BEST BET: Groupie Doll (Race 5)
WAGERING TICKETS ($100)
RACE 9: 50 CENT PICK (1,3,4,5,12/2,4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13/2,3,6,9/5) $100
RACE 4: JUVENILE TURF
European-based horses have done extremely well in the past years in the Juvenile Turf and they are strong again this year. At least one invader has finished in the top two spots in four of the past five years. ARTIGIANO is the class of the field and keeps improving each race and has finished no worse than fifth against much tougher. DUNDONELL has won two of four races, including a stakes race, as the favorite and his jockey follows him over for the ride. NOBLE TUNE, JOHA and BALANCE THE BOOKS have the best chance of the American runners.
RACE 5: FILLY & MARE SPRINT
GROUPIE DOLL is your most logical single of the day and likely shortest price. She's tons better than the rest of the field, so for her to lose, she would have to be off her game. DUST AND DIAMONDS seems to be on the upswing and might try to set the pace. Trainer Asmussen will have this girl sharp and ready but faces a tough test. TURBULENT DESCENT and MUSICAL ROMANCE are must-use for exacta/trifecta tickets.
RACE 6: DIRT MILE
EMCEE will be trying this distance for the first time but was full of run in winning the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at 7 furlongs. Should get nice stalking position in what appears to be a race full of early speed. Last year's Preakness winner SHACKLEFORD is the one to beat. Won this race last year, but slight concern in that there have been a few races where he forgot his competitiveness. FED BIZ has yet to lose at this distance in three efforts but has yet to face competition this tough. Fed Biz and longshot plays JOHN SCOTT and RAIL TRIP have home field advantage.
RACE &: TURF SPRINT
California-based horses are a must-use on your ticket because it becomes tough for out-of-towners to adjust to this unusual downhill course. This race is full of speed so it should set up nicely for UNBRIDLED's NOTE. The 3-year-old colt won on this course in his first attempt in a Grade 3 stakes. Should be sitting to the outside of the wall of speed ready to attack. Veteran CALIFORNIA FLAG won this race two years ago, but post 1 is not the ideal spot. MIZDIRECTION is 2-for-2 on this course and you will get a sale of a price.
RACE 8: JUVENILE
Bob Baffert has two horses running here with TITLE CONTENDER and POWER BROKER. Of the two, Title Contender has been training better this week and will pay larger. He improved in his second start with blinkers on going gate-to-wire for the win. Power Broker's best was on this track for his first win last out. New York runner SHANGHAI BOBBY is the logical favorite who hasn't lost in four starts. Has good early speed to lead or stalk. I think the home court advantage comes in huge here for the Baffert barn.
RACE 9: TURF
European horses have dominated this race and won the past four events, but this year American-bred POINT OF ENTRY looks to break the streak. Seeks his sixth straight victory including three straight Grade 1s. Other reason he is the favorite is that the Europeans are not as strong as in previous years. Point Of Entry's main challenger will be defending Turf Champion ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, who crosses the pond to defend the title. St Nicholas Abbey will be tough, but he is not as strong as last year. Japanese import TRAILBLAZER closed well at Santa Anita in Grade 2 race last month and should enjoy added distance.
RACE 10: SPRINT
Baffert has three runners in this race and I look for him to send FAST BULLET flying out of the gate, daring the field to catch him with a huge price attached. CAPITAL ACCOUNT and COIL will be picking up the pieces late if Fast Bullet flattens out. Capital Account ran second to Coil last effort in Grade 1 sprint, missing by a head closing five wide. THE LUMBER GUY is the best sprinter coming from the East and in last won a Grade 1 race without using the whip. Longshot and local connection HAMAZING DESTINY could shock while closing with a total collapse in front of him.
RACE 11: MILE
European EXCELEBRATION would have the title of "Best Horse In The Universe" if it wasn't for Frankel, who is the best horse in the universe. Excelebration finished second to Frankel in five races but still has eight wins to go with that. He looks awfully tough to beat here. WISE DAN is the best American turf miler and will most likely be the post time favorite with six wins in past seven efforts. Versatile horse can be placed anywhere in the pack. Speedball OBVIOUSLY will try to lead the field gate-to-wire as he did last out in victory at Santa Anita.
RACE 12: CLASSIC
Unless something unforeseen occurs, GAME ON DUDE wins this race. He owns this track, is proven at this distance, faster than the field, gets top jockey Bejarano, and has the top trainer on the West Coast in Bob Baffert. FORT LARNED has good early speed and will be staying close to Game on Dude. Has three consecutive triple digit Beyer speed figures coming in and has been training well. NONIOS ran second to Game On Dude last out and is maturing each race. Six-year-old FLAT OUT could be tough, but no horse over age of 5 has ever won the Classic.
Follow Star Tribune handicapper Johnny Love @StribLove and at exoticplays.com.