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Weekend Stakes Action: Haskell, Diana, Jim Dandy and Prix Rothschild

As if we hadn't witnessed enough top racing action this week following phenomenal performances by Frankel (GB) and Winter Memories at Goodwood and Saratoga, this weekend provides an opportunity to revisit the three-year-old division, along with an attempt by Goldikova (IRE) to win the Group 1 Prix Rothschild for the fourth consecutive year.

Day Race Track Dist. Winner Odds
Sat G1-Diana SAR 9.0 (T) Zagora (FR)
Sat G1-Nassau GOO 10.0 (T) Midday (GB)
Sat G2-Jim Dandy SAR 9.0 Stay Thirsty
Sat G2-San Diego Hcp. DMR 8.5 Tres Borrachos
Sun G1-Bing Crosby DMR 6.0 Euroears
Sun G1-Haskell MTH 9.0 Coil
Sun G1-Prix Rothschild DEA 8.0 (T) Goldikova (IRE)
Sun G1-Ruffian SAR 9.0 Ask the Moon
Sun G2-Fourstardave SAR 8.5 (T) Sidney's Candy
Sun G3-Matchmaker MTH 9.0 (T) Romacaca
Sun G3-Oceanport MTH 8.5 (T) YummyWithButter 9/1

-Good races all around this weekend, including six Grade 1 Group 1 races over two continents.  In Europe the Nassau and the Prix Rothschild highlight the weekend stakes action, with the Rothschild being the first Group 1 event at the prestigious Deauville meeting in France. Midday (GB) won the Nassau this morning at Goodwood.

-The turf course is rated as "Good" this morning at Saratoga. I would have preferred to see a firm course for Zagora (FR) in the Diana, as I think she prefers firmer ground, but if it stays dry through the card the course should be dry enough for her.

-There doesn't look like there will be much speed that can handle Dominus in the Jim Dandy today.  1-Moonshine Mullin has some speed but he's making a big class jump and he's never raced over a traditional dirt surface.  5-Will's Wildcat also has some natural speed but he's also facing a major class test.  If neither Moonshine Mullin nor Will's Wildcat can keep up with Dominus, he could very well dominate this race from start to finish.

If Stay Thirty was able to take a step forward from his Belmont performance during his time off, he would be a very likely winner. My biggest concern is whether or not that big Belmont effort was a reflection of his natural talent and ability or simply a big race over a wet track. 

-The San Diego Handicap at Del Mar drew a so-so field of eight horses, none of which leave you tremendously impressed given their past races. Golden Itiz stretches back out to 8.5 furlongs for Ron Ellis after a decent score in a seven furlong N1X at Hollywood last time out.  He won the G3-Affirmed at Hollywood in June of 2010 and then took a long vacation after finishing 7th in the G2-LaJolla on the turf at Del Mar. 

Aggie Engineer did a lot of racing and winning this winter but it seemed to catch up to him a big in the early part of the summer.  He was a no-show in the Santa Anita Handicap, finishing 9th after setting the pace and spitting the bit on the turn.  After that flop he got a few months off before returning to finish 3rd in the G2-Californian at Hollywood on June 4th. He likes to be upfront early which traditionally would put him at a slight disadvantage at Del Mar.  However, the 2011 meeting has seen speed fare much, much better going two-turns on the Polytrack so running style doesn't make speed an automatic toss.

-While I've been extolling the virtues of the female runner in the country this season, both older and three-year-olds, that still doesn't prevent an over-crowding of the racing calendar from producing some less than desirable fields.  Sunday's Grade 1 Ruffian at Saratoga is a Grade 1 in name only as not a single filly or mare in the race has ever won a Grade 1 event.  Most are boarderline Grade 3/listed stakes-type animals.  Of course, after the DelCap and the Coaching Club American Oaks, there isn't going to be a whole lot left to fill a race like this.  I'm not sure moving this race to the Saratoga meet from the Belmont fall meet was really the best idea.

-Sidney's Candy will make his return to the track (and his debut for Todd Pletcher) in the Fourstardave.