The Jockey Club Tour on Fox returns today with a trip to Saratoga and Del Mar for a pair of Grade 1s: the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Eddie Read. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
Neither Grade 1 drew what we'd consider to be a really deeps fields in terms of Grade 1 talent. The Eddie Read drew a field of six led by 2-Summer Front (8/5) and Tom's Tribute (2/1). Summer Front won the G2-Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream back in early January and reeled off back-to-back victories in the G3-Miami Mile and the G3-Cliff Hanger in the spring of 2013, and that's really the extent of his recent success. Tom's Tribute has won four races in his 11 race career, none at the graded stakes level (although the was a pretty good third in the G1-Shoemaker last month, a half-length behind Summer Front). That's not exactly a race loaded with Grade 1 talent which may open the door for something a bit more unexpected to jump up and surprise this race.
While 3/1 odds on the morning line isn't sexy, 4-Horizontalyspeakin looks like the out and out lone speed in this race. Like the two favorites, this gelding isn't overflowing with top class victories on his resume, but when the whole field looks more like a Grade 3 than a Grade 1, I think we can overlook those deficiencies. With a field of runners that largely likes to spend the early parts of the race sitting off the pace, Horizontalyspeakin and Joe Talamo should have everything their way right form the gate. If they can slow things down and crawl through the early half mile, it's going to be awfully hard to catch this guy in the latter stages.
Turning to the Coaching Club American Oaks - a nine furlong race since 2010 after going through iterations at 10, 11 and 12 furlongs over the history of a race (do we really have to shorten every race? Is the CCA Oaks going to be a one-turn mile in five years?) - is led by a pair of standout fillies: 1-Stopcharginmaria (8/5) and 2-Unbridled Forever (9/5). Stopcharginmaria struggled early in her three-year-old campaign before finding her best stride in the G2-Black-Eyed Susan back in mid-May. While Unbridled Forever found herself futilely running behind Untapable this spring.
Speaking of Untapable, clearly absent from the CCA Oaks is the Kentucky Oaks winner due to her connections pointing her to next Saturday's Haskell against the boys. With a superstar like Untapable out of the race you'd think a historically important Grade 1 like the CCA would draw more than six entries, but that's where we are today with a lot of stakes races in the country.
Looking at this race on paper, Stopcharginmaria is the clear #1 in this race, and to me sits well ahead of Unbridled Forever. In fact, I think if Unbridled Forever goes off at anything close to those 9/5 morning line odds we should all be running to the hills to get away from that filly. If I'm trying to beat the likely favorite, I'd much rather take a shot with a filly like 6-Taketheodds (8/1), a filly that takes a big step up in class but appears to be trending in the right direction and should like the extra distance of the mile and an eighth journey.