Oct 23, 2009
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
Piesen Cashes His Best Bet At Belmont On Wednesday & Thursday!
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The Breeders' Cup is still two weeks away, but there will be a mini-Breeders' Cup Saturday at Belmont Park.
There will be five stakes for New York-breds, packaged as New York Showcase Day, kicking off with the $100,000 Maid of the Mist as Race Six at 3:34 p.m., and concluding with the $350,000 Empire Classic at 5:40.
Truth be told, there were seven stakes originally scheduled for Saturday, but the two grass races -- the Mohawk and Ticonderoga -- were moved to Sunday, closing day, due to the forecast of an inch of rain on Friday evening into Saturday.
My Belmont selections will be available on the John Piesen Hot Line 1-888-612-2283 and here online, and of course at Aqueduct, which kicks off its six-month stand on Wednesday.
Meantime, jockeys Desormeaux and Dominguez are locked and loaded for Showcase Day.
Desormeaux, up from Keeneland for the occasion, has calls on major players in all but the Empire Classic, while Ramon, bidding for a sweep of the '09 NYRA meets, rides six -- and all are very much live.
Let's take a look...
Mineralogist, a daughter of Horse of the Year Mineshaft, will be odds-on under Desormeaux in the Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies going a mile. After all, she was 2-5 the day she beat several of today's foes in the seven-furlong Joe Gimma in the slop, and won off by 3 3/4 lengths.
A closing second in the Gimma was Sugar Trade, a JP Hot Line Best Bet when she won first-pop at Saratoga at a $22.60 mutuel. That incidentally was the last winner for jockey Arroyo before he got busted.
The extra furlong Saturday may help Sugar Trade as will a six-pound shift. Maragh has the return call.
Stellaluce was a short-priced favorite in her three starts for Linda, but will be 5-1 under Dominguez.
Spirit of Rose (Cornelio) completes an uncoupled entry from Linda.
Embrace Change endured nightmare trips in her first two starts for Bruce Brown. Old boss John Forbes never ran a maiden in a stake.
If you go solely by the numbers, Ibboyee, a two-time stakes-winner at Finger Lakes for trainer Pletcher, would be a lock from his outside post in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-old males at a mile.
Life should be so easy.
Ibboyee will be hooking better in the Sleepy Hollow, notably Make Note, Come From Behind and City Trooper, the first three across the line in the seven-furlong Bongard in the slop.
Make Note, as first-time Prado, overcame the dreaded one-hole to nail Come From Behind, who, despite the name, was engaged in a speed duel with an odds-on favorite, and faltered late. Desormeaux has the return call.
Dominguez replaces Garcia, who is at Laurel, on Power Blast, who exits a six-length maiden blowout on the grass for Linda.
The $125,000 Iroquois attracted a field of 13 fillies and mares going seven-eighths. Needless to say, it is wide open.
Doremifasolllatido returns to the venue of her victory in the Grade 1 Matron a year back, and gets blinkers and Lezcano.
Desormeaux rides the Finger Lakes-based Sweet Lorena, who, two races back, was second to the brilliant Informed Decision. Lorena drops four pounds, is the biggest money-winner in the race, and has been no worse than third in three wet-track starts.
Speaking of the wet, the 3-year-old Sapphire Sky is 4-1-0 from five tries in the off-going, and is first-time Prado.
Gold for the Queen, a $2,000 yearling, overcame a tough trip to beat Sapphire Sky and "Doremi" in the New York Oaks at Finger Lakes.
Rightly So is 3-for-3 with Ramon, including an allowance score at 10 cents to the dollar last spring at the Big A. This is her second start off the layoff, and just may be the one to catch and beat.
Sweet Lorena and the stretch-running Afleet Alexandra form an uncoupled entry from trainer Ferraro.
The $125,000 Hudson for 3-and-up at six furlongs will be act three of a budding rivalry between Driven by Success (Desormeaux) and Law Enforcement (Dominguez).
Driven By Success was 2-5 in the Morrissey Stakes going 6 1/2 panels at Saratoga, but Law Enforcement blew him away at 7-1.
In a rematch in the Grade 1 Forego, DBS beat LE by a dozen lengths while chasing Pyro and Kodiak Kowboy.
DBS figures to have company on the front end in Smokin Hero, and Goodandacceptable, trainer Maydan's one-horse stable.
Citifest, existing a closing third in the Maryland Millions, is a possible upsetter.
Future Prospect, a 5-year-old gelding from trainer Maker, will be favored in the Empire Classic, which caps the Pick Six and guaranteed Pick Four.
But obviously, for 350K, there is no shortage of competition in this nine-furlong event for 3 and up.
Check out the 3-year-old Slevin, the runnerup in all three Big Apple races, and fresh from a mile allowance blowout over the track. The gelding is 1-2-0 in three tries on the wet, and, at 115 pounds, is pulling nine pounds from Future Prospect.
Slevin's owner is Eric Brophy, the son of the late Giles Brophy, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner (Strike the Gold and Go For Gin).
Weathered, the only filly in the field, is a multiple stakes-winner in open company, and is 3-for-5 on the wet.
Ruffino has won four straight for James Bond, but Maragh opts to ride Future Prospect. Johnny V takes his place on Ruffino.
Naughty New Yorker was beaten a neck by FP in the Funny Cide Stakes at this distance at the Spa, and goes from Samyn to Prado.
And don't forget Haynesfield, who was the dominant 3-year-old last winter on the inner track, and is making his second start back for Asmussen. Clearly very dangerous under Dominguez.
Note that the Sheiks are conspicuous by their absence in these New York-bred races, but they will run the favorites in the two biggest races on the national map -- Flashing in the $300,000 Raven Run at Keeneland, and Vineyard Haven in the $300,000 DeFrancis Memorial at Laurel.
Just Jenda, a multiple stakes-winner, will be trainer Larry Jones' last Keeneland stakes starter before he retires in two weeks.
Speaking of Keeneland, check out jockey Leparoux.
The Flying Frenchman, currently engaged in a hot battle with Albarado for the Keeneland riding title, rides eight -- including Ivory Empress in the Raven Run -- on Saturday afternoon in Lexington.
He then will hop a plane to San Antonio to rides two stakes for the Ramseys on the evening card at Retama Park -- Lisa's Kitten in race five, Kera's Kitten in race seven.
Don't say you weren't warned.
Thanks for tuning in. Good luck this weekend, and see you again in this space Tuesday as the days count down to the Breeders' Cup Nov. 6-7 at Santa Anita.
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