Archive for May, 2011

Baltimore Bound Part 2: The New Shooters

May 10, 2011

Yesterday I took a lengthy look at Dance City and Sway Away, a couple of colts who didn’t contest the Kentucky Derby but are slated to run in the Preakness.  Today’s focus will be on Flashpoint, the winner of the Hutcheson in February, and King Congie, winner of the Tropical Park Derby in January.  They are coming into the race from different directions and will both have serious questions to answer on May 21.

FLASHPOINT

OWNER: Peachtree Stable
TRAINER: Wesley Ward
JOCKEY: Cornelio Velasquez

Flashpoint showed the remarkable talent necessary to go from a Maiden Special Weight victory to graded stakes glory.  He rambled home a convincing winner in the Hutcheson, dusting Travelin Man in the process.  Owner John Fort and then trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. talked about a variety of different races afterwards, including the Swale, Florida Derby, and Santa Anita Derby.  They ultimately decided to give the Florida Derby a try and it was not the performance they sought.  Breaking from the outside, he was out-sprinted to the lead and never made a serious impact.  The Florida Derby was run at a breakneck pace and Flashpoint started from the far outside in a group of eight, which made procuring the early lead difficult.

As the field entered the first turn in the Florida Derby Flashpoint was hung out widest of all.  With a good amount of speed on paper the riders breaking to Flashpoint’s inside had no interest in losing their early position to him.  Losing ground on the turns at Gulfstream, especially going 9 furlongs is a death sentence.

When the field was roughly halfway to the wire in the Florida Derby jockey Cornelio Velasquez had Flashpoint in a similar stalking spot to the one where he was in the Hutcheson.  However, by the time they reached the top of the stretch he was spent.  This raised serious red flags about whether he has any ability to go a route of ground.

THE BOTTOM LINE: John Fort of the Peachtree Stables opted to move Flashpoint from Rick Dutrow, Jr. to Wesley Ward and he apparently been training very well at Keeneland.  What Ward will be trying to do in getting Flashpoint to complete 9.5 furlongs while meeting early pressure appears as if it’ll be a herculean task.  I will be betting against Flashpoint taking this field wire-to-wire, especially with such a large amount of speed potentially slated to go.

KING CONGIE

OWNER: West Point Thoroughbreds
TRAINER: Tom Albertrani
JOCKEY: Robby Albarado

Trainer Tom Albertrani figured King Congie’s synthetic surface debut would occur in the Vinery Racing Spiral on March 26 at Turfway.  After coming up with a minor injury he was re-routed to the Blue Grass, where he was an outsider in a bulky and contentious field.  Only Twinspired and his stablemate separated this son of Badge of Silver away from a victory that afternoon at Keeneland as he ran another typically strong race.

Since being moved to turf, King Congie’s fortunes have changed dramatically.  Taking a closer look at his past performances it is clear that saying he’s unproven on dirt is an understatement.

Though he had the misfortune of running into a couple of awfully sharp horses in his two dirt starts (Eclipse Award winner Uncle Mo and stakes winner Fort Hughes), King Congie offered very little each time.  He is clearly a better horse on synthetics/turf and that is a major concern moving forward to the Preakness.  Badge of Silver has proven to be a useful sire as his 2nd crop gets ready to hit the races. Both King Congie and Silver Medallion are stakes winners from his first crop.  The damside of King Congie’s pedigree is full of dirt winners, including his dam, Wise Ending and her most accomplished sibling, Grand Champion, who was a 6 time winner and took the 2007 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A good horse can run on any surface.  Animal Kingdom proved that to us on Derby day as he roared by the field at better than 20-1.  King Congie’s stablemate, Brilliant Speed, ran a surprisingly good race in the Derby to narrowly miss in a photo for fifth.  That is encouraging given that Brilliant Speed previously had negative dirt form as well.  I am not high on King Congie’s chances but would hardly be surprised if he cracks the intra-race exotics.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to take a closer look at a couple more potential new shooters in the Preakness, Astrology and Concealed Identity.

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Baltimore Bound Part 1: The New Shooters

May 9, 2011

Over the next 13 days I will be focusing on individual things pertaining to the Preakness Stakes on May 21.  I will be on-site for the Preakness and the focus of my attention will be there for the fortnight (or a tad less) that separates us from the 2nd jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.  Each of the next 3 days I’ll be looking at two horses that are “new shooters” in the Preakness.  Today’s are Dance City and Sway Away, the 3rd and 4th place finishers from the Arkansas Derby.

DANCE CITY

OWNER: The Estate of Ned Evans
TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano

Dance City was a colt that trainer Todd Pletcher might not have had high hopes for when his career began as he debuted in a maiden special weight race on the inner track at Aqueduct.  The quality of that effort prompted Pletcher to send him to Florida for a try against MSW company at 9 furlongs.  After winning he landed in a N1X at Gulfstream that was supposed to be a simple exhibition for Cal Nation, a flashy debut winner for Pletcher who was facing winners for the first time.  No one told Dance City that he was supposed to be a valiant runner-up as he battled tooth and nail through the stretch to score a nose decision.

In a year where horses were able to strattle the lines of class repeatedly in graded stakes races, this son of City Zip handled the jump to Grade I company with a tremendous effort at Oaklawn Park.  All the talk before the Arkansas Derby centered on The Factor, the fleet-footed son of War Front who had turned heads with a devastatingly easy win in the Rebel at Oaklawn one month earlier.  Let’s take a look at the Arkansas Derby in pictures, with particular attention paid to Dance City.

As the field rounded the first turn of the Arkansas Derby Castellano positioned Dance City in 2nd, just off the leader JP’s Gusto.  The most surprising element of this scenario is that Dance City was ahead of The Factor, who was out-sprinted to the lead and subsequently wrangled back by jockey Martin Garcia.  In this shot the field is just shy of completing the opening quarter mile, which was done in a spritely 22.54 seconds.  As you will see in the pictures going forward, this pace would take its toll on Dance City’s early rivals.

At the mid-point of the backstretch Dance City is still stalking from 2nd and the opening half-mile has been completed in :46.53.  This was the exact same split as the Northern Spur, an undercard race for 3YOs run two races earlier.  The difference, of course, as you’ll see in later photographs is that the Arkansas Derby field finished much quicker, as the late runners made their moves in the stretch drive.

As the field approaches the quarter pole, Dance City has been asked to collar the frontrunner.  In the meantime, Sway Away is in the midst of a wide and premature move under jockey Patrick Valenzuela.  Dance City has done all the running to this point and is now going to tackle a final quarter-mile after being seriously softened up.  The stiffening resolve that he shows is truly remarkable.

As the field straightens away two of the four who were battling outside the 1/4 pole are finished.  The Factor was simply not himself in the Arkansas Derby and JP’s Gusto never gave the appearance of being a horse who could go two turns.  Sway Away is now in command with Dance City battling to his inside.  With the pace gradually collapsing Archarcharch is making his move and is 3 horses off the rail in the 2nd flight.  Nehro, the eventual 2nd place finisher, is still approximately 5-6 lengths back as he unleashes his stretch kick.

At the finish of the Arkansas Derby Dance City moved away from Sway Away.  He wound up 3rd beaten just under two lengths by two rivals who enjoyed tremendous pace setups.  While Sway Away’s trip was far from ideal, Dance City was asked to go above and beyond by jockey Javier Castellano, and if not for a solid bump in mid-stretch he might have pulled off a huge upset in what would have been the best performance in any prep on this year’s Derby trail. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: With horses like Flashpoint and Shackleford slated to run in the Preakness the pace is sure to be very strong.  However, one thing that Dance City has going for him is that he has participated in quick early tempos in 3 consecutive starts and come out of them with two wins and a 3rd place finish.  He is a major player in the Preakness and a horse I will use prominently in my wagers.

SWAY AWAY

OWNER: Batman Stable, Olsen, Wallace, Et Al.
TRAINER: Jeff Bonde
JOCKEY: TBA

A sway-back colt by Afleet Alex, this guy’s career began with a splash as he crushed a field of MSW runners at Pleasanton before finishing 2nd as the 3/2 favorite in the Best Pal at Del Mar.  After being given some time to grow he returned to the races with a fast-closing 2nd place finish behind The Factor in the San Vicente.  Viewed by many as a one-run sprinter, he was sent to Oaklawn for his first try at two turns.  One month after shipping in Sway Away had run two races, had two horrible trips and what looked to be insufficient earnings to make the Derby field.  He was one spot away from getting into the Run for the Roses but wound up excluded and will make his Triple Crown debut in Baltimore.

Much like Dance City, there are many elements of Sway Away’s trip in the Arkansas Derby that have to be highlighted.

As the field rounded the first turn this shot gives you a great perspective on the wide trip that Sway Away endured right from the outset.  He is angled out at least four paths off the rail here, just outside of Brethren, who earlier carried him out at the entry to the Clubhouse turn.  Wearing blinkers for the first time he was much sharper early and the natural speed everyone knew he had was much more on display.

You could probably fit a football field, if not seven horses, between Sway Away and the rail as the field approaches the half-mile pole. He was extremely wide the entire way down the backstretch as Valenzuela made no attempt to save ground whatsoever.  Still very keen with the blinkers added, he is ready to roll at any point in time.

Approaching the top of the stretch Sway Away has launched a four wide move and soon after this image he grabbed the lead.  The troublesome part of this trip is that the race was not unfolding in such a way where a premature move would be effective.  The pace was rather quick and the winner was almost certain to be a horse moving well in the stretch drive.

THE BOTTOM LINE: While the possibility still exists that Sway Away is a one-turn horse who will always struggle at a route of ground, he is worthy of another chance.  His Rebel was a nightmare from the start as he hit the gate, lost a tooth, was carried out on the first turn, then forced to rally into a pace-dominated race.  The Arkansas Derby did not go much better, leading you to believe Sway Away will never be seen at Oaklawn Park again!  He is another major contender and one with a big chance of knocking off Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.  Should a more patient rider like Joel Rosario, who this barn has used with success, get the call then he will be even more dangerous.

Part 2 of my Baltimore Bound series will focus on a couple more new shooters for the Preakness, as Flashpoint and King Congie will be the topic.  See you tomorrow!

Images courtesy of DRF and Horse Racing Nation

Derby Day Wrap-Up; Who’s Baltimore bound?

May 8, 2011

The 137th Kentucky Derby is in the books and there were a lot of “firsts” in this particular running.  It was the first win for Barry Irwin’s Team Valor, the first win for trainer H. Graham Motion, and the first win for jockey John Velazquez.  The particularly interesting element of the win is that both the trainer and jockey lost what were widely considered to be their best chances earlier in the week.  Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner was declared on Tuesday while Uncle Mo, the reigning 2YO champion was scratched Friday morning.  Perhaps Motion still knew what he had lurking in a beautiful chestnut colt by Leroidesanimaux.  Here are some general observations from Derby weekend and a peek at my Baltimore Bound series leading up to the Preakness in just 13 days.

1.) I have been as critical of Kent Desormeaux as any person out there.  He had a phenomenal weekend.  His rides on Victoria’s Wildcat and Diva Ash on Friday were perfect.  His ride on Aviate in Saturday’s Distaff Turf Mile was even better.  When on his game, Desormeaux is still as good as any rider out there.

2.) It took a couple of months but it seems like Bob Baffert has First Dude figured out.  He is now a handy pace stalker who has grit and determination.  What if Baffert had him in his barn last year?

3.) Of all the Kittens that Ken Ramsey held on to, do you think he wishes he could still have Banned?  He sold this colt at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale in 2009 and he’s now a G2 winner.

4.) Plum Pretty is a good example of what a trainer can accomplish when he alters course and gives his charge a bit of confidence.  She went to Sunland, scored a tremendous win, then showed up at Churchill a horse ready to explode.  Her Kentucky Oaks win was very strong and she’s now the division leader among 3YO fillies.

5.) With most of the racing world watching, jockey Rosie Napravnik gave St. John’s River a perfect ride in the Oaks.  Continuing to ride like that on the big stage will ensure Rosie is draped in roses in the future.

6.) With all due respect to Rosie, the connections of Bind need to change a few things up.  Either he needs to be cut back to sprints or he needs to be given a free rein early traveling two turns.  Twice in a row he’s fought with his rider and come up empty going a route of ground.

7.) Look out for Tom Proctor’s Snow Top Mountain when she returns to graded stakes company.  She was GI placed last year and has run two very strong races against allowance company to kick off her 2011 campaign.

8.) There’s a new leader in the Turf Sprint division (if there even is such a thing).  It’s Regally Ready.  Who knows how he’ll hold up to the rigors of a lengthy campaign, but at this point it’s him then everyone else.

9.) Bill Mott had a tremendous 2010 with Proviso and Aviate could be headed down a similar path.  She has a long way to go but tipped her hand as a serious turf distaffer yesterday.

10.) It was not a good weekend for Calvin Borel.  In fact, it was horrible.  His ride on Capt. Candyman Can was terrible.  Who knows whether it was a decision made by trainer Ian Wilkes or by Borel himself, but there was no reason to move Capt. Candyman Can at the 3/8ths pole of a fast-paced race where the frontrunners were retreating.  Anyone who doesn’t think Capt. Candyman Can was miles the best in that race must re-acquaint themselves with race watching/trip handicapping.

11.) I still don’t know why Little Mike was scratched from the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic but it certainly helped Get Stormy.  Ramon Dominguez made all the right decisions and sent him straight to the lead early before backing the pace down.  There aren’t many times where Get Stormy will get 9 furlongs, but isolated on an easy lead is one of them.

12.) A friend of mine has always said to me, “One of these days a synthetic horse is going to win the Derby.”  Little did we know it would be 2011 as the first “synthetic” horse got the job done.  How could you have known Animal Kingdom was capable of jumping up and winning the Derby?  His workout a week prior showed that he could handle dirt quite easily.  If you’re not watching programs like HRTV’s Pursuit of the Crown or reading Mike Welsch’s DRF workout reports before the Derby and Breeders’ Cup then start doing so, it’s extraordinarily helpful.

13.) Is Nehro the 2011 version of First Dude?  He has now run 2nd in Derbies in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky.  Still eligible for a N2L, he is sure to stay on the Derby trail but I hope his next stop is in Elmont, not Baltimore.

14.) Trainer Kathy Ritvo should be awfully proud of Mucho Macho Man.  Clearly an immature colt, he is steadily improving and I say with complete confidence that there’s a graded stakes race out there with his name on it.

15.) Shackleford has developed into a nice horse.  He set a comfortable pace in the Derby but showed the courage that we’ve now grown accustomed to seeing from him.

16.) Master of Hounds ran a race that surprised me.  I figured him to be a complete non-factor but he made a nice late move to finish fifth and is reportedly a possibility for the Belmont in five weeks.

17.) Pants on Fire was the 2nd choice in the Derby.  Further proof that a good story can prompt people to bet.

18.) I hope that your Derby day was all you hoped for and have good news for you.  At this particular moment we’re only 13 days, six hours and about ten minutes from Preakness 136.

As a part of the lead-up to the Preakness I’ll be writing an entry each of the next 13 days in my Baltimore Bound series.  For those of you that will be in attendance at the Preakness, let me know, and I’ll see you there.  Good racing luck!

Derby Day is upon us

May 7, 2011

It’s time for the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby and a huge afternoon at Churchill Downs awaits.  The weather forecast is iffy, but that’s hardly a surprise.  Here’s a look at my stakes analysis for the card:

Race 6, The Twin Spires Turf Sprint, Post Time: 1:19 EDT (5-7-2-8)

Defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner #5 CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE is looking to rebound from a disappointing effort at Keeneland 3 weeks ago.  He was put right on the lead that afternoon on a boggy course and ultimately weakened in the final furlong.  At this stage of his career this veteran son of War Chant doesn’t have the speed to go coast to coast and trainer Bret Calhoun said shortly afterwards that he didn’t handle the yielding turf.  He’s now back on his favorite course and figures to get a phenomenal pace setup with two fleet-footed speedsters set to spar early.  You can easily spot this gelding in crunch time with his big white blinkers and he should be moving best of all late.  #7 EARLY RETURN ran a much better race in the Bonapaw back in December at Fair Grounds than it looks on paper.  He was shuffled back badly heading into the far turn and wound up wheeling out widest of all before commencing a rally.  There’s no shame in being outfinished by a horse like Due Date, who was this gelding’s entrymate that afternoon.  Like ‘Chamberlain, this old war horse is going to do his best running late and will benefit from the expected hot pace.  #2 REGALLY READY showed signs of being a serious turf sprinter last fall when he won his grass debut by over 7 lengths on this course.  He had a tremendous winter in Southern California as he rattled off consecutive stakes wins on the Hillside turf course.  He is going to be in the pressure cooker from the start with a serious speedster drawn on the outside, #8 BRIDGETOWN.  If those two can avoid a ridiculous speed duel then one or both could hang around for a major share. SELECTIONS: 5-7-2-8

Race 7, The Humana Distaff (G1), Post Time: 2:08 EDT (7-3-5-1)

It seems foolish to spend a great deal of money trying to beat #7 HILDA’S PASSION, who has rapidly become one of the best female sprinters in the country.  She manhandled five overmatched rivals in the Inside Information back in mid-March at Gulfstream and that win was preceded by a routinely easy score in the Hurricane Bertie one month earlier.  No horse in this race can match her early speed and that should lead to another frontrunning gambit under Javier Castellano.  Though trainer Todd Pletcher’s Florida shippers must always be handled with care, this gal has won on three different dirt tracks already and has handled adversity with devastating ease.  #3 EVENING JEWEL is moving back to dirt after a dull effort in the Madison last time out at Keeneland.  She has run two positive races on this track, including a heartbreaking nose defeat in the 2010 Kentucky Oaks.  The quicker the pace gets the better for this gal, but there’s no doubt that she has to improve in order to give the top pick a serious scare.  #5 SHOTGUN GULCH flew down the middle of the Polytrack to win the aforementioned Madison at Keeneland.  She is G1 placed on dirt already and should be moving well in the waning stages once again.  Jockey Garrett Gomez, who piloted her to the win in Lexington, is back aboard and he is the best rider in the country with off the pace types.  If ‘Hilda gets pushed at all early then this gal might find herself in position to reel them all in once again.  SELECTIONS: 7-3-5-1

Race 8, The Distaff Turf Mile (G2), Post Time: 2:59 EDT  (8-6-11-9)

#8 AVIATE is out to improve on a 3rd place finish in the Honey Fox at Gulfstream a couple of months ago.  Trainer Bill Mott entered her in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland three weeks ago but scratched, presumably to avoid a heavy turf course that afternoon.  In her first North American outing she attempted to rally in a pace-dominated race on a course that was very fast.  Moving to a more lush course that figures to be playing fairly she rates a serious chance to rebound in a big way.  Mott has shown signs of breaking out of the winter doldrums which plagued him at Gulfstream as his top distaffer, Unrivaled Belle, narrowly missed in Friday’s La Troienne.  This Juddmonte homebred could help the rebound move along at a more rapid clip.  When #6 ARUNA won her North American debut last September at Saratoga she showed stakes caliber potential.  Trainer Graham Motion obviously felt that way as he entered her in the Pebbles, which she won easily, before trying a graded stakes event, the Mrs. Revere over this course.  She has been training like a lunatic in both South Florida and Maryland (going back to February) and should benefit from a positive pace setup this afternoon.  Jockey Ramon Dominguez won this race a year ago with Phola and seems to be on a very live mount once again.  When is the bubble going to burst for #11 NEVER RETREAT?  She just keeps putting up big efforts and has suddenly developed a great deal of tactical speed.  Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan should be able to keep her in a good stalking spot today, much like he did in her Jenny Wiley victory 21 days ago at Keeneland.  Any Pick 4 that’s missing this gal is one fraught with peril. SELECTIONS: 8-6-11-7

Race 9, The Churchill Downs (G2), Post Time: 3:41 PM EDT

After a lengthy trip to the sidelines, #6 CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN has come back with a vengeance.  After winning a soft stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs he came back in the Sir Shackleton on the Florida Derby undercard.  He is 5-5 at 7 panels and seems to have a remarkable amount of versatility.  It seems reasonable to think that a return to his prior running style of laying back to make one run will work well.  Trainer Ian Wilkes narrowly missed winning this race in 2010 with Warrior’s Reward and will be represented by a major player once again.  If you isolate the race #10 NOBLE’S PROMISE has run off of 80+ day layoffs you have to like what you see.  Those include his maiden win way back in Septembe 2009, a narrow miss in the Rebel last year and an impressive win in the JimmyV on Breeders’ Cup weekend.  His trainer, Ken McPeek, is on a tear right now as he’s hit at  37% clip over the last 30 days and his record with dirt starters returning off of 100-200 day breaks is tremendous (31%, $2.32 ROI).  This colt should be in a favorable spot from the outset.  #2 SMILING TIGER is one of the best sprinters in the country.  He has quickly restored the luster lost in a surprising defeat in the Palos Verdes earlier this year.  You have to be mildly concerned that he has somehow lost his gate speed in his last two with a couple of slow breaks but he finished quite strongly in the Count Fleet last time out and showed versatility in doing so.  The inside draw will be difficult as he is winless when breaking from the 1 or 2 post going back to his maiden win in 2009.  That being said, excluding him is quite dangerous.  SELECTIONS: 6-10-2-3

Race 10, The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), Post Time: 4:46 PM EDT

The scratch of #1 LITTLE MIKE had to thrill trainer Tom Bush as his charge, #7 GET STORMY, figures to be on the lead from the outset.  Whether he can stay 9 panels against such an accomplished field remains to be seen.  #5 PRINCE WILL I AM will deal with the opposite kind of distance issue as some are still unsure that 9 furlongs is enough for him.  He exits a poor effort in the Pan American (G3) where he was one-paced late after being given little help pace-wise.  His Jamaica victory last year at Belmont shows that 9 panels is enough for him as he unleashed a furious late kick that afternoon to blow by them all.  If jockey John Velazquez can keep him clear of trouble then he’ll be tough to hold off late at what should be a fair price.  #9 AL KHALI has been somewhat disappointing in his career but things could be on the verge of turning around.  He has run 3 of his best races in the last two years with Alan Garcia aboard, the pilot who will guide him today.  He also exits a narrow miss in a race where there was no pace whatsoever.  Those that see a defeat in an allowance race as an effort that keeps him from being a contender in a Grade I stake are ignoring the very strong effort he put forth that afternoon at Keeneland.  Even if Get Stormy procures an easy lead there’s going to be more pace in here then he got in Lexington and that’s enough to give him a big chance to win.  The aforementioned Get Stormy looked as if his best days were behind him but then Bush and jockey Javier Castellano gave him a chance to do what he has always done best.  In the Maker’s Mark Mile he made a clear early lead and kept on finding, pulling clear late to win by almost three lengths.  Castellano has landed elsewhere but Ramon Dominguez is on board and he is more than capable of nursing a frontrunner along through moderate fractions.  They’ll have to catch this guy to beat him.  SELECTIONS: 5-9-7-13

Race 11, The Kentucky Derby (G1), Post Time: 6:24 PM EDT

After losing two horses that were considered major contenders it’s difficult to find a horse to land on as a Derby pick.  However, #13 MUCHO MACHO MAN is a horse who I’ve gradually warmed up to in the time since he was last seen in New Orleans.  His 3rd place finish in the Louisiana Derby included a lost shoe and down the stretch it appeared as if he lacked that same punch we had grown to expect from him.  Trainer Kathy Ritvo immediately hatched a plan to have him fit off a 42 day break and it included long, steady workouts and consistent gallops.  It seems to have worked to perfection thus far as Mucho Macho Man was considered the picture of healthy by most on-track observers later in Derby week.  The question of running style is a legitimate one as he has never been able to rally from well off the pace and the early clip in here will be very strong.  While that is a concern, he also seems to be very handy and can be placed anywhere along the way.  If jockey Rajiv Maragh can rate with him and make one run he’ll be dangerous as a mid-range longshot.  #15 MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE would break one of the oldest Derby “rules” as the last horse to be blanketed in roses who didn’t run at two was Apollo in 1882.  This son of War Chant is from the top notch Bob Baffert barn, who has won three Derbies during his Hall of Fame career.  Whether the Santa Anita Derby was a particularly strong prep is up for debate but this guy showed some real gumption in that victory.  He rated comfortably after going to the lead in his prior start and continued to rally in the stretch drive after angling in while green at the eighth pole.  There are few horses in here who have moved forward in recent starts and if you’re going to gamble that a horse like this can move forward in this situation, Baffert’s the right guy to have in your corner.  #1 ARCHARCHARCH was on the verge of being the 3rd choice in here prior to drawing the inside post on Wednesday evening.  That really should not disqualify him from contention as the two rivals just to his outside have little early speed and that will help him get a good spot down the stretch for the first time.  The Arkansas Derby was the strongest prep on the Derby trail and this guy was very game in winning by a head.  He is plucky, versatile, and has push-button acceleration.  Those are the kinds of things you like in searching for a Derby horse.  SELECTIONS: 13-15-1-19

In the $0.50 Pick 4, let’s play: 6,7,8,11 with 2,3,6,10 with 5,7,9 with 1,3,8,13,15,19  TOTAL: 144

Best of luck with your wagers!