Saturday September 7, 2002

The  49th Woodward Stakes
9th @ Belmont
All carry 126


1. Lido Palace...Chavez...He's eligible to improve a bit as he should be gearing-up for the fall after the mid-year freshening. He's the defending champ here and has never been worse than 2nd in 3 starts at Belmont. Probably ran better in the Whitney than it looked as no one was going to beat Left Bank that day. He's set up perfectly and it's hard to imagine any of the others stepping up enough to beat him. That ole' Frankel magic continues...

2. Express Tour...Velasquez...This guy has been a guinea pig since he left Florida. Inexplicably placed in the BC Mile last year after a win here in the Jerome. He had to be rushed up a bit after breaking a bit tardy in his last at Monmouth. He could be finally working his way back to his best effort. I have doubts that this is his best distance though. I'm sure the connections are thinking the same. The Jerome was a spectacular effort. On or near the lead the entire way. Gander will be the only one keeping him company this time. That last 1/16 mile will be tough.

3. Cat's At Home...Prado...Just now coming into his own, He'll be chasing this time which might leave him in a perfect position should Express Tour throw in the towel nearing the 1/16 pole. Though he was drawing off in the Iselin, :13 for the final 1/8 isn't that impressive. What to do? He could make a middle move and fold up. 4-0-1-1 at Belmont. Tough spacing. No thanks.

4. Sherpa Guide...Santos...Going for 4 in a row though stepping up mightily. Stellar record at Belmont though as he's never been out of the money in 8 starts. If you believe that class tells, you may be less inclined to support, but he has some nice positives that might land him in the bottom half of the exacta. Trainer Thomas Bush is sporting quite a nice positive ROI for the year with only 35 starts. The work last Sunday was spectacular. I think he's got a real shot for exotics.

5. Gander...Migliore...Classy NY bred is always close in the BIG ones, but generally does not threaten for the win. He also had a minor mishap in his last outing when he dumped Mike Smith shortly after getting under way and raced all the way around the SPA and finishing first. Terranova was planning to wait for Meadowlands Cup so he could defend his title there, but this race came up light and he decided to take a shot. The 6 year-old may wonder why he's being wheeled back so quickly after a win. :-) Look for another fine effort, but not good enough to win, or get 2nd.

6. Baseball Champion...Day...Ran a career best 2 back at the SPA and it looked like he was ready to fulfill the expectations of his connections. They put him in the SPA BC H'cap where he promptly flopped back to his old ways. Don't expect improvement here where instead of heading back to allowance contests, he'll step into a grade 1 and pick up 13 pounds off of the 17 length loss.

       Value? Pffft! Who needs value? Lido Palace looks much too tough for this depleted field.

        Sherpa Guide has too many positives to overlook. I'll take a shot with him in 2nd in hopes of at least landing a $20 exacta.

        It's hard to totally exclude Gander from the mix. He won't win, or probably even get 2nd, but you can count on a top effort every time.


1. Lido Palace

2. Sherpa Guide

3. Gander


2002 bBra