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Saturday Stakes Action Preview

G2-Strub Stakes
Santa Anita Park
1 1/8 miles
Four Year Olds and Upward

I really don't want to be a chalk eating weasel but as much as I go through the form I can't seem to get away from 9-Misremembered.  A strong 2nd last time out in the G1-Malibu (where he re-rallied in deep stretch), along with two big races that last two times he's run at today's distance of 1 1/8 miles...throw in Baffert and Espinoza...just can't seem to find a price that I like more than this colt.

G1-La Virgenes
Santa Anita Park
1 mile
Three Years Old, Fillies

We've kind of got chalk central going on with the graded stakes action out west on Saturday.  Blind Luck just towers over this field and I got a thing against trying to beat dominating fillies early in their three year old season.  It just doesn't happen that often.

Blind Luck ran a so-so race in the Breeders' Cup on this very same track but she really didn't have the best of trips that day.  The La Virgenes will be a whole lot kinder to this filly as she's only got five other horses to worry about, none of which appear able to match her devastating closing kick.  I'll be surprised if she goes off at anything higher than 3/5.

G1-Gulfstream Park Handicap
Gulfstream Park
1 1/8 Miles, Turf
Four Year Olds and Upward

You want a little bit of a longshot play?  Well, despite the impressive stature of the two favorites in the Gulfstream Park Handicap I like that possibility of an upset with 2-Yate's Black Cat, a 6/1 morning line entry.

Before we talk about why I like a price play in this spot let me first state that I think that both 3-Court Vision and 4-Never On Sunday (Fr) are the likely winners of this race.  In particular, Court Vision appears to be in top form and ready to steam roll anything that gets in his way.  Throw in the uber talented French colt, Never On Sunday, and you've got two absolutely legitimate favorites.  Either one could win by daylight.

I went with Yate's Black Cat for essentially one reason: I love the way he closed to win that last race at this same course and distance.  In his last race at Gulfstream, a $100k Optional Claimer, Yeat's Black Cat rallied from mid-pack to win easily by two lengths.  But it wasn't the margin of victory or the fractions ticked off that made this run impressive in my eyes.  No, instead it was the fact that Yeat's Black Cat closed impressively to win on the Guifstream turf course with the rail set at 96 feet.  If he gets any pace to run he has a shot to pick up the pieces in deep stretch.

Since I think the two favorites are legit threats to take the top prize I'm going the partial wheel Yeat's Black Cat with the top contenders, Never On Sunday and Court Vision, in a couple of exactas. 

2 with 3,4
3,4 with 2

G1-Donn Handicap
Gulfstream Park
1 1/8 miles
Four Year Olds and Upward

The Donn is, unfortunately, another weekend graded stake that I don't think it's worth spending a whole lotta time analyzing.  4-Quality Road is fresh, he's got class, he's got tactical speed, he's drawn an advantageous post position, and he is conditioned by one of the most successful trainers in the game today.  And while it's no guarantee that Quality Road will win the Donn, I haven't got a clue as to which horse would pick up the pieces if he were to fail.  Perhaps 3-Duke of Mischief can parlay his big race in the G2-Fort Lauderdale into a score in the Donn, but I still think he'd need Quality Road to come up with his "C" effort in order to pull that off.

G3-Suwannee River
Gulfstream Park
1 1/8 miles, Turf
Four Year Olds and Upward, Fillies and Mares

For all the talk I've done about how speed kills on the Gulfstream Park turf course when the rail is set out wide I'm going to go with my second off-the-pace runner on the lawn in the Suwannee River.  But before I get into my selection I want to first say that I think that the 7/2 morning line odds on 4-Long Approach are beyond horrible.  The problem isn't that this horse doesn't fit pace, speed, or class wise.  I think you can make a strong argument that she does.  The problem as I see it is that this horse hasn't won a race since September of 2007.  I find that to be a big deal since the name of the game is winning, not coming close.  

Long Approach always runs a solid race and she's in the mix almost every single time...but she simply doesn't win.  And while she certainly could win the Suwannee River, she is not even close to worth 7/2 odds on my line.  If she drifts up to 6/1 or higher I could be enticed to take a nibble...anything less is too risky on a mare that loves to finish 2nd and 3rd.

I like 11-Tottie (GB) a lot in this spot given her outside draw, strong last effort, powerful closing kick, and recent success over the track.  Yes, she's a deep closer and those haven't exactly been dominating over this course recently.  But at the same time, a lot of those front running winners have been stealing races on the front end and I don't see that happening in this spot (although I might put a saver on In My Glory, in case she gets loose on the lead).  If the front runners can take care of business then Tottie should have plenty to run at.  And at 8/1 on the ML, I'm willing to take a chance.