|Daily Racing Form|
Monday, July 31
By Bill Finley
Special to ESPN.com
The Lawrence Realization Handicap
All you really need to know about Irish shipper Grand Finale is that he's the only horse ever to beat European superstar Sinndar. He did so on April in a listed race at Leopardstown and has since returned off a short layoff to score at 12 furlongs in another listed race. Unlike rival Ciro, he's proven at 12 furlongs and his Time Form ratings while racing in Europe were excellent. Comes from the strong Dermot Weld barn and gets Lasix for the first time here. Can score a mild upset. Ciro is the likely favorite and looks like the one to beat. He upset top 3-year-old grass horse King Cugat in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes and returns here for new trainer Christopher Clement. Our knock is that his two tries at this distance were some of the poorer efforts of his career. Strong candidate, but not unbeatable. Whata Brainstorm ran a big race in the Saranac at Saratoga, nearly catching heavy favorite Rob's Spirit despite a wide trip. Gets a favorable jockey switch here to Jorge Chavez. Rob's Spirit is an obvious contender, but he struggled to win the Saranac despite a beautiful trip.
Picks Summary: 1. Grand Finale 2. Ciro 3. Whata Brainstorm
The Sky Classic Handicap
Quiet Resolve has burned up some money this year, losing two of his last three as a heavy favorite. Last out, he couldn't hold on in the Niagara, fading in the stretch. It appears a mile and a half may have been a bit too far for him. The slight drop back in distance may make the difference here. Thornfield is probably the most talented horse in the field, but he's trying to win at 12 furlongs off 10-month layoff. That won't be easy. He did win first off the shelf last year. A classy horse who will be very dangerous if he is ready. River Boat scored a shocker in the Niagara, winning at 41-1, and he could easily repeat. Has made sharp improvement in his last two starts for an underrated trainer.
Picks Summary: 1. Quiet Resolve 2. Thornfield 3. River Boat
The River City Breeders' Cup
Trainer Norman Cole has done a great job with Stirling Bridge since claiming her for $50,000. She's since gone 2-for-3 since and won a minor stakes race over this course in her last start. She may not have the class of some of the others in here, but she's very sharp now and can handle this spot. From the Patrick Byrne barn, Illiquidity is the main threat. The likely favorite in here, she's coming off a stakes win at Ellis Park, but appeared to have a perfect trip that day as she sat behind a blazing early pace. Always Sure was the runner-up behind Stirling Bridge in her last start and must be respected.
Picks Summary: 1. Stirling Bridge 2. Illiquidity 3. Always Sure
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