Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall Stars Weekend

Keeneland kicked off Fall Stars weekend on Friday as the weather in Lexington, Ky was in the midst of a major change. With overcast skies mixed in with rays of sunshine, high winds and spurts of downpours the temperature slowly dropped from a pleasant 72 degrees as the day carried on. Saturday figures to be one of the colder opening weekends in sometime. The rain will be gone but with a high of only 54, it will feel like winter to many as the crowd will witness the Breeders' Futurity being run on dirt for the first time in over 10 years.

The Breeder's Cup is only a month away and this weekend marks the last two points races toward the 2015 Kentucky Derby (the Grey at Woodbine on Sunday is also run for points), before the BC Futurity next month.

Breeders' Futurity S. (G1)
10/4 @ 5:08 EST

11 Keen Ice 15-1

Could not break his maiden at Ellis Park first out which is a concern, but came back at Churchill and stretched out to a mile in his next start to do so. Son of Curlin just may enjoy the longer distance here and will be coming from the back of the pack. If there is a contested pace on the front end, he could pick up the pieces late to pull off the upset at big odds. Has a very nice pedigree which includes Verrazano in his female family. 

5 Carpe Diem 4-1

Lived up to his 1600k price tag by winning at Saratoga in his debut for trainer Todd Pletcher. Tough to gauge how these juveniles will take to two turns for the first time, but being by Giants Causeway it shouldn't be a problem. Very interested in watching this colt run on Saturday, especially considering his half-brother J.B.'s Thunder, who won this race in 2010. 

6 Bold Conquest 9-2

Was coming on strong (100 LP BRIS Speed rating) in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill last month, but hung late and lost by a neck in a race that produced a slow time at this distance. Trainer Steve Asmussen should have him ready to fire again in here. 

7 Conquest Tsunami 9-2

Ontario-bred broke his maiden in his debut here in April over the Polytrack and then went to Woodbine to win three in a row including a race on the grass. Is undefeated but making first start on dirt and going around two turns. Tough to leave out though. 

$24 Breeders' Futurity Bankroll

$4 WPS: 11

$1 EX BX: 11, 5, 6, 7

*Taking the 11 across the board at long odds and will try to hit the exacta with top four choices to pad the Derby bankroll.

Champagn S. (G1)
10/4 @ 4:29 EST

$12 Champagn Bankroll

$2 EX BX: 1, 4, 6

*Going for the exact with the recent maiden winners.

*Made a silly four-horse exacta bet in the FrontRunner as the heavy favorite won. Hit the exacta but lost money on the $24 ticket I played. 

2015 KY Derby Bankroll: $103.60 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

FrontRunner Preview

The FrontRunner on opening weekend at Santa Anita marks the second race on the 2015 Kentucky Derby trail and this is the first Grade 1 race on the table for the two-year-olds that offer up points.

FrontRunner S. (G1)
9/27 @ 6:00 EST

7 American Pharoah 8-5

Threw in a clunker in his racing debut, but came back to break his maiden in impressive fashion (7f in 1:21 2/5) in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). This son of Pioneerof the Nile has given us the first wow performance of the season for the two-year-olds and is definitely the one to catch. If there is any doubt about this juvenile, it has to be that he is making his first start on dirt. 

4 Daddy D T 6-1

Only other stakes winner entered, but that was on turf. Posted a six-furlong bullet work over the track and can't be overlooked. 

2 Lord Nelson 8-1

Bob Baffert's other entry is making his first start in over two months after breaking his maiden in his racing debut. Enters with three solid works over the track and could be the wildcard if he takes to two turns. 

10 Calculator 8-1

Still looking for his first victory, but did run second to American Pharoah in the Del Mar Futurity. This Florida-bred boasts a nice pedigree, which includes Shackleford in his female family and may just need to stretch out to show his talent. 

$24 FrontRunner Bankroll

$2 Ex Bx: 7, 4, 2, 10

*Going to play it safe here with the four-horse exacta and hope the favorite gets beat. 

*Hit the exacta for $114.40 in the Iroquois to kick off the bankroll for the road to the KY Derby. 

2015 KY Derby Bankroll: $114.40

Saturday, September 6, 2014

2015 Road to the Kentucky Derby

Another summer has come to an end, which means the changeover to fall starts to stir up talk of the next Kentucky Derby winner. Has the future Derby winner broke his/her maiden or even made their racing debut? Did we witness a potential superstar at Del Mar or the Spa these past couple of months?

This weekend won't answer those questions just yet, but it does officially kick off the 2015 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday is the first of 36 stakes races that offer up points to the two-year-olds as they begin their quest toward the 2015 Derby. Over the next eight months these juveniles/sophomores will attempt to accrue as many points as possible to secure a starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Let the dreams and future bets commence...

Iroquois S. (G3)
6/7 Belmont @ 6:52 EST

6 Cleveland Sound 6-1

Finished fourth in the the Saratoga Special (G2) last month but was in behind a wall of horses coming down the stretch. Adds Lasix for the first time and is in position to pull the upset for trainer Graham Motion. 

2 Mr. Z 5-2

Is the class of these juveniles entered in here after finishing runner-up in both the Sanford (G3) and Special. Fired a four-furlong bullet over the track for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and will be the one to beat. 

8 Bold Conquest 4-1

Son of Curlin broke his maiden by a head in his second start and should handle the run around two turns. Might be the better Asmussen colt entered in here. 

5 Lucky Player 5-1

Broke his maiden over the track back in May but was off the board here in the the Bashford Manor (G3). Stretched out to a mile last time but missed by a neck in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile. The 1 1/16-mile distance will not pose a problem but might be a touch slow compared to the competition.

$36 Iroquois Bankroll

$12 W: 6

$2 Ex Bx: 2, 6, 5, 8

* I'll play Cleveland Sound to win and try to catch a piece of the exacta with my top four picks.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Belmont Stakes Preview

It has been a long 36 years since Affirmed captured the Derby, Preakness and Belmont back in 1978. There have been 12 other horses since then that have entered the Belmont with an opportunity to win all three races, but ultimately came up short. Fans are longing to see another three-year-old accomplish horse racing's toughest test, while some are just hoping to witness a Triple Crown winner for the first time. Come Saturday, California Chrome will attempt a feat that only 11 others have been able to pull off before him. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes is all that stands in the way of the California-bred and racing immortality. Will he break the 36-year drought or join the list of 12 others that have failed to reel in that elusive crown since '78?

Spectacular Bid (1979), Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), Big Brown (2008) and I'll Have Another (2012).

Belmont Stakes(G1)
6/7 Belmont @ 6:52 EST

5 Ride On Curlin 12-1

Finished 7th in the Derby despite a rough trip in his only race off the board in 11 starts. Ran second to California Chrome by 1 1/2 lengths in the Preakness, but was not catching the winner that day at 1 3/16 miles. The son of Curlin shouldn't have an issue going the added distance and will have another shot at running down the Triple Crown hopeful on Saturday. Still looking for his first stakes win, but last year Palace Malice (Curlin) didn't capture his first stakes until the Belmont. Continues to improve and I like him to pull off the upset.

2 California Chrome 3-5

All eyes and money will be on the Derby and Preakness winner as he tries to do what may be the hardest stunt to pull off in sports. Nothing to knock about this colt as he enters the Belmont on a six-race win streak. Had him on top in the Preakness, but Saturday is a different monster and I predict he will get run down in the stretch. I hope I am wrong, because I would love nothing more than to see my first Triple Crown winner on Saturday. 

1 Medal Count 20-1

I know, he's better on turf/poly and has finished off the board in all three starts over the dirt. That being said, he's by Dynaformer and a horse named Brilliant Speed (Dynaformer), who was better on the grass, finished 3rd in the 2011 Belmont. Got squeezed shortly after the start in the Derby and still made a move turning for home, but had to check in midstretch ending his run. Posted a six-furlong bullet in 1:10 3/5 the other day and enters in here rested. Tough to throw out when running this far. 

9 Wicked Strong 6-1

Broke his maiden over this track and captured the Wood Memorial (G1) two starts back. Lost all hope in the Derby when he stumbled coming out of gate 19. Still managed to get up for fourth-place and also enters in here fresh after skipping the Preakness. His daddy, Hard Spun could do no better than fourth in this race back in 2007. It wouldn't surprise me if he out does his dad on Saturday though.  

8 Commissioner 20-1

Less talented and slower than many of the others entered in here, but if he can stay close to the lead in the beginning he has an outside shot to run in the money. The Belmont is a quirky race and I would not be shocked to see the son of A.P. Indy grind out 12 furlongs. 

*Tabbed Chrome to win the Preakness and had the cold exacta/trifecta. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

139th Preakness

California Chrome proved to all the doubters that he is definitely the best three-year-old of his class at this point in his career, by taking down the 19-horse field in the Kentucky Derby just two short weeks ago. This time around a filly, two Derby contenders and six newcomers will attempt to take down the newest Classic winner. It's a different day and a different track, but California Chrome should continue his reign in Saturday's Preakness and run his consecutive winning streak to six. Three weeks from now, the Belmont may be a different story and a more daunting task than what this weekend poses.

Preakness Stakes
5/17 Pimlico @ 6:18 EST

California Chrome 3-5

Tough to try to bet against in here. Unless there is a major mishap at the break or he gets caught up in the speed duel up front, he will head into the Belmont as the next Triple Crown hopeful. In a class above the rest of the field and don't see any of the other contenders posing a threat. 

Ride On Curlin 10-1

Finished seventh in the Derby despite a difficult ride and not being able to find much running room in the large field. Gets a new rider and with almost half the field size, he should fair better this time out. The 1 3/16-mile distance will not pose a problem for the son of Curlin and like him to be second best on Saturday. 

Social Inclusion 5-1

Gave a nice effort in his graded stakes debut last time out in the Wood (G1). Making just his fourth career start so he figures to continue to improve and also enters in here rested. Posted a bullet work over the track earlier this week and has an outside shot to pull the upset.

*Another Derby and another top pick (Danza) finishes third. Tried to beat the heavy favorite and lost.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

140th Kentucky Derby Preview

One of the most anticipated weeks of the year has finally arrived. Another year and another shot for one horse to run into the history books of the Kentucky Derby. The fastest two minutes in sports, racing's holy grail, call it what you want, on Saturday one three-year-old will garner the bed of roses and get his moment of glory under the Twinspires. The draw is done and the odds are set, so it's time to try and piece together the 140th running of the most prestigious race in the "Sport of Kings".

Derby Hi-5

1) #4 Danza 8-1

One fact that is tough to ignore about this colt is he is the only horse entered that posted triple-digit BRIS Speed and Late Pace figures in his last prep race. Ran twice as a two-year-old last summer before taking off the rest of the year to recover from an injury. After finishing third and getting beat by 7 1/2 lengths in his three-year-old debut in a strong allowance race, he came back with an impressive performance in his first start around two turns in the Arkansas Derby (G1). This lightly-raced colt has raced at four different tracks in four lifetime starts, never finishing out of the money and could be peaking at the right time. Not real high on one individual horse this year, but Danza makes his way to the top of my list in the final days leading up to the Derby. 

2) #14 Intense Holiday 8-1

Son of Harlan's Holiday was always game last year as a two-year-old but could do no better than fourth after breaking his maiden. His sophomore campaign has been a different story though. He has not finished off the board in three starts this year and has improved his BRIS Speed rating with each race. Exits a disappointing stretch run in the Louisiana Derby (G2) but still got up for second and received a triple-digit Speed rating. Put in an impressive work over the track this week and another that has experience running at multiple venues. I look for him to make one powering move turning for home to try and hit the board or even pull off the win.

3) #5 California Chrome 5-2

Has the most starts of any other horse in the Derby and is entering in here on a four-race win streak. Been dominating the West Coast and will be the heavy favorite. Tough to knock a horse with that resume but going 1 1/4 miles is a different task and his pedigree doesn't exactly scream 10 furlongs.  Will include in some exotics but I can't back the odds that he will go off at considering he has never run outside California and the last time a Cal-bred won the Derby was 1962. Dating back to 2000, only three Derby winners did not have a triple-digit BRIS Late Pace rating in their final prep (Super Saver, Mine That Bird and Big Brown). Chrome had a 93 and 97 Late Pace figure in his last two starts.

4) #19 Ride On Curlin 15-1

After breaking his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths at Ellis Park back in July, jockey Calvin Borel told everyone that we would be seeing this colt on the first Saturday in May. Calvin's prediction proved correct and while he hasn't ridden him since a third-place finish in the Southwest (G3) in February, he jumps back aboard on Saturday. Have never been too high on this colt, but his run in the Arkansas Derby made me take notice. Only one of three in here that had a triple-digit BRIS Late Pace figure in his last prep. The son of Curlin has two races over the track and has only finished out of the money once in nine lifetime starts. Could definitely hit the board if Calvin and him can overcome post position 18. 

5) #12 Dance With Fate 20-1

Closer that should benefit from a fast pace upfront. Comes off back-to-back triple-digit Late Pace ratings over all-weather tracks but horses in the past have proven you can carry that form over to the dirt in the Derby with those type of figures. In his only two starts over dirt he finished runner-up in the FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita in September and was not a factor in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after getting squeezed back at the start. Tough to discount with his closing speed and the price that will come with him on Derby day.

Don't Count Out...

#20 Wicked Strong 6-1

Winner of the Wood Memorial (G1) is currently sitting just outside my top five. Has not run a run bad race in NY but in his two races outside the state he finished off the board. The outside post might be difficult to overcome but the son of Hard Spun, 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up, wouldn't surprise if he came charging late to finish in the money. 

#18 Candy Boy 15-1

Has the pedigree to go the distance and will likely be coming on late due to the outside post. Has posted mediocre Speed ratings and would certainly have to run the race of his young career on Saturday to hit the board. 

*The curse of Apollo will live another year as Hoppertunity was scratched two days before the big race. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blue Grass Stakes/Arkansas Derby

Only one more weekend to go and we can start piecing the Kentucky Derby puzzle together. The major Derby preps wrap up on Saturday with races at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park. Both preps offer 170 points and a potential starting gate in the Derby. Tapiture is the only three-year-old running this Saturday that has already secured enough points which makes these two races all that more intriguing.

The historical Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland drew a full field of 14 with one also-eligible. Harry's Holiday and Vinceremos both sit on the Derby bubble with 20 points. A first through fourth-place finish in here for either of these two colts would certainly give them enough points. Coastline sits in the 24th position with 13 points, Dance With Fate has 8 points and Casiguapo with 5. Those three will probably need to hit the board if they want to move on to Louisville. All others would need to claim one of the top two spots if they want a shot at the roses in a few weeks.

One could argue that the Blue Grass might just be the most prestigious Derby prep race out there. A total of 23 Derby winners have come from this race, with the last one being Street Sense in 2007 (the first and only to do so over the Keeneland Polytrack). The track is switching back over to dirt this coming summer. So, it shouldn't be long before the next Derby winner emerges from the Blue Grass again to join the likes of Whirlaway, Northern Dancer, Forward Pass, Spectacular Bid, Northern Dancer, Strike The Gold and Thunder Gulch. 

The Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn is represented by Tapiture, who has already claimed a gate with 42 points. Ride On Curlin is currently sitting in 22nd place with 15 points and has to have a top four finish. Strong Mandate enters with 11 points and Commissioner with 10. Both need to hit the board if they want to be racing on the first Saturday in May.

The Lexington Stakes at Keeneland next Saturday is the only other  prep left and that is a hail mary attempt to get into the Derby with only 17 total points given out.

Blue Grass Stakes (G1) 1 1/8 m
4/12 Keeneland 5:45 EDT

13 Medal Count 9-2

After fading in the Fountain of Youth (G2) two starts back, came back in the Transylvania (G3) just last week with a victory over the Polytrack. Will be a tough task coming back within a week but the move he made turning for home in that race was pretty impressive. 

5 Bobby's Kitten 3-1

Has shown promise on the turf and will try to continue that success in his first start over the Polytrack. The always dangerous Kitten's Joy offspring will try to give the Ramsey's their first Blue Grass victory. 

14 Gala Award 5-1

Sold as a yearling for $1550K at the Keeneland September sale and shouldn't have a problem with the 1 1/8 miles. Won the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream last month at this distance and is another that is making his first start over the Poly. 

11 Coastline 8-1

Returns to the track that he broke his maiden at as a two-year-old. Exiting a third-place finish by a neck at this distance in the Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park, which is also a Polytrack.  Likes the surface and tough to write off. 

$24 Blue Grass Bankroll

$0.50 TRI BX: 13, 5, 14, 11

$1 EX BX: 13, 5, 14, 11 

Arkansas Derby (G1) 1 1/8 m
4/12 Oaklawn Park 7:07 EDT

1 Bayern 9-5

The much anticipated stakes debut of Bayern, who Baffert has dubbed as the next Bodemeister. Has not raced since winning an allowance at Santa Anita by 15 lengths in February. If he can get the distance, just might be too fast for the rest of this field. 

6 Commissioner 8-1

Has proven that getting 1 1/8 miles will not be an issue. Flopped in the Fountain of Youth and came back in the Sunland Derby (G3) only to get third after stumbling out of the gate and losing a shoe.  Still unable to throw in the towel on this guy and he should hit the board here. 

3 Tapiture 9-5

Has not finished off the board in six lifetime starts, but the added distance may be stretching it for him. Should give another solid effort and it wouldn't be a surprise is he wins. 

$12 Arkansas Derby Bankroll

$2 TRI BX: 1, 6, 3 

*Hit the TRI in the SA Derby winning some of the bankroll back from last week. Did not have Wicked Strong in the Wood on my ticket. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April has arrived

The first Friday in April is finally here and so is the opening of the much anticipated Spring Meet at Keeneland located in Lexington, KY.

This will definitely be a unique meet for the historic race course as it will be the last time racing is run over the Polytrack. It was just announced this week that the track will change back over to dirt this summer, marking the end of an eight year run that Keeneland had with the all-weather surface. Hate it or love it, the switch should certainly bring the Bluegrass Stakes back from the dead.

It is hard to imagine that we are only one month away from the Derby and yet there is still no consensus on the Derby favorite. Top Billing and Honor Code were once at the top of lists but have since fallen off due to injury. Cairo Prince was the next to be dubbed the favorite after his performance in the Holy Bull (G2), but he came up short in the Florida Derby (G1) last week.  It looks to be California Chrome's turn following his impresive run in the San Felipe (G2). He will get a chance to cement himself as the leader if he can tackle the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. Of course there is also the Wood Memorial (G1) being run at Aqueduct. If Samraat were to win again, it would be tough to not put him near the top heading into the Derby undefeated.

Wood Memorial (G1) 1 1/8m
4/5 Aqueduct 5:40 EDT

8 Samraat 7-2

Just keeps on winning. Carried 123 lbs. in the Gotham and that didn't stop him. Hard not to back this colt on his home track. 

11 Social Inclusion 2-1

Blew away Honor Code and an allowance field at Gulfstream Park last month and could be a monster. That being said, I need to wait until he shows he can repeat that performance on another track. Can he wire at Aqueduct going 1 1/8 miles?

4 Harpoon 8-1

Takes one last shot at the Derby and has been training well. Had trouble with his outside post last time and draws near the inside here. Don't count out the Pletcher colt. 

10 Uncle Sigh 5-1 

Continues to play second fiddle to Samraat. Had chances to beat him in the Withers and Gotham but couldn't. Don't see him turning the tables here but figures to be in the mix. 

$30 Wood Bankroll

$6 W: 8

$1 TRI BX: 8, 11, 4, 10 

Santa Anita Derby (G1) 1 1/8m
4/5 Santa Anita 6:30 EDT

3 Hoppertunity

After a difficult trip in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds he traveled to Oaklawn and won the Rebel (G2) in eventful fashion. This lightly-raced colt is still learning and continues to improve with each start.  If he pulls off the upset, the curse of Apollo will be the talk leading up to the Derby. 

5 California Chrome

One of the more seasoned three-year-olds on the Derby trail comes off a 7 1/4-length win in the San Felipe. The early Derby favorite for many will get a chance to prove himself going 1 1/8 miles.  

6 Candy Boy

Returns after an almost two-month layoff. Has been training well and should be in contention in the end. Will have to hit the board if he wants to make the trip to Louisville. 

$20 SA Derby Bankroll

$8 W: 3

$2 TRI BX: 3, 5, 6

*It has been a rough start to the year in trying to figure out these unpredictable three-year-olds. On to the Wood & SA Derby. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gotham Preview

                                                                      Gotham City

This past weekend Intense Holiday (53 pts) and Wildcat Red (50 pts) were the first sophomores to punch their ticket to Louisville by capturing the Risen Star and FOY. On Saturday another three-year-old will join them in the quest for the roses by taking down the Gotham at Aqueduct.

Samraat (10 pts) was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the 11-horse field after winning the Withers (G3) by a length over Uncle Sigh (4 pts) at this track in early February. In Trouble, the only other graded winner entered, makes his anticipated return to the races for the first time since capturing the Futurity (G2) at Belmont back in September. The Gotham is an interesting race on paper as there are more questions than answers attached to many of these entries.

Gotham (G3) 1 1/16m
3/1 Aqueduct 4:17 EST

10 Harpoon 10-1

Has finished no worse than second in all five lifetime starts and looks to add some Derby points to his resume on Saturday. Lost out by a nose in his stakes debut in the Sam F. Davis (G3) on February 1 after dropping back to sixth around the turn. It looked like he had no shot in that race, but he angled to the outside turning for home and came flying down the stretch to just miss at the wire. Like him to have a better trip from the outside post since he seemed to have trouble being down on the inside last time out. The gray did break his maiden from post No. 11 in a 14-horse field to close out his two-year-old campaign in December. Tough to pass up or leave off your tickets with the price that will be hanging over his head. 

1A Samraat 5-2

After running against state-breds in his first three starts, he stepped into open company last out and gave one heck of an effort to get his name up on the Derby Leaderboard. Tough to knock a horse that has yet to lose, but the competition will be tougher in here than what he faced in the Withers. The New-York bred is going to have to run the race of his young career on Saturday to secure a spot in the Derby. 

3 Financial Mogul 10-1

Expected him to show more in the Holy Bull (G2) after running second to Cairo Prince in the Nashua (G2) two starts back. A closer that made a nice move in the Holy Bull but flattened out at the top of the stretch. Will definitely need to take a step forward here if his connections want to start talking Derby. Like him to be coming on late to catch a piece of the board on Saturday. 

$24 Gotham Bankroll

$12 W: 10

$2 EX BX: 10, 1, 3 = $12

*Came up empty in the FOY and Risen Star. Played Commissioner and Top Billing on top in the exotic ticket, which didn't pan out. Had Intense Holiday in an exacta box but Hoppertunity and Rise Up failed to hit the board. On to another week of racing...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Championship Series

The stakes go up this weekend in the Fountain of Youth and Risen Star as the "Championship Series" begins on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The points are elevated from 10-4-2-1 to 50-20-10-5 and a win in any points race from here on out guarantees a spot in the 20-horse field.

The FOY at Gulfstream Park kicks off the Championship Series on Saturday and will catapult the promising contenders onto the Florida Derby next month. Orb won this race last year and went on to win the Derby, breaking the 13-year drought of a Derby winner emerging from this race.

The Risen Star drew an even larger field of 14 with two also-eligibles. History has not shined on the star of this race in years past. Not a single horse has gone on to win the Derby after capturing the Risen Star or the Louisiana Derby Trial, as it was previously named, which dates back to 1973.

Full fields in both stakes will certainly give these young sophomores a sample test of what the Derby will be like on that first Saturday in May. Time is running out to start claiming those much needed Derby points and there are some talented colts that need to get on the board this weekend.

The Gulfstream Park card is absolutely loaded on Saturday and Race 6 features a 1 1/16-mile allowance race for three-year-olds. One or more of the 10 entered into this race most likely will be seen in a Derby prep race their next time out.

Fountain of Youth (G2) 1 1/16m
2/22 Gulfstream Park 5:33 EST

1 Commissioner 3-1

Makes stakes debut and has proven distance is certainly not an issue. Has already beat Top Billing once and will try to do so again on Saturday. The son of A. P. Indy has increased his BRIS Speed rating in each of his three races and if he improves off his last effort will certainly be tough to beat. Anyone writing off the Commish due to his post must have forgotten last year's winner of the FOY and what post he broke from.

12 Top Billing 7-2

The son of Curlin will be coming on late and if he can maneuver his way through this deep field, watch out. Got squeezed in the stretch in his race against the Commissioner but took a slight lead and was unable to pull away. It will be interesting to see these two battle it out again in stakes company with points on the line.

2 We Miss Artie 8-1

Was near the front in the stretch of the BC Juvenile before fading to seventh, but only lost by four lengths. Came back against stakes company at this distance over the grass to lose out by a head to promising three-year-old Storming Inti. BRIS Speed figures are gradually increasing with each race and one that could easily hit the board. 

4 Wildcat Red 6-1

Lost out in the GP Derby by a head to General A Rod but came back earlier this month to win the Hutchenson (G3) at seven furlongs in an impressive time. Likely to be on the lead turning for home. How far will his speed carry him?

5 General A Rod 5-1

Winner of the GP Derby on New Year's Day has not raced since. Unlike The Commissioner, it's up in the air if this colt will be up to the task to take on graded company after the layoff. 

$36 FOY Bankroll

$12 W: 1

$1 TRI BX: 1,12/1,2,4,5,12/1,2,4,5,12 = $24

Risen Star (G2) 1 1/16m
2/22 Fair Grounds 6:25 EST

8 Hoppertunity 8-1

Recent maiden winner steps right into stakes competition but his pedigree would indicate that the distance will definitely not be an issue. With no real standout in here, this colt could steal the race for Bob Baffert. 

9 Intense Holiday 8-1

The class of the race will be closing late and has an interesting backstory, which explains his effort late in races. Been running in graded stakes since breaking his maiden, but has finished no better than third (Holy Bull). Should catch a piece of the board but can he step up and capture that first stakes that has eluded him?

2 Rise Up 4-1

Makes his three-year-old debut after winning the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) by six lengths back in November. Has been training well since his last race but the long layoff is definitely a concern. Another one that will see how far his speed will take him against much tougher competition. 

$12 Risen Star Bankroll

$2 EX BX: 8,9,2 = $12

Race 6 @ GP (3:05):
Mexikoma 5-1

Colt that can supposedly run all day. Broke his maiden by 14 lengths, going one mile back in September and then emerged in the BC Juvenile to finish a closing sixth. Might need to get a race under him after the long layoff but one to definitely keep an eye on. There are a lot of handicappers high on this horse to do promising things in the near future. 

*Cairo Prince paid $37.20 on a $12 ticket to keep me out of the hole in the first three-year-old race posted this year. Good Luck as the Championship Series kicks off Saturday!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Holy Bull Preview

The Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park is when the Kentucky Derby trail really starts to heat up. Of course other points races have already been run, but by now it is safe to say that the 2014 Derby winner has broken his/her maiden. From here on out only the best three-year-olds will be squaring off against one another. With the limited number of Derby preps these sophomores are forced to run in now, we can slowly begin to weed out the impostures. This weekend is also when the Triple Crown nominations are released, giving us hundreds of colts, geldings and fillies to scour over as we try to decide who we want to target for our fantasy drafts/stables and/or pick out to place a future wager on. Buckle up and enjoy the ride because these next 100 days will be a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows as we approach that infamous first Saturday in May.

Cairo Prince leads a wide-open field of 11 entries that will load the gate in the Holy Bull and it is anyone's guess on which four will walk away with those luxurious Derby points on Saturday. With only two graded stakes winners entered and no two-year-old champion or Gulfstream Park Derby winner running, like last year, it will be interesting to see which three-year-old will take that next step forward and become a household name.

Since the last post was made, New Year's Day has been retired with an injury and Shared Belief was crowned two-year-old champ, despite no races on conventional dirt and skipping the Breeders' Cup.

Holy Bull (G2) 1 1/16m
1/25 Gulfstream Park 5:03 EST

7 Cairo Prince 3-1
Only graded stakes winner (on dirt) in here has been working lights out for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Tough to gauge how good he might be after the mysterious Remsen last time out, but looks to be the best in this group.

1 Coup De Grace 4-1
Won an allowance race over the track to close out 2013 and tries to stay undefeated in his third career start. Making stakes debut and must overcome starting down along the rail. Son of Tapit should improve off last and is a threat to the top contender.

8 Wicked Strong 8-1
Just missed out in the Remsen and beat recent maiden winner Cool Samurai two starts back. One that could certainly surprise. 

2 Financial Mogul 10-1
Got up for second in the Nashua (G2) after coming from the back of the pack and being forced to come five wide off the far turn. Could catch a piece of the board late. 

$36 Holy Bull Bankroll

$12 W: 7

$2 EX BX: 7,1,8,2 = $24

*Struck out in the CashCall as Tap It Rich was still not ready to run with the big dogs. Only a matter of time before he shows his talent.