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Sunday picks

The Athenia Handicap

9th Aqueduct

Distance: 1 1/16th miles on the turf

Purse: $100,000

For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds
& upward

Grade III

La Ville Rouge returned off a brief layoff to run a strong second
in the Noble Damsel for Hall of Famer Phil Johnson.. Shows a sizzling six
furlong workout in 1:11 1/5 in preparation for this race. The only knock
is that she may need a little bit more distance. Neptune's Bride
has had a spotty year, but showed promise when finishing second behind
Snow Polina in the Black

Helen. In her last start, she faced off against a very tough group
of allowance horses and ran a solid third despite some serious traffic
problems. Can score here at a square price. Silken is getting better
all the time. After winning an allowance race, she beat a good one in Confessional
in a Kentucky Cup grass race. Idle Rich got loose on the lead in the All
Along at Colonial Downs. That won't happen here with Wild Heart Dancing
in the field.

Picks Summary: 1. La Ville
Rouge 2. Neptune's Bride 3. Silken


The Ack Ack Handicap

9th Churchill Downs

Distance: 7 * furlongs

Purse: $100,000

For: 3-year-olds & upward

Grade III

Dixieland Sham returned off a 10-month layoff with a big effort
to finish third in a grass race. No doubt capable trainer Paul McGee was
using that race as a major prep for this spot. Expect Dixieland Sham to
be ready for a peak performance today. Fits well at this distance and should
get a good trip sitting just behind longshot Number One Sheikh. Chindi
was misplaced on the grass in his last, finishing a poor sixth. If you
throw that race out he shows top form, including a good second-place finish
behind Bet on Sunshine in the Arlington Sprint. Millencolin stubbed
his toe in the Perryville at Keeneland, running sixth as the 6-5 favorite.
Though he had no apparent excuses that day, he's got plenty of good races
in his past performances and may prove better than the competition.

Picks Summary: 1. Dixieland
Sham 2. Chindi 3. Millencolin


The Carleton F. Burke Handicap

6th Santa Anita

Distance: 1 * miles on the turf

Purse: $125,000

For: 3-year-olds & upward

Grade III

This came up a very tough spot for a Grade III race as a couple of Breeders'
Cup caliber horses will go here. The best is Mash One, who would
have had to have been supplemented into the Breeders' Cup. Returning off
a one-year layoff, he beat a better field in the Grade I Clement Hirsch
in his last start and should boss this field around. Northern Quest,
a stablemate of Mash One, was a big disappointment in the Turf Classic
at Belmont. He had to chase a slow pace and simply may not have adapted
to Belmont Park. Should he run back to his efforts in the Del Mar Handicap
and the Arlington Handicap he could be very tough in here. Self Feeder
was rated in the Clement Hirsch, a strategy that backfired as he finished
an even fourth. There's not much speed in here and he could control a slow
pace from the inside under Eddie Delahoussaye.

Picks Summary: 1. Mash One
2. Northern Quest 3. Self Feeder