Just when we thought the Kentucky Derby picture was getting clearer, as the final few Derby prep races were run on Saturday, the annual injury bug reared its ugly head over the past 72 hours, claiming Top 10 Derby contenders Premier Pegasus, Jaycito and To Honor And Serve.
Premier Pegasus was the Santa Anita Derby 8-5 M/L favorite, but was an early scratch when he incurred a hairline fracture of the cannon bone in his left foreleg, discovered late Thursday after his gallop. Then less than 24 hours later, Jaycito who inherited the favorite status for the Santa Anita Derby, was scratched by trainer Bob Baffert due to a bruised foot/hoof that he has been nursing over the past week. Baffert stated he was hopeful Jaycito could recover in time to run in the $200k Lexington stakes and still run in the Derby. Looks like Baffert will have at least one Derby horse, as 13-1 longshot Midnight Interlude won the Santa Anita Derby, fresh off a maiden victory, to collect $600k in graded stakes earnings. In Florida on Friday night, To Honor And Serve who ran 3rd in the Florida Derby, was declared off the Derby Trail with a strain to the suspensory ligament of his left foreleg, according to trainer Bill Mott.
In addition to the injuries, on Saturday in the Wood Memorial when the undefeated, #1 Derby contender Uncle Mo got beat, finishing 3rd as the 1-9 favorite, all of a sudden the 137th Kentucky Derby looks to be wide open. So who spoiled the “Uncle Mo Show”? Fair Hill-based Toby’s Corner. The Graham Motion trainee broke his maiden at Laurel Park last November and won an allowance race at Laurel in January before winning the Whirlaway Stakes a month later. Another MD-based runner, Norman Asbjornson, from Chris Grove’s Bowie Training Center barn, finished fourth, 3-1/4 lengths behind Uncle Mo. Grove wants the son of Real Quiet to run next in the $1 million Grade 1 Preakness® Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The Illinois Derby was won by Todd Pletcher-trained Joe Vann, who won his previous two races at Laurel Park. So there will be a few Maryland connections at the Kentucky Derby this year.
Saturday (April 16th) will feature the final 2 big Derby preps… Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. After that, any would be Kentucky Derby starter who still needs more graded stakes earnings to crack the Top 20 would have to run in the Gr. 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 23rd, a mere 2 weeks prior to the Derby.
Recapping Day 6 (Saturday, April 9th) at the Pimlico Spring Meet…
Best Bet Our Jaks (# 2; 1st race; M/L 2-1; P/T 4-5) allowed her rivals to fight for the early lead as she was content to get slop kicked in her face through the first 3 furlongs. But when they turned for home she kicked into gear, clearing the field just beyond the 1/16th pole, winning by 2 as she geared down at the wire, returning a chalky, but 80% ROI $3.60 to WIN, $2.20 to PLACE and $2.10 for the SHOW.
Best Bet pick scorecard from 6 selections at the Pimlico Meet: 3 WIN – 0 PLACE – 1 SHOW.
Longshot Duffy Junior (# 2; 3rd race off the turf; M/L 10-1; P/T 7-2) was ridden smartly by jockey Jeremy Rose who recognized the lack of speed in the race and was willing to take “Junior” to the front, setting slow fractions with company. Even though he was challenged by the runner-up in mid-stretch, he showed some real heart to gut out the victory by a head, paying an attractive $9.40 to WIN, $5.40 to PLACE and $4.60 for the SHOW.
Longshot pick scorecard from 6 selections at the Pimlico Meet: 2 WIN – 2 PLACE – 1 SHOW
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $21 on Lyonnaise (#3; 2nd race; M/L 9/2); P/T 5-1) took early action but in the race trailed for most of the 1 1/16 mile contest, not finding her best stride until deep stretch, only enough to get up for 4th place purse money. Sadly her performance took down the SHOW parlay play, having to dip into the remaining $60 bankroll to start fresh on the Sunday card.
For the Pimlico Spring Meet, Day 7 (Sunday, April 10th) … ALL RACES are OFF the TURF
Soup Of The Day: Vegetable Beef
Best Bet: Daddy Gabs (# 6; 10th race; M/L 8-5) drops down to the bottom of the barrel level ($5k Claimer) in an effort to get his third lifetime victory. There isn’t much competition even though it’s a full field of 11. Jock switch to Sheldon Russell is a big plus.
Longshot: Salsorice (# 4; 3rd race; M/L 10-1) pick here is a stretch but just couldn’t find any other runner on the card with 5-1 or higher M/L that warranted consideration. Trainer usually does his best with runners at Charlestown, but this 4 year old gelding woke-up a bit in his last race. If he runs back to that he’ll be right in the mix.
SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $60.30 ($81.30 bankroll – $21 wager + $0 return)
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day: $20 on Hi Ho Bambino (# 11; 7th race; M/L 3-1) was a Main Track Only (MTO) entry in this race which was moved from the turf to main track. He’s hit the board in 10 of 15 over a fast, dirt oval and fits this condition nicely. The fact that 11 will go postward should provide a decent SHOW payoff, if he’s on his game.
Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.