Saturday, September 3, 2011

Forego-Woodward Double

Hopefully everyone survived Hurricane Irene without much damage. Our home in Monmouth County, NJ was unscathed, but many people near us are still without power while others sustained major water damage. From a horseplayer perspective, Monmouth Park cancelled its card last weekend, which had to be a major financial hit during the peak of the summer racing meeting, but the Labor Day weekend's shaping up nicely.

Melancholy is setting in, with both the Saratoga and Del Mar meetings winding down, but Monmouth will still be kicking it for another two months, including the Monmouth-Woodbine Challenge handicapping contest on Sunday, September 18, which is next on the docket for NJ Horseplayer.

In the meantime, here are two ideas for this afternoon's 9th and 10th races from Saratoga, which are two of the four races this weekend on Public Handicapper.

Giant Oak in the Woodward
Jersey Town (6-to-1) has a legitimate shot in the Forego Stakes over the 7-furlong Saratoga dirt after a decent second in the Teddy Drone at Monmouth off an 8-month layoff.  Sidney's Candy (4-to-1) looks extremely tough from the No. 2 post and should dart to the lead, but I have questions about the turf-to-dirt switch and am banking on Escrow Kid (15-1), Regal Ransom (6-to-1) and Rule By Night (15-to-1) setting swift early fractions, setting up for a stalking type who can save ground into the long Saratoga stretch.  I'm envisioning a scenario similar to last week's call on Caleb's Posse, who nipped Uncle Mo in the closing strides of the 7-furlong King's Bishop, and hope to see a sub-47 second half-mile time.

Giant Oak (8-to-1) seems like a decent value in an 8-horse field highlighted by Havre De Grace (8-to-5) and Flat Out (5-to-2), but I find these two very vulnerable.  I have not been a big fan of closers at the Spa, but it appears there are at least four, maybe five, players that will vie for the lead in the 9-furlong, $750k Woodward Stakes.  If Shaun Bridgmohan can keep Giant Oak in the same zip code as the rest of the field, I think this 5-year-old Grade 1 winner has a decent shot at a price. Mission Impazible looked intriguing at 10-to-1, but I have concerns about the horse's effort in the Whitney.

If time allows, I might take a look at the Ricks Memorial from Remington Park for the Public Handicapper contest, but in the meantime, everyone enjoy their final summer weekend of horseplay!

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