Friday, May 22, 2009

The Milady Handicap (G2)

1-1/16 Fillies & Mares Three and Up $150,000

When the connections of those running in the Milady H. circled the race on the calendar they didn’t expect to be running against Zenyatta but that is exactly what will happen. The 2009 edition of the Grade 2, mile and a sixteenth event will mark the first start of the year for last year’s champion older female. She had been scheduled to begin her five year old season on May 1, in the Louisville H. (G2) at Churchill but when the track came up muddy John Shirreffs called an audible and scratched her. Zenyatta is a perfect 9for 9 in her career and a perfect 4 for 4 at Hollywood Park. She will be the prohibitive favorite and I don’t believe she can be beaten. If she does lose it would be as much an upset as Mine That Bird’s victory in The Kentucky Derby. There is something very special about a horse that is unbeaten, even more so when they run at the highest levels of racing. She is one of those rare athletes that we hope to be able to see in our lifetimes. Her presence saps value from the race but the pleasure of watching this truly wonderful mare run is reward enough.

On paper Zenyatta’s most likely competition is stable mate Life is Sweet. Garrett Gomez retains the mount and together they will try to extend their streak of three consecutive graded stakes wins. She will probably enter the gate as the second betting choice but I don’t think she will be second to Zenyatta at race’s end. I will take a shot at beating her for second with Champagne Eyes. On paper Life is Sweet has an obvious class advantage. However, like most of the field she likes to come from off the pace. That means running Zenyatta’s race. So, when they turn for home and Zenyatta starts passing them as they start their move I can imagine most of this field becoming discouraged. I do think Life is Sweet has enough class to run on but not with the same confidence. I’ll place her third.

Champagne Eyes is taking a very big step up in this spot. In her only other graded stake, the 2008 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) she was beaten 10-1/2 lengths while running a poor 4th in a field of five. However, she had just broken her maiden and in Indian Blessing she was facing the reigning Juvenille Filly Champion. It was also a 7f sprint that Indian Blessing ran in 1:19.89! That was a new track record and only .51 shy of the world record. I’ll forgive her that race. After that race she disappeared until April 11 of this year when she resurfaced to win the $70k restricted Santa Lucia H. at 1-1/16th. That race indicates to me that her problems did not compromise her obvious talents. Those considerations and her running style is why I like her for second in this spot. She likes to be forwardly placed but has shown the ability to lay just off the pace and that will help her in the Milady. Gambler’s Justice will probably go to the front with Taste’s Sister, leaving Champagne Eyes in the garden spot. I don’t believe either GJ or TS can get the distance and see Champagne Eyes inheriting the lead on the far turn after getting away with some relatively soft fractions. She won’t be able to hold off Zenyatta but will finish strong enough for second. She also has three works on display since the Santa Lucia. Her 7f work on May 9 in a click over 1:26 tells me she’s ready to roll. Michael Baze has the mount.

The Picks:
Win:--- Zenyatta------A truly great one!
Place:-Champagne Eyes--The O’Neill barn will enjoy some bubbly after this performance.
Show:--Life is Sweet--Just the wrong circumstances for her.

Enjoy the Race!


Amateurcapper said...

ZENYATTA, if she's ever going to get beat by these, it is today by LIFE IS SWEET. GAMBLER'S JUSTICE is the key...if she blazes early, which she's guaranteed to do she'll compromise all the other speed.

I love the rationale behind CHAMPAGNE EYES...her speed should be enhanced at Hol, if she can rate off a fast pace and finish. I'm afraid GJ will pull her along too fast early.

At 10-1, DAWN AFTER DAWN could be in the right spot stalking the leaders...when they fade she gets first run on the big girls who may be caught waiting too long for each other.

If class shines through, the race sets up for a Shirreffs showdown. LIFE IS SWEET has '09 racing conditioning and a freshening edge over the champion. GARRETT GOMEZ doesn't hurt. ZENYATTA's worst race was last year's Vanity H. when she lost contact on the turn vs. a fast pace and Smith had to scrub just to keep her in contact on the turn.

This should be a match race to behold down the lane.

My picks: 7-9-4

Good luck.

Amateurcapper said...

I forgot to ask...what do you think of the Euro bounce theory? It is a consideration in the Arlington 3y.o. stakes and with Biancone's filly in the Milady.