One week until the 136th Kentucky Derby and the field of 20 isn’t etched in stone yet. There are still two (Noble’s Promise and Interactif) colts who are in the Top 20 who are on the fence. My belief is both will run. Noble’s Promise appears to have recovered nicely from a lung infection and cuts he received during his 4th place finish as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby. Interactif ‘s owners were hoping for a few defections to help their other colt Setsuko (at #26 on Graded Stakes Earnings List) break into the Top 20. My gut was that if Setsuko only needed one other horse to defect from the Derby field to get in, it would be Interactif.
Churchill Downs Opening Day is Saturday. The feature is the $200k Grade 3 Derby Trial. There are 3 runners in this race whose owners would love to crack the Top 20 and run their horse back one week later in the Derby. They are Aikenite, Pleasant Prince and Eightyfiveinafifty. The latter needs to win and the other 2 need to finish first or second. The track will be sloppy and I like #2 – Soaring Empire.
There is one more scenario. Trainer Todd Pletcher dropped a bomb earlier this week saying the owners of filly Devil May Care have not ruled out running her in the Derby instead of the Kentucky Oaks. She has the graded stakes earnings to put her in the Top 20, which would drop Richard Dutrow trained Homeboykris down to 21st on the list and out of the Derby.
Whoever coined the phrase, “There is no free lunch” never won one by knowing their Derby trivia. That’s exactly what I did and will be enjoying lunch at the Pimlico Clubhouse Terrace Dining Room today (Saturday) with my wife and daughter. Life is Good!
Recapping Day 4 (Friday, April 23rd) at the Pimlico Spring Meet…
Best Bet No Brakes (# 6; 6th race; 5-1) ran his consistently good race, but was no match for the winner, #1 – Lookin Left who won by 5. Second best was the best here, paying $5.40 to PLACE and $3.20 to SHOW.
Best Bet pick scorecard from 2 selections at the Pimlico Meet: 0 WIN – 1 PLACE – 1 SHOW.
Longshot Queen Suzanna (# 2; 1st race; 9-2) took plenty of action at the windows as she went off much lower than her 10-1 M/L, but ran more like a longshot. First, spotting the entire field 10 lengths as she dwelt at the start, then failed to threaten throughout this distance race and finished 4th, about 11 lengths behind an 80-1 winner. Hmmm. Right church wrong pew?!
Longshot pick scorecard from 2 selections at the Pimlico Meet: 1 WIN – 0 PLACE – 0 SHOW
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $34 on Nighttime Lover (#3; 7th race; 4-1) ran a textbook race. Just the way I had analyzed it. Thank you Rodney Jenkins and Travis Dunkelberger for executing the plan perfectly and mutuels were quite nice as well as the SHOW Parlay play amount nearly doubled. Nighttime Lover stayed at the back of the pack allowing a 4-way speed duel to fall apart in the stretch, and picked off foes one-by-one, winning by 2 under wraps paying $10.60 to WIN, $4.20 for the PLACE and $3.80 to SHOW. The parlay is alive with $64.60 to “Let It Ride” on Day 5.
For the Pimlico Spring Meet, Day 5 (Saturday, April 24th)…
Best Bet: Remember Shirley (# 1; 4th race; 7-2)
Even though this 6 furlong, $14k Claiming contest has a 7-5 M/L favorite among her foes, this 6 year old mare appears to have gotten a new lease on her racing life since being claimed for $5k by Tim Salzman. After a runner-up and win for her new barn, she climbs up the claiming ladder again, but I believe she can beat the favorite to the early lead and stay there throughout while setting reasonable fractions.
Longshot: Golden Mustang (# 6; 1st race; 10-1)
Owned by Stronach Stables, this 4 year old gelding would be known by savvy horseplayers as a “house horse”, due to Frank Stronach’s association with Maryland Jockey Club. This type of entry often does well or could simply be entered to fill the race. Golden Mustang has distance pedigree and stretches out from a ground closing 7 furlongs effort to 1 1/16 miles today. If there’s a quick pace (at least it shouldn’t be slow), maybe he can take a big step forward.
SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $124.60 ($94 bankroll – $34 wager + $64.60 return)
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day: $64 on Victory Lake (# 1; 6th race; 2-1) is a 7 year old who has blossomed into a Cash Cow for his owners. Over the past 16 months, he’s been off the board just once in 19 starts, winning 11 of them. Regular jock Joe Rocco, Jr. happily will be in the irons for his only mount on the card. Plus, an off-track is no problem (2-3-1 in 6 starts). So in case the rain shows up at Old Hilltop ahead of schedule, no regrets putting the fate of the SHOW Parlay in his hooves.
Looks like Day 5 will be another beautiful day to enjoy the exciting chase scenes thoroughbred horse racing has to offer. Good Luck!