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Monday, July 31
Monday picks




The Diana Handicap
10th Saratoga
Distance: 1 1/8th miles on the turf
Purse: $500,000
For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward
Grade II

Perfect Sting is the queen of her division, but it's hard to make a case for her being invincible after she's won her three combined starts this year by less than a length and will tote 123 pounds here. We'll try and get Colstar home. Prior to the New York Handicap, she had won four straight and looked to be as good as anyone in the division. She might have just thrown in a clinker in her last over a soft course and returns for this with a bullet workout. Melody Queen is another who can upset. From the Michael Dickinson barn, she's been beating lesser but has been posting good figures and should be flying late. We have a lot of respect for Perfect Sting and wouldn't be the least bit surprised should she win.

Picks Summary:  1. Colstar  2. Melody Queen  3. Perfect Sting


The Arlington Matron
8th Arlington
Distance: 1 1/8th miles
Purse: $150,000
For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward
Grade III

Bella Chiarra must avoid a speed duel with Lines of Beauty, but she has proven in the past she can rate from just off the pace. She won the Rampart over the same Lines of Beauty after sitting second early. Has a big edge in speed figures. On a Soapbox return to the dirt, her preferred surface, after a couple of modest grass tries. Will benefit from the possible fast pace. Masada turned in a big race in the Mariah's Storm last out. Had good form in Canada versus weaker competition.

Picks Summary: 1. Bella Chiarra  2. On a Soapbox  3. Masada


The Del Mar Handicap
6th Del Mar
Distance: 1 3/8ths mile on the turf
Purse: $250,000
For: 3-year-olds & upward
Grade II

Blueprint ran fairly well in the Hollywood Gold Cup to finish fifth against come of the classiest horses in the country. He switches back to the grass here and should fare better than he did last time out. He's a Group II stakes winner in Europe and loves these long distance races. Northern Quest ran a big race last out in the Arlington Handicap, overcoming a poor start to close for the win in a good time. Goes for one of the hottest trainers around in Bobby Frankel. Deploy Venture deserves another chance after his poor effort in the Sword Dancer. The course was a boggy mess that day and many starters didn't like the conditions. He heads back to California where heís been faring well against the best.

Picks Summary: 1. Blueprint  2. Northern Quest  3. Deploy Venture


The Pennsylvania Derby
11th Philadelphia Park
Distance: 1 1/8th miles
Purse: $300,000
For: 3-year-olds
Grade III

Include steps up in class after winning a small stakes at Delaware, but he's been trouncing his competition every time out. Since he's by Broad Brush, he figures to get better with time and distance. We'll give Thistyrtanthasclass another shot after he disappointed in the Haskell. He had plenty of excuses that day, stumbling at the start and losing a shoe. If he can run back to his top performance in the Long Branch he'll be tough. Must avoid a speed duel here. Perfect Cat beat a decent field last out in Saratoga, goes for a hot barn.

Picks Summary: 1. Include  2. Thistyranthasclass  3. Perfect Cat


The Boiling Springs Handicap
9th Meadowlands
Distance: 1 1/16th miles on the turf
Purse: $200,000
For: 3-year-old fillies
Grade III

De Aar goes for one of our favorite trainers Michael Dickinson, who has gotten this filly to improve every time out. She broke her maiden less than three months ago but is already stakes placed and is coming off a good effort in Canada. Watch is among the more proven fillies in the field and should give a good account of herself here. She won her stakes debut last time out at Lone Star and seems to be on the improve. Storm Dream finished third in a Group I race in Ireland, proving her class. Romped in a maiden race in her first U.S. start then ran respectively in the Lake Placid Handicap against a tough customer in Gaviola.

Picks Summary: 1. De Aar  2. Watch  3. Storm Dream


The Hall of Fame Breeders' Cup Handicap
6th Thistledown
Distance: 1 1/8th miles
For: 3-year-olds & upward
Grade III

Guided Tour worked his way through his conditions then went up to Canada where he won a $132,000 stakes. Doesn't face any tough horses here and should be able to handle this assignment. Hustler didn't seem to like the turf last out. Returns to his favored surface and looks second best. Desert Demon was third behind Grade I winner Yankee Victor two starts back and then scored a handy win in an Arlington allowance. A contender.

Picks Summary: 1. Guided Tour  2. Hustler  3. Desert Demon



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