Friday, February 10, 2012

The Grade 1 $500,000 Donn Handicap

The Donn Handicap will feature two of the three Triple Crown race winners from last year. Preakness winner, Shackleford, and Belmont winner, Ruler On Ice, will both be a part of the field of eleven. Also part of the day it appears will be wet weather and wet track conditions. The rain has been pelting South Florida for a while and the forecast calls for it to continue into tomorrow. Hopefully, that will not be a damper on the proceedings at Gulfstream Park. Here is the analysis:

Of course, the rain and what is expected to be a sloppy track might significantly alter how this race will be played out. The horses I expect to go to the front in here include, of course, the Preakness winner, #9 Shackleford. Shackleford went right to the front of the field with Flashpoint at Pimlico and still had enough to hold off the late charge of the Derby winner, Animal Kingdom. However, it is worth noting that Shackleford has not won since that day in Baltimore. I would also expect #2 Mission Impazible to be up top as well. It has been nearly a year since he has been in the Winner's Circle, taking the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 11. The Rick Dutrow-trained, #4 Redeemed, also might contend for the front end in the slop on Saturday. As opposed to the other two I think will be among the pacesetters, Redeemed has not been out of the first two finishers in any race since October 2010. Finally, I think #8 Trickmeister will be flying early, since his past performances in nothing but a list of ones. That also includes the finished products of his five starts, all wins.

Clearly, the wet racetrack will allow some others to become factors in the Donn. #3 Ruler On Ice won the Belmont Stakes over an incredibly wet racetrack last June. Like Shackleford, he has not been a winner since his Triple Crown score. He did run third in the Breeders' Cup Classic in the interim. The Shug McGaughey trainee in this field, #10 Hymn Book, has an impeccable record over wet racetracks with three wins and a third in four starts over off surfaces. #1 Where's Sterling, #5 Soaring Empire, and #7 Flat Out also are 1 for 1 over wet tracks. To me, it appears this race is going to come down what the pace setup will be and who handles the sloppy surface the best.

THE PICK: #3 Ruler On Ice (6-1)

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

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