By Michael Patricks
A mere four weeks until the Sonoma County Fair begins on Thursday, August 2nd. I’ll be heading to Pleasanton this Sunday to promote our meet with seminar co-host Dennis Miller and CARF track announcer Chris Griffin, as they jointly administer the seminar proceedings from P-Town. Del Mar’s meet kicks off Wednesday, July 18th and Saratoga’s lid lifts Friday, July 20th. A reminder, we will be open for simulcast wagering Wednesday through Sunday for the seven weeks of Del Mar and Saratoga. Best of all, admission is free into the facility each and every weekday. Tell your friends and make plans to join us for action-packed racing from across the country right here at The Jockey Club.
Like what you’re reading? Each week I post a racing-related article that includes free analysis and race selections to The Grapevine, the official Blog for the Sonoma County Fair. Access The Grapevine at https://sonomacountyfair.wordpress.com/ and stay informed of all the news and events surrounding the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. You can also reach me directly at email@example.com
It obviously wasn’t my best work last week in the Queen’s Plate as Silent Poet did get bet down from his 30/1 morning line to 12/1 but that’s about where the positive signals stopped. The ‘Poet broke well from the gate and was well spotted up the back stretch, but came under heavy pressure nearing the ½ mile pole and subsequently stopped on a dime from there. Just as well I suppose since the Blinkers absolutely did the trick with Wonder Gadot and she smashed the cast by open lengths. Hats off to her and trainer Mark Casse for having her ready to go. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where she doesn’t win the Canadian Triple Crown if she runs like she did last Saturday.
Onwards and upwards as the say… let’s take a look at a race I find interesting from Belmont Park this weekend and is featured in their late Pick-5.
Belmont Park-Race 9
1 & ¼ Miles on Dirt for 3 y/o and Upward
Post Time: 3:18 PST
Bob Baffert sends two into the Suburban in #5 Dr. Dorr 3/1 and #8 Hoppertunity at 9/2. Dr. Dorr is training well by all accounts but I think he may have a few chinks in his armor and could be a bit vulnerable as the morning line favorite. I’m going to side with #4 Tapwrit 7/2 to step forward in his second start of the season and get the chocolates in the Suburban.
Tapwrit had a productive three-year-old season and was my second-choice in the 2017 Kentucky Derby where he had a dreadful draw and trip and never really got into the race. But he did bounce back quite nicely when he wore down Irish War Cry in the Belmont Stakes, showing that he does appreciate the surface. His comeback effort in an allowance/optional claimer is one he clearly needed, and notice he had a decent amount of trouble leaving the gate and had to run every step of the way; it’s understandable he was a bit of a short horse and probably needed the race. Jose Ortiz sticks with him and defects from Diversify even though the two united for a victory in the Commentator which is restricted to state-breds. Tapwrit gets a solid post and should show up with a big effort on Saturday, especially if Dr. Dorr and Diversify hook up in the early part of the race.
Hoppertunity is second elect for me. He’s 2-for-2 at Belmont and for whatever reason just really loves Big Sandy. He won despite trouble in the Brooklyn and put away War Story without a problem, even though he was taking that one’s dirt for a good portion of the race. Being seven years of age, I’m sure Baffert would probably like to have five weeks between races instead of just the four, but he’s too sharp to ignore and must be used.
# 7 Take Your Guns offers a good dose of value at 8/1 and should be included underneath. He’s a lightly-raced four-year-old who ran credibly in the Brooklyn and was only beaten three lengths by Hoppertunity. Take Your Guns had a spot of trouble in the Brooklyn and cuts back from 12 to 10 furlongs here and that should really tighten up his closing kick in the lane. Chad Brown and Joel Rosario connect at 30 per cent and I’m not going to be foolish enough to cavalierly dismiss him in a situation where he can make a late-race splash.
I’m against the morning line favorite Dr. Dorr and it has everything to do with him not providing value in a deep field. I have no doubt he’ll run his race and Baffert typically doesn’t run ‘em just for kicks. He needs to show he can ship across the country and be the same horse that he’s been at Santa Anita and that is an uncertainty. He’s also likely going to hook up with Diversify up the Belmont back stretch and he will definitely keep the Doc honest. Thirdly, Joe Talamo doesn’t ride a lot of races at Belmont Park and given this unique configuration, I want a rider who knows the lay of the land and can ride his horse appropriately on this surface.
# 2 War Story at 5/1 is an intriguing enticement. No doubt he can run with this bunch and note he was favored last time out. The price is right but the competition is stiffer as well, so that’s a wash. He could sit a good trip with the inside draw but the question with him is whether he has the killer instinct when it’s needed. He has run well over this surface and Castellano knows him.
The other horses in this field that I have failed to mention seem to have their work cut out, including Justify’s full brother, # 11 The Lieutenant at 20/1.
4-8-7-2 in the Suburban for yours truly.