Believe it or not, we are only two weeks away from the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita. There has been a certain lack of buildup to the year-end event this year, due to the lack of "star power". However, I think that means there will be some value to be found among those fields and it should be an interesting discourse over the next two weeks to see who those horses will be. For this Saturday, I am looking at the Grade 1 $300,000 DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel with a field of nine going postward. While the Godolphin horse, #1 Vineyard Haven, is expected to be a prohibitive favorite in the Dash, I am going to look elsewhere simply because he appears somewhat beatable in a relatively wide-open race.
Therefore, I will go with #4 Fleet Valid, who not only scratched out of a race at The Meadowlands to run at Laurel on Saturday, but also seems to be able to lie just off the pace, yet still remain in contention. He has won his last four races in a row, all at Monmouth, and worked a bullet at Monmouth also on October 15. His 9-2 morning-line is much more attractive than Vineyard Haven's 8-5 as well. I will put #3 Ravalo second in the Dash, as again I think he might be able to sit off a white-hot pace and pick up the pieces at the end. He is another with a recent bullet workout, three furlongs at Laurel in 35 1/5 seconds. His major flaw coming into this try is an 0 for 4 record over the track at Laurel. I will put #1 Vineyard Haven next in third position. He was disqualified from a win last time out in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga. I think he is clearly the best overall horse in this field, but as we all know, they don't always come out on top. He also hasn't tried six furlongs since running third in the mud during the 2008 Saratoga meeting. He (like so many others) has a recent bullet workout, covering a half-mile in 47 seconds flat at Belmont on October 21. Finally, we will include a real longshot in the proceedings with #7 Sacred Journey, who is 15-1 on the morning-line. He is working a three-race winning streak entering Saturday and also worked a recent bullet at Delaware Park (5F in 59 2/5 seconds). He has run against some tough stuff in the past with tries in the Grade 2 Rebel and Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn in Spring 2008. So, here is the play for the Grade 1 $300,000 DeFrancis Memorial Dash:
$5 WP #4 and $2 EX 4 with 1-3-5-7 and $1 TRI 4 with 1-3-5-7
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in for more on Monday from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!