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Mar 08, 2010

THRU THE BINOCULARS

By: John Piesen


John Cashes On Sunday...
Aqueduct R1: Bailzee WON $7.80

That was on top of a big Saturday at the Sham...
Alphie's Bet WON $19.00!!!!
Setsuko EX $81.80
Make it 7 of 10 Derby Preps that John's gotten the money!

*********************

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 

Let's be honest here. This has not been a good week on the racing front, what with word that the mutuel handle was down double-digits nationally for February, that NYRA took an axe to its summer stakes schedule, and that Santa Anita for whatever reason decided to keep its plastic.

Perhaps the only good news is that the Season of Piesen online (Click Here) or call 1-888 612 2283 continues to operate like a well-oiled machine to paraphrase Chic Anderson's stretch call of the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

In case you missed it, and I don't see how you could have, on Wednesday I nailed the $633 trifecta box (and $205 exacta box) in race eight at Gulfstream Park. This was four days after hitting the $247 exacta box in the Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

They should all be as easy as the eighth at Gulfstream.

Mannington was the controlling speed of the race, and he got home at 9-1. Checklist, who finished second, was training lights-out for his first race in six months, and '09 Gotham runner-up Imperial Council, who finished third as the chalk, clearly was the back-class of the race.

What's more, all had top-tier riders, and all had outside posts.

A note about Checklist.

The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher, but since The Toddster currently is serving days for a long-ago drug offense, his horses are running under the names of his assistants -- in the case of Gulfstream it's Anthony Sciametta Jr. Maybe if Pletcher's name had been on the program, that trifecta would have paid half of what it did.

 All of which brings us to Saturday.

I don't ever recall a day on which four major U.S. racetracks offered multiple stakes. But such is the case Saturday, and since most of them offer wagering value, the JPHL again will be on hand to offer counsel and betting advice.

The Dandy Dozen are:

At Aqueduct: the $250,000 Gotham, the $100,000 Toboggan, and the $65,000 Cappy Capossela.

At Santa Anita: the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks, the $250,000 Frank Kilroe; the $150,000 Sham, and the $60,000 Pasadena.

At Oaklawn Park: the $150,000 Razorback Handicap, and the $150,000 Azeri.

And at Gulfstream Park: the $150,000 Palm Beach, and the $150,000 Herecomesthebride.

That's a lot of stake for a horseplayer to digest. But we better get used it. From now on, we're going to see top-grade racing across the land every Saturday.

Since, most of the focus these days is on the Road to the Triple Crown, let's take a look at the Gotham and the Sham. There is not a single graded stakes-winner in either race, but, for wagering purposes, that's not a bad thing. Both races have full, competitive fields which likely will provide double-digit winners. All times Eastern.
                                                   
THE GOTHAM (Aqueduct: Race 10, 5:12 p.m.)

What's this? Awesome Act, an English import who has never raced on dirt, is the 7-2 favorite on the NYRA morning line, but 20-1 on the Daily Racing Form line.

In his only start on these shores, Awesome Act was a fast-closing fourth at 31-1 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. After that race, he was shipped back to England, and was flown back on Wednesday.

Jockey Leparoux, the '09 Eclipse Award winner, must know something because he is making the trip up from south Florida for the mount on AA, who has drawn post four in a field of 10 going 1 1/16 miles in the 58th running of the Grade 2 Gotham.

Peppi Knows (Migliore) and Turf Melody (Dominguez), the only stakes-winners in the field, both will be double digits.

Hard to say what kind of a price Wow Wow Wow will be.

The Broken Vow colt, trained by D. Wayne Lukas for Marylou Whitney, was beaten 20 lengths in his lone stakes try, but rebounded to wire an optional
claimer last time out at Oaklawn.

Since Lukas already has Dublin for the Oaklawn races, he shipped Wow Wow Wow to New York for the Gotham. Jockey Thompson couldn't make the trip from Hot Springs because he is committed to Just Jenda for Team Jones in the Azeri, but jockey Lanerie, Oaklawn's leading rider, is taking off at OP Saturday to make the trip to ride WWW, who drew the outside post.

Peppi Knows, Afleet Again and Three Day Rush, 1-2-3 in the Whirlaway, return for the Gotham, but Eightyfiveinafifty, who bolted to the stable area as the 1-5 favorite in that race, is skipping the Gotham.

Jockeys Prado and Bravo will make the trip from south Florida to ride Yawanna Twist and Nacho Friend, respectively. Both colts are much better than the proverbial empty stalls.

THE SHAM (Santa Anita: Race 7, 6:07 p.m.)

Mention of Chic Anderson's '73 Belmont call brings us to Sham, whose heart was broken by Secretariat that afternoon. Nice to see that Sham's trainer, the estimable Frank Martin, after all these years remains in action in New York.

The Sham, a Grade Three at nine furlongs, like the Gotham has a 10-horse field, and like the Gotham lacks a single graded stakes-winner. In fact, the only stakes-winner in the group is Wolf Tail, the winner at 17-1 of the Graduation Stakes last summer at Del Mar.

Interesting that jockey Rosario, who has ridden Wolf Tail for trainer O'Neill in the colt's last six starts, has been replaced by the lovely Chantel for the Sham.

Outlaw Man and Setsuko are the only members of the Sham field who have gone nine furlongs, and in each case it was on grass. Gomez and Bejarano, the cream of the southern California jockey colony, are the respective riders.

This begs the question: Did Bejarano make the right decision in choosing Setsuko over Nextdoorneighbor, whom he rode in the colt's three starts?

That leaves Mike Smith to ride Nextdoorneighbor, one of four in the race exiting a maiden win.When the Sham was scheduled to go last Saturday, 'neighbor drew the 10-hole. He didn't fare much better in the re-draw, pulling the nine.

Then there is the teacher vs. pupil angle. Trainer Baffert has The Program, who looks to be the main speed with Garcia from the two-hole, and protege Harty has Kettle River for the sheiks. Blanc rides from the six.

The Program already has beaten Setsuko, the likely chalk from trainer Mandella.

THE SANTA ANITA HANDICAP (Santa Anita: Race 10, 7:38 p.m.)

As is the case with the Gotham and the Sham, the Big 'Cap, the richest race on the Saturday racing menu, is wide open. In fact, any one of five or six horses
of the 14 in the mile and a quarter Grade One  can go favored.

Normally, trainer Mitchell would have run English import St. Trinians against filles and mares in the Santa Margarita on March 13, but obviously he feels that the boys will be a softer touch than Zenyatta.

St. Trinians is a perfect four-for-four in the States, and a Big "Cap victory might convince Mitchell to send her to Hot Springs for the Apple Blossom.

Meantime, John Shirreffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, will run an uncoupled entry in the Big 'Cap -- house-horse Mast Track, who may be the controlling speed, and Neko Bay for the Mosses.

THE AZERI (Oaklawn Park: Race 9, 6:02 p.m.)

The Azeri, a Grade Three for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, is worth a mention because it is the primary local prep for the Apple Blossom.

As mentioned, Thompson gives up the mount on Wow Wow Wow in New York to ride Just Jenda, who zipped five-eighths in a bullet :59 on Monday for her first race since October at Keeneland.

JJ won two stakes at this distance last year -- the Honeybee at OP, and the Monmouth Oaks.

Euphony is 4-1-0 from five starts at OP, but is drawn widest in the field of nine.

Two weeks back, trainer Baffert wired the Southwest at OP with Conveyance, and no doubt he'll instruct jockey Borel to attempt similar tactics on Freedom Star from the one-hole.

Jockey Castro makes the trip from south Florida to ride California shipper Spirit Seeker for trainer Hollendorfer from the three-hole.

Thanks for tuning in. Once again, check out the JP selections on-line and/or on the JPHL, and we hope to see you back here Tuesday for a look back.



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