July 4th Weekend Stakes Action.

The traditional highlight of the holiday weekend at Churchill is the Firecracker H. (G2) which is carded as the 10th race on Saturday's card. Eight will go to post with Thorn Song installed as the solid morning line favorite. A confirmed front runner, Thorn Song has shown his liking for the Churchill turf with four wins from seven tries over the surface. While owning superior "E1" and "E2" Brisnet Pace Ratings Thorn Song may face early pressure from Tizdejavu who is a perfect three-for-three over this course. While Tizdejavu did rate just off the early pace his previous wins here in the American Turf S. (G3) and Jefferson Cup (G3) came in wire-to-wire fashion.

With Inca King also expected to be close to the early pace it may pay to look for a runner that can successfully rate. One candidate is Seaspeak who is the Brisnet Prime Power pick who has won two of his four races over the Churchill turf. After being disqualified from first place in the Bryan Station S. (G3) at Keeneland last fall, Seaspeak finished second in the Commonwealth Turf S. (G3) and has won both his races this year in impressive style. At a juicy 8/1 on the morning line Seaspeak may offer value.

Others to consider in the Firecracker are Mr. Sidney and Passager (Fr) who finished first and second in the Maker's Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland . After his Maker's Mark victory Mr. Sidney was tried on the dirt in the Metropolitan H. (G1)  but failed miserably to act on that surface and beat only one of his eleven rivals home. The five-year-old will appreciate the return to the turf, the surface which his Brisnet pedigree figures of 121 (versus 117 for dirt) leads one to believe he is best suited to.

Passager ran on the Polytrack at Woodbine after his near miss in the Maker's Mark finishing a closing fourth over seven furlongs. That race earned him the top place in the  Late Pace Last Race category in the Ultimate Past Performance Race Summary. Passager is also second to Mr. Sidney in both the Current Class and Average Class Last 3 categories and  at 8/1 in the morning line he may also be a candidate for value hunters.

Arlington's Saturday feature is the Chicago H. (G3). Six fillies and mares are set to face the starter for this seven furlong event. The heavy favorite is Informed Decision who is the clear, 8 1/2 point, Prime Power pick having won her last four races including two grade one races at this distance. Top ranked on six of the seven categories in the Ultimate Race Summary, Informed Decision is hard to oppose but will not offer much value. A possible contender for the bottom half of the exacta may be Authenicat who is 10/1 on the morning line and is second ranked on the Prime Power.

The Connie Ann S. over five furlongs on the turf at Calder on Sunday has drawn a field of 10 fillies and mares. Rate Of Exchange is the Prime Power pick by almost 10 points. Unable to overcome a poor start last time out when she finished fifth in the Reappeal S. over this trip, the four-year-old is also top on the Race Summary category of Late Pace Last Race. Rate Of Exchange's late pace maybe key in this event. Indeed, a look at the Run Styles of this field in the Summary reveals that five runners are designated "E" styles and three more "E/P". A fast early pace is thus expected which should help Rate Of Exchange and Elle Cashareau who are the lone runners with "P", or off the pace run styles.

Tim Holland 7-3-09.

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