It’s crunch time! There are only five (5) weeks until the 136th Kentucky Derby and it’s time to put up or shut up for a number of 3 year olds who want to be one of the 20 starters in the Run for the Roses on May 1st. If they fail to finish first or second in any of the remaining Derby prep races, their Derby dream will come to an abrupt end.
This weekend there are three (3) such Derby prep races. On Saturday, the $500,000 Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park (KY) and the $750,000 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, then on Sunday the $800,000 Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park (NM). All 3 races will be contested at 1 1/8 miles. My analysis and selection for the Sunland Derby will be in my Sunday blog.
The Lane’s End Stakes, race 9, Post Time at 5:12pm EDT features 9-5 Morning Line favorite, #1 – Connemara winner of 3 of 4 lifetime, all on synthetic surfaces, returns to the surface which he scored his 5 length maiden win. His #1 foe and only horse to have beaten him is pace-setter #5 – Ranger Heartley (6-1) who will have company on the front-end here in #3 – Chief Counsel (12-1) and #7 – Northern Giant (5-1) who seems to be at his best on an off-track . Seasoned turf runner #9 – Dean’s Kitten (5-1) has had 2 troubled trips in both of his 2010 races, but looks good here as he’s finished just behind San Felipe runner-up Interactif twice in his career. Others to consider are #6 – Outlaw Man (8-1), who finished 4th by 3 ½ in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and has been this distance in 3 of his 5 career outings.Jockey John McKee jumps off #10 Vow To Wager (20-1) to pilot Steve Asmussen trainee #8 – Letsgetitonmon (20-1), whose only victory came on the Arlington Park synthetic surface at 7 furlongs. Along with the favorite, trainer Todd Pletcher has #2 – Doubles Partner (10-1), who has 2 turf scores, both at 1 1/8 mile in 5 lifetime efforts and sports improving Speed Figures with each race.
Go with #9 – Dean’s Kitten on top. He should be just off the pace-setters, ready to pounce on them in the stretch and hold off late charges from #1 – Connemara, #2 – Doubles Partner, #6 – Outlaw Man and #8 – Letsgetitonmon to complete the exacta, trifecta and superfecta.
The Louisiana Derby, race 10 on the card, Post Time at 5:48pm EDT has no prohibitive favorite, but appears Risen Star winner #7 – Discreetly Mine (M/L 7-2) or Hutcheson Stakes runner-up to the best 3 year old sprinter, D’Funnybone, #5 – A Little Warm (4-1) will emerge as the betting favorite. The race should have a fair pace with plenty of runners wanting to be on or near the lead, in addition to the likely co-favorites, there is #1 – Hotep (30-1) whose #12 post in the Risen Star killed his chances, #2 – Mission Impazible (8-1) 4th in Gr.3 Southwest in his last, #4 – The Program (10-1) exiting a game 3rd in the Gr. 3 Sham and local Fair Grounds runner #8 – Island Soul (20-1). A quick pace will help Closers like #3 – Fly Down (8-1), #6 – Ron The Greek (6-1) and #9 – Stay Put (10-1). The forgotten horse is #13 – Drosselmeyer (5-1) who will need extreme racing lucky to overcome his post. Unfortunately, in reviewing the dirt races from Friday at Fair Grounds, all winners were either on the lead or within 3 lengths of the pace at any stage in the race.
Hopefully on Saturday the track will play differently, because my pick is deep closer #6 – Ron The Greek for the following reasons…when 6th by 4+ lengths in the Risen Star, he carried 4 lbs. more than all of his rivals versus this race where all runners carry 122 lbs.; in the Risen Star the winner (Discreetly Mine) was able to set pedestrian early fractions, as the top 3 finishers ran that way from the first turn on; the extra 1/16 mile can only enhance his chances.
Go with #6 – Ron The Greek and complete your exotics with #3 – Fly Down, #5 – A Little Warm, #9 – Stay Put and #13 - Drosselmeyer.
Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.