The Derby Trail or better known as the Road To The Roses makes its way through south Florida on Saturday, Feb. 26th at Gulfstream Park. There is a huge day of thoroughbred horse racing on tap which features a trio of graded stakes races, all restricted to 3 year olds. The 8th race is the one mile, $250,000 Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes for fillies. The 9th race is the 7 furlongs, $150,000 Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes and the 10th race is the program feature, the 1 1/8 mile $400,000 Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes.
Nothing against the ladies, but we’re going to concentrate on the latter two races whose runners are all males (colts and geldings), who are trying to prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. But… if you put a gun to my head and insisted on a selection for the Davona Dale Stakes, I’d take #3 – Oh Carole (4-1).
In the Hutcheson Stakes is a field of 10 runners, most of who are very fast and like to be on the lead early. But that could spell trouble for many of them as going 7 furlongs requires a bit more stamina than just running a sprint (6 furlongs or less). The likely Post Time favorite appears to be #3 – Travelin Man (5-2) who made a smashing career debut last month at Gulfstream, winning by 7 lengths in an extremely fast time. The last 3 year old to turn in a performance similar to that one was The Factor whose next race was a winning one in last weeks San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Travelin Man go 2 for 2 in his career, but it’s in my horse racing handicapping blood to find a contender elsewhere. So if the likes of speedballs such as #1 – Crossbow (5-1), #2 – Madman Diaries (6-1), #5 – Flashpoint (4-1), #9 – Manicero (12-1) and #10 – Royal Currier (8-1) hook-up with Travelin Man early, the race could step up perfectly for a late-runner like #4 – Razmataz (10-1), #6 – Little Drama (20-1), #7 – Leave Of Absence (12-1) or #8 – Black N Beauty (8-1). Each of these offers an attractive price. The one who I believe could rebound from his last effort is #8 – Black N Beauty. He’s cutting back in distance from two one mile races, has moved forward asfaras his Speed Figures in each of his 5 lifetime races, his most recent A.M. workout is reminiscent of those he put in when a 2 year old and finally, but most importantly, his final furlong fractions going 6 and 6 ½ panels last Fall were the faster than any of his foes in here. And it’s during this stage of the race where the “real” running takes place.
Onto the Fountain Of Youth, which is geared more towards the serious Derby contenders as it requires the stamina necessary to compete at 1 1/8 miles (or 9 furlongs), one furlong shorter than the Derby distance, but the longest race any 3 year old will need to run prior to the Kentucky Derby. Horses who have previously run a 9 furlong race have a slight advantage for obvious reasons… they’ve been there, done that. Whereas those who haven’t might get a shock to their system when their rider continues to ask them for more after they have already run one mile. All eight (8) runners with the exception of #2 – Gourmet Dinner (5-1) have already been tested at 9 furlongs. So that takes me to the early speed angle where #1 – Soldat (2-1), #7 – To Honor And Serve (8-5) and #8 – Shackleford (8-1) all enjoy being on the lead. The simple fact is IF they don’t get the lead, they’re done before the race is even one quarter the way run. So I’ll go elsewhere and take a flyer on a longshot, #5 – Bowman’s Causeway (20-1). It took him 3 tries to break his maiden, but in that 3rd try, his final furlong time was the fastest by a few ticks over #1 – Soldat and a full second better than the Morning Line favorite #7 – To Honor And Serve, who is making his 3 year old debut. What’s even more intriguing about Bowman’s Causeway is that jockey Julien Leparoux jumps off a highly touted wise-guy horse #4 – Casper’s Touch (6-1) OR did he lose the mount due to the horrible trip he gave “Casper” in his last race? I’m banking on this is not being the case and trainer Patrick Biacone, who helped bring Leparoux from France a few years ago, may have a special runner in Bowman’s Causeway.
Whether you agree with my analysis or not, checkout these races on Saturday afternoon, you won’t be disappointed.
2011 Derby Prep race Scoreboard
Date Prep Race GQ’s Pick Order of Finish
Jan. 30th Holy Bull Dialed In Dialed In, Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner
Feb. 5th Whirlaway Preachintothedevil Toby’s Corner, JJ’s Train, Preachintothedevil
Feb. 12th Sam F. Davis Beamer Brethren, Too Experience, Watch Me Go
Feb. 12th Robert B. Lewis Tapizar Anthony’s Cross, Riveting Reason, Quail Hill
Feb. 12th El Camino Real Positive Response Silver Medallion,Jakesam,Positive Response
Feb. 19th Risen Star Santiva MuchoMachoMan,Santiva,RogueRomance
Feb. 20th San Vicente Sway Away TheFactor,SwayAway,PremierPegasus
Feb. 26th Hutcheson Black N Beauty
Feb. 26th Fountain of Youth Bowman’s Causeway
These selections and more from Laurel Park for Saturday are available at GQ’s No Chalk Zone.
Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.