Equidaily Racing Journal



Saturday, May 3, 2008
Picks and plays for some of the day's major stakes
by Seth Merrow

It's Derby Day! A solid slate of stakes supporting the big event at Churchill, plus, we'll look at the features at Belmont and Hollywood.

Rain fell at Churchill on Friday, let's keep our fingers crossed that things clear up somewhat for Saturday's action.

Turf wagers are turf only

Best Bets

Churchill, Race 5, exacta box, Junior College/Noonmark.
Churchill, Race 10, WPS, Colonel John/Adriano/Monba.


Colonel John...Has done little wrong in his six-race career -- and nothing wrong in two win as a 3YO. Unleashed an impressive late-run to take the G1 Santa Anita Derby. The only question mark is the switch from the synthetics to conventional dirt -- but his eye-popping 4/27 workout seemed to put those concerns to rest.

Adriano...We've been following both this one and Monba for months now and we don't want to be on the sidelines if either one gets it done here at generous odds. Certainly you don't want to fall in love with a horse and wager based on that -- and there's probably a little more "heart" than "head" at work here, but if either had tossed a clunker coming into this race we wouldn't still be on the bandwagon. Instead this guy rebounded nicely from the G2 Fountain of Youth debacle to score in the G2 Lanes End. What attracted us in the first place was the impressive grass win at Gulfstream in January. It didn't surprise us that they tried the dirt next time out -- but we don't think the FOY was a good barometer of this one's talent on the main track. He was stranded in the far outside post, and it's been noted that he acted up in the paddock. That hot-bloodedness could be a factor again Saturday but he's been schooling in the paddock and will, hopefully, be better there. He's going to need to step it up but draw a line through the FOY and he could be an improving 3YO ready to do just that.

Monba...Impressed us with his late run in the G1 Hollywood Futurity. Like Adriano he flopped in the FOY and then followed with a victory -- winning the G1 Blue Grass. That win produced a lifetime best Beyer and it was reported that he had had throat surgery after the FOY, so, also like Adriano he could be a 3YO on the improve.

Z Fortune...Really has only run one bad race -- and he rebounded from that convincingly to just miss in the G2 Arkansas Derby. Could be getting good at the right time for Asmussen.

Pyro...Certainly you want to see a better race coming into the Derby than the dud this guy tossed last time. But those two races at the Fair Grounds are likely far more indicative of his talent than the Blue Grass flop. Look for a significant rebound today.

Wager: $5 WP on Colonel John.
...$4 WPS on Adriano/Monba.
...$1 exacta box top five.
...$1 tri box top five.

Belmont: Nassau Cty G3 $200K

Carolyn's Cat...Really has hit her stride this season. Getting better and better and might even still have some upside.
JZ Warrior...Matched her 2YO top Beyer last time -- might signal she's rounding into good form now.
Irish Smoke...Enigma goes first-out for Dutrow. Saratoga starts seemed to point her out as a budding star -- then she flopped badly to end the season. Could go either way today.

Wager: $5 WP on Carolyn's Cat.
...$3 exacta box top two.
...$1 tri key Carolyn's Cat over next three.

Churchill: Churchill Downs G2 $250K

Junior College...Only losses in last five has come to the talented sprinter Semaphore Man. Up from Oaklawn and has run well on this track before.
Noonmark...We've been chasing this guy since his 3YO season. Fact that he's won two of his last three might indicate he's finally coming around -- and note that one of those wins was on this track.
Thousand Words...Frankel/Juddmonte runner started career in Europe. Has either been on synthetic or grass since arriving in US. Interesting.

Wager: $5 WP on Junior College.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: La Troienne G3 $150K

Game Face...Pletcher trainee verified her talent with G2 Old Hat win off of maiden-breaker. No disgrace to finish in the runner-up spot last time behind Bsharpsonata.
Informed Decision...The clunker in the G2 Davona Dale leaves some questions about her talent and how well she'll like this distance -- but the other three races have been good, improving tries and we can't leave her out.
Alina...Clearly improved since moving into the Asmussen barn. The triple-digit Beyer at Delta Downs looks a little out-of-whack but she was solid behind Eight Belles last time and might appreciate the cutback to one-turn.
Secret Gypsy.

Wager: $5 WP on Game Face.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Distaff Turf Mile G3 $150K

Ventura...Euro-import could be set to pop here off of the two US starts this season.
Dreaming of Anna...2YO filly champ of 2006 was somewhat spotty in her 3YO season but the two wins at Tampa seem to indicate she's back in top form.
Sharp Susan...She's typically in the hunt.
Lady Carlock.

Wager: $5 WP on Ventura.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Humana Distaff G1 $300K

Sugar Swirl...Quite impressive in Florida and has a win over this track.
Miraculous Miss...Ended her 2007 season in good form. Off since November but working well.
Graeme Six...Seems to be an improved 4YO.
Miss Macy Sue.

Wager: $5 WP on Sugar Swirl.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Turf Classic G1 $500K

Einstein...Flopped in this race last year over a 'yielding' turf course, so that has to be a concern. But the turf starts this year have all been solid.
Golden Balls...Euro-import has looked pretty good since arriving stateside.
Artiste Royal...Think he's better than the last couple -- maybe taking some time to come back from the Japan trip.
Out of Control.

Wager: $5 WP on Einstein.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Hollywood: Inglewood Hcp G3 $100K

Storm Military...Should appreciate return to turf and should find this group to his liking.
El Roblar...Second start back from a long layoff. Just behind Surf Cat last time and that one came back to win a stake here last weekend.
Heroi Do Bafra...Uncoupled barnmate to top pick has been competitive in all but one of his US starts.
Get Funky.

Wager: $5 WP on Storm Military.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Coast-to-coast Archives...Picks, plays and results from previous weeks


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