Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breeders' Stakes, Haskell Invitational Picks

Only five horses have previously won the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown and it remains to be seen if Eye Of The Leopard (winner of the Queen’s Plate) or Gallant (winner of the Prince of Wales Stales) will be able to capture the last leg today with a win in the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.

Both Eye Of The Leopard (4), the 5-2 morning line favorite, and Gallant (3), the 4-1 second-choice, appear to be very tough in this spot and they definitely have the breeding to get the 1 ½ miles on the turf. The first leg was run on the Polytrack at Woodbine and the second leg was on the dirt at Fort Erie.

Trained by Mark Frostad, Eye of the Leopard’s sire A.P. Indy is also the sire of Marchfield – winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Stakes. His damsire, Smart Strike, sired the 2002 Breeders’ Stakes winner Portcullis who also was trained by Frostad. Vice Regent, the sire of Eye Of The Leopard’s second dam, sired the Breeders’ Stakes winners Hangin On A Star (1987) and Bounding Away (1984).

Gallant is also from the sire line of A.P. Indy. His sire, Aptitude, finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. At the age of four, Aptitude won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) and Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) – all at 10-furlongs. Gallant’s damsire, Touch Gold, won the 1997 Belmont Stakes and is descended from the Deputy Minister/Vice Regent branch of Northern Dancer. That sire line has produced several Canadian Classic Champion Thoroughbreds including the 2006 Breeders’ Stakes winner Royal Challenger.

Gallant is trained by Mark Casse who won the 2007 Breeders’ Stakes with Marchfield.

Catherine Day-Phillips has won back-to-back Breeders’ Stakes with A Bit O’Gold (2004) and Jambalaya (2005). She’s looking for her third win with Mr. Foricos Two U (11) who finished a respectable second, beaten by a neck, to Eye Of The Leopard in the Queen’s Plate. Mr. Foricos Two U came back in the Prince of Wales and finished a dull fifth – beaten seven lengths by Gallant.

Full Throttle (2), looks like an intriguing long shot and at 20-1 morning line odds he may be worth a small win/place bet.

Full Throttle’s sire, Dixie Union, is from the Northern Dancer sire line and he has produced several nice graded stakes winners. Full Throttle’s damsire, Langfuhr, has sired three Breeders’ Stakes winners – Triple Crown winner Wando (2003), Jambalaya (2005) and Marlang (2008). Full Throttle’s second damsire, Danzig, sired the Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly (1991).

Full Throttle is trained by Mike Keogh who also trained the Triple Crown winner Wando.

My selections:

W/P = 2
Exactor = 2/3-4 & 3-4/2
Triactor = 2-3-4 box


A field of seven thoroughbreds will enter the starting gate today for the 9-furlong $1,250,000 Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.

Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra (6) has been made the 4-5 morning line favorite. Munnings (4), winner of the Tom Fool Handicap in his last race, is the 3-1 second choice. Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird (2) is the 7-2 third choice.

Rachel Alexandra, Munnings and Summer Bird are the class in this race. But my personal picks lean more toward Rachel Alexandra or Summer Bird.

What can one say about Rachel Alexandra but awesome.

Summer Bird appears to be in top form and he has been working out good at Monmouth.

Munnings is the wild card - never having won a route race. His sire, Speightstown was a first-class sprinter but he has yet to prove himself as a sire of top-notch route runners. Munnings grandsire, Gone West, passes on stamina and he is also the grandsire of Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones. Munnings damsire, Holy Bull, won the 1994 Haskell and passes on a lot of stamina.

If you want some value, Duke of Mischief (1) and Papa Clem (3) appear to be the best long-shot plays. But if either of them won, that would be a big shocker.

My selections:

Trifecta = 2-6/1-2-4-6/1-2-3-4

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