One Liner impresses in the Southwest Stakes

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 20th 2017

I’ll be having a new Kentucky Derby atop my next rankings: Todd Pletcher’s One Liner. He ran one hell of a race today with a winning time of 1:41.85. That is FAST!

This will easily result in the first 100+ Beyer of the year for this 3-year-old class. Consider that last year’s winner Suddenbreakingnews won it with a time of 1:45.14 and he received a 93 Beyer and finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby. One Liner would have won last year’s Southwest Stakes by a tractor-trailer length.

My favorite Uncontested ran the same race he did in the Smarty Jones but pooped out and was way behind Petrov at the mile mark, a horse he easily beat in the Smarty Jones. Overall, I was concerned that he raced at too brisk of a pace in the opening fractions. He simply did not run anywhere close to what he ran in the Smarty Jones Stakes even through 1 mile for whatever reason.

Back to One Liner, by my calculations, He ran the final 2 1/2 furlongs in 30.39, good for a speed of over 37mph. That is blazing speed for this age.

Stay tuned! I will be writing a Derby profile about One Liner in the very near future for http://www.usracing.com

–Michael

 

 

 

McCraken Impresses Once Again!

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 12th 2017 – Updated February 20th

The Kentucky Derby trail is heating up after an impressive performance yesterday in the Sam F. Davis Stakes by McCraken (shown below). McCraken set a Sam F. Davis Stakes and track record with his winning time of 1:42.45. He also beat some pretty good competition in this field from Todd Pletcher’s stable.

This is exactly the kind of performance you hope your Derby contender has coming off a significant layoff. I was somewhat skeptical that his closer racing style would work on Tampa Bay Downs track surface. But McCraken proved to me that he is a legitimate talent. I expect this colt will gain many new fans along the way and lay down some more great performances.

I still wouldn’t rank him first in my Kentucky Derby contender rankings. I need to see how Mastery performs in his first start as a 3 year-old. I also want to see how Uncontested performs on a dry, fast track at 8 1/2 furlongs. McCraken’s closing race style concerns me a little because closers typically don’t fare very well in a field of 20 in the Kentucky Derby. But read my next bit below to serve as a reminder that sometimes it works out very well. So McCraken he has to be somewhere in the Top 4 Derby contender rankings after yesterday’s performance. MCraken also has a pedigree that suggests he will like added distance and could turn out to be a star like his father Ghostzapper was if he races as a 4 and 5 year-old.

There is a ton of talent in the 2017 Kentucky Derby class. This bodes well for producing exciting Triple Crown races and for the older horse division in the future.


Less than 12 weeks away from Derby Day!

We are now 11 weeks and 6 days away from the famous bugle call and the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. Below is the best HD quality Youtube video you will find of one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, from last to first, wins the 2009 Kentucky Derby. This horse showed promise as a 2 year-old but was viewed as lucky to be invited to the race due to his unimpressive 3 year-old campaign.
This brings a smile to my face every time when I rewatch it as Hall of Fame announcer, Tom Durkin, was so surprised that he fumbled to acknowledge who it was that slipped by the frontrunners until Mine That Bird was way past them.
 
And jockey Calvin Borel, who pointed to the crowd way before crossing the finish line, like he had cheated the devil.
Needless to say, a winning $2 Superfecta bet paid out over a half of a million dollars: $557,006.40. Someone hit it and I bet they are still laughing today. And a movie eventually was made about this amazing horse titled 50-1. Recommended viewing.

On the docket…

Southwest Stakes Preview 

My preview of the Southwest Stakes can be found at  https://www.usracing.com/news/analysis/southwest-stakes-trifecta-play

After the Southwest Stakes race, I will publish my next version of Kentucky Derby contender rankings.

–Michael

Sam F. Davis Stakes Preview – McCraken vs Fact Finding

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 11th 2017

This afternoon, we have another interesting battle between two undefeated colts on the Derby Trail in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs: McCraken vs Fact Finding. Both colts are undefeated in three starts. The Sam F. Davis Stakes is a prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby and a points-paying race on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockeys and morning line odds.

The Sam F. Davis Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #10 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post-Time: 3:45 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. State of Honor (116) – Leparoux/Casse – 8/1 
2. King and His Court (120) – Boulanger/Casse – 8/1 
3. Fact Finding (116) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 9/2  
4. Chance of Luck (116) – Allen Jr./Bennett – 15/1
5. Six Gun Salute (116) – Morales/Harty -30/1
6. Wild Shot (116) – Albarado/Arnold – 5/1
7. Tapwrit (120) – Ortiz/Pletcher – 8/1  
8. McCraken (122) – Hernandez Jr./Wilkes – 2/1
9. No Dozing (116) – Centeno/Delacour – 4/1

Race Commentary: As we saw last week, expect the unexpected with 3 year-olds coming into the new year after a long layoff. Fact Finding likes to get out into the early lead and won by 7 lengths in his last start–the Smooth Air Stakes. McCraken has a closer racing style and impressed in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, beating Wild Shot by 1 1/4 lengths back in late November. No Dozing also has a closer race style.

How do I see this one playing out? McCraken chasing Fact Finding and Wild Shot down the stretch. Tampa Bay Downs is a speed favoring track unlike Churchill Downs where McCraken won in his last start. I really like McCraken, the son of Ghostzapper, moving forward but I am not sure this track surface suits his racing style. So an upset of the race favorite seems very probable here. Fact Finding with his inside post-position and early speed may be too tough to chase down.

The safest bet on paper is probably an Exacta wheel keying two horses (McCraken & Fact Finding) to win over three horses (McCraken, Fact Finding and Wild Shot) to place. So 3, 8 over 3,6,8. However, this bet may payout less than the bet itself depending on the live odds and if the race favorite (McCraken) wins. A $2 bet of this type would cost $8.

But please note that trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race 4 out of the last 7 years. He won it last year with Destin. Pletcher also has a great jockey on Fact Finding in John Velazquez who has won the Sam F. Davis 3 times. So you may want to take a shot at beating McCraken straight up in a win bet. 

Let the live race odds and the projected Exacta payouts influence your decision. And I would never bet more than $50 on a race with a lot of 3 year-olds making the first start after a long layoff. And I would only plunk down $50 on a race of this type if I was more sure about the horses in the field than this one.


News: Classic Empire Has Foot Abscess

In my previous blog, on Classic Empire’s performance in the Holy Bull Staktes, I noted that I thought that he might have been bothered by a slight ailment of some sort that couldn’t easily be detected post-race. Whoot there it is! This was confirmed in an interview with trainer Mark Casse by Bill Finley for the Thoroughbred Daily News later in the day that I published my last blog.

Casse said We were shocked by the way he acted on Saturday. He’s probably one of the smartest horses I’ve ever trained. He never lets things bother him, but he was a mess. When he came into the paddock, I was shocked how he was acting. On Sunday morning, I was there with him and he was perfect. Got him out and jogged him and he was happy. By Monday morning he was getting around, but he wasn’t good. We did some tests which showed the problem was with his right front foot.

By Monday afternoon, he could not walk. He couldn’t get around the shedrow. We started soaking his foot, we X-rayed his foot. The X-ray of the foot was fine. [Wednesday] morning he had a huge puss pocket bust out of the bulb of his foot. He’s now a happy camper and moving around fine. We feel some relief because we knew something was up and we just couldn’t pinpoint it. I’m guessing this had been brewing but not enough for us to catch it before the race. It’s one thing to be sound at a jog or a gallop, another thing when you’re being asked to run at 40 miles per hour. Now, we have an explanation for what is going on.”

Casse also said that he Gulfstream Park is back in the picture for Classic Empire’s next start.


Your Feedback Needed…

I am looking for suggestions from my readers for ways to improve the content of this blog. In 2016, my blog exploded in terms of views and blog followers. I averaged over 14 views per hour, every hour for the entire year and had a peak of nearly 40,70o views on Kentucky Derby day. I never envisioned that my blog, created in December 2014 out of a love of horse racing and writing, would grow so quickly. I personally thank you for your patronage.

I know for a fact that this blog has been read by many of the top people in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing, from owners, trainers, jockeys and TV and published media members. I currently have a profile on Kentucky Derby contender Uncontested on www.usracing.com. So expect to see some of my work there there, and perhaps other places, from time to time.

Due to time constraints, I am pretty much confined to dirt racing and following the Kentucky Derby Trail, the Triple Crown races, the Breeders’ Cup Classic and all it’s “Win and You’re In” races and the Pegasus World Cup. And any relevant big news or story items related along the way.

So if anyone has an idea or story that they would like published on this site or if anyone is interested in sponsoring this site, email me at mastoidfan@yahoo.com. 

–Michael

Holy Bull! Updated 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 8th 2017

They say all great empires fall eventually. The Roman Empire lasted 507 years. The Persian Empire lasted about 200 years. And the 2 year-old Eclipse champion Classic Empire’s reign over his thoroughbred peers lasted a mere 91 days, having been upset in the Holy Bull Stakes this past Saturday. Who beat him? A young upstart gladiator by the name of Irish War Cry who had 15-1 morning line odds.

Classic Empire’s trainer Mark Casse was at a loss for words for his disappointing performance. However, he did say that Classic Empire fretted on the hour trip south from his Palm Meadows Training facility to the racetrack. He balked about loading into the starting gate. He did get bumped a bit in the early going but he was right where he needed to be stalking the pace. Classic Empire did improve on his final fraction time from his previous race. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race, he ran the final 2 1/2 furlongs in 32.12 seconds compared to the Holy Bull where I calculate that he ran it in roughly 31.8 seconds. He just didn’t have the acceleration necessary to catch Irish War Cry and eventually was passed by the late-charging Gunnevera (shown bel0w).

To say that this was a big upset would be an understatement. Shocking? Nope. It happens to a lot of great young thoroughbreds when they transition from 2 to 3. As 3 year-olds, some take off, others regress. Remember last year with Mohaymen? On closer inspection, Classic Empire had four workouts as a 3 year-old prior to the Holy Bull and he threw out a subpar time of 1:03.90 through 5 furlongs in has last workout on January 28th. He had never ran 5 furlongs this slow from published workout records available on Equibase.com (SEE). So something was up with him.

The good news is that Classic Empire appears to be in perfect health. He checked out fine after the race. So the next question is, has lost fire in his belly and that competitive drive? Or did he have a slight ailment that cannot be easily found? Or simply was this just first-race back jitters after a significant layoff. We will see. In 2003, Funny Cide (who was undefeated in 3 starts as a 2 year-old) threw a clunker 5th place finish in the Holy Bull and went on to win the Kentucky Derby. But for now, the 2017 Kentucky Derby trail should be deemed as wide open.

Below are my updated Top 10 Kentucky Derby contender rankings. So be prepared for a wild and fantastic road ahead to the first Saturday in May’s Run For the Roses. Can you believe it’s only 87 days away?

Top 10 2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders

1) Mastery Mastery received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his very first start. He followed this impressive maiden victory with wins in the Bob Hope Stakes (87 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Los Alamitos Futurity (91 Beyer Speed Figure). His 8 1/2 furlong time of 1:41.56 is the best so far from this class. Bob Baffert is very high on this colt.  Next Start: The San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 11th

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Candy Ride
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:41.562016 Los Alamitos Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/22/16

2) Irish War Cry – Undefeated in three starts. The son of Curlin impressed in the Holy Bull Stakes (shown below). He has a Kentucky Derby winning trainer and jockey behind him. His future is very bright. An early favorite for the Florida Derby. Next Start: The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 4th.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Curlin (Finished 3rd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Graham Motion (2011 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.52 – 2017 Holy Bull Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2017 Holy Bull Stakes

3) Classic Empire – The 2-year-old Eclipse champion disappointed in the Holy Bull Stakes with a third place finish. He is American Pharoah’s half-brother. I was very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). However, he is somewhat temperamental (remember his previous gate issue?) and that is concerning. I dropped him from 1st to 3rd in my rankings due to his unpredictability. But the talent is there. He still has the highest Beyer Speed Figure (102) in this class for races greater than 8 furlongs. Next Start: Unknown but he won’t race at Gulfstream Park again according to trainer Mark Casse. So with this in mind, the Tampa Bay Derby or the Rebel Stakes seem to be the most attractive fits on the Derby trail schedule.

Career: 6 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.60 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Gormley He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes–beating the race favorite Klimt. He followed this effort with a disappointing 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He is a talented horse and bounced back like I thought he would with a nice win and 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Sham Stakes on January 7th. Next Start: The San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 11th

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>7th–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2017 Sham Stakes

5) Uncontested  My early Arkansas Derby favorite. The winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes produced a record-breaking time of 1:36.32 in sloppy conditions over this two-turn 1 Mile race at Oaklawn Park. He received a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Uncontested has a good pedigree. As a 2 year old, his sire Tiz Wonderful was undefeated in 3 starts and produced Beyer Speed Figures of 99 and 101 before taken off the Derby trail in January of his 3 year-old campaign due to injury. His grand sire Tiznow won two Breeders’ Cup Classics. His grandsire on his dam’s side, Lil E. Tee, won the 1992 Kentucky Derby. So he should like added distance and be one to watch closely going forward. I would rank him higher, just need a dry, fast track win for confirmation. Next Start: The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 20th.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st
Sire:  Tiz Wonderful
Trainer: Wayne Catalano 
Jockey: Channing Hill
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.97 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2017 Smarty Jones Stakes

6) Gunnevera – The 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes winner (shown below). He had a nice late run in the Holy Bull Stakes to capture 2nd place. His sire Dialed In won the 2011 Holy Bull Stakes, the 2011 Florida Derby and then finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness Stakes. Next Start: To be determined.

Career: 7 Starts 3-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Dialed In (Finished 8th in 2011 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.12 (calculated) – 2017 Holy Bull Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  89 – 2017 Holy Bull Stakes

7Royal Mo The recent winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. A son of Uncle Mo like his half-brother Mo Town. Same owner/trainer combination as Gormley, the Moss’s and trainer John Shirreffs now have two legitimate Derby contenders. They will be split up so that they don’t knock heads until the Kentucky Derby. Next Start: Not confirmed but I am guessing at Oaklawn Park for either the Rebel Stakes or Arkansas Derby. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st

Sire: Uncle Mo
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)

Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.48 – 2017 Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93  – 2017 Robert B. Lewis Stakes

8) McCraken – Undefeated in 3 starts, the son of Ghostzapper stretched out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and passed with flying colors. As long as he stays healthy, pencil him in for the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs. Next Start: The Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 11th.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Ghostzapper
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Brian Hernandez
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.15 – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

9) Practical Joke The Chad Brown-trainee has two Grade 1 stakes wins. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. But he is training well at Palm Meadows and should be considered an early Wood Memorial race favorite. Next Start: The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 4th.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.84 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

10) Mo Town – The Remsen Stakes winner (shown below). His winning time of 1:51.58 was way off of what Mohaymen produced last year in this race at 1:50.69. However, he did display a decent closing speed of 36 mph in the final 3 furlongs. For comparison purposes, Classic Empire had a closing speed of 35.02 mph in the final 2 1/2 furlongs of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. So keep a close eye on this one as a 3 year-old. Next Start: Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 4th.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st

Sire: Uncle Mo
Trainer: Anthony Dutrow
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.23 (estimated) – 2016 Remsen Stakes 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.58 – 2016 Remsen Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Remsen Stakes


 On the docket…

My next blog will likely be a preview of the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs scheduled this Saturday February 11th that will feature McCraken. Or perhaps I will write on the 2017 Dubai World Cup and the contenders for that race which is expected to include the undisputed #1 ranked horse in the world–Arrogate.

–Michael

Holy Bull, Robert B. Lewis and San Antonio Stakes Previews

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 3rd 2017

If you are sick of all the pre-Super Bowl shows and interviews, then tomorrow the sport of horse racing offers three interesting races, two of which are points-paying races on the Kentucky Derby trail. And the other, a very competitive race on paper in the older horse division.

I have arranged them by their scheduled post times with the first two, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Holly Bull Stakes, are 3 year-old races for 2017 Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Points will be awarded as follows: 1st place – 10 points, 2nd place – 4 points, 3rd place – 2 points and 4th place – 1 point.

The Robert B. Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #2 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 3:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Royal Mo (120) – Espinoza/Shirreffs – 5/2
2. Irap (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 3/1
3. Dangerfield (122) – Desormeaux/O’Neill – 7/2
4. Term of Art (124) – Baze/O’Neill – 9/2
5. Sheer Flattery (120) – Smith/Hollendorfer – 2/1

Race Commentary: This race should come down to Royal Mo and Sheer Flattery and their respective jockeys Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith. Royal Mo is quicker and should get out into the early lead. Whether he can hold off Sheer Flattery is very questionable. Sheer Flattery has already raced at this 8 1/2 furlong distance and is the more accomplished distance runner. So I like Sheer Flattery in this one. So weigh a straight win bet of Sheer Flattery versus a straight 5-1 exacta (Sheer Flattery over Royal Mo). Or how split the difference and make both bets?


The Holy Bull Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: 4:35 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Gunnevera (122) – Castellano/Sano -9/2 
2. Perro Rojo (116) – Juarez/Zito – 30/1   
3. Classic Empire (122) – Leparoux/Casse – 3/5 
4. Talk Logistics (116) – Lopez/Plesa – 12/1
5. Irish War Cry (120) – Rosario/Motion – 15/1
6. Fact Finding (120) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 6/1  
7. Shamsaan (116) – Saez/McLaughlin – 20/1
8. Cavil (116) – Lezcano/McLaughlin – 15/1
9. Fire for Effect (116) – Lanerie/Romans – 20/1

Race Commentary:  The 2 year-old Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire should win this one. Who rounds out the Superfecta is anybody’s guess in this 9 horse field. Gunnevera, Fact Finding and Irish War Cry seem to be the best bets here. However, I think Gunnevera will be hurt by drawing the rail. So I like an Exacta keying Classic Empire to win over two horses: Irish War Cry and Fact Finding. That is 3 over 5,6.


And finally, an older division horse race with a few horses that would have been ideal candidates for the Pegasus World Cup. Expect the top finishers in the San Antonio Stakes to be entries in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

The San Antonio Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Hoppertunity (125) – Prat/Baffert – 2/1
2. Avanti Bello (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 12/1
3. Prospect Park (120) – Arroyo/Sise – 10/1
4. El Huerfano (120) – Espinoza/Miller – 12/1
5. Mor Spirit (122) – Smith/Baffert – 3/1
6. Dalmore (122) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 8/1
7. Accelerate (125) – Baze/Sadler – 5/2
8. Hard Aces (122) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 6/1

Race Commentary: This will be a very interesting race since Melatonin wasn’t entered as previously expected. I have no idea who will win this one but I expect Hoppertunity and Mor Spirit to land somewhere in the Superfecta. Both Accelerate and Dalmore have put in good times in their workouts leading up to this race. Concerning with Dalmore was the fact that he petered out towards the end of the 8 1/2 furlong San Pasqual Stakes and lost 2nd place to Accelerate. And this race will be 9 furlongs. Victor Espinoza is riding El Huerfano but I don’t expect him to be much of a factor judging from his race history and recent workouts.

Hard Aces is a quality horse but I like him better at 10 furlongs or longer. Avanti Bello finished 5th in the Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos against California Chrome in a weak field. He finished 3rd in his last start, a claiming race at Santa Anita Park. Prospect Park finished behind Accelerate and Dalmore in the San Pasqual Stakes in his last start.

So perhaps a $5 boxed Trifecta of Hoppertunity, Mor Spirit and Accelerate (1,5,7) might be your best bet. This would cost $30. 


 On the docket…

One of my next blogs might be a preview the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 11th that is expected to include McCraken and/or updated Kentucky Derby contender rankings if I feel that they need to be updated after this weekend’s results. Stay tuned!

–Michael