Saturday, April 3, 2010

So, Who Do You Pick

Three big races, all packed and loaded with talent that reaches the sky. They question, however is, which one of these races hold our next Kentucky Derby winner? Will it be the Wood Memorial, the Illinois Derby, or the Santa Anita Derby? Well, thank the good lord, we do not have to make that decision final yet! All we have to do this week is figure out who our picks our in the Wood Memorial, Illinois Derby, and the Santa Anita Derby. Did I just say that's all we had to do?

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?


  1. LDP,

    Love your picks...I picked SCHOOLYARD DREAMS because he's the only one with higher class, repeatable two turn form. Dominguez will time his move just right, w/ JACKSON and the rail horse taking turns pressing the favorite. That said, ESKENDEREYA may just be too brilliant w/ six weeks since that big effort - plenty of time to recover from the FOY after which he was really spent. AWESOME ACT could also turn into a brilliant colt but allowing YAWANNA TWIST to make up ground isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for a top Derby contender extending another 1/16. As far as tossing JACKSON BEND fully...I can. Considering the pace of the FOY, he should have finished closer. This is a sprinter miler who will do well finishing 3rd, but a top two looks like a reach if the big boys play strong. Does he remind you of BIG DRAMA? I'd love to see him on the cut back to 7f against the likes of D'FUNNYBONE.

    SETSUKO is a really live LS, he was my pick in the Sham...check out how Mandella tightened the screws with his last two works...bullets in 1:12 and :46 2/5!!! He's improving leaps and bounds and Mandella has allowed him to run on ability as a May foal. The trainer had the key to his sire's big race success and looks like he's got PLEASANTLY PERFECT's son ready for prime time. CARACORTADO will benefit from SKIPSHOT pressing SIDNEY'S CANDY which enhances the cat's stretch run. SID was brilliantly fast at two and looks like he's learned to rate kindly. Believe he'll be ultra tough. LOOKIN AT LUCKY...he's the class rounding out your solid top three. I'd put SIDNEY'S CANDY in 2nd as a saver play...the way he rated and sprinted home indicates he'll have no trouble with the distance and could be the rare, speedy sprinter able to rate on or off the lead. This is definitely a tougher race to play because 'LUCKY can use this race as a prep. He just needs to finish well to set him up for the Derby. Considering the earnings list, that means he could finish a close 4th to three hungry horses and it wouldn't bother me. He may be too classy for that to happen even if not fully cranked. The shame is that if 'LUCKY and SIDNEY finish top two, there will be one or more compelling three-year-olds that will not have enough earnings for the big dance.

    Went DAVE IN DIXIE to upset the Illinois Derby. Class relief away fr. LOOKIN AT LUCKY, CARACORTADO and SIDNEY'S CANDY. AMERICAN LION will set the pace for him like in the RB Lewis, and believe DAVE will adore the synth/dirt switch. IMHO, 'LION hasn't been well health-wise since "bobbling" in the Lewis...if Harty has him 100%, the race is his to lose as the only speed in the race. That's a pretty big IF for me, he was so fractious and rank last out. Hated BACKTALK working so fast...he's never run that fast in the p.m. However, if it truly was "breezing" he's indicating that his form is going to take a big upswing but that's another pretty big IF at a short price. Maybe that maiden can get up for a minor award if the favorites stub their toes like I expect.

    Enjoy the big day, I sure will!

  2. Ameteur,

    I can understand your reasoning on all your picks. Eski, just has never been a fave of mine. I think he go the perfect trip in the FoY and used the track bias to his advantage. Could he be as brilliant as that win looked, yes, I just don't think so. Plus the big question with him is did he peak too soon? Pletcher had better thank god he ran like that in his second prep and not his third, or else he'd be having a hard time getting him to stay at peak form for Derby.

    On JB, I like his consistency and the fact he has Zito and Borel. Those two seem to know how to pull an upset. Also JB has already beaten D'Funnybone, when they were racing at Calder. I forget the distance, but it was a sprint, and JB just nipped Funny at the wire, after looking beaten after the turn.

    There are a lot of if's in the Illinois Derby, even with the top two, but I'm still willing to give them another shot.

    Thanks for checking in!

  3. Good call on American Lion, I liked Yawanna Twist. Looks like Eskendereya was the star of the show, though. How do you spell Kentucky Derby favorite??? E-s-k-e-n-d-e-r-e-y-a!