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Oct 22, 2004



These are tough times. There"s no hockey. The politics are in the gutter.

 Houston (+200) brings in the wrong chucker. Yanks-Sox Game 3 may get

rained out. And I just got a telemarketing call from some nutjob whose

 mission in life is to get Dan Rather fired.

At least the Breeders" Cup is only two weeks away. And that"s not going so

great either. Seems every day another big-name horse drops out: the Arc

winner, Saint Liam, Pico Central, Sightseek, et al.

(Hey, what happens if Artie Schiller wins the BC Mile, if Kitten"s Joy wins the

 BC Turf, and if Birdstone wins the BC Classic? Does that mean that Smarty Jones

doesn"t make the cut for top 3-year-old?)

Just asking.

But, just as horses need a prep for the Breeders" Cup, so do handicappers.

That said, this Saturday is a perfect opportunity to do a dry run. You have

the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland, a race you need to know that I have

owned for years, and the California Cup at Santa Anita.

Hey, the moon belongs to everyone...

As the only Grade 1 going Saturday, the Queen E II dominates page one of

 Saturday"s Daily Racing Form. There"s a photo of Ticker Tape on page one

(at least half of Ticker Tape), so that means she"ll be the favorite.

I already have a soft spot in my heart for Ticker Tape because, back on

July 3 at Hollywood Park, she won the American Oaks at 12-1 which gave my

devoted fans the $7,800 NTRA Pick Four.

But I liked Ticker Tape much better at 12-1 than I do at 6-5, the price she"ll be

in the Queen E II.

Consequently, I will try to beat Ticker Tape with a filly named Barancella.

Dead on the board for her North American debut in the Garden City six weeks

 back at Belmont Park, Barancella closed widest and fastest under jockey Chavez

 to get second to Lucifer"s Stone.

Chavez was so upset at losing the mount for the Queen E II that he fired agent

 Gullo, and replaced him with Harry Hacek, who goes back so far that he once

booked mounts for Steve Cauthen.

After the Garden City, owner Tanaka sent Barancella to trainer Frankel, who

promptly gave jockey Prado the call for the Queen E II.

So there you have it. The best closer in the race, from the best trainer...and she

 is first-time Prado!

(Aside: Does Bailey get the Eclipse Award this year by force of habit? Or does

Prado, who deserves it, get it? And what about Johnny V?
Or Stew Elliott? Hey, this Elliott fellow already won the Espy.)

Back to the Queen E II. I would suggest using Ticker Tape, River Belle and

Island Sand under Barancella in the gimmicks.

The race will be televised nationally on the deuce from 4-5 p.m.

Now, let us get out to Santa Anita where they are running the California Cup for

 the 15th time. They are expecting 30,000 for the day so you need to know it"s

 a big deal although you"ve never heard of 90 per cent of the horses.

But the good thing is that the 10 races are, for the most part, wide-open with

no clearcut favorite. If you"re looking to get rich you can check out the pick six,

 with a guaranteed $1 million in the till, and the $500,000 pick four.

That said, I have done all the dirty work for you, and handicapped the Pick Six

(races 5 thru 10) here for my selections:

And one last thing...go Navy!

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