like about him and I think he has a chance to run a big race here.
I'm not crazy about Coil drawing the rail and having to go wire-to-wire while having to hold off the classy Shackleford, but I think he is talented enough to do it if he has to. The colt is clearly peaking right now and should improve in his first start on dirt. If Martin Garcia can get him to relax (he will race without blinkers) he will be tough. Baffert has won this race in his last four tries and has hit the board in seven of eight. Not bad.
There is no reason to think that Shackleford won't run well. He is the classiest of this bunch, has come out of the Triple Crown in great shape, and draws an enviable post. His recent speed numbers are the best of anyone in here too.
I really don't see Ruler On Ice running back to his Belmont and I think Pants On Fire is notch below the top three. Joe Vann, with Monmouth legend Joe Bravo aboard for Todd Pletcher, would be the longshot I would use the fill out supers.
$5 trifecta box Astrology, Coil, Shackleford
$2 superfecta Astrology, Coil, Shackleford, Joe Vann
An interesting mix of speed and closers in here. Moonshine Mullin has some speed on the inside and Will's Wildcat has some early kick, but Dominus should come away with the lead. He's never been around two turns, so this is a new test for him. But he went 1 1/16 miles in the Dwyer without a problem and looks like a speedy horse that can handle distance. I think it's going to take a big run from someone else to catch him.
Stay Thirsty is a tough horse to gauge, as he has never been particularly consistent. Obviously, he ran huge in the Belmont and has two goods starts at Saratoga. He should settle into a nice stalking trip and I would be surprised if he wasn't at least in the mix at the end.
I'm not crazy about a closer like Alternation off the layoff and would rather take a chance with Scotus at a bigger price. He has good tactical speed and two solid works over the track for Ken McPeek, who is a having a career year. He handled stakes company very well in his first try and seems to be improving with every start. He's never been off the board in five starts.
$20 win Dominus
$5 trifecta box Dominus, Stay Thirsty, Scotus
Who do you like?