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Aug 13, 2004

RACING TODAY

By: JOHN PIESEN


Question: What do Messrs. Prado, Cohen and Codey have in common besides having

five letters in their surname?

Answer: All made a major splash in racing this week.

 

To wit:

a) Edgar Prado was named by trainer Barclay Tagg to ride Funny Cide in the Saratoga

Breeders" Cup Aug. 22 at Spa. To take nothing away from jockey Santos, who is currently on

the DL, this will be the ultimate first-time Prado.

You will recall that the Sackatoga folks bought Funny Cide in the first place for the express

purpose of winning a race at Saratoga, and this will be their shot. With Prado up yesterday,

Funny Cide breezed a mile in 1:37 and change.

b) Usually, when one sees the name Cohen above-the-fold in his daily newspaper, you would

think it would be on the financial pages as a CEO. Or maybe he"d be your family MD or dentist.

So it comes as a major surprise to see that a fellow named David Cohen is a promising 19-year-old

apprentice rider at Del Mar. In fact, DC booted home a $92 winner on Wednesday. Look for

David Cohen to knock "em dead at Turf Paradise in the Fall. Maybe he can get Dave Borden for

his agent.

c) You thought maybe there was no racing connection to the McGreevey story? Guess again. When

McGreevey steps down in mid-November as New Jersey governor, his replacement will be

Richard J. Codey, the president of the State Senate, and, for years, horse racing"s best friend

in New Jersey.

Personally, Codey was a terrific source for me when I was the Jersey correspondent for Daily

Racing Form, and, in case you need to reach him, I still have his cell number on my rolodex.

In fact, the entire Codey family -- top to bottom -- is heavily involved in Jersey racing.

Otherwise, the big excitement in racing this weekend is Act Three of the NTRA National Pick

Four. In order, the Pick Four races are the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, the

Beverly D. Handicap at Arlington Park, the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga, and the

Arlington Million at Arlington. The four races will be televised live by ABC from 4-6 p.m. Eastern.

Act One took place on June 12, and the $2 payoff was $34,249. I let my hot line customers

down that day. I had only one winner on my ticket.

But Act Two on July 3 was a different story. I suggested a $162 ticket to my phone

customers...and nailed the $7,879 payoff! None of the four winners were favored. I also hit a

bunch of exactas and trifectas that glorious day.

Christmas in July!

I plan to fire an instant replay Saturday. All you need to do is pick up the phone, and dial

1-888-612-2283. Untold riches await.

Good luck to all.

In the meantime, I"ll make some points about the four races.

THE VANDERBILT

I find it strange that NYRA, in its quest to name a stake for the owner of Native Dancer, would

settle on a six-furlong stake, but here we are.

Ghostzapper would have been odds-on in this spot, but trainer Frankel opted to pass, and

ship to Monmouth for next weekend"s two-turn Iselin. As a result, Speightstown, 3-for-3 this

year, all stakes, is the favorite for top trainer-jock combo Pletcher/Velazquez. Note that

Cat Genius, the horse Speightstown beat in the True North on Belmont Day, finished up the

track next time out in Kentucky.

Gators N Bears, who will be the second choice under Chuck Lopez, was bred by Bob Camac. That"s

the same Bob Camac who was tragically murdered at the time he was training for the Chapmans.

He, of course, otherwise would have been the trainer of one Smarty Jones.

Clock Stopper and My Cousin Matt come into the Vanderbilt off troubled trips, and there is the

possibility that Mike"s Classic, who gets the best of the weights, might shake loose for The Chief

and Ray Ganpath.

Don"t be afraid to back Ganpath in a Grade II. You"ll remember he won the Grade 1 Frizette last

year on Society Selection for the same trainer.

BEVERLY D.

Bedankin (2-2) and Aud (2-4) are the only mares in the field to have won over the Arlington

course. Necklace is the only 3-year-old in the field, the German mare Aubonne is first-time

Prado, and Riskaverse is the only millionaire in the field. All of the above are double-digits.

Musical Chimes is the first stakes mount for jockey Desormeaux since Kent was inducted into

the Hall of Fame last Monday at Saratoga.

The lineup includes a veritable Who"s Who of Trainers -- Frankel, Mandella, Drysdale,

Mandella, O"Brien, et al -- so wouldn"t it be something to see little Mitch Shirota win it with

bomber Shaconage?

From the one-hole, guaranteed that Pat Day will save every inch of ground on Riskaverse. Look

for Mike Smith to make an easy lead on Noches De Rosa.

SWORD DANCER

Sword Dancer was one of my personal favorites as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, and it was

great to see his trainer -- Elliott Burch -- alive and well at the Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Again, Sword Dancer never raced on grass, and here we have a grass race named for him. With

rain in the forecast, who knows what the surface will be? There"s even the chance they may

have to take it off the turf.

Trainer Pletcher (Balto Star) had the quote of the week: I"m not worried about taking the race

off the grass," he said. "Without looking at the Form, I bet I have the only Arkansas Derby

winner in the field."

You don"t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Balto Star is the lone speed in the six-horse

field. It"s hard to believe they could get only six horses for a 500K, Grade 1 grass stake. One

reason is the race is in direct conflict with the Arlington Million.

It"s interesting to note that Prado takes off Request for Parole to ride a pair of longshots in

Chicago.

Better Talk Now comes in off a second to Million starter Kicken Kris in the Bowling Green.

There"s not a throwout in the race.

ARLINGTON MILLION

From a handicapping perspective (and what other perspective is there?), you pretty much

have to decide whether you like the home-grown horses or the European imports. You can

make compelling arguments either way.

Jerry Bailey traveled 6,000 miles to ride Sweet Return a month back in the Eddie Read

Handicap at Del Mar, and managed to get him trapped every step. Jerry gives up a Saratoga

Saturday to ride him back. Bailey and trainer McAnally have won three Millions

between them.

Godolphin, which won the "03 Million with Sulamani via DQ, tries for a repeat with Vespone.

Mystery Giver had a terrible trip for second in the Arlington Handicap, switches to

Rene Douglas, the Eddie Arcaro of Illinois.

Trainer Baffert runs an uncoupled entry of Arlington "Cap winner Senor Swinger, and German

import Sabiango, who won his U.S. debut at 13-1 in the Whittingham at Hollywood Park. No

surprise if jockey Espinoza makes an easy lead with Sabiango.

Hialeah owner Brunetti eyes a weekend stakes double with Sweet Return here, and Jersey-based

Foreverness on Sunday at Saratoga.



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