President’s Day Special: 2018 Southwest Stakes Preview


February 18th 2018 – Updated February 19th

Coming up tomorrow on President’s Day, another important point paying race on the Kentucky Derby trail with the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. I love Derby trail races at Oaklawn because they always attract some of the top talent from the Hall of Fame trainers like Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen and D. Wayne Lukas.

This race will be no different with Baffert entering Smarty Jones Stakes winner Mourinho, Pletcher shipping in the Pioneerof the Nile colt Road to Damascus, Lukas entering the Hopeful Stakes winner Sporting Chance and Kentucky Club and Asmussen entering Combatant and Retirement Fund.

Overall, this field has four colts who were in the most recent Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool #2: Sporting Chance, Mourinho, Retirement Fund and Combatant. Yesterday’s Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds only had two colts in Pool #2: Principe Guilherme and Instilled Regard. Neither colt performed to expectations in the Risen Star with Instilled Regard finishing 4th and Principe Guilherme finishing 7th. The D. Wayne Lukas trained colt Bravazo won the Risen Star at 21-1 odds and picked up 50 Derby points, enough historically to gain entry in the Kentucky Derby field.

Below are the Southwest Stakes entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Southwest Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #9 at Oaklawn Park – Post-Time: 5:10 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. My Boy Jack (119) – Desormeaux /Desormeaux – 12/1
2. Sporting Chance (117) – Saez/Lukas – 9/2
3. Principe Guilherme (115) – Geroux/Asmussen – 4/1 (SCRATCHED – Ran in Risen Star)
4. Mourinho (122) –  Van Dyke/Baffert – 2/1
5. Road to Damascus (115) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 15/1
6. Seven Trumpets (115) – Albarado/Romans – 10/1
7. Retirement Fund (115) – Brighmohan/Asmussen – 15/1
8. Zing Zang (115) – Lanerie/Asmussen – 15/1
9. Kentucky Club (115) – Vazquez/Lukas – 30/1
10. Combatant (115) – Santana Jr/Asmussen – 6/1
11. Ezmosh (117) – Stevens/Cox – 12/1

Race Commentary: Will D. Wayne Lukas pull off another upset like he did in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes? Sporting Chance is viewed as the best colt in his barn this Derby season and he starts in the #2 post which has been the winningest post this year at Oaklawn Park.  However, he hasn’t raced since last September in the Hopeful Stakes where he nearly coughed up the lead at the finish to Free Drop Billy. 

The only undefeated colt in this field is the Steve Asmussen-trained colt Retirement Fund. He’s 2-for-2 at Fair Grounds but will be stepping up in class for the first time. The West Point Thoroughbreds-owned Seven Trumpets, trained by Dale Romans, finished 2nd to Firenze Fire in the 1 Mile Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. 

Overall, I like Mourinho for the win with a combination of Combatant, Sporting Chance, Seven Trumpets and Road to Damascus rounding out the Superfecta. But please note that the race favorite hasn’t won the Southwest Stakes in the last four runnings so expect the unexpected and bet accordingly.

Update: There are no other scratches and the track is muddy. I don’t like betting on muddy races since some horses don’t take well to the slop.

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday March 3rd.


2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders and Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers


February 9th 2018

Opening up today is Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers. The pool is open from Friday February 9th at Noon EST until Sunday February 11th at 6 PM EST. Below are Morning Line Odds along with each horse’s highest Brisnet Speed Figure. Horses with an asterisk are newcomers that were not in Pool #1. Horses in bold font are colts who I had in my Top 25 Kentucky Derby contender watch list.

Colts who were in my Top 25 watch list that didn’t make this Future Wager pool are (with the highest Brisnet Speed Figure): Dak Attack (94), Marconi (94), Paved, Noble Indy (97), Vino Rosso (90) and World of Trouble (101).

The problem with this pool is that there are a few really great colts who have yet to race this year. So it is hard to extrapolate how they might have improved vs some of the most recent new stars like Audible and Mourinho.

Please note that Catholic Boy is entered into tomorrow’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. So you may want to wait and see how her performs in that race before putting any money down on him. I had originally hoped to preview that race but I have been battling Bronchitis. I’m sure many can relate because its been a very bad cold and flu season this year. However, looking over that field, Catholic Boy is the deserved 8/5 morning line favorite and would be my choice to win over Vino Rosso and Hollywood Star.

2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

  1. Audible* 12-1 – 105 
  2. Avery Island 20-1 – 94
  3. Bolt d’Oro 10-1 – 105
  4. Catholic Boy* 20-1 – 98
  5. Combatant* 50-1 – 95
  6. Copper Bullet 50-1 – 94 —-> The best longshot in this pool
  7. Enticed 30-1 – 93
  8. Firenze Fire 30-1 – 96
  9. Free Drop Billy 20-1 – 99
  10. Good Magic 10-1 – 105
  11. Instilled Regard* 30-1 – 100
  12. Mask 12-1 – 100
  13. McKinzie 8-1 – 104
  14. Mendelssohn 30-1 – 91 —-> Better Beware: Turf Horse
  15. Montauk 20-1 – 88
  16. Mourinho* 12-1 – 99
  17. Principe Guilherme 30-1 – 92
  18. Retirement Fund* 30-1 – 94
  19. Solomini 20-1 – 101 
  20. Sporting Chance 50-1 – 98 —-> Another longshot worthy of consideration
  21. Strike Power* 20-1 – 103
  22. Tiz Mischief 30-1 – 93
  23. Untamed Domain 30-1 – 89
  24. Mutuel Field/All Others 7/2

My Top Five Kentucky Derby Contenders

Below are detailed profiles on my Top 5 Kentucky Derby contenders:

1) Bolt d’Oro – Although he won two Grade 1 races and produced the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2-year-colt last year, he lost the Eclipse Award for 2 Year Old Male Champion to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic. I was a little surprised by this. He is the paternal half brother to Songbird and Rachel Alexandra out of an A.P. Indy mare so I love the pedigree. He picks up four time Eclipse Jockey of the Year Javier Castellano as his rider. His Next Start:  The 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mick Ruis
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.54 – 2017 FrontRunner Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 35.62 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 103 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

2) McKinzie – He is the Top 3 year-old in Bob Baffert’s barn thus far. He is undefeated in three starts. He has plenty of winners behind him. His sire (Street Sense), trainer (Bob Baffert) and jockey (Mike Smith) are all former Kentucky Derby winners. His Next Start:  Like Bolt d’Oro, it appears to be the 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th. Oh what a race that will be. Mark your calendars.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.69 (estimated) – 2017 Los Alamitos Futurity
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.99 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 104 Brisnet, 110 Equibase

3) Good Magic – The 2018 Eclipse Award 2 Year Old Male Champion and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion. He is also trained by the 2018 Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown. His Next Start:  The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 3rd.

Career: 3 Starts 1-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.34 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.31 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 100 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

4) Audible – The 2018 Holy Bull Stakes winner and probably the early Florida Derby favorite. The only question mark is his pedigree and whether he will like the 10 furlong distance. His sire Into Mischief never raced further than 8 1/2 furlongs. His Next Start:  The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31st.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief 
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 and 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.92 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 37.60 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 99 Equibase

5) Mourinho – The recent Smarty Jones Stakes winner. Remember last year when Bob Baffert didn’t have a 3 year-old that qualified for the Kentucky Derby? It’s not happening this year, his barn is loaded. Mourinho is Baffert’s next best Derby contender based upon performance thus far. His Next Start:  The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 19th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Super Saver (2010 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.03 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 99 Brisnet, 107 Equibase

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn scheduled for Monday February 19th.


2018 Holy Bull and Wither Stakes Previews


February 2nd 2018 – Updated February 3rd 4AM 

The road to the Kentucky Derby continues tomorrow with three point paying races scheduled: The Withers Stakes, the Robert B. Lewis and the Holy Bull Stakes. I will only preview two of the races as I have been a bit under the weather and feel that the Withers Stakes and Holy Bull have the more talented fields.

After the Pegasus World Cup, I spent time researching and compiling a Top 25 2018 Kentucky Derby contender list. I did this in anticipation of a Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers opening up next Friday February 9th. Five of the horses on my list are entered in races tomorrow. These colts are: Firenze Fire, Marconi and Avery Island in the Withers and Enticed, Free Drop Billy and Tiz Mischief in the Holy Bull.

The Robert B. Lewis Stakes usually has at least one high profile Derby contender but none of the 9 horses in that field were in my Top 25 list.

The Withers Stakes

The Withers – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #8 at Aqueduct – Post-Time: Saturday February 3rd at 3:35 PM CST. Televised by FS2 (Fox Sports 2) 

1. Firenze Fire (122) – McCarthy/Servis – 9/5
2. Marconi (116) – Lopez/Pletcher – 3/1
3. Bal Harbour (118) – Carmouche/Pletcher – 6/1
4. Avery Island (122) – Bravo/McLaughlin – 8/5
5. Coltandmississippi (118) – Alvarado/Pletcher – 12/1
6. California Night (116) – Hernandez/Maker – 15/1

Race Commentary:  Although this field is small with six horses, it has three talented colts in Firenze Fire, Marconi and Avery Island. The 9 furlong (1 1/8th mile distance) will provide a good measuring stick as the final Derby preps before the Kentucky Derby are all run at the 9 furlong distance.

As far as who I think will win? This one is too tough to handicap. I’d probably lean towards Avery Island or Marconi since they both have raced at Aqueduct at the same 9 furlong distance back in December. But Firenze Fire ran very well in his last start at Aqueduct in the Jerome Stakes at 8 furlongs. So if you are planning on betting, how about a Boxed Trifecta using these three horses?

The Holy Bull Stakes

The Holy Bull Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: Saturday February 3rd at 4:49 PM CST. Televised by FS2 (Fox Sports 2) and TVG

1. Enticed (122) – Rosario/McLaughlin – 3/1
2. Free Drop Billy (122) – Saez/Romans – 6/1
3. Master Manipulator (116) – Ortiz/Guillot – 20/1
4. Audible (116) – Castellano/Pletcher – 6/1
5. Bandito (116) – Zavas/Romans – 20/1
6. Hollywood Star (116) – Ortiz Jr/Romans – 12/1
7. Tiz Mischief (116) – Albarado/Romans – 4/1
8. Pony Up (116) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 8/1
9. Tip Sheet (116) – Jaramillo/Gold – 30/1
10. Aequor (116) – Lezcano/Delgado – 15/1
11.Mississippi (116) – Leparoux/Casse – 5/1

Race Commentary:  Overall, I think this race comes down to Enticed and Tiz Mischief. The two horses battled for the win in the Kentucky Jockey Club stakes at Churchill Downs back in November (see below)

The Godolphin owned colt, Enticed, would rank in my Top Five 2018 Kentucky Derby contenders. He has a great pedigree (Sire: Medaglia d’Oro out of a Mineshaft mare It’s Tricky). His mother, It’s Tricky, was a great runner herself, winning the 2011 Acorn Stakes, the 2011 Coaching Club American Oaks, the 2012 Ogden Phipps Handicap.

However, I am anxious to see how Todd Pletcher’s entries Audible and Pony Up fare. In a field of 11 with such inexperience, anything can happen. So expect the unexpected. Perhaps the best bet would be a 1-7 Boxed Exacta (Enticed-Tiz Mischief). A sleeper in this field could be the Mark Casse-trained colt Mississippi. However, he will have to overcome an unfortunate far outside post-position. This race will answer a lot of questions and hopefully produce an early Florida Derby frontrunner.

On the Docket…

My next blog will focus in on the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers scheduled for next weekend, opening up Friday February 9th and closing on Sunday evening February 11th.