Monday, July 30, 2012

3-Yr.-Old Picture Coming Into Focus

Paynter                                                                                                      Alpha

After the running of the Curlin Stakes, Jim Dandy(G2) and Haskell(G1) this weekend, the three-year-old picture is starting to clear up. With this division lacking a true front runner, these races provided an opportunity for someone to step up to the challenge.

Alpha, returning to the track for the first time since the Derby, took the Jim Dandy impressively, going wire to wire in the slop and winning by 2 lengths. With no other big name three-year-olds in this one it was Alpha's race to lose as the others in this field were just not in the same class.

It was Paynter who showed his second place finish at the Belmont was no fluke as he pulled away from the field in the Haskell to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Gemologist and Dullahan both were in position to challenge, but looked like they hit a brick wall and were no where to be found at the end, finishing 5th and 6th.

Street Life, the son of Street Sense also keeps his name in the mix after taking the Curlin Stakes Friday at Saratoga. He will be running up against more superior competition though, next time out.

Now the focus shifts to the Travers at the end of August to determine who is the best of this class before they graduate on to facing the older competition. Look for the Paynter and Alpha duel to play out in the media leading up to the race as these two will be the favorites heading into the "Midsummer Classic".

*Pegged Street Life in the Curlin and Alpha in the Jim Dandy. Didn't fare so well in the Haskell as Paynter got the win, while Gemologist and Dullahan didn't show up. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Welcome Back 3-Yr.-Olds


After a seven week layoff we welcome the three-year-old's return to to the track. With injuries and illnesses to the top contenders of this talented group, the three-year-old division is once again wide open. What better way to determine the best of this class than the three stakes races this weekend on the cards at Saratoga and Monmouth.

The first of these three stakes races is the $100,000, 1 1/8 mile, Curlin Stakes at Saratoga tonight. Usually, this race wouldn't carry much significance towards determining the top three-year-olds, but with no current clear cut favorite, this class is looking for someone to step up. The m/l favorite at 5/2 is Street Life, who last finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes. The winner of this race will certainly keep his name in the mix.

Saturday brings the $600,000, 1 1/8 mile, Jim Dandy Stakes(G2) at Saratoga. The m/l favorite at 5/2 is Alpha, who will be making his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Look for him to  perform more like he did in the Wood Memorial, where he was beaten only by a neck. There are two other Kentucky Derby runners in this race as well. Prospective is coming off a first place finish in the Ohio Derby(G3), while Liaison is coming off a third place finish in the Swaps(G3). In this field of eight, you also have the third place finisher in the Belmont, Atigun, the winner of the Dwyer(G2), Teeth of the dog and the winner of the Matt Winn(G3), Neck n' Neck.

To close out the weekend, Monmouth Park is host to the $1,000,000, 1 1/8 mile, Haskell Invitational Stakes. With a rather small field of six, on paper this is really a three horse race. Paynter the m/l favorite at 3/2 is coming off a close second place finish in the Belmont, to the now retired Union Rags. Dullahan returns and looks to redeem himself after that disappointing seventh place finish in the Belmont. The horse who many are anticipating to return is Gemologist as we get to see him back in action for the first time since injuring himself in the Kentucky Derby. Handsome Mike, Nonios and Steelcase round out the field.

All three of these races are preps for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga at the end of August, but the winner of the Haskell will be heading into the Midsummer Classic as the favorite. Hopefully we will have a clearer picture of this three-year-old division after this nice weekend of racing. Enjoy and good luck!

Curlin Stakes
7/27 Saratoga 6:22 EST
Race #8
Ex/Tri Bx: 3,5,2

Jim Dandy Stakes(G2)
7/28 Saratoga 5:45 EST
Race #10
Alpha 5/2
Has a grade three win on his resume, finished second by a neck in the Wood. Wasn't a factor in the Derby but looks to get back on track here. Not any big name three-year-olds in this one, Alpha should add a grade two win to his resume Saturday. 

Teeth of the Dog 5/1
Coming off wins in the Easy Goer and Dwyer(G2) at Belmont last month. Has finished in the money in 6 out of 7 lifetime starts. Should find the money again in this one. 

Atigun 8/1
His third place finish in the Belmont has to make you believe. Past performances are not that impressive  but shown he has the speed and distance. 

Fast Falcon 10/1
Zito trained horse coming off two second place finishes behind Teeth of the Dog. Closer who is still untested at the distance. 

Ex/Tri Bx: 1,6,3,2

Haskell Invitational Stakes(G1)
7/29 Monmouth 6:17 EST
Race #13
Gemologist 3-1
First start since getting injured in the Derby and was undefeated heading into the race. Looks to start his comeback and show why he was one of the favorites heading into the Derby. 

Paynter 3/2
Got run down just barely in the 1 1/2 mile Belmont. He will be the one to catch in this shorter race. Definitely has the speed, but is he in the same class as Gemologist or Dullahan? Will be there at the end just not sure where in the money he will fall. 

Dullahan 3-1
The Belmont is really the only blemish on this colt's resume. Has finished in the money in 7 out of 10 lifetime starts. This should be a good distance for him and could easily be posing in the winners circle come Sunday night.

Ex/Tri Bx: 4,3,2 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Races

                                   Saratoga                                                                                  Del Mar

With record breaking temperatures already being felt across the nation, summer certainly is here. Which means it's time for some summer racing. This past weekend kicked off both Saratoga's and Del Mar's racing seasons, where we got to see some early action by the two-year-olds. The big race of the weekend for the youngsters was the 6f Sanford Stakes(G2) at Saratoga. Bern Identity came away with the graded stakes victory but the horse to watch from this one might be Onetwentyeight who was coming on at the end to get the show.

Now we all know it is way too early to be making any type of realistic Derby predictions but these are the races where many Derby hopefuls get their start. The likes of Secretariat, Affirmed, Afleet Alex and Scat Daddy all have a Sanford Stakes win on their resume. These two-year-olds will be fun to watch this summer as they grow and prepare for the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" point system instead of the traditional graded stakes earnings system. This new system doesn't actually go into effect until the fall so some of these young guys can get a race or two under them this summer before the competition really begins. The next race to keep an eye out for is the 6 1/2 f Saratoga Special(G2) in a few weeks, where another group of two-year-olds look to show what they have. 

It was disappointing to say the least hearing the news about I'll Have Another, the day before his Triple Crown bid. The latest victim, Union Rags who was reported to have a tendon issue a couple of weeks ago, was officially retired this past weekend. On top of all this, Bodemeister came down with a fever and has been put on DL for the time being. With the top three-year-olds out, this coming weekend should be wide open for the 1 1/8 mile Jim Dandy(G2) at Saratoga and the Haskel Invitational(G1) at Monmouth Park. It will be interesting to see the draw as the fields will not be set until later in the week.