|Daily Racing Form|
Monday, July 31
By Bill Finley
Special to ESPN.com
The Super Derby
The 21st running of the Super Derby failed to attract any major stars,
though it has the Belmont winner, albeit a dubious one, in Commendable,
and the improving Tiznow. It doesn't look like this race will have any
major Breeders' Cup implications. It's going to be hard to beat Tiznow,
who ran second behind older, better horses in the Pacific Classic. Unraced
until April 22, 2000, he has improved with every start and could turn out
to be one of the better horses in his division. The only knock on him is
that the Pacific Classic appears to have been a weak race. Winner Skimming
and third-place finisher Ecton Park were last and next to last in the Woodward.
Mass Market could be the main threat. He emerged when winning the
West Virginia Derby and then ran second in the Pennsylvania Derby despite
a terrible trip. Here's how the Daily Racing Form footnote read: "Mass
Market...was steadied to avoid heels and dropped back next to last near
the three eighths pole, regained momentum and then moved to the outside
to secure racing room near the stretch and closed for the place." This
will be the toughest test of his career, but he may just be up to it. It
looks like Commendable can't help but hit the board here. He actually
showed a little bit of life when third in the Travers and is surely better
than the three others in this race, all local horses who are short on class.
The Noble Damsel Handicap
Spook Express was out of action for 14 months but returned with a bang to win an allowance race Sept. 3 at Saratoga. The 3-year-old filly champion in South Africa in 1998, she sat behind a very slow pace but managed to get up at the wire by a nose. No doubt trainer Tom Skiffington was using that race as a prep, which means Spook Express should show some improvement. Storm Dream is an intriguing horse. The only 3-year-old in the race, she was placed in a Group I race in Ireland earlier this year before being turned over to Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson. After a moderate effort in the Lake Placid, she exploded to win the Boiling Springs at the Meadowlands in a romp. If she can run back to that race she will be very tough. Solar Bound breaks from the rail and goes for the team of Bill Mott and Jerry Bailey. It's always impossible to ignore those connections in a grass stakes. Fictitious, who is owned by the Queen of England, meets easier after running into Perfect Sting in her last two starts.
Picks Summary: 1. Spook Express 2. Storm Dream 3. Solar Bound
The Arlington-Washington Lassie
Though Thunder Bertie is making a normally difficult jump in class from a maiden win straight into stakes company, she can handle this assignment. In a very weak race, she doesn't have much to beat. Given a brief freshening and adding blinkers, she turned in a big effort in her last at Turfway Park, stumbling and jumping shadows before winning by two lengths. The question with her, as it is with everyone in this field, is her ability to go the mile. Dare She Goes was a big surprise when running second at 37-1 in the Top Flight Stakes. That could have been a fluke, but she will be tough if running back to that effort. Caressing romped versus cheaper in the Bassinet at River Downs. By Honour and Glory, a mile might be right up her alley.
Picks Summary: 1. Thunder Bertie 2. Dare She Goes 3. Caressing
Turfway Park Fall Championship Handicap
Glacial is the ultimate horse for a course having gone 6-for-8 at Turfway and 2-for-20 everywhere else. After a good allowance try at Churchill Downs, he returns to his favorite track and should also benefit from a brief freshening. Has worked well during his absence. Phil the Grip couldn't beat New York breds at Saratoga but is in an enviable situation here as he appears to be the only speed in the race. He might get brave on the lead and record his first win since capturing a Sept. 11, 1999 stakes over this same track. Mount Lemon has improved since running in high priced claimers and appears to be the best of the rest. We're not willing to give Kimberlite Pipe another chance. He's been awful in his last four starts.
Picks Summary: 1. Glacial 2. Phil the Grip 3, Mount Lemon
The Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Derby
Walkslikeaduck might have a stupid name but he can run a little bit. Steadily improving for trainer Patrick Gallagher, he beat some pretty nice horses in the Del Mar Derby and wheels back for this, an easier spot. Unless he bounces off that race, he should beat this field. We'll look for Gallagher to run one-two as he also sends out Heritage Hall. The Irish-bred gelding improved with blinkers in his last start and looks like the only speed in this race. Jokerman, the winner of the Grade II Generous on the turf last year, is a contender. Note that Neil Drysdale's assistant trainer John O'Donoghue told the Daily Racing Form that the horse will not be 100% fit off the layoff. Don't know how to make of that since the last time we heard that about a Drysdale horse was Fusaichi Pegasus in the Jerome.
Picks Summary: 1. Walkslikeaduck 2. Heritage Hall 3. Jokerman
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