2018 Louisiana Derby Preview

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March 21st 2018

It is kind of hard to believe but the first of the final major Kentucky Derby prep races are among us with the Louisiana Derby scheduled for this Saturday. With 170 Derby points up for grabs, the 1st and 2nd place finishers are virtually guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

Although run since 1894, the Louisiana Derby doesn’t have a sterling record of producing Kentucky Derby winners. Only two Louisiana Derby winners have gone on to win the in the Kentucky Derby: Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996). However, 2016 Louisiana Derby winner, Gun Runner, finished 3rd in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and had a wonderful career, retiring as the 2nd all-time leading money earner in North American racing behind Arrogate.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 105th Louisiana Derby.

The Louisiana Derby

The Louisiana Derby – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Fair Grounds – Post-Time: Saturday March 24th at 5:21 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/
1. Bravazo – Stevens/Lukas -7/2
2. Noble Indy – Velazquez/Pletcher – 7/2
3. Marmello – Gilligan/Yanakov – 50/1
4. Givemeaminit – Castellano/Stewart – 20/1
5. Retirement Fund –  Bridgmohan/Asmussen – 12/1
6. Hyndford – Bravo/Pletcher – 8/1 
7. Snapper Sinclair – Ortiz/Asmussen – 9/2
8. Lone Sailor – Graham/Amoss – 20/1
9. My Boy Jack – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 5/2
10. Dark Templar – Geroux/Walsh – 12/1

Race Commentary: Overall, I like the talent in this field. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Bravaso draws the rail, the same post position he used to edge out Snapper Sinclair by a nose in the Risen Star Stakes with a nice time of 1:42.95. The Desormeaux brothers have entered the Southwest Stakes winner My Boy Jack. The Todd Pletcher-trained Noble Indy is entered. Noble Indy finished 3rd in the Risen Star Stakes. From Steve Asmussen’s barn: Snapper Sinclair and Retirement Fund. 

My Boy Jack is a closer so I foresee this race coming down to Bravaso trying to hold off a late charging My Boy Jack. It this race is a dry race, I like Bravaso. If run in wet conditions, I like My Boy Jack who proved that he liked the slop in the Southwest Stakes.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park scheduled for Saturday March 31st.

–Michael

2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Race Preview. Will Bolt d’Oro stay undefeated?

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November 1st 2017 

With the impending retirement of Arrogate after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, I feel that more eyes will be on the future stars of the 2018 Kentucky Derby class in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Overall, this 2-year-old class appears to be better than last year’s crop at this same time.

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

Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 1 & 1/16th Mile –  Race #10 at Del Mar – Saturday November 4th at 5:58 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. U S Navy Flag – Moore/O’Brien – 8/1
2. Solomini – Prat/Baffert – 6/1
3. Firenze Fire – I.Ortiz Jr/Servis – 6/1
4. Givemeaminit – Castellano/Stewart – 20/1
5. Free Drop Billy – Albarado/Romans -5/1
6. Good Magic – J.Ortiz/Brown – 8/1
7. The Tabulator – Valdivia Jr/Rivelli – 20/1
8. Bahamian – Gutierrez/Callaghan – 30/1
9. Hazit – Velazquez/Pletcher – 20/1
10) Golden Dragon – Roman/Yanakov – 30/1
11) Bolt d’Oro – Nakatani/Ruis – 9/5
12. Hollywood Star – Rosario/Romans – 15/1

Race Commentary: Overall, this is a weaker field than I anticipated for a prestigious Breeders’ World Champion race with a $2 Million Dollar purse. Bolt d’Oro and The Tabulator are the only two undefeated colts in this field, both having won in each of their 3 starts. There are three colts who have yet to break their maiden: Givemeaminit, Good Magic, Bahamian. The Aidan O’Brien-trained U S Navy Flag is a European horse who has only raced sprints on turf. 

As far as Speed Figures, here are the only horses in the field who have eclipsed an 85 Beyer Speed Figure:

Bolt d’Oro – 100        
Firenze Fire – 90
Good Magic – 89
Solomini – 87

My Pick: 2-year-olds are inconsistent and unpredictable.  So I would steer away from difficult to hit exotics. I like win bets on Bolt d’Oro and Firenze Fire. The only exotic bet I would consider is a Boxed Exacta 3-11 (Bolt d’Oro and Firenze Fire). Bolt d’Oro is the class of this field and my early favorite for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. However, he is going to be hindered somewhat with a far outside starting post in a 12 horse field. This could put Bolt d’Oro in the cross-hairs of a closer like Firenze Fire coming down the stretch.

Firenze Fire displayed excellent closing speed in the Champagne Stakes (shown below).

The only concern with Firenze Fire is that he will be making his first start in a two-turn race. However, this may not hurt his closing style that much. So a Boxed Exacta of Firenze Fire-Bolt d’Oro might be a wiser bet if Bolt D’Oro’s live odds move closer to 1/1.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the Breeders’ Cup Classic field. I will have this out late tomorrow (Thursday) evening.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael

Labor Day Special – An early look at the 2018 Kentucky Derby Class

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September 3rd 2017 – Updated September 4th 2017 4 PM CST

The 2018 Kentucky Derby trail officially kicks off September 16th with the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. However tomorrow, we have a Labor Day special with two Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds in the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity. These two races will give us some insight on who the stars of next year’s Derby Trail class might be. I have a few on my radar already.

Copper Bullet

Currently, I am very high on the Steve Asmussen-trained colt named Copper Bullet who won the Saratoga Special Stakes (shown below). Same owner/trainer combination as Gun Runner. I first wrote about him back in June Unfortunately, it was announced yesterday that he will be sidelined due to shin issues and likely miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

I am also very high on three other horses: St Patrick’s Day, Run Away and Zatter.

St Patrick’s Day

The Bob Baffert-trained St Patrick’s Day is a full brother to American Pharoah. He broke his maiden yesterday at Del Mar (shown below)

Run Away

Owned by Kaleem Shah, trained by Simon Callaghan, the son of Run Away and Hide is a perfect 3-for-3 with his Best Pal Stakes victory (shown below). He’ll be a Labor Day runner in the Del Mar Futurity.

Zatter

Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert. The son of Midnight Lute defeated St. Patrick’s Day at Del Mar back on August 20th (shown below) which was the first career start for both colts. Zatter will face Run Away in the Del Mar Futurity.


Below are the post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and odds for the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity:

The Hopeful Stakes  – 7 furlongs – Race #9 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:05 PM CST. Televised by Fox Sports 2 and TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Mojovation (118) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 2/1 
2. Oskar Blues (118) – Davis/McPeek – 10/1  
3. Firenze Fire (122) – Ortiz Jr/Servis – 7/2 
4. Psychoanalyze (118) – Franco/Lynch- 15/1
5. National Flag (118) – J.Ortiz/Pletcher – 9/2 
6. Sporting Chance (118) – Saez/Lukas – 8/1
7. Givemeaminit (116) – Rosario/Stewart – 10/1
8. Free Drop Billy (118) – Albarado/Romans – 4/1 

My Pick:  Mojovation is the fastest horse in this field. Free Drop Billy has the 2nd fastest closing speed but he was beaten by Firenze Fire in his last start. If you like a longer shot, Oskar Blues has already put up a decent time of 1:23.99 at this 7 furlong distance at Saratoga. I like a 1 with 3,8 Exacta and win/place/show bets on Mojovation.


The Del Mar Futurity  – 7 furlongs – Race #8 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 7:36 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Soul Streit (120) – Smith/Baffert – 4/1
2. Master Ruler (118) – Roman/Sadler – 20/1
3. Run Away (123) – Prat/Callaghan – 5/2
4. Tatters to Riches (120) – Baze/Mullins- 4/1
5. Fleetwood (118) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20/1
6. Bolt d’Oro (120) – Nakatani/Ruis – 6/1
7. Gracida (120) – Espinoza/O’Neill – 12/1
8. Dia de Pago (118) – Gonzalez/Cerin – 12/1
9. Zatter (118) – Bejarano/Baffert – 7/2

My Pick: I think Run Away picks up his fourth win in four starts. Zatter will battle but I am concerned that he won’t be able to overcome his outside post-position. If you like longer shots, the Doug O’Neill-trained Gracida with Victor Espinoza on board could surprise and be a good show bet if his odds stay above 10/1.


On the Docket…

My next blog will likely be a Breeders’ Cup Contender ranking update followed by a preview of the Iroquois Stakes scheduled for September 16th at Churchill Downs. The Iroquois is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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

–Michael