Friday, April 29, 2011

The Grade 3 $200,000 Cliff's Edge Derby Trial

The blog is currently in the midst of a minor slump, so minor in fact, that we are $290 in the hole for 2011. However, we are nothing if not persevering. This week's race is the Grade 3 $200,000 Cliff's Edge Derby Trial. Back in the day, this race was actually a springboard into the Kentucky Derby. While it has not been that for many years (I think the last horse to run in the Trial and then do well in the Derby was Don't Get Mad, who was 4th in 2005), the Derby Trial is the Opening Day feature on the Churchill Downs program. Here is the analysis:

My top selection will be #5 JJ's Lucky Train. I think he might have some value here, given the fact that Travelin Man is 7-5 on the morning line, which I find wildly optimistic. JJ's Lucky Train won the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct on April 9. He also has been the one mile distance before and even run on a muddy track. The Louisville oval might have some moisture in it still after a rash of storms have pelted the area for some time. My second selection is #8 Indiano. He did run 2nd to Travelin Man in the Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream on April 3, but again he has experience with wet surfaces and significantly more experience than the projected favorite in here. Garrett Gomez will ride. I will use the morning line favorite, #2 Travelin Man, as my third pick in the Derby Trial. He has two wins and a second in three lifetime starts, the second coming to the dominating Flashpoint in the Grade 2 Hutcheson. However, he has never run a mile before. The farthest he has gone is seven furlongs. It is worth noting that two of his three Beyer figures were in the low 100s. I will use 8-1 shot, #7 Indian Winter, in the fourth spot as a possible price pick. He posted a bullet workout on April 22 at Hollywood Park and I actually saw him run in the Turf Paradise Derby on February 26. It was a troubled trip and he seemed somewhat immature in there. Hopefully, he has done some growing up. Here is the play for the Grade 3 Cliff's Edge Derby Trial:

$10 WP #5
$2 EX 5 with 2-3-7-8
TOTAL- $28

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for the 137th Kentucky Derby coverage. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Can it honestly already be six years since Giacomo (pictured) won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 50-1 for the now-familiar connections (through Zenyatta) of The Mosses, John Shirreffs, and Mike Smith? This 2005 Derby was really the first time that grouping of owner, trainer, and jockey really burst onto the national scene.

That 2005 Derby was very similar to this year's edition in that it was so wide open. Bellamy Road was considered the prohibitive favorite, based on his smashing win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Bellamy Road's trainer, Nick Zito, had five horses in the twenty horse field. Zito also sent Noble Causeway, Andromeda's Hero, High Fly, and Sun King to the post at Churchill Downs. Afleet Alex was also well-fancied (and would prove to be easily the best horse of the class by winning The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes) with young Jeremy Rose in the irons. The upset winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Wilko, was part of the proceedings. Spanish Chestnut, who would set the dazzling pace, was in the field also, so you knew who would be up front.

The horse that actually ran the best race of the day was Closing Argument, who would get caught at the wire by Giacomo. Closing Argument would have to settle for second at odds of 71-1. Closing Argument was up close to the quick pace most of the way around and seemed to have enough left through the stretch to win. I must admit I still get goosebumps when I listen to Tom Durkin's call of this Derby and he says, "Closing Argument in with a chance" during the stretch drive was complete incredulity that the longshot was still right there.

Giacomo sat well back off the 22.28 quarter and the 45.38 half-mile fractions in eighteenth place. By the time Smith had him in motion, the pacesetters were starting to fall apart. Spanish Chestnut would finish sixteenth, Going Wild would finish eighteenth, and Bandini would finish nineteenth. Meanwhile, Closing Argument had taken the lead and had Afleet Alex bearing down on him on the inside and Giacomo moving up on the outside. The three horses came through the lane in a pulsating stretch drive that resulted with Giacomo in front by a half-length, Closing Argument second by the same margin, and Afleet Alex in third place. Giacomo paid $102.60 to win on Derby Day and Closing Argument paid $70 to place.

I look back on this Derby with mixed feelings. I did have win money on Giacomo that day. My $5 win ticket turned into $250. However, I had posted on a horse racing forum that week that the two best longshots in the race were Giacomo and Closing Argument. Guess who didn't have a ticket on the exacta that paid $9,814.80? Yeah, that one stung for a while, but I did totally luck into the Mine That Bird-Pioneerof The Nile two years ago for nearly $2,100, so I can't complain too much about it. After all, I still left the track on Derby Day 2005 a winner.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Super Six Derby Pix

This will be the final version of the Pix for 2011. Next week is Derby week, of course, and there will be plenty of action to jam pack into the blog. Anyway, here are the Pix for this week:

#1 Dialed In- It is now almost inevitable that the Nick Zito trainee will be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby. He is the only contender that really didn't stumble somewhere along the way, winning the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. He did run second to his stablemate in the Florida Derby prep, but that was with older horses and I don't think that was intended to be more than a public, paid workout anyway.

#2 Toby's Corner- The Wood Memorial winner was late arriving on the scene for the Derby, but I think his win in the Wood was the single most impressive prep race of the whole season. If he can overcome the traffic he will face in Louisville with his running style the same way he overcame it at The Big A, I think they will be fitting his flank with a garland of roses on May 7.

#3 Archarcharch- The undisputed King of Oaklawn this spring, winning the Southwest and the Arkansas Derby. He even ran a credible race in defeat in the Rebel, when The Factor was the greatest thing since sliced bread. If they could somehow transport the surface in Arkansas to Kentucky, he would be 8-5 to win the Roses. However, since they are not running the Derby at Oaklawn, he will have to do it on his ability, which still might be enough.

#4 Mucho Macho Man- I still think this one might turn out to be the sleeper of the sleepers on Derby Day. He won the Risen Star and lost the Louisiana Derby, although the Derby effort was compromised with issues encountered shortly after leaving the gate. He still ran third that day, even with the problems. I know Nehro is the sudden "hot horse" of all the wiseguys, but he didn't lose to Nehro by much and I am interested to see how they match up with everything even.

#5 Uncle Mo- The workout this morning of five furlongs in 1:01.3 was a nice return to form by the 2010 Juvenile Champion. He had been the favorite until the shocking loss in the Wood. The question is now, was it just a momentary stumble on the way to history, the way it was for Secretariat and Monarchos (who just happened to run the two fastest Derbies ever) or was it symptomatic of a larger problem of distance limitations for this colt?

#6 Soldat- I think the defection of The Factor from the Kentucky Derby really helps his chances on May 7. I had been very high on him before the nightmare of the Florida Derby. He was overheated that day, didn't get the lead, and didn't run his race. He should be up front in the Derby. The only question with him is will he be alone on the lead or will another speedster like Shackleford compromise his position?

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Grade 2 $150,000 Jerome Stakes

The major prep race for the Kentucky Derby this weekend is, in all honesty, the last one that really matters. It is the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, but it drew only a paltry field of six and of those, only Silver Medallion can earn enough money to make the field of twenty for the Derby. Therefore, I will be handicapping the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at Aqueduct, which might also have an impact on the Triple Crown series this year. Here is the analysis:

The top pick will be #5 Rattlesnake Bridge, who ran a decent second behind former Derby favorite, Uncle Mo, in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream. His Sire is Tapit, who has been producing quality runners by the bushel lately. The trainer is Kiaran McLaughlin, who has other stronger three-year-olds in his stable. Jose Lezcano was aboard for the Timely Writer and gets the call again here. WinStar Farm's #2 Cal Nation is the second choice here. John Velazquez has a win and second with this colt in two lifetime pairings. He has been the betting choice in both previous races and will likely have that honor again here. His last work over the Belmont Training Track was four furlongs in 48 3/5 seconds. A.P. Indy is on the bottom side of the breeding. Jess Jackson passed away this week and his Stonestreet Stables horse, #1 Astrology, is my third choice. Jackson recently pulled this horse off the Derby Trail after his disappointing return to the races with a distant second in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, behind Twice The Appeal. A.P. Indy is the Sire here. Mike Smith will be at the controls for the first time in this spot. Finally, I will use a nifty longshot, I think, in #4 Isn't He Perfect. He ran fifth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial just a couple of weeks ago, but was in contention with a furlong to go. I like the price of 20-1 on the morning line. His Sire is 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Pleasantly Perfect. Here is the play for the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes:

$10 WIN #5
$1 EX BOX 1-2-4-5-6
TOTAL- $30

Right now, the blog is MINUS $260, so we better get a winner before the Derby to keep our head near the water. They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jess Jackson

Jess Jackson, who is best known recently as the owner of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, passed away at the age of 81 due to complications from the cancer that he has suffered from for quite some time.

Jackson always did things his way when it came to his horses. Curlin won two Horse Of The Year Awards under Jackson's watch in 2007 and 2008. Rachel Alexandra made it a three-peat for Jackson-owned horses in 2009. Those two horses are now destined to be further connected in the future, as Rachel Alexandra is in foal to Curlin.

Curlin won the Preakness in 2007, in an exciting stretch duel with the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense. Curlin, by the way, had finished third in the Derby. Curlin would go on to drill the entire field in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic over the sloppy track at Monmouth.

Rachel Alexandra would win the 2009 Preakness, holding off the Kentucky Derby winner also, Mine That Bird, who made a furious charge that fell short. Rachel had inspired comparisons to the greats of the past with her 20-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby. It was after that performance that Jackson had purchased the filly. Rachel would never get the chance to run in the Breeders' Cup in 2009, as Jackson elected not to send her to California to run over what he called the "plastic" synthetic surface Santa Anita had at the time.

It is a shame that Jackson didn't get the chance to see his two great champions produce what is currently expected to be a superfoal. Of course, you never can tell what will come after Rachel Alexandra delivers the foal, he or she may be great, he or she may not be great. Whatever comes from the pairing of the two great ones, the one certainty will be that the foal will continue the tremendous racing legacy of Jess Jackson, which has been cut far too short.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Craig Braddick

I just wanted to take a quick opportunity to thank Craig Braddick for his visit on Tuesday to Turf Paradise. Craig will be the announcer this summer at Yavapai Downs in Prescott, Arizona and came by on Tuesday to call a couple of races and give the Arizona racing fans a small taste of what they can expect to hear this summer up north.

Craig called the fourth and eighth races on the Tuesday program and if those are any indication, I am sure the folks at Yavapai will be in quite capable hands and will enjoy hearing Craig's voice on a daily basis. Of course, Craig is not new to this race calling business, having called at Arapahoe Park in Colorado and served as a guest announcer at numerous racetracks, including Turfway Park in Kentucky and Mountaineer Park in West Virginia to name a couple.

Craig stayed over an extra day to have a 4&3 whooping administered to him on the links today by yours truly, which made the dinner I won off him all the more tasty. Don't worry, Craig, you will get your chance at redemption once I return to Arizona from Nebraska and pay you a return visit this summer.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone...GOODBYE!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Super Six Derby Pix

It was yet another wild and woolly weekend on the Derby Trail with massive longshots winning the two key preps, the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn (although there is NO WAY Archarcharch should have been 25-1 based on his previous races at Oaklawn). This has, of course, shaken up the Derby picture no end with less than three weeks to go to the big day. Here are this week's Super Six Derby Pix:

#1 Dialed In- Nick Zito continues to hold pocket aces with the Florida Derby champion. Of course, as any poker player will tell you, pocket aces get cracked all the time. It is clear, though, that Dialed In has been the most impressive of all the horses that will be going into the gate for the Derby on May 7 so far this year. His win in the Holy Bull raised eyebrows, he ran a decent second against older horses in the Florida Derby prep, and he won the Florida Derby while everything else collapsed around him.

#2 Toby's Corner- It has been a fast rise up the Pix for the Wood Memorial winner, but he did beat the assumed favorite since last November in Uncle Mo. He overcame quite a bit to get the job done at Aqueduct, showing that he can negotiate through traffic if necessary, which will be a very valuable skill at Churchill Downs. It could be an exciting stretch run in the Derby with this one and Dialed In both rallying from far back if there is any pace on at all.

#3 Archarcharch- The Arkansas Derby winner went off at a ridiculous price on Saturday and paid a handsome $52.40 to those that backed him at Oaklawn. Given his win in the Rebel and a not too back third in the Southwest, I just don't see how the bettors let him off at that price. Of course, if it happens again at Churchill Downs, I'll be ready with some win money on him at the inflated number.

#4 Mucho Macho Man- He tore a hoof in the Louisiana Derby and still ran a credible third behind Pants On Fire and Nehro that day. His win in the Risen Star gets discounted a little with Santiva's poor effort in the Blue Grass Stakes (although I might be inclined to give Santiva a second chance since that race was run over the polytrack). He posted a workout of seven furlongs in 1:23.66 on Sunday morning and if he is running that well come May 7, we will certainly know "Quien Es Mas Macho?", to quote SNL circa 1978.

#5 Uncle Mo- OK, if you believe Todd Pletcher, then his gastrointestinal problem was the cause of the letdown in the Wood Memorial. Not the fact that this was a short horse due to being babied up until that race. Honestly, it was likely the first time the horse ever was challenged to that extent and he just didn't have any kind of foundation to fall back on when he needed it. He is still the 2010 Champion Juvenile Colt, but that won't mean a hill of beans when the gates open at Churchill Downs.

#6 Soldat- Once the apple of my eye, his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, says that the horse is training well again after the disaster that was the fifth in the Florida Derby. He honestly showed no response in that race and The Factor actually ran a similar race this past weekend in the Arkansas Derby. He didn't get the lead, didn't respond when called on, and didn't do what was expected and necessary at this late stage of the game.

Tune in again this week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Grade 1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes

Keeneland will host its penultimate Derby prep this Saturday with the 87th running of the Grade 1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes. It features a very closely matched field of twelve going postward led by the likely favorite, Santiva. Santiva has been on my Derby radar since his win over Astrology last fall at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Since he will be at short odds on Saturday, though, you just know I have to try and find a way to defeat him. Here is the analysis:

My top choice will be #11 Crimson China. He broke his maiden over the synthetic surfaces at Wolverhampton in Great Britain last November. Since then, he has run on the turf once at Gulfstream and once on the polytrack at Turfway Park. He has a win and a second in those two races. I also think he is a very generous 10-1 on the morning line in here. He has never been worse than second in four lifetime starts and trainer Graham Motion figures to have him ready for a big run. For second, I will use #12 Queen'splatekitten. Although, you would figure this one is more likely to be pointing to the Queen's Plate at Woodbine in June. He crushed his maiden-breaking race at Woodbine last December and won the return from the layoff at Gulfstream in February. John Velazquez gets the riding assignment on this 12-1 shot. #2 King Congie was disqualified from a win in the Hallandale Beach over the turf at Gulfstream last time out on February 6. His last workout came at Keeneland and was decent enough, five furlongs in 1:00 3/5. Rajiv Maragh gets the call on this colt Saturday. Finally, I will round out the top four with #9 Wilkinson, who ran his worst race ever last time out in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, but I tend to want to throw that one out because his break was so terrible. He does have a previous try over the track at Keeneland, finishing second in his debut effort on October 21 at seven furlongs. The Sire is 1999 Belmont Stakes winner, Lemon Drop Kid. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes:

$5 WP #11
$1 EX BOX 2-3-9-11-12
$1 TRI 11-12 with 11-12 with 2-3-6-9
TOTAL- $38

The blog is currently MINUS $222 for the year, meaning we really need a hit to keep our heads near the Mendoza line. Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Super Six Derby Pix

In the movie "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?". Spencer Tracy quotes Isobel Sanford, who played the family maid with the following line, "All Hell done broke loose now!" To say that is what has happened to the Kentucky Derby picture would be a fabulous understatement. The favorite didn't win ANY of the three prep races this past weekend. Of course, this coming weekend, order could be restored with the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but I find it highly doubtful. Here are the Pix for this week:

#1 Dialed In- Nick Zito has inherited the favorites role with the Florida Derby winner, Dialed In. I still don't think the race was that tremendously impressive, but what can I tell you? Unlike some others this year, Dialed In has actually been working hard up to the Derby. The win in the Holy Bull, the loss to older horses in what was basically a public workout, and the Florida Derby win might have him ready to go come Derby Day.

#2 Santiva- The likely favorite in what will prove to be a bulky field at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes remains the horse I feel is most likely to put forth a tough effort in the Derby. Again, he might not walk off the track wearing the Roses, but I feel confident in saying he will be part of the Superfecta on Derby Day. I am anxious to see how well he does on the Polytrack and how well he reacts after he gets off of it.

#3 The Factor- Bob Baffert's most likely Derby candidate has taken the Arkansas road to Louisville, which has been so successful so many times in the recent past. His win in the Rebel seemed to prove he could get a distance of ground to most observers. I am hoping someone will go with him and prod him along in the Arkansas Derby, so we can see if he can handle being challenged while on the lead.

#4 Toby's Corner- I felt his performance in the Wood Memorial this Saturday was magnificent enough to put him on the list this week. If you get a chance to watch a replay of this race, Toby's Corner was in behind TWO lines of four horses across the track at Aqueduct while on the far turn. He weaved his way through the traffic while full of run and powered past the fading Uncle Mo and the surging Arthur's Tale to win the Wood and make him a candidate for Derby glory.

#5 Uncle Mo- OK, I know he grabbed a quarter at the start of the Wood Memorial and was never really comfortable the whole race. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he had done that in a previous race and it wasn't a problem. So, then why was it a problem on Saturday? Pletcher also said that this was not a short horse for the Wood. I respectfully disagree with that assessment. He completely stopped in the stretch while trying to go farther than he ever went before. The total lack of competition caught up with him in the Wood. While that is that case, I also think he can rebound and still win the Derby.

#6 Archarcharch- You know, if the Kentucky Derby were held today, he wouldn't even have enough graded stakes earnings to make the top twenty. He would have to wait for the Preakness. However, the Derby is not held today, so his connections don't have to be concerned until Saturday. He will run tough again on Saturday, he always does. It will be interesting to see if he can turn the tables on The Factor, especially if The Factor is pressured on the front end.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A.P. Indy

The end of the line has come for the stud career of one of the greats, A.P. Indy (pictured). He has been pensioned at Lane's End Farm due to apparent infertility. A.P. Indy sired so many wonderful horses during his stud career that one wonders where to start. One of his offspring, Bernardini, won the 2006 Preakness and was the first choice to mate with the great Zenyatta. Unfortunately, the first attempt at impregnating the Grande Dame did not go so well, but there will be a second try, thankfully.

A.P. Indy also sired many other great runners including Pulpit, Stephen Got Even, Aptitude, Friends Lake, Suave, Mineshaft and Old Trieste. His legacy could likely equal that of Storm Cat, another of the great recent Sires. A.P. Indy was the leading North American Sire in 2003 and 2006. I don't think he quite gets into the discussion with Northern Dancer, but then again, who does really?

A.P. Indy was touched by greatness right from the start. His Sire was 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. A.P. Indy was Horse Of The Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in 1992, following his wins in the Santa Anita Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Classic. He would probably have won the 1992 Kentucky Derby as well, but as the morning-line favorite, he was scratched on the morning of the race by trainer Neil Drysdale after a foot bruise. While that was unfortunate, it did clear the way for the great Pat Day to get his elusive Derby win with Lil E. Tee. Drysdale would eventually get to the Derby Winner's Circle with Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. For his impressive racing career, A.P. Indy would go to the post eleven times, winning eight and finishing third in one other start. He earned a total of $2,979,815 in purse money.

A.P. Indy now gets to enjoy his dotage and retirement like any great one should, resting and relaxing, hopefully he somehow knows what an impact he had both on and off the racetrack. Here is the link to watch A.P. Indy win the 1992 Breeders' Cup Classic: Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Photo courtesy of

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby

This race lost just a touch of its steam when the horse that would have been the prohibitive favorite, Premier Pegasus, scratched with a fracture and is now completely out of the picture for the 137th Kentucky Derby on May 7. It is a pity this happened, because I thought he would have had a legitimate shot in Louisville, but we must move on. Here is the analysis for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby:

I will go with #9 Anthony's Cross as my top pick in the Santa Anita Derby. He won the Grade 2 Robert E. Lewis at this distance over this racetrack on February 12. He has been away from the races since then, which is troubling, but since the middle of March, he has been working like a house on fire. Joel Rosario was up for the win in the Lewis and will get the call again here. For second place, I will go with #3 Mr. Commons. He scored an Allowance win last time out as a nearly even-money favorite. He is undefeated with Mike Smith aboard and the trainer is John Shirreffs. Does that combo sound familiar to anyone else? He appears to be a generous 8-1 on the morning line in here. The lineage suggests he might be more apt to run well on the turf. Finally, I will go with #10 Bench Points in the third spot. He is 10-1 on the morning line in here. The San Felipe was his first race over six furlongs and he acquitted himself nicely, finishing third. Rafael Bejarano was up for this one's first three wins of his career and he gets the call once again here. Please note that Jaycito was originally selected, but has been scratched. Here is the play for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby:

$5 WP #9
$2 EX BOX 3-9-10
$2 TRI BOX 3-9-10
TOTAL- $34

The blog is currently MINUS $198 for the year. Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fighting Through The Draw

The major prep races for this weekend on the Kentucky Derby trail all had their draws today. The Grade 1 Wood Memorial will feature a field of ten, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby will go one better than that with eleven, and the Grade 3 Illinois Derby will go one better than that and offers a field of twelve.

Of course, the highlight horse of the weekend will be the 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, Uncle Mo. He drew right in the middle of the bunch in the Wood Memorial, getting the #5 post position. I will be guessing that Uncle Mo will be going off somewhere around 1-5 in the Wood Memorial, given the quality (or apparent lack thereof) of his competition in the race.

The Santa Anita Derby draw was a little more of a story with Jaycito getting stuck all the way outside in post #11. The likely favorite will be Grade 2 San Felipe winner, Premier Pegasus, who got spot #8. The Grade 2 Robert E. Lewis winner, Anthony's Cross, who is unraced since that upset victory, will be starting in post position #9. The Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby winner, the Steve Asmussen-trained Silver Medallion, will be in post #4. Finally, Grade 1 CashCall Futurity winner, Comma To The Top, who will not be going to the Kentucky Derby, is in post #5.

The Illinois Derby gets the 47-1 upset winner of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, Watch Me Go. Watch Me Go drew post position #4 at Hawthorne. I don't think you will be getting 47-1 on Watch Me Go in Chicago. He has already been installed as the 7-2 morning-line choice. Others of interest in the Illinois Derby include the Al Stall-trainee, Sour at 6-1 in post #6, and El Grayling, who will be breaking from the #10 hole.

There are three very interesting races to watch for those of you interested in the Kentucky Derby field and the way it is shaping up this weekend. Remember, the Derby is now just one month from tomorrow. Tune in again on Friday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Super Six Derby Pix

Well, well, well, wasn't that fun? The Florida Derby went nothing like any of the experts thought it would and certainly didn't go the way I thought it would. Dialed In was the winner, barely escaping the 68-1 longshot, Shackleford, in the process. Soldat ran terrible, he appeared washed out before they even got to the gate, and he will now drop out of the Pix just one week after I catapulted him to the #1 spot. Here is this week's edition of the Super Six Derby Pix:

#1-Uncle Mo- Might finally get a true test of his abilities in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial over the newly-reopened main track at Aqueduct this weekend. His connections are reportedly hoping for a bigger field in the Wood, so he gains some experience in a crowded field, which he will encounter in the Kentucky Derby. I still was not wowed by his Timely Writer win, maybe he can sell me on Saturday.

#2-Dialed In- Didn't love what happened on Sunday in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. He got a decent pace set-up, made his move, and then struggled to get past a 68-1 longshot that dictated that pace and should have folded like a cheap suit. Zito nearly got his elusive third Derby with Ice Box out of the Florida Derby last year with a similar running style. I am hard-pressed to think there will be an episode of deja vu'.

#3-Santiva- Will get his final tune-up before Churchill Downs just up the road at Keeneland, which opens this weekend. The Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes will be run next Saturday, April 16. I must say I am not a fan of going to the synthetic at this stage of the game, but it worked for Street Sense in 2007. Maybe the game plan can succeed again.

#4-Premier Pegasus- We'll see what he is made of in his final prep for Kentucky in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday afternoon. He has been the leader in the clubhouse on the West Coast since his dominating win in the Grade 2 San Felipe. If he manages to win the Santa Anita Derby, he will be among the favorites in Louisville. If he wins the Santa Anita Derby in the same fashion he won the San Felipe, he might end up being THE favorite, depending on what happens elsewhere, of course.

#5-The Factor- Trainer Bob Baffert has confirmed that the winner of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park will be returning to Arkansas for the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 16. He worked six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 on Monday morning. I still question whether or not the running style he will be employing will work, but since I was so spot-on in the Florida Derby and the way the clearly played out the way I figured it, that should tell you something.

#6-Archarcharch- I am starting to think of him in the same hard-knocking, all-heart category I have Santiva and had Gourmet Dinner before he bowed out. He won the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn and acquitted himself nicely, running third behind The Factor in the Grade 2 Rebel. I expect him to be there at the end of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, maybe not as the winner, but certainly part of the picture at the end. He always seems to be right there.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Florida Derby

Sunday will be one of the more presitigious Derby preps of this 2011 season when the Florida Derby is run at Gulfstream Park. It is a very deep field of eight going to the post. It is quite possible that the winner of the Kentucky Derby in five weeks will be participating in this race on Sunday. Here is the analysis:

I have said on this blog that I think Soldat is going to win the Kentucky Derby at this point. I reserve the right, of course, to change that opinion. However, I will pick against him in the Florida Derby by selecting #2 To Honor And Serve as the winner. I think that the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth was just a bit much for a 2011 debut for this Mott trainee and I happen to thik that he will be ready to roll on Sunday. There is a bullet workout on May 27 at Payson Park. I just think he wasn't ready on February 26 and I think he will be ready on Sunday. I will put #1 Soldat in the second spot. He might be able to rate a bit more than he did in the Fountain Of Youth when he just went and kept right on going until he reached the Winner's Circle. Alan Garcia has been money with him so far and the colt is 2 for 2 over the track at Gulfstream Park in 2011. #7 Dialed In will be the third selection in here. He has two wins and a second with Julien Leparoux aboard and I really think the second was merely a tightener. Trainer Nick Zito nearly won that elusive third Kentucky Derby last year with Ice Box. This closer could get him that victory in five weeks. Finally, I will put #8 Flashpoint in the fourth position. I think it is utter folly to run him in here. I certainly don't think his speed will hold up for any type of excessive distance. Hopefully, his connections will be cured of their Derby Fever after Sunday and get this horse ready to sprint this season, where he belongs. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Florida Derby:

$2 EX BOX 1-2-7
$2 TRI BOX 1-2-7
TOTAL- $24

The blog is currently MINUS $174 for 2011. However, we will keep plugging away. Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!