Sod Saturday [Free Selections]

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 28, 2009 in Free Picks and Tips | 2 Comments >>

I love grass racing, when the runners start at Gulfstream in the winter, and make their trek around the country. Saturday offers some of the last glimpse of the year with the Hollywood Turf Festival, and the Stars of Tomorrow program at Churchill… So get ready to enjoy, as this weekend will allow us some of the curtain call races of the greensward for 2009.

We will begin at Churchill. The “Stars of Tomorrow” card should offer some great wagering opportunities. The entire card is dedicated to the babies, and you may catch some runners to put on your stable mail list.

Race #6 – The Grand Canyon Handicap / $60,000. I have zeroed in on #4 – Cat Park (5-1). Gabe Saez has the call for Graham Motion, and he is a 37% ITM turf rider.  This son of Tale of the Cate really took to the turf going five wide at the top of the lane on a yielding surface. It was his first start off of the poly, and I have liked all runners coming from Presque Isle taking to the weeds. It was a yielding course that day, and he seemed to really accelerate and show promise. There are a few that will take some heat at the windows, and he may offer a square price.

Race #10 – The $60,000 Caressing Handicap follows the G-2 Golden Rod Stakes.  I like #10 – Lisa’s Kitten (7-2).  Miguel Mena is the pilot today, and this is a daughter of Kitten’s Joy. They have performed extremely well this season, and I expect the same today. Mena is up for Mike Maker, and they have teamed up to win 21% and 47% ITM on the grass. She exits the BC Juvenile Filly Turf, and her past efforts have been against better fields than this. I would look for her to be live on the board, and see where she fits in with the other tier levels. I feel like 2010 will be the year for Mena, as he faced some demons this past year. This guy has so much talent, and this may be a little taste of things to come.

At Hollywood Park, the Turf Festival is in full swing, and so are we…. In Race #5, look no further than #1 Bridgetown (6-5). Garrett Gomez is in the saddle, and that alone makes me reach for my wallet quicker. This two-year-old colt by Speightstown makes his second start out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He grudgingly gave up to finish a game second for Ken McPeek. As a trainer, he wins 21% with his babies, and 18% for his turf runners. I like his efforts, and we should look for a nice effort. The second start off a layoff is a player’s angle, and he has the tools to get the job done.

Race #8 – The Grade I Matriarch Stakes may be one of the highlights of the year for turf events.  Take a gander at #4 Ventura (7-5). This may be your last chance to see her, and she has a special angel watching her on this day. Bobby Frankel was high on her for quite sometime, and this should not be a letdown. Gomez is aboard for longtime assistant Humberto Ascanio. You can bet that she will get a good ride from a top notch barn. Ascanio worked for Frankel for thirty years, and her record speaks for itself.

There it is…. Here are some plays that may not sound so attractive as price, but these are the ones you marry with second and third tier runners to get sweet payoffs.  Enjoy the turf running, and keep your eye peeled for the babies. This may be the last glance to get better prepared for next year.

Good luck!