Friday, March 29, 2013

Louisiana/Florida Derby

The last leg of the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series" takes off this weekend as the points double from 50-20-10-5 to 100-40-20-10. What does this mean? Pretty simple, hit the board or Derby dreams get dashed.

Fair Grounds plays host to one of the two derbies on Saturday, the Louisiana Derby (G2). This is where we finally get to see if the son of War Pass truly is "Revolutionary". He is coming off one of the most impressive come from behind victories this year in the Withers (G3) at the beginning of February and is running outside the state of New York for the first time in his career. Revolutionary will have to step up to the competition if he wants to book a trip to Louisville. With currently only 10 points attached to his name anything other than a 1-2 finish will have this promising colt on the outside looking in. Two others that will take the majority of the money are the 2-3 finishers in the Risen Star (G2), Baffert's Code West and Pletcher's other entry, Palace Malace. Undefeated Departing steps up to graded stakes company out of Al Stall's barn and could be in the mix.

Gulfstream Park showcases the Florida Derby (G1). Itsmyluckyday sure better hope that is the case on Saturday as he is another top three-year-old that must run 1-2 or he might be sitting out this year's Derby. Two-year-old champ Shanghai Bobby looks to redeem himself after being passed in the stretch by Lucky last time out in the Holy Bull (G3). Stretching out in distance certainly does not bode well for Bobby who already has 24 points but needs to hit the board here if he wants to claim a spot in the Derby. Orb, winner of the Fountain of Youth (G2) last month already has the points needed to run in May and is just trying to build some confidence in his last prep before Churchill. Just like I tabbed Lucky as the wildcard in the Holy Bull, I am going to throw Are You Kidding Me into the pool of contenders here as he makes his first start on the dirt. If you like maiden winners jumping straight to graded stakes then you can't dismiss Dale Roman's Pick of the Litter, who is coming off an impressive 7 1/2-length victory at the distance over the track.

Flashy Gray makes her second try around two turns in the Fair Ground Oaks (G2) and faces off against the undefeated Unlimited Budget. In the Gulfstream Oaks (G2) Live Lively, Dreaming of Julia and Emollient will battle it out as they gear up for the Oaks.

Louisiana Derby (G2)
3/30 Fair Grounds 6:44 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8m

Revolutionary 3-1
Watch the Withers and you will see why this colt is in my number one spot in the rankings. Will take  his talent to another state and prove that he belongs in the field of 20. If he can emerge from this full 14-horse field,  then not only will it prove he can overcome his traffic issues but also it will also give him a sample size of what the Derby will be like for him here in a month. It certainly would be nice to get him at 3-1 odds at the window.

Code West 9-2
It looked like he was finished in the stretch last time but found another gear and fought back to lose out only by a nose. Look for him to place behind Revolutionary and grab enough points for a spot in the Derby. 

Palace Malace 5-1
Everytime you turn around there is another promising Pletcher colt looming. There are many that like him to pull off the upset Saturday but he had the best trip of the top four in the Risen Star and fell back to third. One that should hit the board but there are two others in here that are just plain better. 

Departing 8-1
Sleeper that could upset if he handles the step up in class. He is undefeated but the big question is who has he beaten.

Florida Derby (G1)
3/30 Gulfstream Park 6:19 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8m

Itsmyluckyday 2-1
Posted the top BRIS Speed rating of his class in the last race. Is it Gulfstream or did he just mature that much from 2 to 3? Doesn't really matter as he returns for his third start over the track. In a class above the rest based on his figures. After tabbing him as wildcard in the Holy Bull and not betting him, I definitely won't be taking a stand against him this time. 

Orb 3-1
Another three-year-old that drastically improved from one start to the next. The Fountain of Youth winner likes to come from behind and has already won at the 1 1/8 mile distance. If he can keep Lucky within striking distance has a shot to pull off the upset. 

Shanghai Bobby 5-2
I really like this guy as he has shown that he's got heart but the added distance looks to be an issue. Unless he can come from off the pace there is no way he will be wiring the field here. 

Are You Kidding Me 15-1
Turf horse that is trying the dirt for the first time. Will be coming from off the pace and you just never know how these three-year-olds will take to a new surface. Will either hit the board or be a bust and head back to the turf.

*Last time had Hear the Ghost to upset in the San Felipe which he pulled off. Hit the exacta and trifecta as I had longshot Tiz a Minister hitting the board. Also, had Verrazano pegged to win the Tampa Bay Derby, but who didn't, right?

Friday, March 8, 2013

8 Weeks....

That's right, it's hard to imagine we are only eight weeks away from the most exciting two minutes in sports. Another weekend is approaching and that means more three-year-olds are loading the gates across the country in an attempt to garner the points necessary to have a shot at history.

This Saturday has two points races on the schedule as a field of nine will be competing in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and out on the West coast a field of eight are expected to load the gates for the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita. The latter is the prep for the Santa Anita Derby just four weeks away. The Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct has some talented youngsters lined up as well. While this is a non-points race at only six furlongs, don't be surprised to see the winner pop up in the Wood Memorial next month to take a shot at getting into the Derby.

Verrazono highlights the Tampa Bay Derby field as he makes his highly anticipated stakes debut. Coming off a 16 1/4-length clinic in a one-mile optional claimer, while posting a 104 BRIS Speed rating will certainly be the sophomore to beat in this derby. Falling Sky, winner of the Sam Davis (G3) last month over this track will need to break well from the outside post. Dynamic Sky was a neck second in the Davis and figures to contend. Honorable Dillon is the other graded winner entered as he exits a victory in the Hutcheson (G2). Purple Egg is the interesting entry as he makes his three-year-old debut after suffering a few setbacks earlier in the year. He has not been seen since winning the Inaugural Stakes back in December and will try his first shot around two turns.

Flashback and Goldencents are the headliners in the San Felipe, being the only two graded winners entered. The lightly-raced son of Ghostzapper, Hear the Ghost figures to make some noise in his first race at a route distance after a fast closing second to Distictiv Passion in the San Pedro Stakes. There is some buzz surrounding Omega Star, who drew the outside post but don't count out the California Breeders' Championship Stakes scorer Tiz A Minister.

Keep an eye on Oaklawn Park and Flashy Gray, who makes her stakes debut in the Honeybee (G3) as she looks to get on the board for the Kentucky Oaks. My pick to win the Oaks before she opened up in the future pool at 15-1. Unfortunately many others saw the same hype surrounding this daughter of Flashy Bull as she closed out the pool this past Sunday as the 6-1 favorite.

Tampa Bay Derby (G2)
3/9 Tampa Bay Downs 5:15 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/16m

Verrazano 4-5
No reason he shouldn't win his graded stakes bow. Not going to get any value but if he loses there will be an excuse right?

Dynamic Sky 4-1
After an uninspiring fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile has come back as a three-year-old to to win a stakes and get a a neck second in a graded race. Should be in the money but this is Verrazano's race to lose. 

Honorable Dillon 6-1
Likes to come from off the pace and is making his first attempt around two turns. Just fighting to hit the board here. 

Purple Egg 10-1
Looks to stay undefeated in his sophomore debut. Tough spot to enter here after a long layoff. Will be interesting to see how he does. 

EX/TRI BX: 6,5,3,2

San Felipe (G2)
3/9 Santa Anita Park 6:35 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/16m

Hear the Ghost 6-1
The ghost will be heard from come Saturday. Stepped up to stakes company last out off his maiden win and showed he belongs as he was closing the gap on the winner. If he improves again in his third start look for him to pull off the upset. First start around two turns is always worrisome for these three-year-olds regardless of pedigree until they actually show they can handle the distance. 

Tiz a Minister 12-1
First start on dirt was impressive, posting a 108 late pace and a 98 BRIS Speed rating albeit it was against state-breds at Santa Anita. Likes to come from way back and with the early speed in this race will be picking off the field coming down the stretch. If he doesn't get too far back too early he will be there at the end and might be the one to emerge. 

Flashback 8-5
On many peoples short list to win the Derby. Stepped up to graded company after breaking his maiden to win going away by 6 1/4 lengths in the four-horse field in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis. Need to see him race against a larger field in graded company before I'm fully on board and he can be upset here. 

Goldencents 2-1
Has won two Grade 3 races back-to-back but his late pace and BRIS Speed ratings have regressed in each race since breaking his maiden back in September. Likes to be on the lead if not right up on it and with the anticipated fast pace here it might hurt him at the end. 

EX/TRI BX: 5,6,2,3

Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes 3/9 Aqueduct 4:52 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 6f

EX/TRI BX: 5,1,3,4