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Jul 24, 2009

Thru the Binoculars

By: John Piesen


The two major events on this racing weekend are the $300,000, Grade One Coaching Club American Oaks Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, and the $80,000 Pick Six carryover Friday afternoon at Del Mar.

And wouldn't you know it? Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is a major player at both venues.

First, the Oaks.

In the absence of Rachel Alexandra, who is being pointed for the Haskell a week from Sunday at Monmouth Park, the CCAO, the filly equivalent of the Belmont Stakes, comes up an excellent betting race with not a throwout to be found among the eight 3-year-old fillies going a mile and a quarter over Big Sandy.

Much like the 3-year-old colts going a mile and a half in the Belmont, none of the eight fillies in the Oaks have been a mile and a quarter, and it's 1-9 that none of them will ever again be asked to go that far.

In fact, only three of the eight have been as far as a mile and an eighth.

One of those three is a filly named Wynning Ride. That's right. wynning with a Y.

The Candy Ride filly has started five times, all on synthetic surfaces, and has won only once -- a maiden victory last October at Santa Anita at a $40 mutuel. Guess trainer Ron McAnally forgot to tell the owners to go to the window because McAnally got canned a week later, and the filly was sent to Baffert.

Although she is winless in four starts for Bullet Bob, Wynning Ride has shown flashes. She was second, beaten a length by Laragh, in the Hollywood Starlet, a Grade One, and last time out, she finished fourth to Milwaukee Appeal as the favorite in a field of 13 in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.

Wynning Ride was flattered when Milwaukee Appeal went on to finish a close-up third in the Queen's Plate (Canada's Kentucky Derby), and get beat a dirty nose in the Prince of Wales Stakes -- both against males.

Baffert shipped Wynning Ride back to Santa Anita from Woodbine, and now ships her 3,000 miles to Long Island for the Coaching Club.

The last time Bob did that was a month back when he won the Acorn Mile with Gaby's Golden Gal at a $29 mutuel.

No Talamo for the Oaks? No problem. Desormeaux, the hottest stakes jock in the land, acquires the mount on Wynning Ride. And if Baffert doesn't show for the Oaks, don't worry about it. He didn't show for the Acorn either.

The favorite for the Oaks will be Hightap, the second best 3-year-old filly in the Steve Asmussen barn. The gray is 4-for-6, including recent stakes victories in the Dogwood at Churchill Downs, and the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. Peach Brew, third at PM, came back to win the Arlington Oaks last Saturday.

One positive for Hightap: she's first-time Prado. One negative: she's on page one of Daily Racing Form, the racing equivalent of the SI cover jinx.

Funny Moon will be a major player from the outside although she's never been more than  a mile for the red-hot Clemente-Garcia combo. Likewise Livin Lovin, who was scratched by trainer Klesaris last weekend from both the Delaware Oaks and Delaware Handicap for this spot.

LL has the rail, an edge in a race that starts on a turn, and top jock Dominguez has the return call.

Then there's Devotee.

The Godolphin filly is the only one in the Oaks field with a winning race at nine furlongs (much less 10), and she figures to improve off her remote third to Funny Move in a muddy mile prep for this race. Note that Frankie Dettori, Europe's top jock, was her regular rider abroad.

Then there is Casanova Move, who will be making her first start for Pletcher after placing in seven stakes for Jimmy Jerkens, multiple times with bad trips.

Finally, there is What A Pear, the queen of the Aqueduct inner track last winter. The New York-bred's last start is a toss. Sent off as the stick in the Bouwerie, she got left, and thereafter raced wide going nowhere. As a result, jockey Hill got sacked, and Cornelio picks up the mount.

If What A Pear somehow should win the Coaching Club, The Jockey Club will have a lot of 'splainin to do about letting that name get through.

For the Oaks winner, you are advised to check out the red-hot John Piesen Hotline at 1-888-612-2283, or click here for a big Saturday of racing at Belmont and Del Mar.

Now, let's get back to Baffert.

Bob has major players in three of the Pick Six races on Friday at Del Mar, starting with the uncoupled entry of North Rodeo and Irish Gypsy in race four, which kicks off the sequence at 6 p.m. Eastern.

In race six, Bob has U City High, and, in race eight, he has Del Conte, both 3-year-old sons of Point Given, his Preakness/Belmont/Haskell winner.

This is one salty Pick Six. Let's take a look...

Race Four
The stakes-placed 4-year-old North Rodeo will be favored in this six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares off her last-out score at Hollywood, but the lightly-raced 3-year-old Irish Gypsy, a Storm Cat owned by Mike Pegram, is equally lethal flying Real Quiet's silks. Stunningly needed her last; will be closing. Trainer Hofmans (Touch Gold) brings Naux Faux Pas back from 13-month layup off some solid works.

Race Five
This $40,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the grass is wide open. Ocean Style exits the Flawlessly Stakes where she was beaten mere five lengths. Kathy Walsh, winning at a 26 per cent clip, steps up Crystal Empire R N off a maiden-claimer blowout as the chalk. And, oh yes, Dailies, a two-back winner at this price, caps Kathy's uncoupled entry.

Race Six
U City High is working the best of the five first-starters in this six-furlong maiden-claimer for 3-year-olds and up. Feeling Fabulous hails from top first-out trainer Ellis. Caspian, a 100K son of Tale of the Cat, has yet to run to his pedigree for Walsh. Adebayor, a three-time beaten favorite for Gaines, will be favored again, this time without the shades. Will need a replacement for Bejarano, who will be out two months with fractures sustained in an opening-day spill. Kabob returns from 16-month layup with Gomez. Two years back, he was beaten a neck by Mambo in Seattle, who had just missed by a nose in the Travers.

Race Seven
Scofield Barracks, off the O'Neill claim, will be a vulnerable favorite in this six-furlong allowance for California-breds, 3 and up. Deep Pockets, a beaten favorite last five starts, cuts back in distance, and switches to Gomez.  Wesley Ward bred, owns and trains Hockeythehayman, who overcame a slow start to win first pop at Calder as the favorite.

Race Eight
Lots of options in this allowance for state-bred 3-year-old at a mile/16 on the weeds. Rosario replaces Bejarano on S.S. Stone, a gray bred by Mary Lou Whitney, and owned by Bob LaPenta. Of the 10 horses in the race, this is the only one with a race over the track -- an eighth at 4-1 in the Best Pal Stakes last summer. Dream Now, Gretsky and Rainbow Goose all scratched from the opening-day Oceanside Stakes, and, needless to say, all have a shot. To sum up, a delightful way to spend a pleasant summer evening at your favorite OTB or simulcast site...and maybe get lucky.

Race Nine
First-starters Sleeping Sioux and Falkenberg are worth a look in the finale, a $25,000 maiden-claimer for fillies and mares at seven-eighths. Imadethecashcall, dropping in class and distance, switches to Rosario, and will be loose on the lead from her outside post. The Bazes have outside shots with Warren's Dancer and Zaina.

You can get today's Del Mar Pick-6 Selections Right Here Online - Just Click Here.

See you back here on Tuesday for a detailed look at Saratoga and the Haskell.

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