Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekend Handicapping: Taking to the Sky at Woodbine today

Yesterday we saw two great filly races, the Alabama (G1 at Saratoga on dirt) and the Del Mar Oaks (G1 at Del Mar on turf).  I think we all can agree is that there is no clear cut 3YO filly champion in either division.  There was no huge upsets, but just two fillies had their turn, Royal Delta winning with a strong closing performance over It’s Tricky and Summer Soiree holding off Star Billing and Nereid by a half a length.  Most are disappointed that the filly division doesn’t have a dominating filly, but I believe it’s better for racing to have a contentious group fighting it out all season.  It holds the racing fans interest and can attract new fans to the sport. 

Today, we head north to Canada and will handicap the Sky Classic (G2) for 3YO+ going 1 ¼ miles on turf.  There is a field of 6 entered, and as of this writing no scratches.  It’s a strong field; several have raced against each other and taken turns beating each other as well.  I will be listing the contenders in order and inside that list will be my “Bombs Away” selection.  This race is very competitive and of the six, five could easily claim victory.  Here we go,

1.       #5 Musketier ML 9/2:  This tough, Roger Attfield trained,  9YO should bounce back from the Nijinsky, as that race might have been a touch too short for him. You could also argue that his 109 Beyer from winning the Singspiel would not be duplicated.  I will look at the Nijinsky effort a good one but he bounced.    His record shows he likes to go long, winning the Singspiel(G3) and the Elkhorn(G2) over a mile and a half .  Back to 1 ¼ is more suitable and look for De Silva (17% winning record on turf) to have him a bit closer this time. 

2.       #4 Fifty Proof ML 2/1:  He is having a great 5YO campaign winning 2 of 4 and placing 2nd in the other two races.  His last two were near misses, the last finishing 2nd in the Nijinsky.  Likes to get to the front and dictate the pace and see no different here.  His Beyer’s are improving steadily, (101-98-95-88) and looks in good form with 2 5f works since the Nijinsky.   Louis Contreras stays on top for Ian Black, Contreras wins 22% of his turf races.  The only reason I didn’t place him #1 I’m biased against beaten favorites.  The statistics on “beaten favorites” winning on their next outing is very low, around 16%. 

3.       #2 Grassy ML 5/2:  He hasn’t raced since finishing 2nd to Musketier in the Singspiel, but his workouts show he is in good form and has won coming off a layoff before.  Clement has a good track record winning with horses coming off their layoffs, over 20%. The other factors that I like about him is that if Kara’s Orientation hooks up with Fifty Proof and the pace begins to wilt, then Grassy will roll right by them.  Only Musketier and Hailstone have comparable closing Beyer’s. The Woodbine has been playing equal to all styles on the bias, so we have to respect this closer.  Also, a switch to Husbands, who has been red hot the last weeks and wins 21% on turf with a positive ROI.  This horse is dangerous and wouldn’t be surprised to see him take it. 

4.       #6 Hailstone ML 10/1:  My “Bombs Away” selection.  He really isn’t the classic longshot here but more like the forgotten horse.  Had a near miss in the Nijinsky finishing 3rd out by a length.  No wins at the Graded level but has been close.  This 5YO colt has only 8 races under his belt and is in the money 5 of them.  His Beyer’s have been consistent and 2 solid works since the Nijinsky.  He could still be developing and might not be ready for this group, but the distance might play right into his hands.   Great pedigree and is the wild card here today.

5.       #3 Smart Bid ML 9/5:  Some might question why I have this Graham Motion trained horse rated so low.  Has won at this level and a near miss in a G1 back in February at Gulfstream.  So what’s there no to like?  A fair question, but going to hang my hat on that he has never won at this distance, seems to have struggled of late,  Prado has a low turf win percentage (5% on 200+ mounts), and could be way wrong here but don’t see his front end style working with Fifty Proof and Kara’s Orientation.  He has won once in his last nine, always near or on the board but not sure if he is a true winner like some of the other’s today.  Might make me look foolish in the end, but don’t see him in the winner’s circle today.

Race ranking:  5-4-2

Will be blogging at with the selections for the Guaranteed $25,000 Pick 4 at Balmoral Park.  Hit it last night for a tidy $294.00 on a $27 ticket!  Good luck today and let’s cash tickets. 

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