Greetings from St. Petersburg, Florida, where after one huge meal and two entertaining NFL games, I am ready to tackle the weekend cards.
Aqueduct Race 7, Friday
Maiden 2yo fillies 5.5f dirt
My eyes will be on first-time starter 1 Lady Banks. This Successfil Appeal filly made a positive impression as a yearling, when I saw her at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton July selected yearling sale. She showed some class and presence, and despite her speedy pedigree, will probably want more ground than this.
Churchill Downs Race 1, Saturday
Allowance NW1X 2yo fillies 6f dirt
1 Don't Tell Veda looked very good when trying dirt in her second career start. She stalked the lead pack, angled inside in the stretch, then back outside a rival and drew off by almost 5 lengths. She made that move look easy, showing signs of a strong dynamic. She should move forward off that run, and I would expect her to to at least hit the board here vs. winners.
Churchill Downs Race 2, Saturday
Allowance NW1X 2 yo fillies 1 mile dirt
1 Dancinginthecircle is a legitimate favorite here after being under restraint in traffic in a NW1 here on October 28, then rallying for second, beaten just a neck. Jock switch from Julien Leparoux to TJ Thompson and I wouldn't be surprised to see this filly break running from the rail, as there isn't a ton of speed in here. I'll be interested to see how 2 Lady Luck (15-1 ML?) runs. She is by Curlin, and may appreciate getting back on dirt after making a wide move and hanging in a NW1 on the Keeneland polytrack. I liked her debut on the dirt at Ellis. 4 Assets of War was on my short list at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale for both her physical and mental makeup. She came out running and scored at 11-1 in her career debut. I think she'll like the added distance here and could move forward. The filly she ran down (Irish Lute) returned to win at the MSW level at Churchill.
Aqueduct Race 8, Saturday
Cigar Mile (G1) One Mile Dirt
The filly Groupie Doll has been tabbed at the 8-to-5 morning line favorite, and she looks like the horse to beat despite taking on males. She is the most consistent horse in the race, and if she can run back to her Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint or the Humana Distaff Handicap (G1), she should win this race. I am a huge fan of Groupie Doll, but post-Breeders' Cup bounces are common, and Groupie Doll delivered a huge effort against an inside speed bias. She could be vulnerable here.
Speaking of bias, Stay Thirsty ran the race of his life when losing the Jockey Club Gold Cup to Flat Out by a head last time, but he had the bias in his favor. I wouldn't expect him to run back to that race.
Hymn Book, who finished second in this race last year, skipped the Breeders' Cup and has worked three times since a sharp stakes score at Belmont on October 19. I could play him at his 6-1 morning line. Have a feeling I'm either betting him or I am just watching and rooting for Groupie Doll.