Sunday stakes picks

Updated: November 19, 2000, 12:27 AM ET
By Bill Finley | Special to ESPN.com

The Hollywood Prevue
8th Hollywood
Distance: 7 furlongs
Purse: $100,000
For: 2-year-olds
Grade III

Our Shining Hour prompted a very fast pace in the Sunny Slopes Stakes yet still managed to inch away late to a one-length score. Undefeated in three starts, he seems to be improving and may not have shown his best yet. Should get a good trip, stalking the speed from an outside post under Kent Desormeaux. Yonaguska, a Grade I winner, has a class advantage on this field and is the main danger. Facing far, far better in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he finished up the track, but returns to a sprint and a goes in an easier spot. Unless he was fried by his race in the Juvenile, he'll be tough. Proud Tower exploded in the Cal Cup Juvenile, winning by eight lengths in a fast time. Hard to know whether or not that race was a fluke. Note he must return to a one-turn race, maybe a disadvantage.

Picks Summary: 1. Our Shining Hour 2. Yonaguska 3. Proud Tower


The Bessarabian Handicap
8th Woodbine
Distance: 7 furlongs
Purse: $125,000
For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward
Grade III

Torrid Affair has posted back to back wins for trainer Roger Attfield, including a handy score in the Ontario Fashion. She's 4-for-7 over this track, has won at the distance and has some nice, steady works since her last start. Miss Inquisitive ran behind the top pick in her last but could improve some since that was her first start off a brief layoff. She gets a four-pound shift the in the weights with Torrid Affair. Saoirse disappointed as the 4-5 favorite in the Ontario Fashion, but she's better at seven furlongs than six and could turn things around for a top trainer in Paul McGee. El Prado Essence ran a huge race in her first start after a 13-month layoff, but we think she's going to bounce and bounce hard.

Picks Summary: 1. Torrid Affair 2. Miss Inquisitive 3. Saoirse


The Valley Stream
8th Aqueduct
Distance: 6 furlongs
Purse$ 75,000
For: 2-year-old fillies
Ungraded

It's a question of whether or not you believe in Astrapi. We do. A New York bred who cost just $4,500 as a yearling, she debuted against state breds with Diane Nelson aboard and won by 18 * lengths, earning a huge Beyer figure of 97. Though she will face much better horses here, that race was so good it suggests she can handle open company. Major Wager just missed against Xtra Heat in the Astarita. Clearly the horse to beat. Carafe didn't get a particularly good figure in her maiden win, but Shug McGaughey-trained horses often improve in their second career starts. A well-bred filly who is by Devil's Bag, she was visually impressive in that race and could be a threat.

Picks Summary: 1. Astrapi 2. Major Wager 3. Carafe

• Bill Finley is an award-winning horse racing writer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated.
• To contact Bill, email him at wnfinley@aol.com