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David Ashforth: Put corn in your barn and lay Azeri and Cide.

HOW Y'ALL? Mighty fine here at Lone Star Park, in the heart of Texas, proud to call itself the home of President George W Bush, yes sir.

Before I send you galloping off to Ladbrokes candy store, let me tell you straight off so you don't go getting the wrong idea - the value of investments can go down as well as it can go up.

Hell, the strongest looking longhorn steer at the Fort Worth market can fall down dead before you've loaded it on the wagon. So you just keep that in mind when I steer you through this Breeders' Cup horserace contest, right here in Grand Prairie, this very afternoon.

That fine mare Azeri had the Distaff there for the plucking, if that damn fool owner Michael Paulson hadn't got some fancy idea in his head about taking her right into the Classic. Born rich don't mean born with brains.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining. Well, the silver is silver dollars, and you want to claim them, this is what you do. You just get right on to that Betfair of yours and you lay that Azeri, not just not to win, but not to place.

You see, she's as bright as a button on a cowgirl's dance-night blouse, but Azeri has lived pretty much all her life with the girls, and there are some big strong boys in there.

Second up, this trip of ten furlongs is just one too far. Nine furlongs, fine and dandy, ten furlongs, and she'll be going backwards faster than the hands on a wrong-way clock.

Right beside her will be Funny Cide. Now I ain't one to rip the rug off your favourite grandpa, and there are those who'll tell you all about those glory days with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and all, and how the old Funny Cide was right there, bold as a baboon pulling faces at a lion, when he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont just this month, and how Barclay Tagg's got him right back on the button.

Well, day dreaming's a fine way to waste a good day's sunshine but it's no way to get the corn in the barn. Truth is, Funny Cide's gone downhill faster than a barrel of cheese on a Montana mountainside and when you scratch the paint off that Belmont win, it don't amount to a can of beans.

So, while you've got Betfair on your screen, you go ahead and click those same buttons you just clicked for Azeri. Then you might have a mind to put a few dollar bills on Pleasantly Perfect, because if he ain't right there fighting for the money at the post, then you can't get a 14oz T-bone in a Texas steak house.

I heard all that stuff about how Richard Mandella's had him sitting in an easy chair for 69 days and how he'll have forgotten he's a racehorse by the time Jerry Bailey gets himself into the saddle. Well, Mr Mandella's smarter than a professor at Harvard and he's got a smile on him like a cat in a dairy.

What he's done is just what he planned to do and Pleasantly Perfect is ready to step right up and show what he can do.

I LIKE a horse to have run over ten furlongs in the Classic. While some may be gasping for air, Birdstone will be galloping right on. That may be the exacta, right there, Pleasantly Perfect and Birdstone, but don't you go emptying your whole stetson on it.

No, you hang on to what you just put in your back pocket after the Turf. Hope you took that 5-1 about Powerscourt, as fine an each-way bet as you'll find if he doesn't get fretted by the Texas air. Take Kitten's Joy out and what are you left with?

Magistretti and a bunch of wishful thinkers. You look up Powerscourt in your books and you'll see some form that's sitting right on the top shelf. Bred stouter than a Dallas beer taster, he'll let Star Over The Bay haul them along and then we'll see if Kitten's Joy is more than a big pussy cat.

Now, I've seen a horse in a $5,000 claimer look like Secretariat and run like a donkey in a mule race but Sweet Catomine is the biggest, strongest, sweetest-moving filly in town. Hell, she's won the same two races that last year's Juvenile Fillies' winner Halfbridled chewed up.

But I expect you Europeans will be wanting a bigger mulekick for your bucks and you could get it right off from the get-go, in the Distaff.

Storm Flag Flying is a tough lady and I wouldn't be in a dash to put a red pen through her name but you've got one of your own hiding up there, and her name is Nebraska Tornado.

She's a Storm Cat looking to take to dirt like a herd of cattle to a chain of Burger Kings. You take a good close look at her form and tell me if she isn't the right peg for the hole.

You have a nice day, now.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2004
Words:864
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