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!

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