I'm heading out to Emerald Downs on Sunday to watch Noosa Beach run in the Mr. Rainier Handicap. Trainer Dorris Harwood is pointing the gelding towards the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November but will have to take a bit of a different path than what was available previously. The past few years the G3-Longacres Mile has been a "Win and You're In" race to the Dirt Mile, but that won't be the case in 2011. In order to "beef up the resume" for the Breeders' Cup selection committee, Noosa Beach will run in the Mile in August and then likely head East to run in a stakes race.
Noosa Beach is arguably the best horse to be based at Emerald Downs in quite some time. A few years ago Flamethrowintexan dominated the major races at the track (including a win in the Mile), but Noosa Beach (to me) has been a notch better than Tex, although it's a close call. Noosa Beach's greatest asset is his high cruising speed and ability to adapt to a variety of pace scenarios. He's comfortable sitting just off the pace in both one and two-turn races but he has the ability to take a race gate-to-wire if he towers above the competition. The Breeders' Cup, if he were to make it to Louisville, would be a major test for this horse but his versatility would be a major asset against a field that will likely include legitiamte, big-time speed.
Sprinter Atta Boy Roy carried the hopes of the Washington racing community at the Breeders' Cup last year, only to suffer an injury during the race. And while Roy has come back strong this year, the best hopes for a Washington-bred to make some noise on a national scale will likely come from Noosa Beach.
|22-Jul||G3-Schuylerville||SAR||2yo, f||6.0 (D)||Georgie's Angel||$3.90|
|23-Jul||G1-Eddie Read||DMR||3up||9.0 (T)||Acclimation||$8.40|
|23-Jul||G1-CCA Oaks||SAR||3yo, f||9.0 (D)||It's Tricky||$10.60|
|23-Jul||G3-Stars & Stripes||AP||3up||12.0 (T)||Free Fighter||$20.60|
|23-Jul||Prairie Meadows Hcp.||PM||3up||10.0 (D)||Wordly||$5.60|
|23-Jul||Passing Mood||WO||3yo, f||7.0 (T)||Weekend Romance||$3.10|
|24-Jul||G2-Nijinsky||WO||3up||9.0 (T)||Windward Island||$9.70|
|24-Jul||G2-San Clemente Hcp.||DMR||3yo, f
||8.0 (T)||Up In Time (GB)||$25.40|
|24-Jul||G3-Ontario Matron||WO||3up, f&m||8.5 (S)||Embur's Song||$4.70|
|24-Jul||California Dreamin'||DMR||3up||8.5 (T)||Norvsky||$5.40|
|24-Jul||Mt. Rainier Hcp.||EMD||3up||8.5 (D)||Noosa Beach||$2.60|
Thoughts on the rest of the weekend action:
- This morning in England, Nathanial defeated Workforce in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, a race that was marred by the the breakdown of Rewilding inside the final furlongs. Rewilding had defeated So You Think (NZ) in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.
Jockey Frankie Dettori was okay after the incident but, sadly, Rewilding had to be put down on the track. There is nothing worse in the sport than a race stained by an accident.
- Today's Coaching Club American Oaks doesn't feature a very large field but it's got just about all of the top three-year-old fillies in the country. 4-Royal Delta is the morning line favorite at 2/1, but I like for 5-It's Tricky (3/1) to build off of her win in the Acorn and score her second Grade 1 of the year.
fifthsixth race on the card at the Spa today is an N1X for horses three-years-old and up at 8 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon Turf Course. 4-Rubber Duck (GER) (4/1) will make his North American debut after shipping over from Germany where he was 2nd two races back in a Group 3 event. It's tough to know how he'll fit in with this race; he likes to run up on the lead (and with the addition of blinkers Bill Mott might be looking for even more speed) but he has some speed to both his inside and outside that he'll have to deal with.
The Stars & Stripes at Arlington Park appears, on paper, to be Winchester's race to lose. He stands head and shoulders above his rivals in terms of class but he's also a horse that prefers to run off-the-pace in a race that has little to no early speed. 7-Getta Rhythm has shown speed in his non-turf races but flopped badly in his most recent attempt on the lawn against N1X competition. There is not a whole lot of speed to be found in the other contenders.
Well, everything is off the turf now at AP, so you're guess is as good as mine for the Stars & Stripes. Getta Rhythm might be a decent lone speed play in here now that he'll be on the Poly. 1-Kingoftheblues has also run well over a synthetic track in his career. Winchester has never run on a surface other than turf and (apparently) is still in the race (AP Changes).
- In Sunday's Sanford at Saratoga, 6-Overdriven (3/5) will take plenty of action off of that 100 Beyer in his debut race on July 1st. Overdriven was a $350,000 purchase at the 2010 Keeneland September sale and is owned by Uncle Mo's Repole Stable.
I like 4-Black Rhino (12/1) as a possible upset play in this spot. His lone dirt effort (3rd at CD on 5/14) wasn't that bad when you consider that the place horse has come back to win back-to-back races, including the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill on July 2nd. He's certainly eligible to improve off of that effort and he'll probably like the extra furlong of the Sanford.
- The G2-San Clemente for three-year-old fillies features a very strong field of 10 (with one AE). 5-Sarah's Secret comes into the race a perfect 4-for-4 in her young career, including a win last time out in the G2-Honeymoon at Hollywood. She'll get plenty of competition from 9-Mizdirection, a daughter of Mizzen Mast that will stretch out to a mile for the first time after finishing 2nd in the Manhattan Beach in her last race.
I'd love to see the AE, 11-Carousel (GB), draw into this race for her initial North American try. Carousel is interesting on several levels. First, she was bred by Prince Charles (something you don't see every day). Second, her first race of 2011 came at Epsom on April 20th when I was visiting the track. She finished 2nd by a neck to Barney Rebel that day and I don't believe I had a dollar...eh, pound...on either one.
Carousel didn't do a whole lot over in England this past fall and spring, but from the looks of things she's coming over in search of firmer ground. Her two efforts last fall were extremely dull when running over ground rated "Good to Soft". This spring she ran much better over ground rated as "Good" and it's possible that the firm turf at Del Mar will be just what she's looking for.