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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Handicapping: 3YO's battle for a Million at PARX

For today’s race we will be making a stop at PARX for the Grade 2, Pennsylvania Derby going a mile and an eighth over dirt for 3YO's aiming for a $1,000,000 purse.  There is a field of nine and quite the mix bag of entries.  What makes this race so difficult is finding the horse in its best form cycle.  We have some good entries, recent winners and many have won at the Graded levels, now to pick the one that is ready to win. Not an easy task with this bunch.

Contenders

#7 To Honor and Serve ML 3/1

This Bernardini colt bounced back after getting lost in the Amsterdam sprint, finishing a miserable sixth.  He flashed a nice 102 last out which he has done before winning the Remsen(G2) last year.  Mott puts Lezcano on board were they have a nice26% win record together.  He looks ready to pick up where he left off as a 2YO. He will go forward and there is plenty of pace for him to take advantage of. 

#9 Rattlesnake Bridge ML 4/1

He made a good showing in the Travers(G1) against a very tough Stay Thirsty. Consistent Beyers in the 90’s, getting a weight drop and JohnnyV stays with him.  I tend to lean to lightly raced 3YO’s and this is his seventh start and only one bad race, a fourth in the Jerome(G2) on a sloppy track.  He will stay close to To Honor and Serve at the front.

#3 Pender Harbour ML 12/1

Throw out that last effort on turf and you have one tough 3YO.  He will be happy to be back on dirt where he showed improving Beyer’s.   I’m not worried about the layoff, he has been working well and with Contreras up, that makes him even more dangerous.  I wouldn’t surprise to see him run right by the front runners in this one.

Dark horses

#1 Ruler On Ice ML 5/2

I know it’s interesting to see the morning line favorite in the dark horse group.  But not totally convinced that the Belmont winner is the real deal or just an outstanding mudder.  Two of his three wins have come on off tracks, and interesting to note the other non off track win came here in an allowance race back in February.  The big angle here is the jockey switch.  Valdivia had been on board for seven of nine efforts and now the hot Garrett Gomez takes over.  Interesting stat, Kelly Breen has a rather pedestrian stakes race record this season only winning about 10%, prefer to see a trainer in the 15% range.

#8 J W Blue ML 8/1

This 3YO made a nice recovery in the Travers(G1) after getting off slow and seemed not engaged. He came 5 wide to pick up third behind Stay Thirsty and Rattlesnake Bridge. Has shown nice improving Beyer’s moving up into the high 90’s, and get’s a big weight break today.  Dutrow with Velasquez are an excellent team and this is the dangerous entry here today. He has been on the board five of seven in his 3 YO season and looks to be in perfect form right now.

"Bombs Away"

#2 Arthur’s Tale ML 12/1

This one of those horses that looks like he is ready for the big effort and then just comes up short.  He seemed to wake up in the Wood Memorial (G1) and then went quiet.  He has been off since April and the angle here is his two wins have come off layoffs. I’m going with the “off the bench” form play here.  I agree there is plenty not to like, speed fig’s don’t match well with this group, Garcia is the death knell for me and Albertrani season has been so-so, but this is one of those horses that might be ready to punch through.  At 12/1 why not?

Special Note:  Some might be surprised I left off the #5 Rush Now ML 9/2.  He is an excellent 3YO who will go to the front and set a determined pace.  I just think the others are stronger and will suffer at this distance.

Selection:

7 – 9 – 3

I will not be posting the Balmoral Pick 4 this weekend.    

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