The Athenia Handicap, G3. 1 1/16 on turf for F&M 3yo and up.
The ML and Turk Chalk in this race is Criminologist. The 5 yo last raced on September 13th at BEL, winning the G3 at 1 mile on soft turf and has two mid tempo breezes since, all at Belmont. The Turk likes acclimated horses. Breaking from the 3 post with Prado up, Criminologist posted her lifetime best Beyer in this race one year ago at 102. She hasn't cracked three digits in 2008, but has been a very steady mid-upper 90's horse. In life, you have to be what you are. This is a Champion G3 horse and is very comfortable at this level of competition.
The Turk will need to find someone who can beat this horse or I'll use the three horse to power a Trifecta.
I have no other A horses in my groupings, but I have some interesting B's in no particular order:
From the 1 hole, Oh Deanne O is stepping up in class and last one an N3X in July on firm turf at 1 mile, posting an 87 Beyer. The 4 year old last raced on September 14th at today's race length and likely turf condition, posting a game place finish and a lifetime best 91 Beyer. The horse has early speed and will look to take the lead by the first turn. Can she hold off Criminologist or can he pull of place or show.? That's what I'm mulling.
From the 4 post, Waquoit's Love, the 5 yo that lost by a head to Criminologist the last time out after wiring the race until the last two hops. The horse has no graded stakes wins and has only worked once since it's last race in mid September. She seems to be capable of a low 90's Beyer on firm turf, but the question is can she repeat the 98 Beyer he hung on Criminologist? She'll have a new jock up and 4 pounds less to see if that's possible.
The Little Turk's choice is my last B group horse, Social Queen. The 4 yo has posted low 90 Beyer's at 1 1/16 on firm turf against G3 competition and won. The horse had a very light race schedule since early August, but has had some steady worka nd a G2 race in early September where she didn't challenge but ran an 88. I'm dubious, but this horse is also a closer and could be right there with Criminologist when these ladies turn for home. We'll see but I'm dubious.
My C group is small, OK one horse, Sunshine for Life. The horse is entering her first Graded Stakes and she is coming off a career best Beyer of 89 on firm turf at 1 1/16 miles. The horse is acclimated to Belmont and has had regular breezing works. I think the last race Beyer was a high water mark and that Sunshine for Life will finish near the back. If she takes the early lead, that will be interesting and she could find herself with a paycheck, but I think a winner's circle visit is a big stretch.
My D list contains a 5-1 ML horse, Maria Rosa (GB). The horse hasn't raced or worked in about 1 month. It's last two running lines refered to the horse as "rank". I don't see any better then a low 80's Beyer.
Classic Neel, from the 5 post, is a 20-1 ML. The horse hasn't won since September 2007. She raced against Criminologist and Waquoit's Love and got smoked in her last race. A year ago she was a low 90's Beyer, but 2008 doesn't seem to be a focused campaign and this distance will challenge her and I think she'll fold early.
Last but not least is Criticism (GB). This first time lasix hose hasn't raced in 2008. She breezed in steday intervals and fashion at Saratoga from early September to last week. I hope she enjoyed the SPA and who knows what she'll do today, but I'm not guessing on her.
I'm not making up my mind until near post time, but I'm leaning on 2 bucks for a straight trifecta of Criminologist, Waquoit's Love and Social Queen. No more then 2 bucks unless Waquoit's Love or Oh Deanne O get long prices.