Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #4

After a few weeks off due to travel and exams, I am updating my Kentucky Derby Top 20. The biggest news since the last list is that Honor Code, the former number 1, was first defeated in his return to the races and then was removed from the Kentucky Derby trail with a suspensory injury. Last week, We Miss Artie captured the GIII Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in a thrilling stretch run to punch his hole to the Kentucky Derby, as did Chitu who captured the GIII Sunland Derby.

This upcoming week features three huge races leading to the Kentucky the GI Florida Derby, the GII Louisiana Derby, and the GI UAE Derby in Dubai. Surely following this week there will be plenty of shake up in the list.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/26/2014

1. Intense Holiday- Number 1 by default after defections of Honor Code and Top Billing, but runs in Louisiana Derby this weekend.
2. Cairo Prince- Runs in Florida Derby on Saturday against a very talented field, but does not need to win, will most likely be number 1 next week. McLaughlin seems very confident.
3. California Chrome- Super impressive in San Felipe, and future wager favorite, but still want to see him tested.
4. Samraat- Last round of prep races key for all of these, but undefeated New York bred will be tested again in the Wood Memorial.
5. Hoppertunity- Ran huge in the Rebel, proving he can run with top guns, should only improve.
6. Tapiture- Had a bad trip in the Rebel and still ran very big, and he always fires, I just believe Hoppertunity has a higher ceiling.
7. In Trouble- Entered in Louisiana Derby, will go either there or in the Wood Memorial, he should improve in either race he runs in.
8. Social Inclusion- Crushed Honor Code and run huge Beyer, but I still have questions, especially if he is headed.
9. Candy Boy- Has not run in a long time and the Santa Anita Derby will be a giant test for him
10. Ring Weekend- Will take the Calder Derby path, unusual but could be very effective for the speedy gelding
11. Uncle Sigh
12. Bobby's Kitten
13. General a Rod
14. Wildcat Red
15. Chitu
16. Ride on Curlin
17. Albano
18. Vicar's in Trouble
19. We miss Artie
20. Tonalist

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #3

This week will see the biggest shake up so far in the Derby Top 20. The largest change comes with the news that last weeks number 1, Top Billing has been injured and is off the Kentucky Derby Trail. That leaves a major void on the derby trail, but there were many impressive performances this week. In the GII San Felipe S. at Santa Anita California Chrome destroyed the field, stamping himself as the top contender in California. In Florida, Ring Weekend threw his name into the hat of contenders by running the field in the Tampa Bay Derby off their feet in an impressive score. This weekend the only major Derby prep occurs in Arkansas for the GII Rebel S. which is expected to feature major Derby contenders Tapiture, Kobe's Back and Strong Mandate. Another race of interest is the 8th race on Wednesday at Gulfstream Park an allowance race which features the return of Honor Code in his first race of 2014.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/11/14

1. Honor Code- Jumps to number 1, because I like the spot McGaughey found for 2014 return
2. Intense Holiday- Still a believer in this horse, just could not put him at number 1 just yet
3. Cairo Prince- Haven't cooled on him either, but is still weeks away until the Florida Derby
4. California Chrome- By far the biggest jump because his victory this past weekend was VERY impressive, took pressure and kicked on he is a serious contender
5. Samraat- Honor Code is expected to be pointed to Wood Memorial, will be a huge test for this horse
6. In Trouble- Not ready to move him down yet, I was wowed by his grit first time off the layoff
7. Strong Mandate- Rebel this weekend will sort out the charge from Arkansas
8. Tapiture- Will likely be favorite in the Rebel off of his Southwest victory
9. Candy Boy- Santa Anita Derby test vs. California Chrome will really tell how good he is
10. Ring Weekend- Not sure what he beat but he crushed them, very impressively at that
11. Uncle Sigh
12. General a Rod
13. Wildcat Red
14. Bayern
15. Mexikoma
16. Kobe's Back
17. Hoppertunity
18. Midnight Hawk
19. Conquest Titan
20. Albano

Friday, March 7, 2014

Saturday Stakes Races 3-8-2014

This Saturday features superb racing from Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs, and Gulfstream Park. 

Santa Anita plays host to the GI $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap which features the top two finishers from the Breeders Cup Classic in November, Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. Last years Santa Anita Handicap winner, the always tough Game on Dude, will also be a major player. The undercard to the Big Cap features three very deep graded stakes races including the GI $350,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, and the GII $300,000 San Felipe a Kentucky Derby Prep race worth 50 points to the winner. 

Tampa Bay Downs has its biggest racing day of the year on Saturday featuring the GII $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby as well as two graded stakes race on the turf proceeding it. At Gulfstream Park the feature is the GII $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap featuring the return of the 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. Below are my selections for all of the graded stakes races around the country. 

Good luck!

Santa Anita 

Race 9 GI $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap
1. Will Take Charge (2-1)
2. Mucho Macho Man (9-5)
3. Game on Dude (5-2)

In the Big Cap I think there is a strong possibility of Mucho Macho Man going after Game on Dude early, setting the race up for Will Take Charge. Game on Dude has yet to prove he can beat horses with the talent and quality such as Will Take Charge or Mucho Macho Man, and he also may have lost a step with age. I still believe Will Take Charge was the best horse in the Classic, and I expect him to run down Mucho Macho Man, at a distance that suits him perfectly. This instant classic airs on Fox Sports 1 at 7PM EST time. 

Race 8 GI 350,00 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes
1. Suggestive Boy (6-1)
2. Za Approval (3-1)
3. Winning Prize (7-2) 

Suggestive Boy won this race in 2013 before being sidelined. He returned last month and ran an even fifth off of the eleven month layoff. I believe Suggestive Boy, is the most talented horse in the race and he should improve greatly in his second start off the layoff. Za Approval has shown he loves the course at Santa Anita running a massive race to finish behind horse of the year Wise Dan in the Breeders Cup Mile, but he has not run since that effort. While he could certainly win, since Suggestive Boy has the race underneath him, he will be a little sharper. Winning Prize was very impressive in winning the Grade II Arcadia last month defeating many of these but the going gets much tougher here. 

Race 7 GII $250,000 San Carlos Stakes 
1. Big Macher (6-1)
2. Shakin it Up (3-1)
3. Sahara Sky (4-1)

With a race that seems to have very little speed, I searched for a horse that has speed and Big Macher fit the bill. Big Macher is coming off a stakes win against California bred runners, but he should be able to compete with these.  The most talented horse in the race is Sahara Sky, but his last race off the layoff was nothing to get excited about. If Sahara Sky runs back to his form of last year he should win this race. 

Race 5 GII $300,000 San Felipe Stakes
1. Kristo (4-1)
2. California Chrome (3-1)
3.  Midnight Hawk (4-1)

With the scratch of the morning line favorite Bayern, It really opens the race up. I like Kristo because he continues to improve, I am not sure he wants to go far enough, but with the way the race shapes up and Rosario on board he has a serious chance. 

Tampa Bay Downs

Race 11 GII $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby
1. Hy Kodiak Warrior (10-1)
2. Conquest Titan (7-2)
3. Ring Weekend (15-1)

I am Top Billing believer, and Hy Kodiak Warrior comes out of an allowance race at Gulfstream Park won by Commissioner, and Top Billing was second. Top Billing and Commissioner both ran in the Fountain of Youth two weeks ago with Top Billing running a very good third. Hy Kodiak Warrior has yet to run a bad race, and I do not believe this rendition of the Tampa Bay Derby is particularly strong.  Conquest Titan is the most proven of the bunch, but he will need a good trip coming from the back and he is a short price. 

Race 10 GIII $200,000 Florida Oaks 
1. Kitten Kaboodle (8-1)
2. Testa Rossi (2-1)
3. Interrupted (15-1)

Race 9 GIII $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes
1. Riposte (2-1)
2. Cloud Scapes (9-2)
3. Waterway Run (7-2) 

Gulfstream Park 

GII $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap
1. Golden Ticket (5-1)
2. Palace Malice (5-2)
3. Brujo De Olleros (6-1) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #2

The major Kentucky Derby prep race last weekend took place at Aqueduct in the GIII $500,000 Gotham Stakes. The top three finishers of the the thrilling race are all expected to return in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. This upcoming weekend features the GII Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, and the GII San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, both should have a profound impact on the road to the Kentucky Derby. This week on my Top 20 list, the biggest jump will be made by In Trouble, who ran a gutsy third in the Gotham off a significant layoff, I look for him to improve significantly in the Wood Memorial. I have removed Shared Belief from the list, because I have not seen enough in terms of work that would give him a realistic shot of making the Kentucky Derby, especially with 0 points. Havana has also been removed due to his battle with a quarter crack forcing him out of the GII Swale Stakes at Gulfstream last weekend.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/4/2014

1. Top Billing- Still believe he is a true Derby horse, hope he gets away from Gulfstream
2. Intense Holiday- Distance will not be a problem, Risen Star victory impresses me every time I watch it
3. Honor Code- Has some points from two year old season, but a first or second in the Rebel would leave McGaughey with more options down the road.
4. Cairo Prince- Purchased by Godolphin, which seems to be an encouraging sign
5. Samraat- Remained undefeated in gutsy Gotham victory, love his tactical speed.
6. In Trouble- Absolutely loved his Gotham performance, off the layoff down on the inside never gave in, should only improve off of that effort.
7. Strong Mandate- Rebel will be a serious test, whether he is worthy of this spot.
8. Tapiture- Perfect trip in Southwest led to victory, but it was a good performance
9. Candy Boy- Best 3yo on West Coast as of now, San Felipe should be tougher test
10. Uncle Sigh- I am a big believe in the Gotham, which could come back to bite me, but these are tough horses.
11. Bayern
12. Conquest Titan
13. Mexikoma
14. General A Rod
15. Wildcat Red
16. California Chrome
17. Kobe's Back
18. Albano
19. Midnight Hawk
20. Chitu