Saturday picks


Even when you pick right, you can choose wrong. Now, for another of my pari-mutuel follies. Last week I handed out two winners in three picks and bet the one that lost. Nice move. I scratched into My Lordship, who won at 7-2, but didn't play her when my top pick, Miss Mambo, didn't get in off the also-eligible list. Snowdrops went off at 3-5 (way too low), so I passed on her. She won with ease, of course.

I blew $20 on Smart N Pretty, who was a bad second in a sprint at Gulfstream. Should have listened to my pal Tony, who warned me that her off-the-pace style was going against the grain of Gulfstream's inside-speed bias last week. Oh well, time to try again. The action never ends, and neither do the opportunities to aggravate yourself.

8th race, Gulfstream (mile, turf)
Graham Motion is one of my favorite turf trainers, and I'll take a shot at a price with Royal Guard, a former European who was making a big move when he got stopped badly in midstretch last month at Calder. He'll be overlooked in the betting, and off his French form in 2004 he has a solid chance. If there's something wrong and he can't run back to it, he'll be up the track.

1. Royal Guard 2.Danaslam 3. Spring House

9th race, Gulfstream, Grade III First Lady Handicap (6 furlongs)
Trickle of Gold disliked the slop at Santa Anita and never got rolling in an eighth-place finish on New Year's Eve in the Grade I La Brea. That race was too bad to be true, so I expect everyone to assume that and pound her down to even-money or odds-on. If not for the presence of so many other need-to-lead types, I'd agree and pass the race. But there's enough early heat in here to weaken Trickle of Gold, and I'll take Smokey Glacken, trained by the wily Jimmy Jerkens, to pull a mild upset. Smokey Glacken has good tactical speed but should be able to lay just off a likely hot pace. The 5-year-old mare has won by using that tactic, but she could get caught up in the pace, too, with her good early foot. I don't sound real confident, do I?

1. Smokey Glacken 2. Trickle of Gold 3. Lilah

8th race, Louisiana Downs, Grade III Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap (1 1/16 miles, turf)
Fort Prado, who's 7-for-17 on grass, just missed last time over the course against Onthedeanslist, who made an easy lead and held on. There's a lot more speed this time to pressure Onthedeanslist, who's more likely to be a pace casualty than a wire-to-wire repeater. G P Fleet is a must for all the exotics, and he finished ahead of Fort Prado in November in a Grade III at Churchill. West Coast shipper Chinese Dragon is the wild card. He's 6-for-8 on turf and blasted his final eighth of a mile in 23 1/5 seconds last time out to win an ungraded stakes by a nose at Santa Anita. He's a little light on the final numbers but could be positioned for another wild late run off a solid pace.

1. Fort Prado 2. G P Fleet 3. Chinese Dragon