1. Proviso. Two wins in Grade 1 races over a mile on the turf, one of which was against the boys, makes her the morning line favorite here. But does that translate to nine furlongs? Well she's 0-for-2 at the distance, but those races are so old, they probably don't count. What's more notable is that she's had perfect trips in her last two races and draws the rail today. Another perfect trip in store?
2. My Princess Jess. A nice little horse, but consistently fails at the Grade 1 level: in six attempts, she has three third place finishes. This is a fairly salty bunch, and it's asking too much to think she'll do more.
3. Phola. Won her first three races this year then just missed against Proviso in her last on Belmont day. There is something of a class question here--she's never won a Grade 1--but she does have a sporty 101 GSF from two races ago, impeccable credentials (Pletcher/Dominguez), and should have some pace to run at. Huge shot.
4. Forever Together. The two-time defending champ of this race, she's winless since taking the '09 Diana and has clearly lost a step or two since her championship '08 season. That said, she still hasn't finished out of the money in 14 straight races, so play against her at your own risk.
5. Dynaslew. Exits the All Along at Colonial Downs, this is her first G1 try. She'll be 20-1 for a reason.
6. Shared Account. The probable pace setter, she's got a shot if aboslutely nobody runs with her, I suppose, but that happened twice last year, and she was beaten by the likes of Hot Cha Cha and Miss World. Not interesting.
7. Maram. Is interesting. Sports 5 wins in 8 starts, so clearly still has some upside, and has only run one bad race--when she was overly ambitiously placed in the Filly and Mare Turf in last year's Breeders Cup, when she still only lost by 3 1/2 lengths. She's got nice tactical speed and a pair of wins over the track. I also like that her trainer out-and-out stated that he's going to be ambitious with her and go for the Grade 1 here, and Brown's already off to a helluva start at the meets (5 wins in 9 starts).
Selections: I've been waiting to play Phola since the Just a Game, and here's the spot. Proviso really only beat her because she got a better trip and because the race was a mile. I think the 9th furlong doesn't suit Proviso's game, but suits Phola's and she reasserts herself here. Underneath you can't toss Forever Together just yet, but let's try to get Maram in the exacta and inject some price. Proviso could romp, but something just isn't that enticing about a horse that repeatedly runs ok speed figures with perfect trips. She should be faster than this, but she isn't.
3rd: Forever Together
Mrs. Blog's Pick: My Princess Jess. "This is in honor of my old office mate, who spent the better part of a dinner party trying to double team Teddy by bragging about her wild nights with a Zagrebian rock star."
The Jim Dandy
1. Steinbeck. Ships all the way over from Ireland, with a win and a second in five starts, all on the grass. His breeding is strictly turf, and while he'd be interesting in a grass race for 3yos, he looks like just another goofy Euro import on the dirt here.
2. Afleet Express. He fits the classic mold of an improving 3yo, with a huge allowance win that was beyond impressive to watch, followed by a professional win in the Pegasus. He takes the next step up the class ladder here for Jimmy Jerkens, one of the good guys, and is a sleeper contender for the 3yo Eclipse Award if he wins this. Can he? Sure, he's got great tactical speed and is plenty fast, but is he going to get fried stretching out against some other speedsters?
3. Stormy's Majesty. Well he's undefeated, and you can't shake a stick at that, but he's only run 3 times, all against New York breds in maiden and allowance races. This is a pretty big step up, and an odd spot for the trainer to pick, as there are plenty of solid NY bred stakes races he could devour the competition in pretty readily available. A sign of confidence or hubris? I go with the latter.
4. Aikenite. One of the worst bets you can make is taking a stagnated 3yo versus an improving 3yo. He was mediocre when we wrote about him in the Preakness and his allowance win over the wrongly named Winaholic adds nothing to the resume. Pass.
5. A Little Warm. Here's a list of the 3 year olds with the fastest GSF's this year at a mile and over:
Eskendereya....109, Wood Memorial
Concord Point....107, Iowa Derby
Eskendereya......106, Fountain of Youth
Trappe Shot.......105, Long Branch Stakes
A Little Warm.....105, Some Random Allowance race in Delaware
Eskendereya needs no introduction here, Trappe Shot is possibly the best 3yo in the country--he might be the favorite in the Haskell on Sunday, a race that includes the Derby and Preakness winners--and Concord Point, well, that Iowa number is probably a fluke. Where does A Little Warm fit in? Prior to that Delaware race, he was last seen running a good second to D'Funnybone at Gulfstream, then an okay second in the Louisiana Derby to Mission Impazible. He freshened to regroup and run a huge race against Miner's Reserve (more on him in a minute) at Delaware, and is now here, as the possible post time favorite.
If he repeats that effort, he probably wins. Will he? That seems a little dubious. He sat off a blazing fast Miner's Reserve who ran some goofy fractions--the second quarter mile was the fastest one in the race--and drew away when Miner's Reserve had nothing and the rest of the field stunk. The result is a GSF I'm not particularly convinced is accurate, and a win under perfect conditions. So which is more likely--he's a budding star, or a second class horse that couldn't beat Mission Impazible but ran a fluke race in Delaware? Thought so.
6. Miner's Reserve. Good horse, wrong race. He has yet to run a moderately paced opening half mile, and probably won't do so tomorrow from the 6-hole with a short run into the first turn. Look for him to fade at the top of the stretch and next be seen in the shorter Kings Bishop on Travers Day.
7. Winslow Homer. Is scratching to run in the Curlin the next day. Can somebody explain why they have an ungraded stakes at 9 furlongs the day after the Jim Dandy?
8. Friend or Foe. The other undefeated horse in the field, he comes off two sprints wins in NY bred company. If we didn't like Stormy's Majesty, we're not going to like him.
9. Fly Down. This guy should have won the Belmont. The old cliche is that 1 1/2 miles is enough time for everyone to sort themselves out, but the truth is, Lezcano boxed him in and had to make a belated run at Drosselmeyer in the stretch. Switch the trips, and he romps and is a huge favorite. Now, there's a chance he'll get lost in the shuffle behind big speed figure babies A Little Warm and Afleet Express. That sounds good to me.
Selections: I'm not sold on A Little Warm at all, and think this is a two horse race. Fly Down gets the edge because he's run and won against better horses than Afleet Express, who's just been beating up allowance horses. For the third slot, let's take a small stab with Stormy's Majesty, who at least shouldn't mind going 9 furlongs.
1st: Fly Down
2nd: Afleet Express
3rd: Stormy's Majesty
Mrs. Blog's Pick: Stormy's Majesty. "I usually take the literary names, but I don't even like Steinbeck that much."
Thursday's picks: Ugh. The missus did better with Lighthouse Sound at least showing up for third, but our trifecta picks all ran out of the money.
Results to date: We're a little cold at the moment, but like both of today's picks a lot.
1st: 6/1-2-0, +$17.00
MB: 6/2-0-2, -$0.90