Friday, October 29, 2010

The Grade 3 $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap

Bold Ruler is best remembered today as the Sire of the greatest Thoroughbred of all time, Secretariat. As pointed out in the recently released film, "Secretariat", Bold Ruler's progeny had a reputation for not being able to last classic distance, that is until Big Red came along. The horses running in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap won't have to worry about that on Saturday at Belmont Park, since the distance is only seven furlongs. Here is the analysis:

I will put #3 Wildcat Brief in the top spot in here. He ran 3rd in the Grade 1 Vosburgh behind Girolamo and Riley Tucker, both of whom are running in the Breeders' Cup Sprint next weekend. He previous race was a win in an ungraded stakes race at Monmouth. Plus, he has a bullet work at Monmouth on October 25, covering a half-mile in 48.1 seconds. Elvis Trujillo was up for the win in New Jersey and will ride again here. #2 Tahitian Warrior is a Godolphin horse that has never run in a Graded stakes race before. His last three efforts produced Beyer speed figures in the 100s and two of those were at today's distance of seven furlongs. He also has never been worse than second in three starts over the enormous oval at Belmont Park. The venerable #1 Bribon gets consideration for the third spot here. Expect him to make his patented run once they get close to the conclusion of the far turn. My only issue is that the top pick might just get first run on him in this one. John Velazquez is one of the best in the business. This gelding also loves Belmont, hitting the board in eight of nine lifetime starts at this track. I will put #6 Temecula Creek in the fourth position with Edgar Prado at the controls. He finished fourth in the Vosburgh behind the top pick and the value for this one at 12-1 on the morning-line makes him one you cannot leave out. Here is the play for the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap:

$5 WP #3
$1 EX BOX 1-2-3-6
TOTAL- $22

What do you expect? You have to save some money for the Breeders' Cup next week, don't you? Remember, They Are Off does not accept any responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for a full look at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf

Going into the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park, there were several horses that were well-considered including the 2004 champion, Better Talk Now, the Irish-based favorite Ace, Shakespeare, who had won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic over the Belmont turf earlier in the year. The horse I myself fancied was 20-1 on the morning-line and that was Shirocco. Shirocco was trained by Andre Fabre, who pulled off the greatest upset in Breeders' Cup history with Arcangues in the 1993 Classic at over 100-1. Shirocco had finished fourth in the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France earlier in the year and in the process had finished behind Bago, who would also cross the Atlantic after a third-place finish in the Arc. By the way, Bago had won the Arc the year before also.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one who fancied Shirocco because he was bet down from that juice 20-1 morning-line to a more pedestrian 8-1 at post time. Shirocco settled in second behind the pacesetting rabbit Shake The Bank early on in the process. Shake The Bank was supposed to be setting testing fractions up front so defending champion Better Talk Now could come sweeping up from the back of the pack, which he had done at Lone Star Park in 2004. However, once Shake The Bank stopped after building up the big lead he was supposed to have, Shirocco was there to take over the lead and he never gave it up. In fact, he wasn't even given a big challenge from anyone once he took over. Jockey Christophe Soumillion drove him through the stretch and Shirocco won by a nifty two lengths.

Shirocco would be voted German Horse Of The Year in 2005. For his career, he would win seven of thirteen starts, earning a total of $2,477,588. If you would like to watch the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf victory by Shirocco, here is the link: Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


That is the new record number of pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships to be held Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

Of course, the full list does not get released by the Breeders' Cup head honchos until tomorrow, but that record number will, of course, include the creme de la creme of international racing. Already known in the pre-entries are obvious candidates like the defending Classic champion, Zenyatta, the two-time defending Mile champion, Goldikova, the winner of this year's Arc de Triomphe and Epsom Derby, Workforce, Preakness winner, Lookin At Lucky, and Champagne Stakes and likely Juvenile favorite, Uncle Mo.

One horse you will not see on the list of entries is Cost Of Freedom, who so very nearly won the Sprint last year, only to be collared by Dancing In Silks (who also will not be participating in the Sprint this year) in the shadow of the wire. Cost Of Freedom's connections are opting instead for the California Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park on Saturday in what they are calling a more conservative option.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Grade 2 $250,000 Raven Run

Keeneland will be wrapping up their fall racing season shortly and racing will not return to Lexington until next spring when Derby Fever is heating up all over the landscape. There is a very competitive seven-furlong sprint on the program on Saturday in the Grade 2 Raven Run, featuring a field of fourteen. Here is the analysis:

My top choice in this field will be #11 Kitty In A Tizzy, an offspring of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Tiznow. The James Bond trainee has a win and two seconds in three tries over the polytrack at Woodbine. Chantal Sutherland was aboard for all of those Woodbine races and gets the call once again here. By the way, two of those three races were at today's elongated sprint distance of seven furlongs. There seems to be a lot to like in this 8-1 shot. For second, I will use #9 Beautician, who gets red-hot Julien Leparoux in the irons here. Earlier this year, she participated in the Kentucky Oaks and ran a credible fourth behind Blind Luck. Her only 2010 victory came at seven furlongs in an Allowance spot at Saratoga on August 29. She also liked the Keeneland surface in a recent workout, covering five furlongs in 59.3 seconds. The addition of blinkers on Saturday could be a key for #8 Red Hot Buddha. She has missed the board in her two previous attempts with graded company, including a fifth last time out in Presque Isle Masters on September 11. Her style might play a factor in whether or not she is a contender here. There might be plenty of speed in this field that might not last a long time. She could be among the first to strike once the speed collapses. For fourth, let's try a 10-1 shot in #12 My Irish Girl. She has not been to the track since a win at Monmouth in the Miss Woodford in August. The Sire is Closing Argument, who came so close to winning the Derby five years ago. The one hesitation with her is that this will be her first appearance on a synthetic surface, be it in a race or a listed workout. Here is the play for the Grade 2 Raven Run:

$5 WP #11
$1 EX BOX 8-9-11-12-13
$1 TRI 9-11 with 9-11 with 8-12-13
TOTAL- $36

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff

The Distaff division (I refuse to call it the Ladies' Classic unless I have to) has always provided some excitement to Breeders' Cup Day. Actually, the last several years it has provided excitement to Breeders' Cup Friday, ever since they expanded Racing's Greatest Day to Racing's Very Good Two Days. If you look at the list of champions in the Distaff, you will find a cornucopia of champions including Princess Rooney, Life's Magic, Bayakoa, Paseana, Azeri, Ashado, and of course, Zenyatta. You will also find (like any Breeders' Cup race) your share of surprising winners like One Dreamer, Jewel Princess, and last year's Life Is Sweet.

However, no winner of the Distaff was quite the surprise that Spain was in 2000. Firstly, it must be remembered that the defending champion, Beautiful Pleasure, was part of that field, as was Surfside, Heritage Of Gold and Riboletta. It certainly was not a sluggish bunch of challengers, nor was it the most outstanding field in Distaff history. Surfside and Beautiful Pleasure certainly were prominent throughout the race. Surfside set the pace and while Beautiful Pleasure did apply some pressure at various points of the race, she could not defend her championship. Meanwhile, jockey Victor Espinoza had Spain well-positioned throughout the race, down on the rail and forwardly placed. Therefore, when Surfside tired from setting the pace, Spain was there and able to roll up the rail to take the lead at the top of the stretch and was never really challenged the rest of the way home. She more or less cruised through the stretch and won nicely by two lengths. She paid a remarkable 50-1 for her victory, remarkable because she was trained by D. Wayne Lukas and owned by Prince Ahmed bin Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation. Those two names usually resulted in payoffs just slightly less than 50-1 back in 2000.

The 2000 Distaff was the biggest win of Spain's career, although she retired as the richest mare in North American history. Overall, she won nine of 35 starts and hit the board sixteen other times for a total earnings of $3,540,542. If you would like to watch the 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff, here is the link:

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dubai Defectors

The sparkling new Meydan Race Course in Dubai was hailed by one and all as a massive success this past spring, a season that culminated with Gloria De Campeo winning one of the more exciting renditions of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup we have ever seen. The Tapeta racing surface is a synthetic, but it was developed by the "Mad Genius" himself, Michael Dickinson, and is generally considered to be the most satisfactory of those synthetic surfaces normally detested by one and all.

One of those who have come out and mentioned that profound dislike for synthetic surfaces recently is trainer Bob Baffert, who has been more inclined to head eastward rather than remain in California and run on those state-mandated synthetic surfaces in the Golden State. One of Baffert's current prized pupils is Richard's Kid, who clearly has a fondness for the synthetics, having won back-to-back versions of the Pacific Classic over the polytrack at Del Mar and the Goodwood this season over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. Baffert had been working Richard's Kid toward the Breeders' Cup Classic, to be run over the dirt at Churchill Downs on November 6. Those plans changed abruptly when the owner of Richard's Kid, Sheikh al-Maktoum, decided that he wanted the horse returned to Dubai to be prepared for a winter and spring of racing over there.

Another runner that had some promise on the synthetic surface in California in 2009 was Twice Over. He ran third behind Zenyatta and Gio Ponti in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita last autumn. He preceded that third-place finish with a win in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Twice Over repeated that win in the Champion Stakes over the weekend, but he will not be coming west for the Breeders' Cup. Instead, he will go east and head to Dubai to rest for a while and begin prepping for the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.

The Classic field still remains one that could be legendary, even without the presence of Richard's Kid and Twice Over. Remember, that you still have Blame, Quality Road, Lookin At Lucky, and of course, the defending champion, Zenyatta. They all appear ready to give us a show for the ages on November 6. It just seems that we might be missing out on even more quality in that field with these two late defections. After all, who doesn't want to see the best run with the best?

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Grade 1 $2,000,000 Canadian International

In 1973, Secretariat took the racing world by storm, winning the Triple Crown in his now-legendary and movie-worthy fashion. Secretariat also was voted Champion Male Turf Horse of 1973 following his victory in the Man O'War Stakes and the Canadian International. As a matter of fact, the 1973 Canadian International was the final start of Big Red's incredible career. There was a short film made to commemorate the appearance of Secretariat in the International and here is the link to see Part 1 on Youtube: Part 2 is also available on Youtube and you can link to that from Part 1. Now, on to the matter at hand, which is the 2010 Grade 1 Canadian International:

I will go with a reversal of fortune from the Grade 1 Northern Dancer over this same E.P. Taylor Turf Course and pick #9 Fifty Proof as the winner. He ended up second after leading all the way in the Northern Dancer. He has posted three consecutive bullet workouts entering this effort. His morning-line for Saturday is 10-1. When you consider that he only lost by a half-length to #8 Redwood, I think that price is acceptable. Redwood is the second selection here. His Racing Post speed numbers are very impressive to be sure and he won a Group 3 race three back at Goodwood. In fact, his last two wins were at Saturday's distance of 1 1/2 miles. For third, I will use the winner of the Grade 2 Sky Classic at Woodbine, #6 Marsh Side. He ran a poor eighth in the Northern Dancer, tiring badly at the end. His lineage suggests that the distance isn't a problem, so it leaves you to wonder what might have caused that poor effort last time out. Finally, I will go with #4 Simmard in the fourth spot. He ran third in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont on September 11. He is six for seven in-the-money over the turf at Woodbine. Javier Castellano will be aboard. Here is the play for the Grade 1 Canadian International:

$5 WP #9
$5 EX BOX #8+ #9
$1 TRI 8/9 with 8/9 with ALL
TOTAL- $34

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The 1994 Breeders Cup Mile

Of all the races that make up the undercard on the Breeders' Cup program (excepting of course the Classic), the Mile might have had the most interesting renditions. The back-to-back wins of Miesque in the 80s, Da Hoss winning in 1996 and taking pretty much two years off and coming back to win in 1998, Domedriver upsetting Rock Of Gibraltar in 2002, and now Goldikova winning the last two Miles in 2008 and 2009 at Santa Anita. She will be coming back to Churchill Downs to try and make it three straight this year. The last time a horse tried to win three consecutive runnings of the Mile was Lure in 1994.

Lure had won the Mile in both 1992 at Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 1993. His try for three in a row (much like Goldikova) came in 1994 at Churchill Downs, does that sound familiar? Well, Lure would not make it three straight at Churchill Downs that year. He wouldn't even be a contender, finishing ninth of fourteen. No, the winner that year would be European invader, Barathea, who had won the Irish 2,000 Guineas previously in his career and was ridden by Frankie Dettori. As a matter of fact, this would be the first of Dettori's nine Breeders' Cup victories in his storied career. He had Barathea fairly close to the pace during the early run of the race and then once he uncoiled Barathea at the top of the stretch, the race was over. Johann Quatz ran on from way back to finish second and Unfinished Symph ran third after being part of the pace setup.

If you would like to watch a replay of the 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile, here is the link: Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tell A... Calvin?

The horse that might very well be the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday, November 5 at Churchill Downs will have the services of the man that knows that piece of real estate better than anyone. Tell A Kelly gets Calvin Borel for the Breeders' Cup race that will likely determine who is the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly for 2010.

Tell A Kelly leapfrogged to the top of the pops with her outstanding stretch run to win the Grade 1 Darley Debutante at Del Mar in early September. Her outstanding turn of foot at the end of that race made it entirely plausible that she would able to go longer without much doubt. Well, that lingering doubt returned in full force with her next start at Hollywood Park, where she ran second to 32-1 shot Rigoletta, in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf. The Oak Leaf was run at a mile and a sixteenth, which is the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race.

It is my thought the rider change on Tell A Kelly was totally necessary. If you go back and watch the replay of that Oak Leaf race from Hollywood Park, you will find that rider Alonso Quinonez had Tell A Kelly repeatedly in trouble throughout the important stages of the race. At the top of the stretch, Tell A Kelly was in very tight between rivals and she even appeared to be slightly jostled at that point of the race as well. Her challenger on the outside was Rigoletta, who wore down the favorite in time and prevailed with a strong stretch run of her own. The fact remains that the race shouldn't have been that close had Quinonez done a better job of handling Tell A Kelly earlier and kept her out of harm's way. That can be a very grueling way to get around the racetrack, in traffic and fighting through small holes that are nearly not there, for any experienced horse around, much less a precocious but talented two-year-old.

With the move to Calvin Borel, you get a rider that knows that oval at Churchill Downs as well as anyone in racing today. He has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbies, one on a favorite (Street Sense), one on a longshot (Mine That Bird), and one on a mid-range shot (Super Saver). The folks in Kentucky also know where Borel will likely be, since they don't call him Bo-RAIL for nothing. It will remain to be seen whether he will be able to go the inside route with the late-running Tell A Kelly. He still might have to go overland with her since her last experience in tight quarters didn't fare so well. However she might get there, I think Tell A Kelly keeps her rightful place at the top of the two-year-old filly class with this move by trainer John Sadler.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding His Niche

Gio Ponti was the Champion Male Turf Horse in 2009 and also won the Champion Older Male Horse while he was at it in 2009. He won the Arlington Million, the Man O'War, and ran 2nd to the incomparable Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita. With the exception of the two leading ladies of racing in 2009, Gio Ponti might have been the best horse in North America.

So far, 2010 has been a much different story for Gio Ponti. Going into this weekend, he had won only one race all year. He defended his win in the Man O'War, but he had to work like the dickens to get that done. It took him almost forever to run down 50-1 shot Mission Envisioned, who had set a slow pace and had plenty left in reserve to withstand the challenge of the champion, but Gio Ponti was just too classy on the day. Other than that race, Gio Ponti's 2010 performances have been scuttled by bad luck, excellent performances or a combination of both. A prime example occurred in the Arlington Million, where Gio Ponti appeared primed to defend his title there until Debussy shook clear on the rail and rocketed past him to win.

This past weekend, Gio Ponti returned to the Winner's Circle and he did it in emphatic style with a win in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Granted, it was only a field of six, but the result never seemed in doubt this time around once Gio Ponti took the advantage. He won like a champion should have. The victory also appeared to clear up the question regarding his final start of 2010 in the Breeders' Cup. Gio Ponti was apparently either destined for the Mile to take on Goldikova or the Classic for another try with Zenyatta, not to mention Blame, Quality Road, and the others he would have to tame. The Classic would also be his first lifetime start on a pure dirt surface. The win in the Shadwell puts the Mile clearly in the crosshairs for Gio Ponti and that is the correct decision, without doubt. He has a much larger chance to win in the Mile and, as far as Goldikova is concerned, remember that no horse has ever won the same Breeders' Cup race three years in a row. She would be the first to do that if she scores at Churchill Downs. Gio Ponti is in the right spot in the Mile and thankfully, he is headed there off of a victory.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Grade 1 $250,000 Jamaica Handicap

There are a lot of key Breeders' Cup prep races tomorrow. Uncle Mo goes to the post at Belmont in the Champagne and Gio Ponti will also be in the field at Keeneland in the Shadwell Turf Mile. However, the fields for those races came up a little short as far as looking for betting opportunities, so I have instead chosen to handicap The Grade 1 $250,000 Jamaica Handicap, which is earlier on the card at Belmont Park on Saturday.

The top spot will go to #6 Lethal Combination, who scored a win in the Grade 3 Saranac over some of these same horses at Saratoga on September 5. Alan Garcia gets the ride for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. There appears to be enough speed in here that he might get a decent pace to run at. My second choice in the Todd Pletcher-trained #11 Fantastico Roberto, who is adding blinkers for this try on Saturday. He should be part of the pace I am anticipating, but he was the betting choice in that Saranac and ran third on that occasion. This will be the first graded attempt for #3 Beau Choix. He has two wins and a second in the last three, which are all ungraded stakes tries. Overall, he has hit the board in seven of eight lifetime races. The lone miss of the money came in his lone non-turf start. For fourth, I will use #9 Krypton, who actually defeated the top pick three back in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont during the spring meeting. Kris S. is present on the Sire side, which is key to a good turf performer. His last workout on October 3 was quite sharp as well. Here is the play for the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap:

$10 WP #6
$1 EX BOX 3-6-11
$1 TRI 6 with 3-7-9-11
TOTAL- $38

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Grade 3 $175,000 Phoenix

Keeneland will be opening up its prestigious fall season on Friday, so They Are Off will take a look at one of the graded stakes race on the Friday program in Kentucky. I elected to handicap the Grade 3 Phoenix over the Grade 1 Darley Alcibides because of a bigger field and I feel a better chance to get a price for our efforts. Also, I think there will be something of a speed duel in here and I would expect some closers to make things quite entertaining in the last sixteenth.

The top pick will be #11 Canonize, who is returning from some time off. His last start was actually on the turf at Santa Anita in the Grade 3 San Simeon and he finished fourth that day in April. His last two workouts at Hollywood were swift and Victor Espinoza gets the riding assignment here. For second, I will go with #4 Wild L at 12-1. He scored a win on the turf last time out at Arlington in late August. In fact, so far in 2010, Wild L is 2 for 2. I think he will be one those middle to late runners that will appear on the scene with a chance to do something late in here under Glenn Corbett. I will put the morning-line choice, #5 Warrior's Reward, third. I REALLY needed him to get past Vineyard Haven in the Forego at Saratoga and finish third, but he couldn't quite do it. My concern with him in here is the polytrack at Keeneland. In fact, his last Polytrack effort was a Grade 3 last October at Keeneland at seven furlongs and he finished fifth. Was it the distance or the surface that caused that result? I can't put him on top until I know for sure. Finally, how about a nice 20-1 shot to wrap up the top four with #6 Moralist? He is another that has gotten some time off since the summer. He won the Claiming Crown Express at Canterbury on July 24 last time out and his price makes him an attractive part of the issue here. Again, there is a lack of Polytrack seasoning, but I am more willing to forgive it at 20-1 as opposed to 5-2. Here is the play for the Grade 3 $175,000 Phoenix:

$5 WP #11
$1 EX BOX 4-5-6-7-11
TOTAL- $30

They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

The 2002 edition of the Breeders' Cup was held for the first (and so far only) time at Arlington Park near Chicago, Illinois. I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for this version of the Breeders' Cup as it was the first one I was personally able to attend. I was invited to participate in All-Star Announcers Day on the Friday before the Cup and it was a tremendous thrill to be a part of it. I got to get acquainted with some of my fellow announcers I had not met before and also was there for an exciting day of racing as well. By the way, in case you are wondering, I still remember the winner of the race I called at Arlington, Murray's D.J. won a one-turn mile under the ride of Tony Farina.

Back to the business at hand, however, and that is a look back at the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. This race stands out to me because of the way it was won by Storm Flag Flying. She had taken the lead at the top of the stretch and was subsequently passed and appeared hopelessly beaten by Composure in mid-stretch and Storm Flag Flying dug into her reserve of heart and rallied again on the inside to once again get past Composure and surge to a victory and prove herself a champion on that epic afternoon. Storm Flag Flying's performance headlined a day of amazing performances and horses including Azeri, Volponi, Orientate, Domedriver, and others.

Storm Flag Flying was voted Champion Two-Year-Old Filly off of that win in the Breeders' Cup in 2002. Storm Flag Flying was not finished with the Breeders' Cup after that race either. She ran a gallant second to Ashado in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park. For her career, she finished with thirteen top three results in fourteen lifetime starts, including seven wins. Her career earnings were $1,951,828. To watch Storm Flag Flying's victory in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, here is the link:

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Where To Begin...

So much happened this past weekend over racetracks around the world that I am just not sure where to begin.

Of course, Zenyatta ran in the Lady's Secret and made it a perfect 19 for 19 in her career. It was another instance of saying, "She's not going to get there." and as soon as you finish saying it, you have to say, "Oh, yes she is." The Grand Dame of the American Turf just barely ran down Switch to win the Lady's Secret at the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park on Saturday. Zenyatta is still pointing for a repeat try in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 6 at Churchill Downs, but I am not sure that's the best spot for her that weekend. She might be better served to run in the Ladies' Classic on Friday, which is no pushover of a race either with Blind Luck, Havre De Grace, and a pretty decent field shaping up for that race as well. Meanwhile, Switch appears destined to run in the Filly And Mare Sprint on Breeders' Cup Friday.

Meanwhile, the other top choice for Horse Of The Year honors, Blame, suffered his first defeat of 2010 and he lost conclusively to the front-running Haynesfield. Haynesfield exploded to a five-length lead going around the far turn at Belmont Park and never, ever looked back. Blame got started late and ended up running second, but it was never really much of a horse race. Haynesfield was just that dominant. It would appear that they will be matched up again in the Classic, along with Zenyatta, Quality Road, and what might be the best field for a Breeders' Cup Classic in a while.

The declared leader of the Juvenile Filly ranks, Tell A Kelly, stretched out for the first time around two turns. She ended up getting beat by a 32-1 longshot, Rigoletta, in Oak Leaf Stakes. In Tell A Kelly's defense, I really found the ride she got to be indefensible. She was in traffic trouble most of the way around and had to try and rally from in between horses, which is difficult enough for an experienced horse to deal with, much less a lightly race two-year-old filly going two turns for the first time. I still expect her to be the favorite for the Juvenile Fillies for the Breeders' Cup on Filly Friday.

Europe also leapt into the picture for the Breeders' Cup in a big way with two-time defending champion of the Breeders' Cup Mile, the brilliant Goldikova, winning her final prep race on the Arc undercard at Longchamp. Goldikova held off the late run of Paco Boy to win the Prix de la Foret. Meanwhile, in the Main Event, Workforce won an exciting rendition of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He barely held off longshot Nakayama Festa to prevail in the French Classic by a head and earn an Arc triumph for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. The rumor is that Workforce will now be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Turf.

All in all, it was a frenetic weekend that produced highs and lows and all kinds of excitment on racetracks all over the world. Even though I didn't cash a ticket on any of it, I still loved every minute of it. Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Belmont $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four

Belmont Park has cancelled live racing the last two days due to a horrible storm that has seemingly stalled over the East Coast and just won't go away. The amount of rain that the main and turf tracks at Belmont has accepted in those days could cause quite a bit of craziness with their big Breeders' Cup preview day, which includes a $500,000 All-Graded Stakes Pick Four. Here is the analysis for that Pick Four play:

Race 7- The Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational- I think that #7 Shared Account is going to be the winner here and the expected soft turf should certainly benefit her performance on Saturday. I will also use #2 Red Desire because she might be the best of the bunch in here. Keep in mind that she bested Dubai World Cup winner, Gloria De Campeo, earlier this year on the Tapeta at Meydan.

Race 8- The Grade 1 Beldame- This is the race that has been most significantly affected by the rain as far as I can tell. It is only a field of six, but I plan on using four of them in here. #1 Life At Ten is the top selection, even coming off her third in the Personal Ensign with Johnny V riding for Todd Pletcher. #4 Unrivaled Belle has never caught an off-track before, but her Tomlinson figure indicates that she might like it anyway. #6 Persistently is the one that topped the top pick in the Personal Ensign and it is possible that she could do it again. The one I am using due to the wet conditions will be #2 Miss Match. She is two for two over wet surfaces and if any moisture remains in the track, she is a must include at 15-1 on the morning line.

Race 9- The Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational- #10 Winchester is a Christophe Clement trainee that has never been worse than second in three tries over the Widener Turf Course at Belmont Park. He ran second behind Al Khali, who I am not using here, in the Grade 2 Bowling Green last time out on September 11. #9 Paddy O'Prado loved the wet dirt in the Kentucky Derby enough to run third at 12-1 and round out a big trifecta. He has won his last three turf starts, two at Colonial and one at Arlington. My only question with him today is whether or not he can beat the older horses he faces here. #2 Never On Sunday relished the soft turf at Longchamp in winning a Group 1 race last May in France. However, he has been away from the races since March, which might be a tad too much to overcome here. Finally, I will use #11 Interpatation. Don't ignore history's lessons with him. He won this race last year over a soft turf course, beating a much better than this year's version of Gio Ponti in doing so. That was his last win, but he always has liked the soft going.

Race 10- The Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup- I think #2 Blame will be a single in this field, although Rail Trip could give him some difficulty. Haynesfield might have been a throw-in here also if I weren't convinced that Blame is going to run big on Saturday. This might be hard to believe, but this should be only the second time that Blame will be the betting favorite this year. He was favored in his first start (the Schaefer at Pimlico on Preakness Day) and was not favored in either of the last two victories.

Here is the play for the $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four:

$1 PK4- 2/7 with 1/2/4/6 with 2/9/10/11 with 2
TOTAL- $32

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers made in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!