Saturday's stakes action comes from four venues. Arlington Park in Chicago hosts a pair of events, the feature being The Arlington Classic (Grade 3). It is for three year olds on the turf. The winner is likely to be pointed towards The Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes run at the track in the summer. If the likely favourite Surgical Strike is to have a realistic chance there, he needs a big a big victory on Saturday.
Woodbine switched from Polytrack to Tapeta for the start of the 2016 meet. The surface gets a stakes test for The Eclipse (Grade 2). Defending Champion Are You Kidding Me has to prove himself on this footing, at least under race conditions. He's been working really well on Tapeta in the mornings suggesting that won't be his undoing.
The other stakes on Saturday come from Churchill who has a graded sprint for fillies and mares and a marathon on the turf. Also on the grass is The Paradise Creek, Belmont's feature event.
PAUL'S ANALYSIS FROM Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs and Woodbine
Saturday 28 May 2016
Churchill Downs Race 6 (8.15pm)
The Keertana - A stake for Fillies and Mares - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 ½ Miles - Turf
Al's Gal (1) won an allowance event at Gulfstream in February. Since then, she has finished close up behind the former French trained Olorda in back to back Grade 3's over marathon distances. She finished second, beaten half a length in the latest at Keeneland last month. Based on those runs, she's clearly the gal to beat. The five year old can get behind in her races. In an event without much pace, that could make her vulnerable.
Annulment (7) and Street Of Gold (6) finished just under and over three lengths behind Al's Gal in Kentucky. The former was making her 2016 return and trying this longer trip for the first time. She may be a bit fitter and see the trip out better. In addition, she will be forwardly placed and get first run on the likely favourite. Al's Gal was a winner and placed twice in small stakes at The Fair Grounds prior to Keeneland. The step up in distance seemed to suit her.
Salama (3) made an encouraging return in an allowance even over an extended mile at Keeneland. She was a Grade 3 winner over 10 furlongs in her native Peru.
Al's Gal (1)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Al's Gal (1) and Annulment (7)
Arlington Park Race 6 (9.50pm)
The Arlington Matron (Grade 3) - Fillies and Mares - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 1/8 Miles - Polytrack
No Fault Of Mine (6) is an improving four year old. She's won allowance events at Tampa and Keeneland this year and in between ran second in a stakes event at the former venue. She beat a decent looking field in Kentucky and should stay this slightly longer distance here. She's only ran on Arlington's Polytrack twice and won both times. Carlos Marquez Jr. will probably ride her for a turn of foot.
Flipcup (1) ran poorly on the dirt at Aqueduct on her last start in December. Prior to that, she won a Grade 3 on Woodbine's Polytrack by two lengths. She has been working forwardly at Churchill in the mornings. Pace up front would help but there's not a lot of speed in here. She's Not Here (10) may be on or near soft fractions today. She's had a diet of Grade 1's and 2's on turf for some time now winning a Grade 2 at Del Mar last September. She has a victory on synthetics to her name.
Personal Diary (7) was a Grade 1 winner as a juvenile. She's not as good as that these days but has ran well on Polytrack in the past. Brooklynsway (3) tried Grade 1 company at Churchill earlier this month after winning a Grade 3 prior to that. She's a stakes winner on Polytrack too but has to give all this field 7lbs.
No Fault Of Mine (6)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Brooklynsway (3) and No Fault Of Mine (6)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): No Fault Of Mine (6) and She's Not Here (10)
Woodbine Race 8 (9.51pm)
The Eclipse (Grade 2) - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Polytrack
Canada's Champion Older Male Are You Kidding Me (5) won this event in 2015 by open lengths. He added two more Grade 2's later in the year on Polytrack and on turf. He made his seasonal reappearance in a Grade 1 at Keeneland on turf and was never competitive. Since then he's been working up a storm on the new Tapeta surface at Woodbine. He is reunited with Alan Garcia who rode him to all his victories last year and has a favourites chance of getting back to winning ways here.
Melmich (6) is an interesting alternative. He won six times in 2015. He rounded out the year with a victory over Peyton (2) in an allowance event before winning a stake over an extended trip by 10 lengths. His rider may elect to go the lead and stack these up.
Breaking Lucky (1) won last year's Prince of Wales stakes in July but was winless since then. He has run well in both starts this term including when third in a Grade 3 at Keeneland last month. Like a few of these, he's been working very swiftly on the local Tapeta in the mornings. That is also true for Florida Won (3) who is making his first start since November. His form rather tailed off in 2015 but did win a Grade 3 here and a $200,000 stake on Tapeta last summer. His trainer Mark Casse can bring them back fit.
Are You Kidding Me (5)
Belmont Park Race 8 (10.13pm)
The Paradise Creek - A stake for 3 year olds - 7 Furlongs - Turf
The standard setter here is Mighty Mo (8). He's run two fine races since coming back as a three year old and joining trainer Bill Mott. In the latest, he ran a neck second in a stake at Aqueduct in April. That was over an extended mile but he's not short of speed. The good news for his chances here is he doesn't appear to be a need to lead type. Too Discreet (5) and Rappel (4) finished behind him in that stake at The Big A. The former was making his 2016 comeback. He was unbeaten in two sprints as a juvenile including a stake. He ran like he needed the run or didn't handle the extra yardage. If it was more the latter, he'll go very close cutting back to seven furlongs. He does have a 6lb penalty to carry here.
There are a pair of new faces well worth considering. Conquest See Ya (1) broke his maiden second time out here last month. He dueled in fast fractions and still managed to hang on, understandably fading late on. He has to go another furlong today but may have the speed to clear the pace horses coming out of that mile event.
Wicked Wink (2) broke his maiden at Chantilly in January. That was on synthetics but he shaped well on his only start on turf in March. He was tried on the dirt (slop) for his Stateside debut and never showed. It is interesting that Javier Castellano is back in the saddle and he may well make some noise at a price trying the turf again.
Too Discreet (5)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Too Discreet (5) and Mighty Mo (8)
Arlington Park Race 7 (10.21pm)
The Arlington Classic (Grade 3) - 3 year olds - 1 1/16 Miles - Turf
Surgical Strike (4) is a progressive three year old. He won a stake on Polytrack at Turfway before running a close up third in a Grade 3 at the same venue. His trainer tried him on turf again in a Grade 2 on The Kentucky Derby undercard. He rallied to be third in what was a deep event. Now dropping in class, he's the most likely winner of this event.
Two Step Time (1) finished close up behind Surgical Strike in April before finishing well behind him at Churchill. One Mean Man (10) has also been in action in graded stakes in Kentucky. He was far from disgraced in a Grade 3 at Keeneland seven weeks ago. He was a winner of a stake at The Fair Grounds this winter and has worked well for his return.
Tequila Joe (12) may be a better colt than the one who lost to Surgical Strike in October. He won by open lengths in a Keeneland allowance event on his three year old debut.
Candy My Boy (3) tries turf again after running in Kentucky Derby graded stakes preps at The Fair Grounds. Cocked And Loaded (6) and Call The Colonel (8) have the pedigree to do well on the turf. The former has the class for this event being a stakes winner.
Felt In Pocket (5) is a filly taking on the boys and a promising one too.
Surgical Strike (4)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Surgical Strike (4) and Cocked And Loaded (6)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Surgical Strike (4) and Call The Colonel (8)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Surgical Strike (4) and Tequila Joe (12)
Churchill Downs Race 10 (10.21pm)
The Winning Colors (Grade 3) - Fillies and Mares - 3 year olds and upwards - 6 Furlongs - Dirt
Enchanting Lady (5) and Spelling Again (6) both finished third last time, beaten seven lengths in different stakes. They faced top class opposition in Grade 1 and 2 company respectively and this is a significant drop in class. Enchanting Lady has been well beaten Taris and Sheer Drama in Grade 1's in Kentucky this year. She's won a stake in California and this is a chance to win her first graded one. That's not the case with Spelling Again. She was claimed a year ago for $40,000 and won a Grade 2 here in November. She's won both her starts at Churchill and rates a slight edge over her fellow class dropper.
Super Saks (7) was also overmatched in the same Grade 1 as Enchanting Lady, fading badly after attending the pace. Prior to that, she had Wrath Of Ruthie (2) four lengths behind her when winning a stake at Oaklawn. If she can get clear from that filly, she may get loose on the lead here.
A head separated Diva Express (3) and I'm A Looker (4) in an allowance event over course and distance earlier this month. That level of form makes the pair competitive despite the class rise.
Fioretti (1) upset a field in a Grade 2 at Keeneland last October under Sophie Doyle. She was entitled to need her 2016 return when in too deep in a Grade 1. She's worked well since that comeback and may go well at a price today.
Spelling Again (6)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Enchanting Lady (5) and Spelling Again (6)