Mike's Derby Picks

2017 Woodward Stakes Preview – Gun Runner

August 31st 2017 – Updated September 2nd 5:00 PM CST

This Saturday at Saratoga, Gun Runner vies for his fourth career Grade 1 win in the Woodward Stakes. The race carries a $600,000 purse and is another “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gun Runner was rated as the third best racehorse in the world in the last Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings on August 6th.

After Arrogate’s losses in the San Diego Handicap and Pacific Classic, Gun Runner will probably assume the #2 spot in the rankings behind the Australian turf mare Winx if he wins. However, there is one caveat.

Winx, a paternal half-sister to Zenyatta, hopes to tie Zenyatta’s streak of 19 straight wins this Saturday in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes race. A win by Gun Runner and loss by Winx could catapult Gun Runner to #1 in the world. 

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning lines odds. The race will be broadcast live by NBC Sports Network.

The Woodward Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday September 2nd at 5:46 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

1. Neolithic (118) – J.Ortiz/Pletcher – 6/1
2. Gun Runner (124) – Geroux/Asmussen – 2/5 
3. Rally Cry (120) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 5/2
4. War Story (120) – Ortiz Jr/Navarro – 8/1
5. Discreet Lover (118) – Franco/St. Lewis – 20/1

Race Analysis: This is a disappointing Woodward field with only five horses. Last year’s Woodward Stakes had nine runners, the year before eight. With a 5-horse field, this isn’t going to be a great betting race for exotics. At 2/5 odds, wins bets won’t pay out very much for Gun Runner.  A $100 win bet will only pay back $140 and I would not be surprised if Gun Runner’s odds move to 1/5.

Do you try to beat him with one of the Pletcher horses in Rally Cry or Neolithic? It seems foolish but it has been a strange year for upsets. And they don’t call Saratoga the “Graveyard of Champions” for nothing. At any rate, I have reviewed this field, hoped to find something in the field’s recent races and workouts that would make me want to take a shot at beating Gun Runner. I am not seeing it yet.

My race prediction orderGun Runner, Rally Cry, Neolithic, War Story and Discreet Lover.  

Update: I am doing a $10 Trifecta 2 over 1,3 over 1,3. And a $5 straight Superfecta 2-3-1-4

Songbird Retired 😦

Sad news. It was announced today that the sensational filly Songbird was retired due to damage to her hind suspensories and a severe bone chip. She won in 13 of 15 of her career starts and retires with over $4.6 million in race winnings. Mike Smith on the retirement of Songbird “She was everything you’d want in a racehorse: the balance, the speed, the stamina.”

Her most thrilling race in my opinion is one I saw in person, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (shown below). 

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and the Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds that is scheduled for this coming Monday, Labor Day September 4th. These two races will give us an idea of who the leading Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contenders might be and an early look at 2018 Kentucky Derby class. I should have this blog out by Sunday evening.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com