The list of Kentucky Derby contenders will surely shrink after Saturday’s Derby prep races at Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Golden Gate Fields. For the NCAA Basketball geeks, this is the thoroughbred horse racing version of “Elimination Week”, Part 1. Only those who give a good account of themselves will continue on the Road To The Roses and compete in the next round of prep races in March.
First off will be the $250,000 Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, race 10 (Post Time 5:40 EST) on their card. A field of 10 go post-ward for the 1 1/8 mile event where Holy Bull Stakes runner-up, #5 – Jackson Bend (M/L 5-2) or NY-invader #2 – Buddy’s Saint (3-1) will be Post Time favorites. The race has a good mix of Front-runners, Stalkers and Closers which should allow the colt having the best talent and trip to prevail. With that being said, all 10 have there positives and negative, but I settled on #3 – Pulsion (12-1). Though all 5 of his races have been on the CA synthetic surfaces, he’s been training at Gulfstream Park for the past month. He was a veterinarian scratch from a 1 1/8 mile first-level allowance race due to a cough, but since then has work twice, one being a bullet. His runner-up finish in November to 2 year old Horse of the Year Lookin At Lucky proves he belongs here. Jockey Mike Smith makes the coast-to-coast trip to ride so this one must be special.
Buddy’s Saint makes his 3 year old debut after destroying his competition in two Grade 2 events at Aqueduct in November.In 3 career races he’s always been first under the wire. If it weren’t for being DQ’d and placed second in career debut, he’d be undefeated. Todd Pletcher trainee #8 – Eskendereya (5-1) comes in with lofty expectations after a workmen-like tune-up at GP for his 2010 debut. Others who should be battling in deep stretch are #1 – Aikenite #9 – Lost Aptitude (10-1) and #10 – Ice Box (10-1).
For the Fountain of Youth, go with #3 – Pulsion to WIN and on top in the exotics with #1 – Aikenite, #2 – Buddy’s Saint, #5 – Jackson Bend, #9 – Lost Aptitude and #10 – Ice Box.
Next up at approximately 5:45pm EST is the $300,000 Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, race 0 on their card.
#10 – Ron The Greek (M/L 3-1), winner of the LeComte at 7-1 (my documented blog pick on Jan. 23) might be a lukewarm co-favorite come Post Time as #6 – Drosselmeyer (4-1), a $600k yearling purchase opened his 2010 campaign with an impressive first-level allowance victory at Gulfstream Park.
There should be plenty of pace coming from posts #1 thru #4, led by #2 – Tempted To Tapit (maybe Tiger should have followed this thought instead of acting upon it) who scored a monster maiden victory at The Big A with the addition of Blinkers. This should set it up nicely for a late runners like Drosselmeyer, #9 – Stay Put (8-1), #10 – Letsgetitonmon (8-1) and Ron The Greek. It pains me not to stick with Ron The Greek but he’s conceding 4 lbs. to his 11 rivals and this could be the difference between victory and being an Also-Ran. Stay Put appears to be an improving colt, has won at this distance, carries lightest weight of his four race career and love the fact he worked 6 furlongs to prep for this event.
For the Risen Star, go with #8 – Stay Put to WIN and on top in the exotics with #2 – Tempted To Tapit, #4 – Discreetly Mine, #6 – Drosselmeyer, #10 – Letsgetitonmon and #11 – Ron The Greek.
At approximately 6:30pm EST, focus shifts to the 10th race at Oaklawn Park for the $250,000 Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, contested at 1 mile. Local runner and front-running winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes, #4 – DryFly (M/L 3-1) will have plenty of company early on, namely #5 – Cardiff Giant (8-1), # 6 – Cool Bullet (6-1), and #9 – Conveyance (7-2). Those who can stay just off the pace in a good striking position will likely prevail, such as #3 – Dublin (5-1) or #10 – Mission Impazible (15-1). A deep Closer who finally gets some pace to run at is Southern CA invader, #8 – Domonation (6-1), but how will he handle natural dirt?
For the Southwest go BIG with #10 – Mission Impazible to WIN and on top in the exotics with #3 – Dublin, #5 – Cardiff Giant, #6 – Cool Bullet, #8 – Domonation and #9 – Conveyance.
Finally on the west coast at Golden Gate Fields is the $150,000 Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. The 1 1/8 mile event is the 7th race on their card, Post Time is scheduled for 7pm EST. It appears that #7 – Ranger Heartley (M/L 5-2) has drawn into another pace-less race, which help him win the California Derby gate-to-wire. His main rival will be runner-up #8 – Connemara (2-1), but #1 – Haimish Hy (15-1) and #3 – Posse Power (12-1) are maturing colts sitting on big efforts.
For the El Camino Real go BIG again with #1 – Haimish Hy to WIN and on top in the exotics with #2 – Thomas Baines, #3 – Posse Power, #5 – Fog Alert (12-1), #7 – Ranger Heartley, and #8 – Connemara.
Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.