To be honest, I really don't think there will be a weekend, other than the Breeders Cup, Apple Blossom, or Kentucky Derby, that will outshine what we are preparing to see today. To a die hard fan like me this is like Thanksgiving, with that giant, succulent turkey as the center piece surrounded by an array of delicious appetizers, for you to choose from. In this case, the debuts of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are the center piece of this weekend, and we all know who we are rooting for in each, they are the turkey. The side dishes would be the talent packed Derby preps, the San Felipe, the Rebel, and the Tampa Bay Derby. All filled with such tasty looking prospects you don't know who to choose from.
The Tampa Bay Derby doesn't have a whole lot big names heading the program, but it is stacked a mile high with potential. Schoolyard Dreams was an impressive second in the Sam F. Davis and will be looking to improve on placing today. Uptowncharlybrown came into the same race with a three race winning streak, which was snapped, thanks to the Pletcher trained Rule. He did, however, finish with a late rush that propelled him to third on the wire.
Without Rule to contend with, one might think the race would belong to the second and third place finishers of the Sam F. Davis, but with the return of grade two winner Super Saver, and the impressive allowance winner Odysseus, things figure to be a little tougher. Super Saver last raced in November, winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes impressively. He is the proven class of the field, yet may not be the betting favorite at the windows. That title may go to the now horse, Odysseus, who won his last by an incredibly easy 15 lengths.
This race, like the ones to come, was a tough decision, but my top three pick would be the talented Odysseus, Super Saver, and Schoolyard Dreams.
The San Felipe over on the west coast came up with an even stronger field than anticipated. Caracortado, unbeaten in five starts will try to make it 6 for 6. He last win came in the Robert B. Lewis, where he beat American Lion and Dave in Dixie. Normally that would mean to throw out the two second and third place finishers, but, each ran well enough to merit a second chance. Dave in Dixie was flying late, but ran out of ground. American Lion was making his 3 yr old debut and was pressuring solid fractions the whole way. The facts that he was not pushed in the stretch and that he will be racing with the addition of blinkers today, gives me the confidence that he will rebound.
Horses, still very talented, but less likely to draw as much attention are Sidney's Candy and Interactif. Sidney's Candy won his last stakes, but it was only seven furlongs, meaning that this will be his first try around two turns. Interactif is a proven commodity on turf, winning two stakes on it last year. His ability over synthetics, however, remains a question.
My picks hear would be American Lion, Caracortado, and Interactif.
The Rebel, in my opinion is the toughest Derby prep this weekend. It features the return of juvenile champion Lookin at Lucky and his nemesis Nobles Promise. These two will be making their dirt debut, while Lookin at Lucky will be sporting a new pair of blinkers. Noble's Promise has proven to be one very honest and talented horse, his only questions are distance and dirt. Should he answer those questions positively he would have to be near the top of anyone's Derby list. Lookin at Lucky was five for six last year, his only loss coming in the Breeders Cup Juvenile by a head. In this race, Noble's Promise was third. The two met up again in the Cash Call Futurity, where Lookin at Lucky was, again, the winner and Noble's Promise came in second.
However great these two may be, the Southwest runner-up, may prove to be even greater. Dublin was an impressive maiden winner, following that up with an easy score in the Hopeful. After that he ran two dull races, caused by an entrapped epiglottis. After surgery to repair the problem the monstrous colt came back with eye catching performance in the Southwest. His effort stood out so much, that many said that they though he ran a better race than the winner Conveyance. Here he gets an extra sixteenth to close in on his foes and jockey Corey Nakatani.
For this race, I'm picking chalk, with Dublin, Lookin at Lucky, and Noble's Promise.
Who do you like?