Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Quality Across The Board

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 6, 2010

Saturday’s Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr.1) is poised to become one of the year’s biggest racing extravaganzas to date with a field stock full of quality horses that make it look more like a Breeders’ Cup championship race than a mid-summer headliner.

Quality Road sits atop the nation’s ranks as the leading older male horse after winning all three starts in 2010 in impressive fashion. He enters the Whitney off a sparkling Met Mile (gr.1) victory in May and looks to keep the streak alive while running as the favorite yet again. Trainer Todd Pletcher thinks his charge is better than ever and is set to turn in a monster effort. Quality Road already has one monster performance to his 2010 record after winning the Donn Handicap (gr.1) by more than 12 lengths on February 6th.

Clark Handicap (gr.2) and Stephen Foster (gr.1) victor Blame enters off a hard fought win last out in the Stephen Foster which was his fourth straight win and second of the year overall. He has the potential to steal the whole show in the Whitney as a win would vault him to an uncontested lead in the older male division.

Musket Man is the epitome of a consistent and tough runner but seems to come up short at the wire as often as he wins. He finished second in the Carter Handicap (gr.1) in early April and trainer Derek Ryan hopes the 4-year-old colt will be able to turn his luck around in the Whitney.

Haynesfield enters the Whitney off an impressive victory in the Suburban on July 3rd, a race that is the same distance as the Whitney’s 1 1/8 miles. His good tactical speed could have him placed right off the pace of Quality Road which might not be a good thing with Quality Road’s powerful cruising speed.

Mine that Bird finally gets to make his 2010 debut on his preferred surface after finishing a dull 8th on the turf in the Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is hopeful the colt can rediscover the form that won him the Kentucky Derby last year and run a good race.

Jardim rounds out the field as a seriously over-matched entrant. He sports the longest odds of any in the race by far a looks like a completely forgettable contestant but lighting has a funny way of striking in the strangest places when you least expect it. He could throw a serious wrench into the picture with a win, but I don’t think there’s much chance of his doing that.

Quality Road is the deserving favorite here and even with the depth of the field that he is facing he stands out like a diamond among rubies. I like Blame but his style seems to be more like a grinder and in this race I think quick turn of foot and speed will be playing a major role. If Mine that Bird and Musket Man can rediscover the late rallies that earned them so much respect last year they could easily round out the top three. Haynesfield is the only one I’m not sure what to think of in this race. He has very ratable speed but I don’t think he’ll be able to pass Quality Road if that one is on the lead down the backstretch.

Quality Road looks like the winner and I’ll take Mine that Bird for second. It would be nice to see the little gelding get back to form here and race well the remainder of the year.

The West Virginia Derby (gr.2) has morphed into a tremendous showdown between two very talented colts. Exhi enters the Derby riding a hot four race stakes win streak, all over synthetics. His latest win came in the form of an impressive victory in Woodbine’s Victoria Park Stakes in late June.

Concord Point enters off a record setting win in the 1 1/16 mile Iowa Derby (gr.3) that he won by open lengths.  I

personally like Concord Point better than Exhi here but the field is very diverse and a win from Nacho Friend, Theskyhasnolimit or Skipshot would not be a shock. Concord Point looks like the real deal to me and the only question I have regarding Exhi is how well he will handle the synthetic to dirt surface switch.

The Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. 1) at Saratoga on Sunday has set up as an exciting renewal of the nation’s premier summer sprint race. Entered in the field are high class grade one winners Gayego and Bribon along with graded stakes winners Big Drama and Mambo Meister. Gayego and Bribon may be the only two with grade 1 wins but I think Big Drama is much the best in this field.


3 Responses to “Quality Across The Board”

  1. Steve M. said

    Hey Brian,
    Nice preview of some great racing action this weekend. We’ll have to disagree on the Whitney, but I do like Concord Point a lot in the WV Derby. The Amsterdam is absolutely loaded! I think MajesticPerfection might beat Big Drama. Looking forward to seeing how all this plays out no matter what.

    • Hey Steve,
      Who do you like for the Whitney?
      I’ve been hearing quite a lot of buzz surrounding Majestic Perfection in the last two days which usually means there’s something good happening around them. It should be a tremendous race.
      Yes, the Amsterdam, I knew I was forgetting one aside from the Hirsch with Zenyatta!

  2. ZATT said

    If you like Big Drama in the Vanderbilt, you better watch his little brother in the feature today at Calder!

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