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At the Track

In Their Idaho Cups

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The party known as the Idaho Cup happens this Saturday, August 5, with a special 2 p.m., post time, and Idaho horsemen are ready to celebrate the great show they've put on this season. More horses, more fans, more wagering, more fun. And with Les Bois Park races hitting the airwaves across the country, horsemen know the 2006 season is merely a taste of things to come.

In this business of predicting the future (handicapping horse races, that is), I've had my ups and downs this year. But I'm up for double duty on that fortune-telling thing, predicting not only which horses you'll see on Saturday (entries aren't final until way after my deadline), but how they'll fare in their races. Let's see David Blaine try that.

Note that if any of the horses (or their owners and trainers) that I mention here decide not to enter, they're going to feel pretty silly later when they read this article and find out that I thought they had good chances for success.

An estimated quarter-million dollars is up for grabs in the 10 Idaho Cup races. So let the party begin ...

Three Idaho Cup races for quarter horses are scheduled (purse amounts are estimates):

Idaho Cup Derby. Three-year-olds, 400 yards (estimated purse around $20,000). BCR Bac Off surprised a lot of folks when he beat Fast Red Leggs in their Derby trial race. It's payback time.

Idaho Cup Futurity. Two-year-olds, 350 yards ($15,000). Look for LDS Little Redcorvet to bounce out of the gate first. And then just hope she can hang on this time.

Idaho Cup Maturity. Four-year-olds and older, 440 yards ($10,000). The crystal ball is a bit fuzzy on this one.

And there are seven Idaho Cup races for Thoroughbreds (purse amounts are estimates):

Idaho Cup Sprint. Three-year-olds and older, five furlongs (estimated purse of $20,000).

Idaho Cup Futurity. Two-year-olds, five furlongs ($50,000).

Idaho Cup Distaff Derby. Three-year-old fillies, one mile ($33,000).

Idaho Cup Derby. Three-year-old colts and geldings, one mile ($33,000).

Idaho Cup Distaff Maturity. Four-year-old and older fillies and mares, one mile ($33,000).

Idaho Cup Classic. Three-year-old and older, one mile ($36,000).

Idaho Cup Claiming Stakes. Three-year-olds and older, seven furlongs ($16,000).

Bobbiblue Bayou, last year's Idaho Cup Sprint hero, is nominated to defend his title, but the 9-year-old gelding has shown a few chinks in the armor this year. Both Justifiable Cause and Sherroyal should be lengths ahead of Bobbi at the wire.

For the Idaho Cup Juvenile, the two fastest 2-year-olds on the grounds are Rio Bound and Bitter Bill, who both easily won their trial races. While Bill's winning time was almost a second slower than Rio's, it's worth noting that Thoroughbred trial races are not like quarter horse trials, in which only the horses who post the fastest times make the final. In Thoroughbred trials, the top-placed horses in each trial make the final, no matter how fast or slow the trial. Often in Thoroughbred trials, riders only press their mounts until they're in good position to move on to the final. I'm not worried about Bitter Bill's slower time—even in winning, he seemed to be saving himself for the final.

Bitter Bill and Rio Bound should be the short-odds favorites, but if you like a longshot, here are three to consider: Crypts Seeker rallied furiously after a slow start to finish third in his trial—we haven't seen his best yet. Reggiemate finished second to Bitter Bill at more than 20-to-1. Charlie'sblueangel showed a huge improvement over his first race while chasing Rio Bound's early speed.

Count on a short field for the Distaff Derby. It'll take magic to win money on this one.

The Idaho Cup Derby boasts last year's Idaho Cup Juvenile co-champion, Dangerously Dunn. He should be a crowd favorite in the Derby based on his last-to-first triumph in the Testum Stakes on June 30. In that win, he turned the tables on Comin' Atcha and More Thunder, who beat Dunn in the Sophomore Stakes on June 3. Rapidly improving Knight's Last Star plays the spoiler role.

In the Distaff Maturity, speedster Cheese Puff had better watch out for closers Star Passers Best, Gig's Star and Opal's Song.

In the classic, Silent Snow goes for his third straight Idaho Cup. He was the derby champ in 2004 and then conquered the classic in 2005. He's in top form now, after whuppin' many of the classic nominees in the Willy Fiddle Stakes on July 22. Lookn East was the favorite in the Willy Fiddle—deservedly so, after besting Silent Snow twice so far in 2006—and is the main threat to end Silent Snow's Idaho Cup streak. But it's an ultra-competitive race, and Shotmo, Fanteria and Moab are all capable of pulling the upset.

The Claiming Stakes looks like the money-race, betting-wise. I'll spend too much trying to hit it, I'm sure, but it'll pay big if I do. It's big money going one way or the other. Six of the nominees—Quiet Syns, Gary L, Bostwick, Big Creek Cowboy, Sam the Man and Jazzing Jack—have shown strong races this year. The one who duplicates his best effort is going to win it, and I'm hoping that it'll be one of the six at long odds. For my quinella, I'll take two of those six at long odds. Maybe, just maybe, I'll duplicate the $695 quinella that I hit on Idaho Cup Day in 2004.

And then we'll really get the party started.