Well, anyhow, lets start off by picking apart the Illinois Derby. Obviously the top two horses in this race are Backtalk and American Lion. Both of these colts were talented and well thought of two year olds, but when Backtalk bombed two races in a row that shiny tint to his fiery red coat lost some of it's luster. He did however manage to win the Sportman's Paradise Stakes, in his first race this year, and has been working far superior than any other horses stabled at the Fair Grounds. American Lion has now disappointed in his last two races, as well, but some of the luster he has last this year is replaced by the mystery of if he is a better horse on dirt than he is over the Pro-Ride.
Other than the top two, we have Dave in Dixie and Stephen's Got Hope shipping in from California to try the dirt for the first time, which bodes well for them, if they are going with the current trend of moving off synthetics to try the dirt. Yawanna Twist, second to Awesome Act in the Gotham, is also capable of pulling an upset here. However, since I'm not particularly high on Dave in Dixie or Yawanna Twist, I will choose Stephen's Got Hope, to complete my top three.
Selections: American Lion, Backtalk, Stephen's Got Hope
The Santa Anita Derby should be and interesting race, since Baffert may not have Lookin At Lucky fully cranked, since his colt is far from in need for graded earnings for the Derby, and can rest on his laurels, making due with a good second or third in this race. If you are using that as an angle, I do not blame you, but I personally think Lookin at Lucky is too good right now to get beat.
Besides Lucky, you have an array of other horses to choose from. Caracortado is a nice horse, who was beaten by the pace in his last start. This start he may get a stronger pace to run into, so beware. Sidney's Candy is a talented front running speed ball, who may not be that need the lead type. If he can rate of the lead here, he has the talent to be right in the thick of things as they near the wire. Alphie's Bet is not a horse I am particularly impressed with, even though he won with some flare last out. If he runs the same race he did in the Sham he might just get up to snatch third of fourth. However, I like Setsuko more for that. He was runner up in the Sham and is bred to just keep, coming and coming and coming.
Selections: Lookin At Lucky, Caracortado, Setsuko
Here comes the Wood Memorial analysis. Eskendereya and Awesome Act are the clear stars of this field, but after an 8 1/2 length romp in the Fountain of Youth. Though his was not by nearly as much, Awesome Act made easy work of his foes in the Gotham. In my opinion, I think Eskendereya's win in the Fountain of Youth was a bit overrated. He is a talented horse that is dangerous when everything goes his way, which is exactly what happened at Gulfstream. Here, he may get that same pace scenario, but he does not get that Gulfstream speed bias, and has quite a few formidable foes here.Schoolyard Dreams is another that I like along with the ever so consistent Jackson Bend, who now gets the fearless, rail-riding, Calvin Bo-rail as his rider. I like Schoolyard so much because in his last two he has finished second to some of the top rated horses on the trail this year in Rule and Odysseus. I don't really give a darn about the closing times at Tampa Bay, since it has a reputation for being a quirky track. He has an explosive turn of foot and tactical speed, which allows him to stay in touch early with his opponents, then pounce on them when they least expect it. Now armed with Nick Zito aka The Giant Killer and Calvin Borel, no one can fully toss out the ultra consistent Jackson Bend.
Selections: Schoolyard Dreams, Awesome Act, Jackson Bend
So, who are your picks?