Thursday, April 11, 2013

Closing out the "Championship Series"

The Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn and the Bluegrass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland close out the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series" this Saturday as the horses scramble to earn enough points to load the gate in the Derby. On paper the 10-horse field in the Arkansas Derby looks predictable while the full field of 14 in the Bluegrass is anyone's guess.

Oxbow already has 36 points to his name and is most likely already in the Derby but he can't seem to catch a break after drawing another outside post in the Arkansas Derby. The one to beat as his pedigree suggests he can run all day. Veteran jockey Gary Stephens is aboard this promising colt for the first time and Lukas hopes he can keep him from making another premature move to the front. Den's Legacy has hit the board in all but two of his eleven starts and figures to contend. He needs to hit the board one more time if he wants to make the trip to Louisville since he is currently sitting on only 20 points. Bob Baffert brings optional claiming winner War Academy to Oaklawn to attempt to snag Derby points.

The Bluegrass is a jumbled mess as Uncaptured is one of the two graded stakes winners entered. That was back in November in the KY Jockey Club (G2) and the rest of that field has been anything but impressive. Rydilluc is the other graded stakes winner in here but that was over the grass in the Palm Beach (G3) and has posted below average speed figures. Dynamic Sky and Java's War return to the track for the first time since their second and third place finishes respectively in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) over the Keeneland Polytrack last Fall. Pletcher brings Palace Malace back to the races in a desperate attempt to round up points at the last minute following a disastrous trip in the Louisiana Derby (G1) just two weeks ago.

Arkansas Derby (G1)

4/13 6:28 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8m

10 Oxbow 5-2
In a class above the rest here. No excuse if he doesn't put this one away regardless of the post position.

5 Den's Legacy 6-1
Finished third in the Rebel (G2) over this track last out and figures to be there in the end. Not good enough to take down Oxbow but always finds a way to hit the board. 

2 War Academy 2-1
Not sure why he is the morning-line favorite since he finished fourth in his only graded start in the San Vicente (G2). Nice win last time out is making first start outside California. 

9 Overanalyze 4-1
Looking to regain form he showed by winning the Remsen (G1) in November. Could improve in his second start as a three-year-old.

Ex/Tri Bx: 10,5,2,9

Bluegrass Stakes (G1)
4/13 5:40 EST
Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8m

5 Palace Malace 8-1
Would not be entered here if Pletcher didn't think he would contend. Don't like taking horses that have never run on the Poly but this time last week Emollient proved it didn't matter if you are just better than the rest. Has the talent to emerge from this deep field as long as he doesn't encounter another terrible trip. 
13 Rydilluc 4-1
Lightly raced colt has won his last three over the turf. Turf to Poly usually is not issue and should finish with a good closing kick. 

7 Uncaptured 7-2
Runner-up in the Spiral (G3) over the Turfway Park Poly last out, figures to be in the mix. 

4 Java's War 4-1
Runner-up to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) makes his second start over the Poly. 

Ex/Tri Bx: 5,13,7,4

*Had the exacta in the Wood as Verrazano pulled off the win and Normandy Invasion was a closing second. 
*Flashback was second and is off the derby trail. Tiz A Minister came in fourth but was not in the picture. 

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