Woodward Stakes

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Woodward Stakes, Forego Stakes and Personal Ensign Handicap

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This will be the final weekend of racing at Saratoga and we have three great races on tap for Saturday. Those races are the Woodward Stakes, Forego Stakes and Personal Ensign Handicap. All three are of the highest caliber and rated as Grade 1 events.

In the Woodward Stakes most of the action will be focused on the fabulous filly Havre de Grace (8-5). The daughter of Breeders Cup Classic winner Saint Liam has been nothing short of great this year with 3 wins from 4 starts including a brilliant win in the Apple Blossom from Oaklawn and a second place finish in the Delaware Handicap where she was second beaten just a nose after a breath taking stretch duel with rival Blind LUck.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez figures to place her in a stalking position just a few lengths behind the early leaders. Owner Rick Porter and trainer LArry Jones say this filly is the best horse they have teamed up on. That’s quite a statement and one that we personally disagree with considering they had Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup Classic runner up Hard Spun. His most notable win came in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

Regardless of what any of us say or think, the lass will have to be on her Game to handle the boys. Let’s not forget how hard the great Rachel Alexandra had to try against a similar group back in 2009 to become the only filly to ever win the Woodward.

We believe the value is with Our pick, Giant Oak (8-1). Winner of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap this year, the five year old son of star stallion Giant’s Causeway closed like a monster to be third last out after chasing glacial fractions in the Whitney Handicap. He figures to get faster fractions this time and should do well over a track that we think he really likes. Others to consider are Suburban Handicap winner Flat OUt (5-2) and 2010 Florida Derby winner Ice Box (12-1).

The versatile Sidney’s Candy (4-1) will be the focus of much of the action in the Forego Stakes, but don’t expect to get a price like the one listed. Whoever made the morning line odds must have been drunk or high (both?), because he will be much closer to 7/5. Casual fans will remember the colt as winner of the 2010 Santa Anita Derby and one of the favorites in that year’s Kentucky Derby. since then he has added wins in the LA Jolla Handicap, Sir Beaufort Stakes and Four Star Dave Handicap to his resume. He has also been purchased by WinStar Farm and joined the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher.

This will be Sidney’s first try going seven furlongs on the dirt and his first try going seven furlongs period since he won the San Vicente over the Poly Track as a three year old. We are going to look elsewhere for a pick as we believe he is a bad favorite. All of his wins have come after setting an easy pace and he hasn’t proven he can overcome adversity.

Instead, we landed on Todd Pletcher’s other horse, Aikenite (5-1). The son of Yes It’s True won the Commonwealth and Churchill Downs Stakes earlier this year. Both of those races were at today’s distance. Others worth a look are Jersey Town (6-1), Hamazing Destiny (5-1) and Rule by Night (15-1).

We aren’t sure what trainer Marty Wolfson did with Ask The Moon last out in the Ruffian Handicap, but it worked. She drew off to an easy 5 ¾ length win and for that reason she will probably be favored in the Personal Ensign Handicap. Distance could be a little bit of a question for her, but with early speed as her weapon it’s hard not to side with the daughter of Malibu Moon.  She will likely end up on an easy lead for jockey JJ Castellano. Most likely to pull the upset are Pachattack and Protesting.


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