Sunday, Woodbine, Race 10, Scheduled Post Time 5:38pm ET
The G1 Woodbine Mile, Turf, 1 Mile, Three-and-up
By Douglas Salvatore
Even though the Woodbine Mile might be the least attractive betting race on Sunday's entire card, it will be the focus for us because of the celebrity of Wise Dan. In plain English, Wise Dan should dominate this group. In recent races, he's been victimized by heavy weight imposts and huge weight concessions. On Sunday, he concedes only three to seven pounds in weight to his five challengers.
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Instead of attempting to achieve heroic things on other surfaces, trainer Charles LoPresti is instead focused on keeping his superstar gelding undefeated this year.
"Our biggest goal this year is to keep him undefeated, and this race seems to make the most sense," LoPresti told Jack Shinar of Bloodhorse.
Nothing can change the course of Wise Dan's campaign now. Let us enjoy him the best we can against the likes of Za Approval and Trade Storm on Sunday. I don't believe Wise Dan can be beaten in the Woodbine Mile, but if anyone can do it, it's probably the European raider Trade Storm.
Trade Storm was a good fourth in the $5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free earlier in the year. He had to overcome a tough post position, starting from the 14-hole. The eventual second-place finisher in the race, The Apache, would later cross the wire first in the Arlington Million but was disqualified for interference in deep stretch. Most importantly, Trade Storm gets first time lasix on Sunday, and it sure seems like the European raiders who get lasix generally perform better than the ones who don't.
A look at Trade Storm's TimeformUS Past Performances provides an encouraging, detailed comment from his Dubai Duty Free race:
"Another who's been thriving here of late, shaped as if still in good form from the worst of the draw; dropped out, had to weave way through straight, finished strongly having been left with bit to do; he's one to keep onside."
Saturday, Belmont, Race 9, Scheduled Post Time 5:47pm ET
The G1 Garden City, Inner Turf, 1 and 1/8 Miles, 3YO Fillies
By Bob Barry
Three-year-old turf fillies are running for a half-million dollars in the Garden City (200 grand more than last year), thanks to all the good people who make it all the way out to Aqueduct and stay for hours and yet somehow never lay eyes on a single horse. We horseplayers are in their debt because this is a really nice field. You’d think Grade 1 status and a sweet trophy would be enough, but apparently money still goes a long way.
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The morning line and proponents of “class handicapping”--two unreliable indicators--tell us that Emollient is your most likely winner. Her two Grade 1 wins (one on turf and the other on Keeneland’s Polytrack), bloodlines that scream “run all day,” Mike Smith riding, and Bill Mott training combine to make her 3-1 morning line odds seem almost generous.
But that line on Emollient is plumped because of Discreet Marq, the other Grade 1 winner in here, who has three straight wins and the type of speed that--left unchecked--can control a race like this. Christophe Clement saddling and Garrett Gomez riding don’t hurt either, except with your post-time odds. And if you like to follow your horse, she is the only gray in the field, and you can probably find her on or near the lead, as indicated by the TimeformUS Pace Projector.
This Garden City--already a crackerjack race on paper--got goosed at the post-position draw on Wednesday, when the free-running Emollient drew the rail and the speedy Discreet Marq drew right alongside her. Both horses have done their best running in races where they were able to get a clear and relatively easy lead. That prospect seems doubtful today. Both horses got their “Turf Grade One” out west, against competition that might not have been as stiff as one might think. Emollient’s wire job in the Ashland produced a freak number (a 107) that she hasn’t come close to since. Plus, many savvy race-watchers suspect that Mike Smith has a non-geometric attraction to the rail on his right, so, starting near the one on his left, the Hall-of-Famer may need to use Emollient early to get his preferred trip.
What have we got so far? The top two morning line choices are nice horses that are both quick and classy but who are also spoiled … recently, they’ve had things their own way. Now they have to play cat and mouse. And why is it that in these cat and mouse games, everybody always thinks he/she is the cat? Often enough, both end up as mice.
Which brings us to the closers, and, closer to our hearts, the price horses. The trouble with closers, of course, is that they have to pass all of those others horses that they let go out ahead. It’s rarely easy. But with the two chalks likely to be banging heads in earnest a half-mile from home, the closers' chances improve today. Especially since several of them are just as fast on the weeds as the chalky speedballs, and seem to be in excellent form.
Summer of Fun made a heroic charge last fall to complete the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf triple at 43-1, and has been campaigned modestly and lightly this year. But she is just one nose shy of being 3-for-3 on the year, and her “scenic-route” score five weeks ago at Saratoga produced a TimeformUS figure of 97, which is highly competitive in here, and her lifetime best. Trainer Weaver and jockey Rocco both enjoyed their most productive summers this year. Weaver gets a solid Trainer Rating of 80 when using Rocco. And, at 8-1, why the heck not?
With Sugar on Top also enters the race off a lifetime top, which came against allowance company, but with enough style points to make you think she won’t be overwhelmed by the new conditions. Her figure of 95 in that race makes her competitive here. If you go for that “Hot Barn” or “Hot Trainer” angle, well, both are toasty of late. And she’s 12-1.
The third choice and 4-1 in the morning line, Alterite (al-teer-e-tay) is the dark horse at relatively short odds. Her PPs might not look like much, but the French classics for fillies appear to have been very tough this year, and this one looks live. She is quick enough to have been battling for the lead three-quarters of the way through the French 1,000 Guineas, then just missed winning a Group One at 10 furlongs. Like the rest of her classmates, she could not get near Treve in the Prix Diane, but that undefeated amazon is 8-1 at William Hills to win the Arc, so Alterite is likely swimming in much shallower waters over here. She gets John Velasquez, too, who seems to get on well with Chad Brown’s horses (as the 100 rating on this trainer/jockey combo attests).
We are dismissing all of the Lake Placid horses with some trepidation out of respect for Watsdachances, a hard-luck filly who keeps trying and will probably win a big race someday.
The play is to bet against the two chalks, and to concentrate on the win and exacta pools (thinking it may be asking too much to keep both chalks out of the triple). Win bet on Summer of Fun, and include her in a three-horse exacta box with Alterite and With Sugar on Top.
Saturday, Kentucky Downs, Race 9, Scheduled Post Time 6:35pm ET
The G3 Kentucky Turf Cup, Turf, 1 and 1/2 Miles, Three-and-up
By Douglas Salvatore
We have been fascinated by some of the incredibly deep and interesting betting cards on display at Kentucky Downs recently. If anyone likes turf racing and hasn't checked out the quality cards they're putting together, he's missing out. No joke.
With that tip of our cap to Kentucky Downs, let's get to the Saturday feature.
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The TimeformUS pace projector suggests Whatthecatdrugin (15/1 morning line) will be on the easiest and clearest early lead imaginable. It's truly a monumental pace advantage and the Kentucky Downs turf course can be pretty kind to speed. Whatthecatdrugin also has very good speed figures on dirt and synthetic surfaces.
It's very tempting to make Whatthecatdrugin our selection. However, we must resist. He ran only six days ago, at Presque Isle Downs, and he's simply not proven on turf. He's winless in three career tries over the lawn, and his speed figure has regressed slightly in each grass try.
Olympic Thunder (10/1 morning line) will be our selection. This Brazilian Group 1 winner ran a field-best last-out speed figure of 110 while making his second start in the US. Trainer Kenny McPeek has done excellent work with South American imports in the past, and this horse should have first run after getting a ground-saving trip well behind expected loose leader Whatthecatdrugin.
The horse to fear is certainly 3/1 morning line favorite Temeraine. He had a slow start in the Arlington Million last time out, and then gained ground at every single call to finish fifth, beaten less than four lengths, in a very good performance.
Betting Strategy: Win bet on Olympic Thunder and box him in the exacta with Temeraine.
Check back later this weekend for a preview of Sunday's Woodbine Mile, and get free TimeformUS Woodbine Mile PPs now.