Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travers Weekend '08 - Random Thoughts

Some exciting races this weekend :

Do not forget about Valbenny in the Ballston Spa, on Thursday. She is 5/1 on the morning line, which makes me think she may go off around 8 or 10/1. They are saying that the turf course is drying out after some rain, but I do not trust that at all, and know for sure that Wait a While, the big favorite, needs a concrete course to be happy.

Out at Del Mar (in the Pacific Classic on Sunday), I look for Go Between to finally get his grade 1 on dirt. Mast Track and Awesome Gem complete my trifecta (though we all know I am not a huge wagerer). As far as Well Armed, I will take a risk and throw him out. Student Council will be tough coming at the end, especially with a trainer who trains for consistency, Asmussen. Despite this, I do not think he will beat the aforementioned animals.

The Travers is actually looking like a race full of good horses who can run just as fast as Big Brown, if they have developed accordingly. Mambo in Seattle has run 3 lengths slower (104 Beyer) than Big Brown (110 Beyer in Derby, 107 Beyer in Haskell) numbers wise, and Harlem Rocker (106 Beyer in Withers) 2 lengths. I really wanted to see You and I Forever in the race, but Mott pulled him out. He ran like a horse on the brink of a big race last out. I am throwing out Pyro, as I do not like him at 10 furlongs (he is bred to be a miler) and keeping Mambo In Seattle, Harlem Rocker, Macho Again, and Cool Coal Man as main threats. I do not think Zito would run the latter unless he was improving. He was too far back last out on a speed-favoring course in the Haskell. Look for him to stalk and pounce. All in all, if they are all lined up adjacently at the 3/16th pole, no one can out-kick Harlem Rocker, not even Pyro. The big question with him is if he can run 10 furlongs. Winning in the 9.5 furlong Prince of Whales makes one think he can, but that was a very easy race. The way he runs, I have to think he can make the distance. He lopes around, places himself easily, and then moves up and sprints home. His second dam, Zee Lady, had some fantastic speed at two, while Lit de Justice (grandsire) is a 3/4 brother to two middle distance horses, including the brilliant Commander Collins. Harlem Rocker is bred to have two things: a gray coat and a fantastic closing turn of foot with Lit de Justice, Macho Uno, El Gran Senor, and Blushing Groom in his first three generations.

Also, if there is a time to throw $50 on a show stopper, it is Tale of Ekati. He is not bred for the distance, but he's trained by a big-race master, ridden by the best jockey in racing (Prado), and is a grinder-type that usually does well at Saratoga. I would not be surprised to see him at huge odds running down a fast pace and tiring horses. His Morning Line is 20/1, which is HUGE considering he is a New York Grade 1 winner going nine furlongs.

If Spring Waltz goes to the Pitcher (Monmouth, 8.5 furlongs: a bad idea) instead of the Personal Ensign (Saratoga, 10 furlongs, right up her alley), I LOVE Unbridled Belle against heavy favorite, Ginger Punch. Unbridled Belle is a true 10 furlong filly who can run big numbers, while I doubt Ginger Punch's endurance. Nappelon, her dam, was not one of great endurance. She was a talented sprinter who peaked at seven furlongs. She was also by a sprinter (Bold Revenue), with the speedy Rambunctious on her damside. I think Nappelon gives Ginger Punch her great speed and maneuverability, while sire Awesome Again gives her some classic prowess.

Speaking of the Distaffers, do not be surprised if Bruce Headley takes Magnificence after the Rancho Bernadino (which she should win) and ups her two furlongs in the G1 Lady's Secret in September. I think this filly is meant for 2 turns and may be top three in the country doing so. She's a big shot for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Oh, I am sorry: Lady's Classic (which is stupid).

In the King's Bishop, I really would like to see Visionaire run a big comeback race. He is a very affective sprinter/closer who should be able to wear down a speed duel that is likely to develop. If the speed is valid (:21, :44), he has a huge chance and should be followed closely by Golden Spikes (brilliantly bred Seeking the Gold colt out of an A.P. Indy half sister to King's Bishop winner Forestry) and Kodiac Kowboy, who loves the surface and stalks well. If the pace does not develop, J Be K is going to sit off Desert Key, run him down, and they will finish 1-2.

There are a few other great races, but I will not bore you too much.

Fun weekend.

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