I will be making a blog post this weekend though. I’ll post when it is done,
I wasn’t taken with the early part of the card so I focused on the late Pick-4.
- A horses – (1) Galileo’s Song, (3) Earring
- B horses – (2) Pas de Soucis, (5) Pop By, (7) Spiga
- A horses – (4) Barry Lee, (9) Copper Bullet
- B horses – (2) Mo Diddley, (3) Hollywood Star, (7) Vino
- A horses – (3) Hollywood Star, (6) First Appeal, (11) Vicki’s Dancer
- B horses – (2) Aussie Prayer, (9) Noble Freud
- A horses – (6) Admirals Cove, (10) Wingman
- B horses – (1) Data Room, (8) Champagne Papi, (9) Noble Freud
- C horses – (2) Cape Angel, (3) Strong Side
As is my custom, I did a 20 horse analysis of the Kentucky Derby. First, the outcome. I threw up an airball in terms of my tickets, but my analysis was really a lot closer than that might indicated. Let me start with what I thought I did well. I had five horses that I put in the category of 3rd or 4th at best.
- Lookin at Lee
- State of Honor
I also have five horses I said had no chance whatever, even to finish in the money.
- Thunder Snow
- Fast and Accurate
Out of ten horses that I said had no chance to finish first or second, exactly one of them managed a top ten finish – Looking at Lee, who actually finished second. This is what I said about him.
Looking at Lee. On the positive side, he’s a plodding closer, which means the one post isn’t going to hurt him as much as if he was a speed horse, but on the negative side, he’s going to have to circle the field to be a factor at the end. The rule of thumb is that you don’t consider deep closers in the win slot. He’s also not cracked the win code since August at Ellis Park. I could put him in the 3rd or 4th spot, but I’m not seeing anything better for him.
Here’s where I was wrong about him. He didn’t have to circle the field. He was able to stay on what some were calling a golden rail, found a place to slip out in the stretch and finished second. I miscalled his trip, and had I figured that out I would’ve certainly given him a chance to make the place. Ironically, I had people tell me that based on my analysis they did put Lookin at Lee in the second spot and nailed the exacta. So of the horses I said were chanceless, including the ridiculous 6th choice in the betting Patch, all five were in the bottom 10, and of the horses I said backhole at best, four of the five finished in the bottom 10.
I thought three horses were the highest probability for the win slot. Irish War Cry, the horse I used on top, was in perfect position and simply spit the bit. I’ll have to get Motion’s opinion on that, but it was a huge disappointment. The other two horses were Classic Empire and Practical Joke, who finished fourth and fifth. Not horrible. The potential exacta horses were:
- Always Dreaming
- Battle of Midway
- J Boys Echo
They all finished in the top ten except for J Boys Echo.
I obviously missed the winner. This is what I said about him.
Always Dreaming. He was always targeted to run to the front early, and given the post position there is little doubt that will be the strategy. He’s the co-second choice on the morning line off the strength of his Florida Derby win, and while he was impressive winning that race, I remember thinking what an odd finish it was. The current downside on the horse is that he seems to be over energetic, and the concern is that between expending extra energy before the race, he may shoot his wad early in the Derby. The Toddster has been working the horse with a draw rein in an effort to control the horse better, but the gimmicky solution may portend trouble on Saturday. Still, Pletcher is a master at improving horses rapidly, and this was a prime example. He didn’t break his maiden until January at Tampa, won an optional claiming race next, and then popped in the Florida Derby. One thing I thought about before that race was, how could this horse be 5/2, but I didn’t think the field was that strong. I looked at the dirt races from that day, and they seemed to either be won by front runners or deep closers, and in the Florida Derby the top two finishers were basically there around the track, while Gunnevera came from well off the pace, so track bias doesn’t seem to be in play. The pace was reasonable, neither particularly fast or slow. Always Dreaming ran a huge new top in that race, and given that he has to be in the mix. But given the potential of a lot of speed in here, I’ve got reason to pause. I’m not likely to put him in the top slot, especially at the odds.
After reading that, I can understand the people who thought he was a legitimate contender and wound up with the exacta. I wish I could give you a reason I didn’t like him more. Sure the Pletcher Derby record influenced me, and sure I thought being trapped on the rail would cause him to go too fast early and crap out late, but the rail turned out to be a great place to be and the pace was not killing. I simply called it wrong.
So all in all, I predicted nine of the top ten finishers, including the 40-1 shot Battle of Midway who was one of my exacta possibles, and the better than 20-1 shots Tapwrit, Gormley and Practical Joke. If I had been a little more insightful I might have made a ton of money, but that’s what makes the Derby such a tough race. If you want to focus your money, you better be dead on. And if you want to spread, you better have a pretty good bankroll.
- 4 Sugar Queen
- 2 Our Girl Abby
- 5 Bangle
- 10 Indebted
- 4 Dream Man
- 5 Slim Shadey
- Secondary (3)
- 3 First Charmer
- 1A Lady Alexandra
- 9 Deltalina
- Secondary (2, 6)
- 2 Los Borrachos
- 6 Tashreeh
- 7 Alright Alright
- Secondary (5, 8)
- 9 Top Hat City
- 11 Elenzee
- 2 Whatstotalkabout
- Secondary (4, 5, 8)
- 8 Sister Steff
- 9 Lulu’s Blues
- 12 Really
- Secondary (2, 5, 10)
- 2 Cosi Bella
- 5 Eloquent Riddle
- 7 Cursor
- Secondary (1, 3, 4)
- 3 Mr Maybe
- 2 Revved Up
- 6 Roman Approval
- Secondary (1, 4, 7)
- 7 Pana Elianna
- 9 Smart Throb
- 10 Thin Dress
- Secondary (1, 4, 6)
I spent this week at the HBPA meeting in Vegas AND managed to win an NTRA-NHC qualifying tournament. Going to the Big Show in January. Unfortunately I’ll be on the road tomorrow and won’t be able to do the usual weekend picks for NYRA. But I’ll be back with AQU picks next week.
5 Oiseau de Guerre
3 Dream Trip
11 Risky Town
Secondary (1, 6, 9)
Oiseau de Guerre has been getting bet off the board but disappointed in his first two starts. He’ll be the favorite again, especially considering he was probably over his head in the Pilgrim. He’ll be dangerous, but he’s a tentative favorite for me. Dream Trip ran an interesting race in his debut. He broke at the back of the pack. The early pace was slow, but that second fraction was reasonable and he made a move into the pace during the second fraction, picking up 4 lengths into a 24.88 fraction. He then dropped a length or so, and then made another move in the stretch. Given a weak favorite, and 12-1 ML odds, this one is worth a look. Concomitant is the Chad Brown trainee and that is enough to put the horse in the list of contenders.
5 Irish Prayer
2 Canarsie Kid
Irish Prayer is listed at 15-1 on the ML and to me he looks like a primary contender. He began his career in state-bred races, finally broke his maiden, ran in a couple of NW1X races, winning one, and ran well in an open $50K claimer. He drops into a $35K NW3L and off his best race he should be competitive.
2 Lead Astray
Secondary (1, 5)
4 Innovative Idea
2 Lewis Bay
Lewis Bay should be the favorite here, but she is certainly not a lock. I’m going to look in a different place, and center in on Innovative Idea. She’s been primarily with Graded horses this year, and seems to be at the top of her game. Both horses should be vying up front, and I expect Innovative Idea to have the better speed. If I get the ML odds difference, she gets the closest look for me.
8 Completely Bonkers
2 Ross J Dawg
Secondary (5, 6, 7, 11)
As you can tell, while Commend looks like the best horse in the race, there are far too many contenders to hand the race to the favorite. Completely Bonkers interests me though. He just won a $50K starter with a competitive number, and comes back in a NW1X. No reason I can see that he should be 15-1, and if he stays at high odds he’s the one I’ll focus on.
6 Heaven is Waiting
5 Harlan’s Harmony
7 Royal by Nature
First four choices – clearly no insight here.
8 Big Handsome
5 Adonis Creed
Secondary (1, 2, 6)
Almost all the horses have some sort of chance in this race. Perhaps the interesting horse is Kieran McLaughlin’s Adonis Creed. I like the workout pattern and I like that Irad takes the mount.
1 Barton Holt
Secondary (3, 4, 8)
Again I think there are a lot of possibilities in this race and I’m vowing not to fall hard for any horse in this race. Leaveematthegate seems a better horse on the turf and at 8-1 ML could be the value.
6 Stallwalkin’ Dude
4 Economic Model
8 Ami’s Flatter
Secondary (2, 13)
This is an interesting renewal of the Bold Ruler. the two top choices will be tough in this race, with Stallwalkin’ Dude being the front-running type and Economic Model coming at the end. There are a lot of horses listed at long odds on the ML, but I just see the winner coming from the five I have listed. I wanted to find a way to put Touchofstarquality in the top three. He has been competitive in every race since 2014, loves BEL, and has a won in a one turn mile, very similar to today’s race. He would not be a shock if he came home on top.
(13 Catapult Jack – AE)
3 Oh So Sinister
9 Colonel Andy
11 Great Skellig
Good luck in the last. The obvious contenders are going to be on everyone’s radar, but that doesn’t mean one of the lesser horses can’t run a big one. My choice for the dark horse is Oh So Sinister at 30-1 on the ML. He ran a very good race at SAR at this price, jumped up into straight maidens. It seems clear that at MSW he’s over his head, but he’s going to be far more competitive at the MCL level. The turf is a small concern, but he’s got some experience there. Admittedly it’s a bit of a stab, but it’s also a wide open race and the time to take the stab.
I’ll be at Monmouth covering the Haskell. The weather this morning was rainy and it is supposed to rain on and off all day, heavy at times in some areas. Doug O’Neill concedes that he’d rather have a fast track, but he is confident that Nyquist will be able to handle the Monmouth surface. O’Neill likened it to the wet dirt at Santa Anita, and he said Nyquist does well on that sort of wet dirt surface. I was actually on the track yesterday and it definitely had the feel of the beach right next to the water, sort of a hard sand. In any case, the word from the O’Neill camp is that Nyquist could hardly be doing better, and I can attest he looked the absolute peak of health yesterday morning. He was lean, beautifully muscled and was moving very well. He’s staying at the Kelly Breen barn rather than the stakes barn because O’Neill believes the horse is more comfortable in surroundings with other horses, just like his home barn. You can expect Nyquist to shoot out of the one post and not let American Freedom try to steal the race. My advice – take a long look at the Jim Dandy yesterday when Laoban, a maiden, beat a pretty talented group of horses by lulling them into tracking just a little too long. Do I think Nyquist is the winner? Well, I’ll be rooting for him, but the rest of the field – Sunny Ridge, Awesome Slew, Gun Runner, American Freedom and Exaggerator has a lot of talent. Given a sloppy track I don’t think I’d bet the rent on any horse.
One interesting aside. I understand Keith Desormeaux didn’t make the trip to NJ, and may not have been totally happy with Exaggerator’s last couple of works. He’s a talented horse, loves the slop, but might not be at his peak. For that reason I’m thinking about a Nyquist-Sunny Ridge exacta. Jason Servis is doing well lately, and the horse has a ton of talent based on his competitiveness in Graded races.
Best of luck to all playing today.
I have some business to attend so I’ll be taking Wed-Fri off. I’ll be back Saturday with BEL picks as usual.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out the Horses To Watch list at http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=3166 Horses on the list are often live.
No selections Friday, Saturday, and Sunday June 3-5. I have my referee training this weekend and it runs from early morning to late evening. I’ll be back with picks next week.
Meanwhile, check out my horses to watch list at http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=3166