Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday's Feature

Bill Mott, Tom Amoss, Mike "the baby-maker" Stidham, Louis Roussel, Austin Smith and Donnie Von Hemmel all have fillies in the 8th, an exciting first-level allowance. Abby's Angel, from the Stidham barn, broke her maiden in New Orleans by 14 and 3/4 lengths, but that was more than 500 days ago. Since then her form has been riddled with bullets. I'm not backing her at 5-2, but am in at 3-1. Bill Mott sends out another daughter of a Deputy Minister sire in True Birkin who drew the rail. True Birkin has raced on the turf after starting with a dud on the dirt, but takes the polyexperiment today. Da Mama who won at first asking for Amoss drew inside and has speed. Also on the front will be Miss Ruth, who got bumped last out under ET Baird. This filly has tired in both sprints and routes but has a serious turn of foot.

We should have a solid pace, but I don't see the winner coming from too far back. Da Mama could wire it depending on where Brandon Meier places Our Miss Ruth, my guess is that he will try to press, which could work, but I need to see this filly put it together before she makes my ticket. And if it were anyone but Stidham I'd be extremely dubious of Abby's Angel's long layoff, but I think he's gonna have her ready, and I look for her to be near the vanguard and strongest when she can smell the wire. Look for True Birkin to come roaring from far back at the end.

Abby's Angel
Da Mama
True Birkin

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Way to go Fort Prado!

Time vanishes in the summer. I wanted to post my picks for the Prairie State Festival this year, but I was too busy eating cheeseburgers and staring at odd cloud formations. Next thing I know it's sunny, boggy and time to hit the train for AP.

The big story is Fort Prado. An 8YO that ran down his fourth Black Tie Affair, beating a Chester House horse topped with Calvin Borel. If anyone watched Yeats notch his 4th consecutive Gold Cup at Ascot, well this is the Chicago version. A week of four-peating hard-knock horses. Many thought the gray millionaire was slipping. He'd lost 16 in a row, and the connections were trying any sort of distance and surface to wake him up. They kept him running though, so big props to them. The wire came at just the right time for Fort Prado and Eddie Perez. For Block this was his 2nd win of the day, his other breadwinner, Apple Martini (sister of Giant Oak), won despite holding a jockey who didn't know where the finish line was. AP uses a shorter finish for the 1 1/16th, and the race moved to the main, so perhaps Razo should be forgiven. The photo went in his favor. He edged Emigh atop a Janks horse. Both Janks and Block had good days and Williams had a 1-2 finish. Hopefully they'll take the blinks off Agnostic next out, if he can relax he won't get collared. And I don't miss my exacta.

River Bear was the big surprise getting a stakes nod after a 35k claiming race, going off at about 25-1. Thorton rode superbly. Rusty Hellman is more a Hawthorne trainer, it was nice to see him get a handsome check. Speaking of Hawthorne, Bow Tie Pasta showed he can run on the rubber at Arlington, taking the Purple Violet decisively. It seemed beneficial to run off the pace but not too far back. Rene Douglas had a way of making a charge on the outside look easy, but few jockeys can do it without getting into trouble.

It was a successful weekend for me. Fort Prado being the biggest ticket. I'm also enjoying the nice price you can get on Catalano's string. It was unthinkable to get 7-1, even 9-2 on what his barn sent out. But the races are now littered with these tantalizing prices.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Claimers! Races 9 and 10 on Thursday

This weekend holds a nice assortment of state-bred stakes races. So why not try some mid-week claimers. Let's start at Race 9: 7 furlongs for 25k platers. ET Baird hops on class-ascending Check My Daddy who has wired her last two after switching to the Granitz barn -- a claim that has paid off well. Will he get an easy lead here? He could. Prenuptial Vow and D'Code could fight him for the front. Both tired badly in last, so I'm wondering if they'll be thundering from the gate.

That Tampa form has crossed well into Arlington, Check My Daddy is one example. Proctor brings Taking Stock north on the same trajectory. This horse is built for the distance and has a nice record here. However he has swallowed money, failing as the favorite in his last three. He could turn that around if a pace develops.

Finally, there's nothing on paper allowing me to dismiss D'Code's last run, but I'm gonna give her a shot. This daughter of Boundary has run very well here in the past, I say she hits the board.

Maidens going long on the Turf, Race 10
Nine furlongs for the youngins. There were two races like this last Thursday, both sported long shots in the place position. This is an incredibly unpredictable race, but it's hard to go against Chris Block who saddles Pulpinit. So my advice is to lay him on top then press the All button in an exacta and pray for ... God Knows.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Review

Not a bad start for the Railbird. Both the OC and Stephen Foster sported bumps and brushes as well as dead heats (for 3rd and 4th). They were out to get Einstien in the Foster. Leparoux can't be faulted, it was a scrum with Macho Again keeping clean on the outside and stealing the wire. Asiatic Boy ran well but collided with Einstien, both vying for the same hole in the stretch.

The Optional Claimer at Arlington lit a 4 figure tri on the board with only 7 runners in the field. Economic Bailout was pushed to the front, prolly thinking with the turn back in distance he would need to show more speed. He was burnt when the real running began -- let's hope this doenst portend anything about the other economic bailout. The race was really shaped by the brush on Oyster Bay by Cool C Note. They may have stepped on each other, they were close coming around the turn, both seemed loaded and both fizzled after contact.

Quite A Handful came away the victor, and proved aptly named, rushing to the front only to be brought back by J Bridgmohan where he could save ground. Cheers to trainer Hansen who gets his first win with this colt that's bred for the polytrack. Good thing the connex thought outside the box; he was full of fire in the final furlong. Oyster Bay's luck has to turn at some point.

My best pick was prolly for Cherokee Queen in the Possibly Perfect stakes on Saturday. He was able to set a glacial pace and steal this one. Jesse Campbell noted he was impressed with Cherokee Queen's ability to rate upfront. So a nice horse may be emerging, though this win was more of a steal than an act of dominance.

Weekend Picks

Sunday Race 8 OC 50K 1 mile Turf
Oyster Cat, once part of the Eoin Harty barn, now is under Sharon Ritter. He ran third to Midshipman and Street Hero in his first maiden on the West Coast, and earned a fat figure sprinting. Moved to Keeneland where he faced speedster Silver City. Finally broke through on the lawn at today's distance. Cool C Note also faced some impressive foes including Giant Oak and Poltergiest. He liked the switch to turf and barn plays the claim game well. African Diamond is sent to the gate by aforementioned Harty. Speed figures far from robust, he's an improving son of Yogunska whose stock went up with son Musket Man, my favorite colt in the Triple Crown.

Oyster Cat
Cool C Note
African Diamond

So, not a bad start an ROI of 70 with WPS bets. Cherokee Queen being the long shot to come in!

Possibly Perfect F/M 50k stakes 1 1/8 off turf

Woke up to the sound of rain in the gutters again. The mercury still afraid to top 60 in the middle of June. So off the turf we go with a small field topped by Communique and Lady Carlock. There is no speed at all in this field, which could affect strategy. E.T. Baird known for his front-end prowess rides morning fave Communique, maybe this will help but the conditions don't favor her. Grahm Motion has an improving filly in here named Cherokee Queen who was the beaten favorite in a modest Allowance last out. She can possibly steal this race. You Go West gets white hot Junior Alvarado in the irons, also not as classy as the others, she has a nice record over the poly and should be near the lead. Lady Carlock is one of the classier entered. She likes a nice pace to close into, which she probably won't get. Nafzger doesn't have a great record here, but this mare should hit the board. It'd be nice if summer rolled into Chicagoland and the rain rolled out.

Cherokee Queen
You Go West
Lady Carlock

Stephen Foster G1 1 1/8 miles dirt Churchill Downs

Einstien vies for the dirty grade one, and has a good shot. The rain is supposed to hold off till the evening to the chagrin of Macho Again who likes this strip sloppy. Asiatic Boy who we saw running second to Curlin in what was prolly the greatest race of his career hits the states under the auspices of the McLaughlin barn. He gets lasix for the first time and has a nice tracking style to get to Einstien and Finallymadeit who should be fighting on the lead. Finallymadeit could falter early; we don't know if he can ship. If that happens then Einstien shouldn't have a problem hitting the wire first. Rounding it out for me is Bullsbay who, while not racing in the upper echelons, has assembled a nice record. Look for him to be closing in.

Asiatic Boy

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Railbird Has Arrived

So much has happened in Thoroughbred Chicagoland. In a bizarre turn over the winter Wayne the Catman Catalano lost charge over the Calabrese string. Can't figure out what happened to the magic duo, kind of a bitter departure after a nice recent run with Dreaming of Anna and Lewis Michael. It seems the Catman has returned with new fire though, winning at a 40% clip with a public barn.

Inez nearly brought home the Eclipse for apprentice rider. Shedding her bug, Inez is still tearing it up, throwing down a riding quintuple early in the meet. She's prolly still a little sore from smacking the poly a few weeks back when tossed from her mount. If she can get the right horses, she'll pose a serious threat on the leader board.

Brandon Meier has returned from Hollywood. Perhaps a little wiser.

Pletcher has packed his string for the East, where he can be closer to the action. Donnie Von Hemmel has moved in and has barnstormed the oval with Quincy Hamilton as his rider. That Tampa form has been something to respect.

Chris Block opted against the national spotlight, persuading Giant Oak's owners to stick it out in Chicago and aim for the Midwestern Triple. He notched the first leg of it a couple weeks ago, on a day that was more bitter than sweet as leading rider and elder statesman Rene Douglas went down. Awful is the only way to describe it. We'll find out in the next week or so how extensive his injuries are.

This past weekend the old gladiator and hard-knock gelding Silverfoot returned to action, mowing down the propitiously paced Tin Man stakes (very appropriate race for the 9Y0 gray). His owners donated the entire purse to the Rene Douglas Relief Fund. As if running the old champ and keeping him in top shape wasn't cool enough.