Sunday, August 9, 2009

Best Pal, Vandal Stakes Picks

Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert will send Lookin At Lucky to the starting gate today as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds at Del Mar. Lookin At Lucky will be making only his second start in the Best Pal – coming off maiden win July 11 at Hollywood Park.

Smiling Tiger, the 5-2 second-choice, comes into the Best Pal with two impressive wins – a six-length win in his maiden debut on May 1 and an eight-length win in the Lost In The Fog Stakes June 13 at Golden Gate Fields. Smiling Tiger is trained by Jeff Bonde.

Classical Slew, the 7-2 fourth-choice, will be making his fourth start in the Best Pal and he is the only other horse in the field of six with stakes experience. Classical Slew won the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on June 4 and finished third in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes July 12 – beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Necessary Evil. Classical Slew is trained by Doug O’Neill.

Hurricane Ike, the 3-1 third-choice, will be making his second start in the Best Pal and he comes into the race with a one and one-half length win in his maiden debut at Hollywood Park on July 5. Hurricane Ike is trained by John Sadler.

Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike-Private Feeling by Belong To Me) is a half-brother to Kensei – winner of the Dwyer and Jim Dandy Stakes. Baffert will have him ready and he should be tough in this spot.

My personal pick, though, is Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger-Shandra Smiles by Cahill Road). Smiling Tiger has been working good, his Brisnet speed figures are good and his previous wins have been impressive. His sire, Hold That Tiger, stands at stud in Australia and is not that well known in the states. Hold That Tiger has sired 143 progeny to race with 66 winners (46.15%).

If Smiling Tiger’s odds remain at 5-2 or go higher I may use him with a win/place bet.


Who’s Big Daddy (4) heads a field of eight horses as the 5-2 morning line favorite in 53rd running of the $150,000 Vandal Stakes for 2-year-olds today at Woodbine.

Trained by Fairlie Scott, Who’s Big Daddy (Where’s The Ring-Cosa Rara by Tethra) has the most experience with four previous starts including a win in the Clarendon Stakes and a second-place finish in the Colin Stakes. His sire, Where’s The Ring, entered stud in 2005 and in his first crop of two-year-olds he had 15% total wins. Who’s Big Daddy’s damsire, Tethra, won the 1994 Vandal Stakes.

Ghost Fleet (Arch-Destroy by Housebuster) is the 4-1 second-choice and is trained by Sid Attard. Ghost Fleet (7) won his debut by three-quarters of a length in a 5 ½ furlong maiden race July 19 at Woodbine and the Vandal will be his second start. Ghost Fleet’s sire, Arch, was a multiple graded stakes winner. Arch’s best runner to date is the $1 million multiple graded stakes winner Arravale – Canadian Horse Of The Year and Champion Female Turf Horse. Ghost Fleet’s damsire, Housebuster, was a $1 million multiple graded stakes winner and an Eclipse Champion Sprinter in 1990 and 1991.

Stormy Lord (5), trained by Ian Black, is the 6-1 third-choice. The Vandal will be Stormy Lord’s second start. He comes into the race with a three-quarter length win over Boadini (8) who is also entered in the Vandal at 10-1 morning line odds.

Bold Canadian (1) at 15-1 morning line odds and 8-1 Takiddm (9) look like intriguing long shots. Bold Canadian is trained by Steve Asmussen and Takiddm is trained by Josie Carroll. Of those two, I especially like Bold Canadian.

Bold Canadian’s sire Bold N’ Flashy was a multiple stakes winning sprinter and as a sire, in 10 crops of runners, he averaged 11% two-year-old winners.

Bold Canadian’s grandsire is the Canadian Hall Of Fame thoroughbred Bold Ruckus – 10-time leading sire in Canada. Bold Ruckus is the sire of the Vandal Stakes winners: Fred C Dobbs (1985), Bold Revenue (1986) and Highland Ruckus (1987). In addition, Bold Ruckus is the grandsire of Vandal Stakes winners: Catahoula Parish (1998) and Stuck In Traffic (2007). Bold Ruckus is also the sire of Bold Canadian’s second dam Florisa.

Bold Canadian’s damsire is Conquistador Cielo – winner of the 6-furlong Saratoga Special (G2), 12-furlong Belmont Stakes (G1), 8-furlong Metropolitan Handicap (G1), 9-furlong Dwyer Stakes (G2) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G3); Horse of the Year and 1982 Champion 3-year-old colt.

The sire of Bold Canadian’s third dam Periphery is Vice Regent – a Hall of Fame Thoroughbred and Canada’s all-time leading sire. Vice Regent sired the Vandal Stakes winners: Haliburton Huskie (1982) and Archregent (1983). In addition, Vice Regent is the damsire of 1988 Vandal Stakes winner Harry Laric.

In nine crops of runners, Takiddm’s sire Mutakddim averaged 19% two-year-old winners. His best runner is the $1 million multiple graded stakes winner Lady Tak – winner of the Ballerina Handicap, Test Stakes and Fair Grounds Oaks. Takiddm’s damsire is Grindstone – winner of the 1996 Kentucky Derby. His great damsire is Unbridled – winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby. The sire of his second dam First Prom is the multiple graded stakes winner Black Tie affair – with over $3 million in career earnings.

My selections:

W/P = 1-9
Exactor box = 1-7-9
Triactor box = 1-7-9

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