Preview of the Fountain of Youth, Risen Star and Southwest Stakes

This weekend there are three important point paying races on the Kentucky Derby Trail. The Fountain of Youth and the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday February 21st. And the Southwest Stakes on Sunday February 22nd. The Southwest Stakes is the last points paying race of the Derby prep season that will award 10-4-2-1 points to the top four finishers. The Fountain of Youth and Risen Star Stakes are a part of the 1st Leg of the Championship series that will award 50-20-10-5 poins to the top four finishers. The winner of these two races will gain enough points to enter the Kentucky Derby. Most likely, the second place finisher will too. The current Kentucky Derby Points Standings can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Each race will have some fairly high-profile horses who were listed in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2. These horses are: Upstart, Frosted, Itsaknockout, Gorgeous Bird, Imperia, International Star, JS Bach, Far Right and Mr. Z. This represents over one-third of the horses listed in Pool #2.

The most compelling race will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes to see if Upstart is the real deal. In my previous blog, The Six Best Performances on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Trail, Upstart’s win in the Holy Bull Stakes was the most impressive of this year’s Derby contenders using an average of the three major speed figures for races longer than one mile.

The Southwest Stakes was snowed out this past Monday and will be rescheduled this Sunday. Two horses (JS Bach and War Story) were originally entered in the Southwest Stakes. However, due to the cancellation, they have been entered into the Risen Star Stakes at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans instead hoping to capitalize on more points.

1) Fountain of Youth Stakes Race #11 at Gulfstream – Post Time: Sat 4:30 PM CST – 1 1/16 Mile

Post positions & Odds: 1) Juan and Bina 20/1, 2) Bluegrass Singer 8-1, 3) Frammento 30-1, 4) Gorgeous Bird 6-1, 5) Itsaknockout 4-1, 6) Frosted 5-2, 7) Upstart 8-5, 8) Danny Boy 15-1

On paper, this appears to be a three-way battle between Upstart, Frosted and Itsaknockout. I think Frosted is probably better suited for races longer than 1 & 1/16 mile. Gorgeous Bird has never raced longer than a mile. I like Bluegrass Singer (who finished 3rd in the Holy Bull) since he is starting from the 2nd post. The Dale Romans trained colt Danny Boy is capable of finishing in the money but he is inconsistent and starts on the outside.

So here is how I would bet a $1 straight Superfecta: 5-7-2-6 (ItsaknockoutUpstart , Bluegrass Singer, Frosted)

I would also place this $10 Boxed Exacta bet: 5-7 (Itsaknockout-Upstart) to capture the race favorite Upstart. A win bet on Upstart probably won’t pay out much. If you want to further hedge, place a $1 straight Trifecta: 7-6-5 (Upstart, Frosted, Itsaknockout)

2) Risen Star Stakes Race #11 at the Fairgrounds – Post Time: Sat 5:24 PM CST – 1 1/16 Mile

Post positions & Odds: 1) St. Joe Bay 12-1, 2) Tiznow R J 5-1, 3) Bluff 15-1, 4) J S Bach 5-1, 5) Imperia 7/2, 6) War Story 5-1, 7) Hero of Humor 30-1, 8) Keen Ice 8-1, 9) Big Big Easy 12-1, 10) International Star 9/2

***Note: J S Bach was scratched due to spiking a fever.

The race has enough speed across the board that it will be tough predicting a straight Superfecta. So don’t bet a large sum of money on this race as it is the less predictable of these three weekend Derby Trail races. For the win, consider four horses and their live odds: Imperia, International Star,  Bluff and J S Bach.

J S Bach is trained by Todd Pletcher, so he will get plenty of attention from bettors. Another notable entry is Tiznow R J who has three third-place finishes and one win in four starts. He was beaten by Keen Ice (also entered in this race) in his first start and finished third in his last start in the LeComte Stakes behind International Star and War Story. I think Tiznow R J, like his sire Tiznow (who won two Breeders’s Cup Classics) prefers distance. However, he has a very favorable 2nd post position. Trainer Steve Asmussen entered Big Big Easy but he has yet to race longer than a mile.

I would consider placing a $10 win bet on J S Bach if his odds are 4-1 or greater or Bluff if his odds are 6-1 or greater. I don’t mind trying to beat the race favorite if I can get a price.

If I had to place a $1 straight Superfecta, I would bet something exotic that would likely payoff well: 4-3-5-10 (J S Bach, Bluff, Imperia, International Star)

Since J S Bach has been scratched, I would make the following exotic $1 straight Superfecta: 3-5-10-2

3) Southwest Stakes Race #8 at Oaklawn Park – Post Time: Sun 4:42 PM CST – 1 1/16 Mile

Post Positions & Odds: 1) Bayerd 5-1, 2) Majestico 30-1, 3) Hillbilly Royalty 7-2, 4) Private Prospect 12-1,5) Bold Conquest 10-1, 6) Far Right 5-2, 7) Phenomenal Phoenix 30-1, 8) The Truth Or Else 20-1, 9) Kantune 12-1, 10) Bold Animaux 30-1, 11) Mr. Z 3/1

This would have been a more interesting race with J S Bach and War Story. So now it appears that it will be a two-horse show–a rematch of the Smarty Jones Stakes with Mr. Z and Far Right battling it out for the win. I like Mr Z edging out Far Right this time around but will there be a new horse in the mix? Two other notable entries are the Steve Asmussen-trained Bayerd who starts in post #1 (same post that Far Right won with in the Smarty Jones) and Donnie Von Hemel’s Hillbilly Royalty who is undefeated in two starts and posted a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start at Oaklawn.

I would consider placing a $10 win bet on #3 Hillbilly Royalty depending on his odds and hedge it with two $5 Boxed Exacta bets on (6-11) Mr Z and Far Right & (3-11) Hillbilly Royalty and Mr Z. If I had to place a $1 straight Superfecta, I would go with: 3-11-6-1 (Hillbilly Royalty, Mr Z, Far Right, Bayerd). Why? Because it’s just a buck and the payout should be nice.

–Michael

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