A preview of the major graded stakes races on tap this Thanksgiving Day weekend.
Race 6: G2-Demoiselle, 9.0f, Dirt, 2yo, f
Not much analysis to be had for this race as it could be awfully chalky; 2-Emollient (Even) and the coupled entry of 1-Unlimited Budget / 1a-Coconut Shrimp (2/1) are the clear standouts in the field. 3-Miss Patricia (4/1) might be the value play if her odds stay in the 4/1 to 7/2 range.
Race 7: G2-Remsen, 8.5f, Dirt, 2yo
An evenly matched field of 10 in this year's Remsen (with nine betting interests), led by morning line favorite 4-Delhomme (2/1), a son of Dixie Union coming off of a strong maiden breaking win at Belmont back on Oct. 13th. While Delhomme certainly has the big speed figure in the field, I like another Dixie Union colt as a small upset pick in this race: 1a-Overanalyze (4/1).
Overanalyze gets Dominguez in the irons (never a bad sign if you like jockey changes), he's displayed enough speed in his races to stay in the mix in the early going, and he's faced some quality colts this season and held his own fairly well.
I also like 5-Keep the Canoli (12/1) as a long shot play as I think his two-turn race experience against this field is a major plus.
Race 8: G1-Cigar Mile Handicap, 8.0f, Dirt, 3yo & up
All eyes will be on 7-Groupie Doll (8/5) as she attempts to close out a fantastic 2012 season with a victory over the boys in the Cigar Mile. On paper, this race sets up well for her as 1-Stay Thirsty (7/2) and 3-Buffum (6/1) should provide enough of a pace to run at in the stretch. The major question for Groupie Doll is whether or not she'll be able to uncork a big performance this quickly after her Breeders' Cup win.
If I'm looking to beat Groupie Doll (and I definitely am), I'll likely take a shot with 5-Hymn Book (6/1). His form has been a bit erratic during the season but he's capable of running a big race when he's right. He dominated an over-matched field in an ungraded event last time out at Belmont and, perhaps, that was a race he needed to get back into the winning grove.
One more possible scenario for this race: if Stay Thirsty doesn't go to the lead, Buffum could end up all alone in the early stages. Can he take them all the way if left alone?
Race 9: G1-Gazelle, 8.5f, Dirt, 3yo, f
When we talk about "all Grade 1 races are not alike", we are talking about a race like this year's Gazelle at Aqueduct. Not to belittle this field but this is a Grade 1 race in name only with little in the way of actual Grade 1 talent to be found.
2-Dance Card (9/5) makes sense as the morning line favorite after a trio of strong performances over the last five months. Dominguez should be able to seize control of the pace right from the gate, putting considerable pressure on the rest of the field.
I have no clue what to make of 7-My Wandy's Girl (3/1); she dominated her competition in Puerto Rico and then came to New York and won an ungraded event just a couple of weeks ago. She could be the value if her price stays at 3/1 or possibly drifts a click higher.
Race 8: G2-Golden Rod, 8.5f, Dirt, 2yo, f
I'll start with a filly that I won't be betting under any circumstance: 3-Broken Spell (7/2). Not only has this filly failed to win in three previous tries over a dirt surface but all three of those races were simply awful. She's clearly much better on turf or synthetics and is a horrible bet anywhere near her 7/2 morning line odds. That's just my humble opinion.
9-Gal About Town (5/2) makes sense as the betting favorite and could be a decent play if her odds aren't hammered down by the crowd. If I'm looking for a price play, I'm going to take a long gaze at 6-Street of Gold (10/1), a nice looking daughter of former Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense. I'll toss out that last race for Street of Gold on the turf and put my faith into some serious improvement with the move back to dirt and the addition of Lasix for the first time.
Race 11: G2-Kentucky Jockey Club, 8.5f, Dirt, 2yo
The Kentucky Jockey Club is one of my favorite juvenile races because it allows us to watch potential Kentucky Derby horses run at Churchill Downs. Some horses just don't run well over certain tracks, while others love certain surfaces. That was the case a couple of years ago with Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver - he loved Churchill (and sloppy tracks) and ran well in this race during his juvenile year.
This year's Kentucky Jockey Club field features 13 colts led by 9/5 morning line favorite 4-Uncaptured. A son of Lion Heart out of an Arch mare, Uncaptured is five-for-six in his young career with a win in the G3-Iroquois at Churchill in his last start.
My value play in this race is the 9-Dewey Square (8/1), a son of Bernardini out of a Forestry mare (Somethingaboutbetty) that comes into this race a perfect two-for-two. Dewey Square broke his maiden against a soft field of juveniles at Hoosier Park in late September but stepped up his game nicely when facing a field of $75,000 optional claimers at Churchill on Oct. 28th. He's won at Churchill and going the same distance as today's race; I like that combination when paired with his ML odds of 8/1.