Friday Selections: Always Looking For Longshots


Although one might think this race is a vehicle for longshots, that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. Wesley Ward is holding a strong hand with the undefeated Futurity winner Four Wheel Drive and the filly Kimari, who has won stakes at Saratoga and Keeneland, on the front end and rallying from ninth, and was beaten a head in the 25-horse Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. And on the European front, A’Ali looks strong having won three group 2 races, one of them at Royal Ascot, another at Deauville, and the most recent in the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster. Frankie Dettori is undefeated on him will no doubt keep his price down. It’s hard to imagine all three of these fast top-class horses getting beat. But keep an eye on firm course and five-furlong specialist Alligator Alley, from the barn of Joseph O’Brien. Although he finished sixth in the Flying Childers Stakes, he broke awkwardly, something you can’t afford to do going five furlongs. In the group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood he overcame a horrendous trip bottled up in traffic and still got up to finish second. He could have a say in the finish at 12-1, as could 15-1 Dream Shot, who was second, beaten a length, in the Flying Childers at 20-1 and is coming off a close second in a group 3 stakes on a synthetic surface. But this race appears to be all about the favorites.


Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand with Coventry Stakes winner and Dewhurst runner-up Arizona and the consistent and hard-knocking Fort Myers, but they drew posts 12 and 11, respectively, so that might make them a bit vulnerable, even though O’Brien has already won this race from an outside post. Chad Brown also should be formidable with Pilgrim Stakes winner  Structor. And 4-1 Decorated Invader, was very impressive winning the grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine and probably is the horse to beat. Looking for a price, an attractive proposition at 10-1 is Our Country. I am always impressed by a 2-year-old who can win on grass at Saratoga by 5 3/4 lengths. He followed that up by finishing fourth in the With Anticipation Stakes, but stumbled at the start and was rank early, yet still was beaten only 2 3/4 lengths. In his last start, he finished third in the Pilgrim Stakes after having to go seven-wide turning for home. If he can work out a good trip from the rail he could make his presence felt, especially going from Manny Franco to John Velazquez. I am also intrigued by Hit the Road, despite breaking from the 14 post. He is a stone closer with a devastating late kick and he should be able to ease back and make one run under new rider Flavien Prat, who wanted to ride him after seeing him blow by him on way to victory in the Zuma Beach Stakes. Another who should be flying late is former European Vitalogy under Javier Castellano, who came from the clouds to be beaten a neck in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. This might be a good spot to box the three longshots with Structor and Decorated Invader in a five-horse trifecta box, or you can substitute Arizona for Structor. If I had to bet one or two horses for value I would go with Our Country and Hit the Road.


I won’t even bother looking for a longshot here. Frizette winner Wicked Whisper and Alcibiades winner British Idiom both look strong, but I am taking a shot that Donna Veloce is a freak and a star in the making, despite having only one 6 1/2-furlong maiden race under her. But just watching that race made me believe I was looking at something special. I don’t like that she was made the morning line favorite, but we’ll see how they bet her. You never know how they will handle two turns for the first time, but I am just going by what I saw in her career debut, which was a .brilliant, classy filly far beyond her years. We all know these maiden winners can fool you, so we’ll what she delivers second time out.


This race is so wide-open it is downright confusing. To demonstrate just how confusing it is, the the three top choices, Albigna, Sweet Melania, and Daahyeh are 9-2 , 5-1 and 5-1, respectively. The Chad Brown-trained Miss Grillo winner Selflessly might be kind of high at 8-1even from post 13. All look strong and can easily be played in the exotics. The four to play around with at a price are Shadn, Fair Maiden, Crystalle, and Sharing. Each is worth a win bet. If I had to bet one with a bit more confidence it probably would be the Andrew Balding-trained Shadn, who has been a hard-luck filly all year, running half her races against males and beating them last out in the group Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte following a troubled third in the group 2 Mill Reef Stakes. Jamie Spencer gets the mount. Fair Maiden and Sharing will have to overcome posts 10 and 11, leaving P,G. Johnson winner and Miss Grillo runner-up Crystalle as another potential overlay.


This race took a major hit with the scratch of Maxfield. There isn’t much else you can do with it. You can’t play Dennis’ Moment with Eight Rings, so here is what I’m going to do. Bet Dennis’ Moment over Scabbard, Shoplifted, and Storm the Court in the exacta and Eight Rings over Scabbard, Shoplifted, and Storm the Court. Also Dennis’ Moment over Scabbard over Eight Rings, Storm the Court, Shoplifted, and Anneau d’Or in the trifectas, and just in case mystery horse Anneau d’Or handles the dirt as well as he does the grass, being by Medaglia d’Oro, out of a Tapit mare, I would go for a Dennis’Moment over Anneau d’Or over Scabbard, Eight Rings, Shoplifted, and Storm the Court trifecta, just taking a shot to try to win some money, which is going to be hard to do. A mention about Shoplifted, his maiden victory was one of the most impressive I saw at Saratoga this year. He closed well enough to finish second in the Hopeful, and then had a horrible trip in the American Pharoah, going six wide on both turns and making a dramatic move around the far turn from last into contention before tiring in the stretch. He should get a lot out of that race in his first two-turn effort. Come to think of it I think I'll also go with Dennis' Moment and Eight Rings over Shoplifted in the exactas.


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