Pimlico, Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby Opinions for Saturday

April 13, 2012 | Gary Quill

Pimlico Logo Three weeks from Saturday is the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and there are only a few more graded stakes races between now and then for 3 year olds to crack into the Top 20 of the Graded Stakes Earnings List. The Derby is limited to twenty (20) starters, and the pecking order is based on Graded Stakes Earnings.

This weekend is ideally the latest that any colt, gelding or filly should race if they are to be in top condition to run in the Derby on May 5th. On Saturday, there are two graded stakes races. The $750,000 Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, KY and the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, AR. Both races are run at the distance of 1 1/8 miles and will be broadcast live on CNBC-TV 6-7pm EDT. Next week there is one final prep race, the $200,000 Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes, but racing two weeks prior to running in the Derby rarely produces a serious Derby contender.

In the Blue Grass Stakes, post time scheduled for 5:15pmp EDT, the 6-5 M/L favorite is #4 – Hansen. He’s the “Great White Hope” as dubbed by his ownership group, led by his namesake, Dr. Kendall Hansen. Already with $1,400,000 in graded stakes earnings, Hansen already has a spot in the Kentucky Derby, so this race is more for the conditioning and possibly learning experience. The field of 13 is filled with early speed, so Ramon Dominguez will have an opportunity to let Hansen relax behind a number of front runners, then save his best for when they turn for home.

Considering a quick, early pace will set it up for the winner to come from off the pace, runners like #3 – Prospective (10-1), #5 – Russian Greek (50-1), #6 – Dullahan (6-1) and/or #9 – Holy Candy (30-1), if on their “A” game should make their presence known in the final furlong. From this group, I’ll go with #3 – Prospective who has been all heart in his 3 year old races and was 2 for 2 on an all-weather surface at age 2, one being Grade 3 Grey Stakes @ Woodbine. For your exotics, also use #2 – Gung Ho (30-1), #3 – Hansen, #6 – Dullahan and #9 – Holy Candy.

At approximately 6:45pm, a field eleven (11) will break from the starting gate for the Arkansas Derby. Bob Baffert who is 4 for 4 in graded stakes races at Oaklawn Park this meet, sends out M/L favorite #11 – Bodemeister (9-5) and second choice #5 – Secret Cricle (5-2). In here we have the opposite scenario from the Blue Grass, in that these two (2) should easily control the pace of the race. Breaking from the far outside “Bode” most likely will take the lead, and needs to wire the field in order to earn his spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

One of the non-Baffert starters who I believe has the talent to spring the upset is #2 – Stat (10-1), As a 2 year old he was a distant second in a Grade 2 grace to one of the top Derby contenders, Union Rags. He’ll be making only his fifth career start, but has the pedigree to get the 9 furlong distance. The only question is whether or not he has the maturity. The only jock who has ever ridden him in a race is John R. Velazquez, who happens to be the regular rider of Howe Great who runs in the Blue Grass Stakes as the 6-1 second choice. Mr. Velazquez decided to ride Stat, and that’s good enough for me. Along with #2 – Stat, use #1 – Cozzetti (15-1), #6 – Isn’t He Clever (6-1), #8 – Atigun (30-1) and #11 – Bodemeister.

Pimlico Turf starting gate

Recapping selections from Day 8 (Friday, April 13th) had 6 winners (2 Top Selections) with $2 Early Double ($29.20) $2 Exactas in 1st ($26.40), 2nd ($29.80) and 5th ($39.20) races. The BEST BET of the Day (8 3-2-0) was 4-1 M/L but went off 1-1 favorite due to multiple scratches. Cannot control that but he won as easily as I anticipated, returning $4.00 WIN, $2.80 PLACE and $2.10 SHOW. The LONGSHOT PICK (8 0-1-2) caught the attention of more then just I as he was bet to 5-2 (second choice), took the lead in the final 1/16th but wasn’t quick enough to the wire, losing by 1½ lengths to the favorite, and losing PLACE by a neck, returning $3.40 for the SHOW payoff.

Selections for Day 9 at Pimlico Saturday, April 14th card are posted below.
1st race post is 1:10pm EDT. Track Condition… Dirt: FAST Turf: FIRM

Soup Of The Day: Chicken Noodle

1st race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#4 – Polonez (5-1)
#5 – Imsobold (8-5)
#3 – Seekthe Wildlight (6-1)

2nd race – $5,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#6 – French Moon (3-1)
#1 – Shoe Freak Marlene (2-1)
#4 – Muscadine (9-2)

3rd race – $25,000 Claiming NW2L for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile
#5 – Ferry Music (9-2)
#3 – Will N’ Pat (12-1)
#1 – Gina’s Prospect (5-1)

4th race – $25,000 Optional Claiming N2X for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile
#6 – Piamento (4-1)
#4 – Jake’s Bandaid (5-2)
#8 – Bailey’s Beach (3-1)

5th race – $25,000 Claiming NW2L for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 5 furlongs on Turf
#7 – Dixie’s Comfort (10-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#5 – Tinderbox (5-2)
#8 – Prom Queen (10-1)

6th race – $35,000 Allowance N1X for 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#5 – Issues And Answers (9-2) *** BEST BET ***
#7 – Officious (7-2)
#3 – Sun Song (10-1)

7th race – $30,000 Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 1 mile on Turf
#3 – Emerald Song (2-1)
#11 – Druid Dancer (8-1)
#6 – Foursouthernbelles (4-1)

8th race – $35,000 Allowance N1X for 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#5 – Brush Creek (9-2)
#3 – Mystical Terp (5-2)
#7 – Captain My Captain (5-1)

9th race – $33,000 Allowance N1X for 3 y.o. & up – 5 furlongs on Turf
#9 – Golden Account (9-2)
#7 – Cole’s Got Soul (12-1)
#8 – Saturday At Ten (15-1)

10th race – $75,000 Primonetta Stakes for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#6 – Aquitania (4-1)
#8 – Valiant Passion (7-2)
#7 – Enchante (8-1)

11th race – $25,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 1 mile on Turf
#10 – Cacaway (3-1)
#2 – Laurelcoveproposal (15-1)
#3 – Wahoo (6-1)

Good Luck!

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