Archive for April, 2010

The favorite’s away, which contenders will play?

April 27, 2010

The news on Sunday morning that probable Kentucky Derby favorite, and #1 on my Derby Countdown for the last eight weeks, Eskendereya, would be scratched was a bitter pill to swallow.  Not only had I become a fan of the horse, I really believed he was a cinch to win the race with anything close to what he puet forth in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial.  Now, we’re left with a full field of horses whos accomplishments are not particularly impressive and who have never posted a Beyer figure of 102 or more.

Here’s a short list of who I’m looking for to run a big race and who I think is worth trying to beat:

CONTENDERS

Ice Box – This son of Pulpit stands to get a great pace setup in the Derby.  He benefited from a strong pace in the Florida Derby and the likelihood of a quick tempo in this affair is terrific.  He will handle the distance without issue and is reportedly training great at the ‘Downs.

Lookin at Lucky – Yes, I’m a chalk-eating weasel for even bringing up the Derby favorite but if you believe the pace is going to be strong then you have to like this guy.  He’s another who has looked great in the mornings and his white-haired fox of a trainer has done pretty well in this race over the years.

Awesome Act – Jockey Julien Leparoux likened this son of Awesome Again’s lost shoe in the Wood to a tire blowing out on your vehicle.  He believes it was the reason why this guy fought with him so much down the backstretch and ultimately came up empty in the waning stages.  There are still minor concerns about whether he can finish his move in a 10 furlong race but he’s a very interesting candidate for the top honors.

PRETENDERS

Sidney’s Candy – If this son of Candy Ride wins, I lose.  I have been against him since they crossed the wire in the Santa Anita Derby as he was the beneficiary of a dream pace setup.  I have serious doubts about whether he can handle a pace duel or rate comfortably off the pace.  In order to back a horse who’s going to need to do something they haven’t before you need a good price to reward your faith and this guy will not go off a good price.

Paddy O’ Prado – There’s been a great deal of talk about this colt’s appearance at Churchill Downs in the morning over the last few days.  It’s really no great surprise that he’s taken to the sloppy surface well as many turf horses are also generally able to run well on wet tracks.  However, this guy has not made a start on dirt and this is a very tough time to be asked to go a furlong farther than he ever has before.  The more aggressive style he’s shown in his last two races will lead to him getting scorched in this event.

Noble’s Promise – How would you like a horse who is coming off a dull effort from which he exited with a lung infection, who’s bred to be a sprinter?  That’s what you’re getting with this guy and he’s another who’s going to be a much shorter price than he should be since I honestly think he should be 50-1.

I’ll be back with more thoughts over the next few days and a complete analysis of the Kentucky Oaks on Friday morning.  Click here for my Kentucky Derby Contender Profiles.  Until then I’ll leave you with a replay of the 2009 Kentucky Derby:

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Derby Countdown – April 20

April 20, 2010

The Lexington was not supposed to produce a Kentucky Derby starter nor did it look like it contained any serious 3YOs and that was confirmed with Exhi’s wire-to-wire win on the Polytrack at Keeneland.  There were no other prep races run last weekend and we’re down now to just days rather than weeks before the Run for the Roses.  Unlike most years the Derby Trial could have an impact on the Kentucky Derby itself with both Pleasant Prince and Eightyfiveinafifty seeking one of the final slots in the starting gate May 1.  Only one change in the Countdown…

#1 – Eskendereya

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Zayat Stables

Pedigree:  Giant’s Causeway x Aldebaran Light (Seattle Slew)

Previous Rank: 1st

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 22-1 (Pool 1), 5-1 (Pool 2), 5-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  This strapping chestnut colt solidified his credentials for the Derby with a terrific win in the Wood Memorial.  He tracked a moderate pace intently, took over when ready and ultimately kicked clear with jockey John Velazquez a statue in the stirrups.  They’re not even close to the bottom of this horse and he seems to be getting better.  His price won’t be attractive on May 1 but this guy’s going to be very tough to beat.  He worked on Saturday to avoid bad weather heading into South Florida on Sunday and shipped to Churchill today.  His final work is slated for either Saturday or Sunday of this weekend.

What’s not to like?  If some thought that the Wood would expose any issues this guy has then they are probably disappointed that it most certainly did not.  He showed no real weaknesses, so if there’s anything not to like on about him heading into the Derby it could be that he’s not really battle-tested and has enjoyed positive pace setups in his last two victories.  A rodeo with 19 rivals where the early pace is strong could be an issue.

2. Sidney’s Candy

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Craig Family Trust

Pedigree:  Candy Ride x Fair Exchange (Storm Cat)

Previous Rank: 2nd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), 33-1 (Pool 2), 22-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  No horse’s stock has risen as much as this guy’s over the past four weeks.  He backed up his San Felipe victory with a wire-to-wire score in the Santa Anita Derby kicking clear of the competition in the stretch drive.  He never met a challenge from Lookin at Lucky, who ran into trouble around the far turn, and it probably matters not as no one was catching this chestnut son of Candy Ride.  He rolls into Kentucky as the winner of three straight graded stakes races where he’s been in front at every point of each one.  He arrived safe and sound at Churchill last week and took his first spin around the ‘Downs on Sunday.  His workout turned heads as it seems like he’ll have no issues handling the conventional dirt under the Twin Spires.

What’s not to like?  Trainer John Sadler has blossomed into one of the best in California in recent years.  However, his success has not traveled with him when shipping out of town.  Before Line of David’s win in the Arkansas Derby, Sadler was 0 for his last 16 with horses moving from synthetic surfaces to dirt in stakes races, both graded and ungraded.  There is also serious concern about Sidney’s Candy handling pace pressure.  He has had things his own way at SA and that’s certainly helped him have something left late.  What will he do when met with some resistance in the opening half-mile, especially if drawn outside?

#3 – Lookin at Lucky

Jockey: Garrett Gomez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Watson & Pegram

Pedigree:  Smart Strike x Private Feeling (Belong to Me)

Previous Rank: 3rd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 8-1 (Pool 1), 9-1 (Pool 2), 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Rebel, Oaklawn Park, 3/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  The 2YO Champion of 2009 will show up in Kentucky with a bruised ego as he was defeated by Sidney’s Candy in the SA Derby.  That result must be handled with care, though, as ‘Lucky ran into a tight spot on the far turn and jockey Garrett Gomez was forced to check abruptly, falling towards the back of the pack.  He picked his way between horses and got in the mix for a minor placing after the trouble and is clearly a horse who’s not going to struggle with the distance of the Run for the Roses.  He didn’t need to do much in the SA Derby in order to stay in the picture and that’s good, because he didn’t do much.  He arrived in Kentucky a week ago and posted his first workout last Thursday.  The reports weren’t particularly flattering as he came off the track blowing hard and supposedly seemed somewhat uncomfortable on dirt.  His next scheduled move will be tomorrow.

What’s not to like?  The jury’s still out on how good Lookin at Lucky is.  His race on Saturday certainly earns the grade of “Incomplete” because we have no idea what would have happened if he hadn’t been checked on the turn.  I can tell you that I think he would have finished somewhere around where he did, perhaps in 2nd but I doubt he was catching the winner.  He’s now had trouble in each of his last two starts and it’s questionable whether he’s improved as a 3YO.  Is that the type of horse you want at 6-1 in the Derby?

#4 – Ice Box

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Nick Zito

Owner: Robert V. LaPenta

Pedigree: Pulpit x Spice Island (Tabasco Cat)

Previous Rank: 8th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 19-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Florida Derby, Gulfstream, 3/20, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Ice Box burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dramatic last-to-first win in the Florida Derby.  He obviously has very little speed but does have a big late kick and can take advantage of a strong pace setup (as most good horses can).  You’re probably wondering how he could move up three spots in this countdown by only standing in his stall?  That’s because the Derby pace seems like it’s going to be hotter with each passing day and that only helps this son of Pulpit’s chances.

What’s not to like?  Ice Box was a beneficiary of circumstances in the Florida Derby.  Plain and simple the race came back to him and he was there to take advantage.  He is obviously improving but is going to need everything to break right for him to take the top prize on May 1.  Can you take that plunge on him at 25-1?  I can.

#5 – Rule

Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: WinStar Farm

Pedigree:  Roman Ruler x Rockcide (Personal Flag)

Previous Rank: 4th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 24-1 (Pool 1), 20-1 (Pool 2), 30-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Downs, 2/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Rule contested a very strong pace in the Florida Derby and stayed on well despite being passed late.  He has gradually improved and is a solid animal and he’ll go into the Kentucky Derby off a six week layoff, which should be perfect given that he left a lot on the track at Gulfstream.  Trainer Todd Pletcher should have ample time to try to get Rule to relax a bit in the morning as it’s been his Achilles heel so far.  He’s the forgotten member of the “Todd Squad” and is going to offer tremendous value at the windows.  He arrived at Churchill today after working in company with Mission Impazible on Sunday at Palm Meadows.  He was outworked by his stablemate and that is certainly a cause for concern, though trainer Todd Pletcher says he’s not much of a morning superstar.

What’s not to like?  If Rule doesn’t rate in the Kentucky Derby he’s cooked.  Horses like Conveyance, Sidney’s Candy, Line of David, American Lion and maybe even his stablemate Super Saver will put a great deal of pressure on the front end and if he attempts to go with them, survive, and stay on he’ll fail.  I’m still high on this son of Roman Ruler but he’s going to be one of the types that you’re asking to do something they’ve never done before in the Derby and that’s dangerous.

#6 – Awesome Act

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Jeremy Noseda

Owner: Mrs. Susan Roy & Vinery Stable

Pedigree:  Awesome Again x Houdini’s Honey (Mr. Prospector)

Previous Rank: 5th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 13-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Gotham Stakes, Aqueduct, 3/6, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Despite his handy defeat at the hands of #1 Eskendereya, this colt still has some potential.  He clearly is going to benefit from the likely strong Derby pace and if he does so then he can crack the exotics and win if things break right.  He should be able to get the distance without issue and has run well enough on dirt to be considered a fringe player.  His final work at Belmont was this morning and he’s shipping to Churchill by van on Thursday evening.

What’s not to like?  It’s tough not to think that the Wood exposed this guy as a fraud in some ways.  He didn’t get much of a pace to run into but he looked absolutely loaded at the quarter pole and was ultimately outfinished for 2nd.  He may be a quick burst, one run type of horse and those types rarely have success in the Derby where a horse is asked to make a prolonged bid.

#7 – Dublin

Jockey: Terry Thompson

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: Baker & Mack

Pedigree:  Afleet Alex x Classy Mirage (Storm Bird)

Previous Rank: 5th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1 (Pool 1), 10-1 (Pool 2), 18-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Southwest, Oaklawn Park, 2/20, 2nd

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Dublin was probably a bit too close to the pace in the Arkansas Derby but it was a pace that ultimately stayed together.  He would have fared better if able to tuck in behind the leader, then angle out and make one run.  He has yet to get the type of ride that will work best for him, a ground-saving trip where he can make one run.  The expected pace in the Derby ought to be in his favor as well.

What’s not to like?  The criticism of Dublin will only grow after his somewhat disappointing 3rd place finish in Hot Springs.  It’s tough to say that a 3rd place finish and miss by a half-length is disappointing but it sure did look like this son of Afleet Alex was going to run right by Line of David and Super Saver in the stretch drive.  He may have distance limitations and if so they’ll be his undoing at Churchill.

#8 – Endorsement

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Trainer: Shannon Ritter

Owner: WinStar Farms, LLC

Pedigree: Distorted Humor x Charmed Gift (A.P. Indy)

Previous Rank: 10th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), Field 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sunland Derby, Sunland, 3/27, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Imagine that, an impeccably bred colt owned by WinStar Farms now on the Derby trail.  It seems like there were about 12 of them when we turned the calendar to 2010.  This guy was not on the Derby radar back then but he is now after a sharp win in the Sunland Derby where he rated kindly, took over from pacesetter Conveyance and kicked well clear in track record time.  While it’s never a great idea to back recent maiden winners in graded stakes, and it’s obvious this guy lacks seasoning, he is a horse moving forward at the moment.  He had his first pre-Derby workout last Friday drilling a half-mile in :46 and 4/5 over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

What’s not to like?  Whether this guy can handle the rapid advance class-wise that he’s undertaking is a serious question.  He broke his maiden just five weeks ago and he’s now less than three weeks from one of the most demanding races in this country.  He has the pedigree and is gradually gaining the experience but he will not go off anywhere near what would be fair odds for a horse with his paltry credentials.

#9 – Super Saver

Jockey: Calvin Borel

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: WinStar Farms, LLC

Pedigree: Maria’s Mon x Supercharger (A.P. Indy)

Previous Rank: Unranked

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1 (Pool 1), 24-1 (Pool 2), 35-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Kentucky Jockey Club, Churchill Downs, 11/28/09, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Super Saver rebounded from a full Tampa Bay Derby effort with a game runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby.  He gave himself some credibility once again and fully earned his spot in the starting gate, which is positive because you rarely want a horse coming into the Derby off a poor effort.  He likes the Churchill strip and definitely gained some valuable experience in his 2nd start of 2010.  He’s not the worst play at a healthy price in the Derby.

What’s not to like?  The way this Derby is shaping up it just doesn’t seem like his running style is the type that will work.  He has never really passed horses before and that’s likely what he’s going to have to do should the expected hot pace materialize.  He is well-bred, from a terrific barn, and will have a jockey aboard who has won two of the last 3 runnings of the Derby, but this still looks like a bit of a tall order.

#10 – Stately Victor

Jockey: Alan Garcia

Trainer: Michael Maker

Owner: Thomas and Jack Conway

Pedigree: Ghostapper x Collect the Cash (Dynaformer)

Previous Rank: Unranked

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), Field 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Blue Grass, Keeneland, 4/10, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? The Blue Grass winner gets this week’s “Mr. Irrelevant” title as he makes his first appearance on the Countdown at #10.  This colt became the first offspring of Ghostzapper to win a Grade I race in his triumphant Blue Grass run and it seemed like he finally fulfilled the high expectations trainer Mike Maker always had for him.  He is a big, rangy colt with no discernible distance limitations who likes to run late, so this race may set up beautifully for him.

What’s not to like?  He stinks on the dirt.  His two dirt races since last year’s Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland were horrible.  He was badly beaten in a N1X at Churchill last fall and while he may be a new horse now, it’s a tough gamble to make when a horse is running on this stage.  If he shows some potential in the Derby then the Belmont might be the spot for him provided he can handle dirt.

Races this week: Derby Trial

See you back next week with an update.  With less than 2 weeks remaining until Kentucky Derby 136 I’ll countdown the last two Kentucky Derbies.  Here’s the 2008 running:

Derby Countdown – April 13

April 13, 2010

If the final round of the biggest Derby preps was supposed to clear things up and answer questions it failed miserably.  The longest shot on the board, Stately Victor, scored in the Blue Grass as he charged home from well off the pace.  Longshot Line of David wired the Arkansas Derby battling back along the rail after being confronted by 2nd choice Dublin and 3rd choice Super Saver.  Are Line of David and Stately Victor viable win candidates on May 1?  Highly doubtful with the former but the latter could now be realizing his potential.  Whether you like him or not, it’s safe to say he’ll have to step up his game to be draped in roses.  No change at the top few slots in the countdown as the rest of this crop has failed to deliver a performance that rivals Eskendereya’s last two.

#1 – Eskendereya

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Zayat Stables

Pedigree:  Giant’s Causeway x Aldebaran Light (Seattle Slew)

Previous Rank: 1st

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 22-1 (Pool 1), 5-1 (Pool 2), 5-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  This strapping chestnut colt solidified his credentials for the Derby with a terrific win in the Wood Memorial.  He tracked a moderate pace intently, took over when ready and ultimately kicked clear with jockey John Velazquez a statue in the stirrups.  They’re not even close to the bottom of this horse and he seems to be getting better.  His price won’t be attractive on May 1 but this guy’s going to be very tough to beat.  He is slated to work on Sunday, April 18 at Palm Meadows in South Florida before shipping to Churchill the final week with a workout scheduled (weather permitting) at the ‘Downs on Sunday, April 25th.

What’s not to like?  If some thought that the Wood would expose any issues this guy has then they are probably disappointed that it most certainly did not.  He showed no real weaknesses, so if there’s anything not to like on about him heading into the Derby it could be that he’s not really battle-tested and has enjoyed positive pace setups in his last two victories.  A rodeo with 19 rivals where the early pace is strong could be an issue.

2. Sidney’s Candy

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Craig Family Trust

Pedigree:  Candy Ride x Fair Exchange (Storm Cat)

Previous Rank: 2nd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), 33-1 (Pool 2), 22-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  No horse’s stock has risen as much as this guy’s over the past four weeks.  He backed up his San Felipe victory with a wire-to-wire score in the Santa Anita Derby kicking clear of the competition in the stretch drive.  He never met a challenge from Lookin at Lucky, who ran into trouble around the far turn, and it probably matters not as no one was catching this chestnut son of Candy Ride.  He rolls into Kentucky as the winner of three straight graded stakes races where he’s been in front at every point of each one.  He’s slated to depart for Kentucky today and have two works over the Churchill Downs strip.

What’s not to like?  Trainer John Sadler has blossomed into one of the best in California in recent years.  However, his success has not traveled with him when shipping out of town.  Before Line of David’s win in the Arkansas Derby, Sadler was 0 for his last 16 with horses moving from synthetic surfaces to dirt in stakes races, both graded and ungraded.  There is also serious concern about Sidney’s Candy handling pace pressure.  He has had things his own way at SA and that’s certainly helped him have something left late.  What will he do when met with some resistance in the opening half-mile, especially if drawn outside?

#3 – Lookin at Lucky

Jockey: Garrett Gomez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Watson & Pegram

Pedigree:  Smart Strike x Private Feeling (Belong to Me)

Previous Rank: 3rd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 8-1 (Pool 1), 9-1 (Pool 2), 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Rebel, Oaklawn Park, 3/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  The 2YO Champion of 2009 will show up in Kentucky with a bruised ego as he was defeated by Sidney’s Candy in the SA Derby.  That result must be handled with care, though, as ‘Lucky ran into a tight spot on the far turn and jockey Garrett Gomez was forced to check abruptly, falling towards the back of the pack.  He picked his way between horses and got in the mix for a minor placing after the trouble and is clearly a horse who’s not going to struggle with the distance of the Run for the Roses.  He didn’t need to do much in the SA Derby in order to stay in the picture and that’s good, because he didn’t do much.  Like Sidney’s Candy, he’s shipping to Kentucky today.

What’s not to like?  The jury’s still out on how good Lookin at Lucky is.  His race on Saturday certainly earns the grade of “Incomplete” because we have no idea what would have happened if he hadn’t been checked on the turn.  I can tell you that I think he would have finished somewhere around where he did, perhaps in 2nd but I doubt he was catching the winner.  He’s now had trouble in each of his last two starts and it’s questionable whether he’s improved as a 3YO.  Is that the type of horse you want at 6-1 in the Derby?

#4 – Rule

Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: WinStar Farm

Pedigree:  Roman Ruler x Rockcide (Personal Flag)

Previous Rank: 4th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 24-1 (Pool 1), 20-1 (Pool 2), 30-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Downs, 2/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Rule contested a very strong pace in the Florida Derby and stayed on well despite being passed late.  He has gradually improved and is a solid animal and he’ll go into the Kentucky Derby off a six week layoff, which should be perfect given that he left a lot on the track at Gulfstream.  Trainer Todd Pletcher should have ample time to try to get Rule to relax a bit in the morning as it’s been his Achilles heel so far.  He’s the forgotten member of the “Todd Squad” and is going to offer tremendous value at the windows.

What’s not to like?  If Rule doesn’t rate in the Kentucky Derby he’s cooked.  Horses like Conveyance, Sidney’s Candy, Line of David, American Lion and maybe even his stablemate Super Saver will put a great deal of pressure on the front end and if he attempts to go with them, survive, and stay on he’ll fail.  I’m still high on this son of Roman Ruler but he’s going to be one of the types that you’re asking to do something they’ve never done before in the Derby and that’s dangerous.

5. Ice Box

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Nick Zito

Owner: Robert V. LaPenta

Pedigree: Pulpit x Spice Island (Tabasco Cat)

Previous Rank: 8th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 19-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Florida Derby, Gulfstream, 3/20, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Ice Box burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dramatic last-to-first win in the Florida Derby.  He obviously has very little speed but does have a big late kick and can take advantage of a strong pace setup (as most good horses can).  You’re probably wondering how he could move up three spots in this countdown by only standing in his stall?  That’s because the Derby pace seems like it’s going to be hotter with each passing day and that only helps this son of Pulpit’s chances.

What’s not to like?  Ice Box was a beneficiary of circumstances in the Florida Derby.  Plain and simple the race came back to him and he was there to take advantage.  He is obviously improving but is going to need everything to break right for him to take the top prize on May 1.  Can you take that plunge on him at 25-1?  I can.

#6 – Awesome Act

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Jeremy Noseda

Owner: Mrs. Susan Roy & Vinery Stable

Pedigree:  Awesome Again x Houdini’s Honey (Mr. Prospector)

Previous Rank: 5th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 13-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Gotham Stakes, Aqueduct, 3/6, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Despite his handy defeat at the hands of #1 Eskendereya, this colt still has some potential.  He clearly is going to benefit from the likely strong Derby pace and if he does so then he can crack the exotics and win if things break right.  He should be able to get the distance without issue and has run well enough on dirt to be considered a fringe player.  His final work at Belmont was this morning and he’s shipping to Churchill by van on Thursday evening.

What’s not to like?  It’s tough not to think that the Wood exposed this guy as a fraud in some ways.  He didn’t get much of a pace to run into but he looked absolutely loaded at the quarter pole and was ultimately outfinished for 2nd.  He may be a quick burst, one run type of horse and those types rarely have success in the Derby where a horse is asked to make a prolonged bid.

#7 – Dublin

Jockey: Terry Thompson

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: Baker & Mack

Pedigree:  Afleet Alex x Classy Mirage (Storm Bird)

Previous Rank: 5th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1 (Pool 1), 10-1 (Pool 2), 18-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Southwest, Oaklawn Park, 2/20, 2nd

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Dublin was probably a bit too close to the pace in the Arkansas Derby but it was a pace that ultimately stayed together.  He would have fared better if able to tuck in behind the leader, then angle out and make one run.  He has yet to get the type of ride that will work best for him, a ground-saving trip where he can make one run.  The expected pace in the Derby ought to be in his favor as well.

What’s not to like?  The criticism of Dublin will only grow after his somewhat disappointing 3rd place finish in Hot Springs.  It’s tough to say that a 3rd place finish and miss by a half-length is disappointing but it sure did look like this son of Afleet Alex was going to run right by Line of David and Super Saver in the stretch drive.  He may have distance limitations and if so they’ll be his undoing at Churchill.

#8 – Endorsement

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Trainer: Shannon Ritter

Owner: WinStar Farms, LLC

Pedigree: Distorted Humor x Charmed Gift (A.P. Indy)

Previous Rank: 10th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), Field 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sunland Derby, Sunland, 3/27, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Imagine that, an impeccably bred colt owned by WinStar Farms now on the Derby trail.  It seems like there were about 12 of them when we turned the calendar to 2010.  This guy was not on the Derby radar back then but he is now after a sharp win in the Sunland Derby where he rated kindly, took over from pacesetter Conveyance and kicked well clear in track record time.  While it’s never a great idea to back recent maiden winners in graded stakes, and it’s obvious this guy lacks seasoning, he is a horse moving forward at the moment.  He had his first pre-Derby workout last Friday drilling a half-mile in :46 and 4/5 over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

What’s not to like?  Whether this guy can handle the rapid advance class-wise that he’s undertaking is a serious question.  He broke his maiden just five weeks ago and he’s now less than three weeks from one of the most demanding races in this country.  He has the pedigree and is gradually gaining the experience but he will not go off anywhere near what would be fair odds for a horse with his paltry credentials.

#9 – Super Saver

Jockey: Calvin Borel

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: WinStar Farms, LLC

Pedigree: Maria’s Mon x Supercharger (A.P. Indy)

Previous Rank: Unranked

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1 (Pool 1), 24-1 (Pool 2), 35-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Kentucky Jockey Club, Churchill Downs, 11/28/09, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Super Saver rebounded from a full Tampa Bay Derby effort with a game runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby.  He gave himself some credibility once again and fully earned his spot in the starting gate, which is positive because you rarely want a horse coming into the Derby off a poor effort.  He likes the Churchill strip and definitely gained some valuable experience in his 2nd start of 2010.  He’s not the worst play at a healthy price in the Derby.

What’s not to like?  The way this Derby is shaping up it just doesn’t seem like his running style is the type that will work.  He has never really passed horses before and that’s likely what he’s going to have to do should the expected hot pace materialize.  He is well-bred, from a terrific barn, and will have a jockey aboard who has won two of the last 3 runnings of the Derby, but this still looks like a bit of a tall order.

#10 – Stately Victor

Jockey: Alan Garcia

Trainer: Michael Maker

Owner: Thomas and Jack Conway

Pedigree: Ghostapper x Collect the Cash (Dynaformer)

Previous Rank: Unranked

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), Field 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Blue Grass, Keeneland, 4/10, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? The Blue Grass winner gets this week’s “Mr. Irrelevant” title as he makes his first appearance on the Countdown at #10.  This colt became the first offspring of Ghostzapper to win a Grade I race in his triumphant Blue Grass run and it seemed like he finally fulfilled the high expectations trainer Mike Maker always had for him.  He is a big, rangy colt with no discernible distance limitations who likes to run late, so this race may set up beautifully for him.

What’s not to like?  He stinks on the dirt.  His two dirt races since last year’s Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland were horrible.  He was badly beaten in a N1X at Churchill last fall and while he may be a new horse now, it’s a tough gamble to make when a horse is running on this stage.  If he shows some potential in the Derby then the Belmont might be the spot for him provided he can handle dirt.

Races this week: Lexington

See you back next week with an update.  With less than 3 weeks remaining until Kentucky Derby 136 I’ll countdown the last three Kentucky Derbies.  Here’s the 2007 running:

Derby Countdown – April 6

April 6, 2010

The picture is gradually becoming clearer as we now have a solid Derby favorite, Eskendereya, as he crushed the competition for a second consecutive time with a Wood Memorial victory that was earned with devastating ease.  He is a force to be reckoned with on May 1.  Out west Sidney’s Candy emerged as California’s co-top dog with a SA Derby win in a race where the favorite was not able to factor into the decision after encountering trouble on the far turn.  The Illinois Derby produced another inconclusive result as American Lion went wire-to-wire after setting slow fractions on a day where the wind blew mightily down the homestretch.  It’s hard to imagine anyone from that event making an impact in Louisville.  Anyway we’re into the final weekend of the big-time preps which means the big day is right around the corner…

#1 – Eskendereya

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Zayat Stables

Pedigree:  Giant’s Causeway x Aldebaran Light (Seattle Slew)

Previous Rank: 1st

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 22-1 (Pool 1), 5-1 (Pool 2), 5-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  This strapping chestnut colt solidified his credentials for the Derby with a terrific win in the Wood Memorial.  He tracked a moderate pace intently, took over when ready and ultimately kicked clear with jockey John Velazquez a statue in the stirrups.  They’re not even close to the bottom of this horse and he seems to be getting better.  His price won’t be attractive on May 1 but this guy’s going to be very tough to beat. 

What’s not to like?  If some thought that the Wood would expose any issues this guy has then they are probably disappointed that it most certainly did not.  He showed no real weaknesses, so if there’s anything not to like on about him heading into the Derby it could be that he’s not really battle-tested and has enjoyed positive pace setups in his last two victories.  A rodeo with 19 rivals where the early pace is strong could be an issue.

2. Sidney’s Candy

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Craig Family Trust

Pedigree:  Candy Ride x Fair Exchange (Storm Cat)

Previous Rank: 6th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), 33-1 (Pool 2), 22-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 4/3, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  No horse’s stock has risen as much as this guy’s over the past four weeks.  He backed up his San Felipe victory with a wire-to-wire score in the Santa Anita Derby kicking clear of the competition in the stretch drive.  He never met a challenge from Lookin at Lucky, who ran into trouble around the far turn, and it probably matters not as no one was catching this chestnut son of Candy Ride.  He rolls into Kentucky as the winner of three straight graded stakes races where he’s been in front at every point of each one.

What’s not to like?  Trainer John Sadler has blossomed into one of the best in California in recent years.  However, his success has not traveled with him when shipping out of town.  In fact, Sadler is 0 for his last 16 with horses moving from synthetic surfaces to dirt in stakes races, both graded and ungraded.  There is also serious concern about Sidney’s Candy handling pace pressure.  He has had things his own way at SA and that’s certainly helped him have something left late.  What will he do when met with some resistance in the opening half-mile, especially if drawn outside?

#3 – Lookin at Lucky

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Watson & Pegram

Pedigree:  Smart Strike x Private Feeling (Belong to Me)

Previous Rank: 2nd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 8-1 (Pool 1), 9-1 (Pool 2), 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Rebel, Oaklawn Park, 3/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  The 2YO Champion of 2009 will show up in Kentucky with a bruised ego as he was defeated by Sidney’s Candy in the SA Derby.  That result must be handled with care, though, as ‘Lucky ran into a tight spot on the far turn and jockey Garrett Gomez was forced to check abruptly, falling towards the back of the pack.  He picked his way between horses and got in the mix for a minor placing after the trouble and is clearly a horse who’s not going to struggle with the distance of the Run for the Roses.  He didn’t need to do much in the SA Derby in order to stay in the picture and that’s good, because he didn’t do much.

What’s not to like?  The jury’s still out on how good Lookin at Lucky is.  His race on Saturday certainly earns the grade of “Incomplete” because we have no idea what would have happened if he hadn’t been checked on the turn.  I can tell you that I think he would have finished somewhere around where he did, perhaps in 2nd but I doubt he was catching the winner.  He’s now had trouble in each of his last two starts and it’s questionable whether he’s improved as a 3YO.  Is that the type of horse you want at 6-1 in the Derby?

#4 – Rule

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: WinStar Farm

Pedigree:  Roman Ruler x Rockcide (Personal Flag)

Previous Rank: 3rd

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 24-1 (Pool 1), 20-1 (Pool 2), 30-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Downs, 2/13, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Rule contested a very strong pace in the Florida Derby and stayed on well despite being passed late.  He has gradually improved and is a solid animal and he’ll go into the Kentucky Derby off a six week layoff, which should be perfect given that he left a lot on the track at Gulfstream.  Trainer Todd Pletcher should have ample time to try to get Rule to relax a bit in the morning as it’s been his Achilles heel so far.

What’s not to like?  If Rule doesn’t rate in the Kentucky Derby he’s cooked.  Horses like Conveyance, Sidney’s Candy, and maybe even his stablemate Super Saver will put a great deal of pressure on the front end and if he attempts to go with them, survive, and stay on he’ll fail.  I’m still high on this son of Roman Ruler but he’s going to be one of the types that you’re asking to do something they’ve never done before in the Derby and that’s dangerous.

#5 – Dublin

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: Baker & Mack

Pedigree:  Afleet Alex x Classy Mirage (Storm Bird)

Previous Rank: 4th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1 (Pool 1), 10-1 (Pool 2), 18-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Southwest, Oaklawn Park, 2/20, 2nd

Where to next?  Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 4/10

What’s to like?  I’m not down on Dublin after his third-place finish in the Rebel.  He was victimized once again by a wide trip and a premature move towards the lead by jockey Corey Nakatani.  He’ll now be ridden by Terry Thompson again, who piloted him to a strong 2nd place finish in the Southwest.  The Arkansas Derby field is shaping up to be small, probably between 6 and 8 horses, so it looks like the perfect opportunity for this son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex to assert himself.

What’s not to like?  Critics are maintaining that Dublin is a one-run sprinter who flattened out after being in contention in the Rebel.  That is a consideration at this point and one has to wonder if he’s the type that’s going to be able to sit back and make one run in the Derby, a race that often goes to a horse with that type of style.

#6 – Noble’s Promise

Trainer: Kenneth McPeek

Owner: Chasing the Dreams Racing 2008

Pedigree:  Cuvee x The Devil’s Trick (Clever Trick)

Previous Rank: Unranked

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: 36-1 (Pool 1), 26-1 (Pool 2), 19-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Rebel, Oaklawn, 3/13, 2nd

Where to next?  Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 4/10

What’s to like?  You’ll probably wonder where this guy’s been and why his debut in the countdown comes so late in the year but I had reservations about where he stacked up with the rest of his generation.  As time goes by it’s becoming clear that he’s pretty darn good.  His Rebel was a solid race as he moved into the pace a bit prematurely and nearly saw the whole thing out.  He should progress in his 2nd start of 2010 and is in the care of a good horseman.

What’s not to like?  Trainer Ken McPeek has remarked multiple times that he’s waiting on this colt to let him know if he has distance limitations.  So far he really hasn’t and if the ride had been a bit more patient in the Rebel he probably would have a graded stakes win as a 3YO to match his GI win as a juvenile.  So, his pedigree is of some concern but luckily we’ll see just how much of a problem it is in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby.

7. Odysseus

Trainer: Tom Albertrani

Owner: Padua Stables

Pedigree: Malibu Moon x Persimmon Hill (Conquistador Cielo)

Previous Rank: 7th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), 25-1 (Pool 2), 18-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs, 3/13, 1st

Where to Next? Blue Grass, Keeneland, 4/10

What’s to like?  Odysseus backed up his smashing N1X win at Tampa with a gritty, determined win in the Tampa Bay Derby.  He’s obviously a horse that doesn’t have push button acceleration and he needs to be ridden to his stride but it sure did look like he was done when the field reached the top of the stretch on Saturday.  He dug in gamely and was able to re-rally as the horses in front of him began to falter.  Whether the TB Derby was a race of any quality or not remains to be seen but he is at least a horse worth watching going forward.

What’s not to like?  I can’t be certain that the Tampa Bay Derby was any good.  While many are caught up in the hubbub of how Odysseus looked beaten then re-rallied, it did seem as if the race was served up to him as he started running again.  No one made a winning move in the stretch and it turned into an eyesore with the final three-sixteenths seeming to take an eternity.

8. Ice Box

Trainer: Nick Zito

Owner: Robert V. LaPenta

Pedigree: Pulpit x Spice Island (Tabasco Cat)

Previous Rank: 9th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 19-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Florida Derby, Gulfstream, 3/20, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Ice Box burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dramatic last-to-first win in the Florida Derby.  He obviously has very little speed but does have a big late kick and can take advantage of a strong pace setup (as most good horses can).  He will be moving in the right direction late in Louisville and can grab a share if the pace boils over.

What’s not to like?  Ice Box was a beneficiary of circumstances in the Florida Derby.  Plain and simple the race came back to him and he was there to take advantage.  He is obviously improving but is going to need everything to break right for him to take the top prize on May 1.

#9 – Awesome Act

Trainer: Jeremy Noseda

Owner: Mrs. Susan Roy & Vinery Stable

Pedigree:  Awesome Again x Houdini’s Honey (Mr. Prospector)

Previous Rank: 5th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), 13-1 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Gotham Stakes, Aqueduct, 3/6, 1st

Where to next?  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like?  Despite his handy defeat at the heels of #1 Eskendereya, this colt still has some potential.  He clearly is going to benefit from the likely strong Derby pace and if he does so then he can crack the exotics and win if things break right.  He should be able to get the distance without issue and has run well enough on dirt to be considered a fringe player.

What’s not to like?  It’s tough not to think that the Wood exposed this guy as a fraud in some ways.  He didn’t get much of a pace to run into but he looked absolutely loaded at the quarter pole and was ultimately outfinished for 2nd.  He may be a quick burst, one run type of horse but those types rarely have success in the Derby where a horse is asked to make a prolonged bid.

10. Endorsement

Trainer: Shannon Ritter

Owner: WinStar Farms, LLC

Pedigree: Distorted Humor x Charmed Gift (A.P. Indy)

Previous Rank: 10th

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds: Field, 3/2 (Pool 1), Field, 3-1 (Pool 2), Field 9/2 (Pool 3)

Best Performance: Sunland Derby, Sunland, 3/27, 1st

Where to Next? Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 5/1

What’s to like? Imagine that, an impeccably bred colt owned by WinStar Farms now on the Derby trail.  It seems like there were about 12 of them when we turned the calendar to 2010.  This guy was not on the Derby radar back then but he is now after a sharp win in the Sunland Derby where he rated kindly, took over from pacesetter Conveyance and kicked well clear in track record time.  While it’s never a great idea to back recent maiden winners in graded stakes, and it’s obvious this guy lacks seasoning, he is a horse moving forward at the moment.

What’s not to like?  Whether this guy can handle the rapid advance class-wise that he’s undertaking is a serious question.  He broke his maiden just five weeks ago and he’s now less than four weeks from one of the most demanding races in this country.  He has the pedigree and is gradually gaining the experience but he will not go off anywhere near what would be fair odds for a horse with his paltry credentials.

Races this week: Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass

See you back next week with an update.  With 4 weeks remaining until Kentucky Derby 136 I’ll countdown the last four Kentucky Derbies.  Here’s the 2006 running:

Wood Memorial Day…LIVE!

April 3, 2010

7:15 PM EDT

Well that’s a wrap for Wood Memorial day.  Eskendereya didn’t disappoint in any way as he absolutely crushed the Wood Memorial field by over nine lengths.  He is going to be a clear favorite in the Kentucky Derby and deservedly so as his last two efforts have been nothing short of spectacular.  None of his peers have been able to match his speed or stamina and little of what we’ve seen by the rest of this 3YO crop leads me to believe that any horse will go into the Derby on the same plateau as Eskendereya.  Now, whether he runs into any trouble in the race itself or if there are other mitigating factors is a different issue altogether. 

It was nice to see Warrior’s Reward get his first graded stakes win in the Carter.  His trainer, Ian Wilkes, has always believed this guy was an upper echelon performer and his faith was rewarded as he won a narrow photo from Musket Man.  Both may meet in the Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby day at seven panels.

Eightyfiveinafifty erased the bad memories of a brutal race in the Whirlaway when he ran into significant trouble and ultimately bolted on the first turn.  He is clearly still quite fragile of mind as he had his head pointed towards the infield most of the way down the backstretch.  The talent is clearly there and he has a bright future but let’s hope he’s kept at one turn so he can fully reach his potential.

Take a look back here on Tuesday as I’ll update my Derby Countdown!

2:44 PM EDT

We’re just past the 1/3rd mark of the Aqueduct card and Cajun Jet made it home as the second victorious favorite of the day with a furious late run to grab Stormin Bolt and Brazen Kat.  He broke what looked like a developing inside bias but it’s undeniable that he was the one to beat, so it’s tough to make a proclamation at this point.

The 5th is up next and it looked like another strong favorite will go postward but #8 SMOKIN CONRAD is 7/2 at this juncture.  There’s been significant support early for #9 GERARD LOVES BEER, who’s undoubtedly getting some support from the Repole Stable crowd who’s on hand for Cool N Collective’s retirement ceremony.  The only other horse with appeal is #1 RODERICK, a well-bred firster who’s listed as a gelding.  I’m going to play the following Pick 3 that ends with Eightyfiveinafifty.

1,8,9 with 2,5,6,8,12 with 1

Good luck! 

1:25 PM EDT

No great surprises in the opener as 3/2 fave Lady Apple got the job done.  We’re also underway at Keeneland and Race 2 at the Big A will kick off the early Pick 4.  Here’s my main ticket:

1,2,3,4,5,6,7 with 2 with 5,8 with 1,8,9  TOTAL: 42

Good luck!

12:49 PM EDT

It’s Wood Memorial Day at the Big A, which also means it’s Santa Anita Derby and Illinois Derby day.  In case you’ve been under a rock or away from everything technological, there are big things on tap in South Ozone Park this afternoon. 

The $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 begins in Race 7, the Bay Shore, where Eightyfiveinafifty will be a heavy favorite as he looks to atone for his psychotic effort in the Whirlaway.  Note that in Race 8, #6 NATIONAL PRIDE has been scratched and that’s significant from multiple perspectives as he loomed the main speed and he makes the total number of horses in the Pick 4 sequence go from 23 to 22.  Click here for the changes at Aqueduct today.

Click here for my thoughts on today’s 11 race card at Aqueduct.  Click here for my thoughts on the late Pick 4 at Keeneland this afternoon.  I’ll be back at various points throughout the day to review what’s gone on and preview what lies ahead.  Best of luck today!

Keeneland Opening makes for Good Friday

April 2, 2010

Easter weekend kicks off for racing fans with the opening of Keeneland’s 15 day meet and the first card is headlined by the Transylvania.  A group of nine three year-olds will go a mile and a sixteenth on the firm turf course as the forecast is for sunny skies and a high of nearly 80 degrees.  Click here for analysis of the late Pick 4 today at Keeneland!

The only other graded stakes race scheduled for today is the Fantasy at Oaklawn which makes up for what it lacks in quantity with quality.  Only four fillies will go postward but among them is Blind Luck, the de facto division leader at this moment.  She will look to bounce back from a defeat in the Santa Anita Oaks at the hands of Crisp.  Blind Luck did not receive a very good ride by Rafael Bejarano’s standards as she was well behind a very moderate pace before running into some traffic down the stretch.  This will be her first start on dirt since her debut last summer at Calder where she won by the length of the stretch.

No Such Word and Tidal Pool look like the two main challengers in the quartet.  The former exits a solid win in the Honeybee over this strip as she found racing room at the quarter pole and exploded through the stretch.  Her trainer, Cindy Jones, is confident that this gal has flourished with added ground despite her pedigree being much more geared to sprinting. 

Tidal Pool won a N3L allowance against older horses last time out by eight lengths and earned a stratospheric Beyer figure of 103 in doing so.  She had previously been a filly who looked questionable against stakes company, so this will be a very good test for her. 

I’ll take Blind Luck with No Such Word in a straight exacta.

I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on the Wood Memorial card at Aqueduct, the SA Derby card at Santa Anita, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and the Ashland at Keeneland.  Until then, good luck!