Saturday is a potentially big day on the Road To The Derby with three big prep races, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis at Santa Anita with #1 on the Super Six Derby Pix, Liaison. However, I have elected to focus on another race on the Southern California program, the Grade 2 Strub Stakes. Here is the analysis:
I think the field of eight in the Strub is very interesting with some early obvious speed present in 6-5 morning-line favorite, #7 Tapizar, and #4 Ultimate Eagle. Clearly, Tapizar is the more appealing of this speed, but if Ultimate Eagle can keep up with the Asmussen horse, then it might turn into a crapshoot in the late stages. #2 Prayer For Relief could be sitting right off the pace and the winner of three Derbies last year already finished behind two of his competitors in here in the Grade 2 San Fernando. However, just two weeks after that try, Prayer For Relief posted a bullet workout, five furlongs in 58 3/5 seconds. #6 Indian Winter is adding blinkers for this go and he has hit the board in only one of three lifetime graded efforts. He also has been working well lately, but this would be a big step up for him to get the lion's share. Bob Baffert has a horse in the fight, of course, with #1 Jaycito. He has been on the shelf since August, but has a recent bullet workout himself. The Sire is former Belmont winner, Victory Gallop. He should be coming from way downtown here if he is fit, which I am sure Baffert has him. #3 Beer Meister scored a win I was close to last year in the Turf Paradise Derby at odds of 40-1. After that victory, he tried to step up with graded company twice and finished 5th in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby and 7th in the Grade 2 Peter Pan. After the Peter Pan, he took some time off and came back with another strong win in Phoenix in the Luke Kruytbosch on New Year's Eve. I expect him to be coming late also and he might even sneak up for a piece. As with Jaycito, #5 Clubhouse Ride is coming back from off the shelf here. However, in this case, we are talking about a layoff of more than a year. He has not been to the Winner's Circle since a restricted stakes win at Fairplex Park in September 2010. I don't expect there to be a repeat trip on Saturday. Finally, there is #8 Balladry, the Darley horse who will be among those coming after the leaders late. He didn't catch up to Tapizar in the San Fernando, but if the pace is more contested on Saturday, he just might get there.
THE PICK: #2 Prayer For Relief (7-2)
Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!