SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, June 22, 2012--A couple of intriguing handicapping puzzles on tap locally with Belmont Park offering the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes and Monmouth presenting the Grade 3 Boiling Springs.

While the Mother Goose, second leg of the old NYRA Triple Crown series including the Acorn and mile and a half Coaching Club American Oaks, it’s no longer even a 9-furlong event, with distance racing going the way of pedigree; short; shorter, shortest.

I guess the turning back of traditional route stakes in America was thought to be a possible boon to field size, but let’s face it.

With so many opportunities around, horsemen duck and run, racing only when there might be a good chance that a blinking light will appear on the odds board, defining favoritism and a better chance victory.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Mother Goose, the short field does not promise to be an easy spot for any of its five entrants of which four, in our view, would not shock anyone if picture taking ceremonies began shortly after the official is posted.

Of course, Contested (7-5) is the right overnight choice, what with her seeking a fifth straight victory and a speed-popping dominant score taking the one mile Acorn. That race was rapidly run, as was her prior.

Can such a fast filly sustain that speed another sixteenth? If pedigree means anything, she should. But these are young ladies we’re talking about here, and she’ll be making her third start in 51 days.

Next on the early line is only the Kentucky Oaks winner, Believe You Can (8-5). Now her spacing is much more desirable, not having run since the first Friday in May. And she’s been training up a storm and her nine furlong was also super primo good when measured against the clock.

But I don’t know what to make of that effort, the race having been run on a track, incorrectly labeled fast but contested over a surface that was pelted by one of those spring storms so popular in that neck of the woods.

It was Believe You Can and stretching speedster Broadway’s Alibi running 1-2 all the way around. Not sure how to read that two turn result in light of today’s mini-turnback minus one turn. And she drew the fence, with Contested alongside.

I can’t even dismiss Disposablepleasure, whose 8-1 odds betray her chances. She, too, is coming from a two turn nine furlong event, the G2 Black-Eyed Susan, is which she finished second to an accomplished stablemate, In Lingerie.

She broke her maiden by 11 over Big Sandy and Ramon Dominguez will handle the reins. No easy spot, to be sure, but better than a puncher’s punch. And then there’s Zo Impressive (5-1).

Making her third start off a layup, she was forced to chase the un-Contested Baffert Filly for virtually the final three furlongs while racing wide, not the best trip at behemoth Belmont and compromising her kick, too, of course.

Breaking from the outside slip, it’s hard to imagine Rajiv Maragh not inheriting a perfect setup. Given the dynamics, this could be interesting right to the finish, unless Contested happens to blow the Mother Goose wide open like she did the Acorn.

I’ll gamble on Zo Impressive; 4-1 please.

Willing to take any price in the Boiling Springs because while the favorite, Somali Lemonade (3-1), is a deserving one, the price will not be anywhere near prohibitive as it was when she finished a one-paced fourth in the G2 Sands Point at 9-10.

Although listed firm, there was some cut in the ground that afternoon at Belmont and, of course, the fractions were laughably slow. She would have had to be the reincarnation of the Winter Memories of 2011 to get that job done.

Now making her third start off a layoff for Michael Matz, a profitable outcome in that scenario (BRIS) for the Fair Hill-based conditioner, and returning to a two turn trip which a notch drop to the G3 level, she rates to be the most probable winner.

Far from a layover, she’s still a lot better filly than the one that failed to show anything on Long Island on Memorial Day.

While she does lose the convalescing Johnny Velazquez, she attracts Joe Rocco Jr. If you’re not too familiar with this leggy youngster, he impressed as a natural race rider this winter at Gulfstream Park and is a very good finisher. I’m curious to see how he gets along with the former G3 winner.

The toughest competition figures to come out of the Monmouth prep for this, the Little Silver overnight stakes on May 27. The problem is that the first four finishers out of that mile two turner are all back for the mile and sixteenth Boiling Springs.

Find the replay at your favorite online source and decide for yourselves. The trips were instructive, to be sure, but that does little to solve the problem. Dancing Solo (7-2) finished like a wild horse, winning as much the best. The Pletcher trainee gets Jersey Joe back and has proven her affinity for the surface.

However, Senator Buck (10-1) perhaps finished even faster, albeit too late, for third; Glamour N Glory (4-1) made a good mid-race move to place gamely, and check out Cheimon’s (10-1) very wide sweep on the far turn before tiring in the final strides, fourth.

And who knows what to make of Euro import Destiny’s Child, making her U.S. debut for Team Valor who just keeps purchasing the medication free, stout and sound German-breds?

My approach will be to check out Destiny’s Child in the post parade, peruse the tote, and then take the best prices the odds board has to offer, using Somali Lemonade defensively.

Right now, the lean is towards Cheimon. Her wide draw demands odds of 10-1 or greater.