Friday, April 20, 2012

The Grade 2 $200,000 Lexington Stakes

It appears that Saturday brings those interested their last major chance to qualify for the 138th Kentucky Derby two weeks hence with graded stakes earnings from the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes. The Lexington will feature a field of eleven horses going a mile and a sixteenth. Here is the analysis:

I think the most interesting horse in the field is #3 Johannesbourbon. He has only started one time over the Polytrack at Turfway Park and won at 6 1/2 furlongs. His winning margin was almost ten lengths. The natural question that arises is can he carry that ability around two turns? The Bob Baffert horse, #7 Castaway, was a horse I was thinking a Derby possibility until he failed miserably in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. He had won one of the divisions of the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park. #10 News Pending ran well in the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream and then regressed to seventh in the subsequent Florida Derby. #2 Summer Front has been away from the races since mid-December, although his recent worktab features back-to-back bullets in April. The two horses that possess the most upside as far as I am concerned are #1 Morgan's Guerrilla and #11 Gold Megillah. Morgan's Guerrilla is removing the blinkers after running second in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Julien Leparoux rides and he has been winning wonderfully at Keeneland. Gold Megillah comes from the same connections as last year's Derby winner, Animal Kingdom. He ran third in his Polytrack debut in the ungraded Rushaway at Turfway on March 24. On the morning line, Morgan's Guerrilla is 6-1 and Gold Megillah is 10-1, so guess which way we are going.

THE PICK: #11 Gold Megillah

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Super Six Derby Pix

Hard as it may be to believe, but we are currently just eighteen days away from the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Is it just me or was it just yesterday that Animal Kingdom was wearing roses? Anyway, the 138th Derby might just be one of the more wide-open editions of the Run For The Roses. I am literally thinking that you could load the twenty horses in the gate, spring the latch and you could get twenty different winners. Here are this week's Super Six Derby Pix:

#1 Gemologist- It was just two years ago that WinStar Farm and Todd Pletcher teamed up for a Derby win with Super Saver. This Tiznow offspring is now 5 for 5 in his career and his last win was a fighting effort in the Wood Memorial with Alpha, who I have been high on all spring. Jockey Javier Castellano might just be the best rider in the business right now, which makes this team tough to beat.

#2 Union Rags- It seems to me that the horse that most people were targeting as the favorite is suddenly forgotten after his loss in the Florida Derby and the wins last weekend from Dullahan and Bodemeister. Granted, his loss in the Florida Derby wasn't great, but I thought it was more of a product of a poor ride from Julien Leparoux. It might be one of the few times I can say "poor ride" and "Leparoux" in the same sentence, but it shouldn't cause anyone to discount the chances of this horse.

#3 I'll Have Another- So far, so good in 2012 for this colt. He won the Robert Lewis at long odds and then followed it up with a win in the Santa Anita Derby in a tough stretch duel that also involved Creative Cause. It is worth noting that the only time this horse left the West Coast, he ran sixth in the Hopeful at Saratoga. Last time I checked, Kentucky was not on the West Coast. The other question with this horse is the jockey Mario Guiterrez. He has done well in the west, but how will do on the REALLY big stage?

#4 Hansen- Can everyone please get off the dye job story involving this horse and his tail? Even the connections are sick of it. What cannot be overlooked is that he was run down by Dullahan this last weekend in the Blue Grass over the polytrack at Keeneland. I think, however, that Ramon Dominguez wasn't really asking for everything he could in the stretch of that race. Remember, Hansen has his spot already secured in Louisville, so while it would have been nice to win that race, it wasn't totally necessary.

#5 Bodemeister- Empire Maker didn't win the Kentucky Derby (much to my chagrin), but this son of his certainly could. His performance at the Arkansas Derby this past weekend certainly was dazzling. However, when it comes to this horse, you must remember that the old statistic of no horse has won the Derby without running as a two-year-old since ye olden days comes into play here. Bodemeister didn't debut until January 16 of this year. Never mind Secret Circle though, I think this might be Bob Baffert's best Derby chance this season.

#6 Creative Cause- He will have eight career starts when he goes postward at Churchill Downs, which is a lot these days. He has never missed the money in any of those performances. I think he is certainly going to be a win candidate in the Derby, but am concerned that he allowed I'll Have Another to go by and win the Santa Anita Derby. In the stretch of that race, I thought this grey was the winner, only to be rebuffed at the very end. He will have to negotiate another furlong on May 5.

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

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby

The Kentucky Derby is now just three short weeks away. In recent weeks, several horses have established their credentials to go forward to Louisville, while still others remain on the outside looking in. There are now precious few opportunities to get into the gate for the Derby. One of those is at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby, the culmination of the Racing Festival Of The South. Here is the analysis:

Of the horses in this field, likely only #5 Secret Circle is a lock to make the Derby field, should his connections elect to go that far. Speaking of going that far, that has always been the concern with this horse. How far can he go? The fact remains that if he keeps winning as these races get longer, then he certainly can go this far. Secret Circle will likely be forwardly placed in the Arkansas Derby, as will #11 Bodemeister. One of these horses will likely be the favorite on Saturday. However, since they have similar running styles, the possibility is there that these horses could burn each other out with some serious speed. So, if that happens and the two favorites fade away, who picks up the slack? I think that #6 Isn't He Clever certainly can be a winner here. His workouts are stellar with two recent bullet workouts. Blinkers are coming off this gelding for this try. #7 Optimizer made an impressive run to get second money in the Rebel at Oaklawn on March 17. However, he also didn't run a step in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds the time before. Which horse will show up? #8 Sabercat did earn enough money in the Delta Jackpot to ensure a Derby place, but he has only run once since that win and his eighth in the Rebel really doesn't inspire confidence for his chances, especially when it comes to the Derby in three weeks. I had been high on #3 Najjaar in the Rebel, but he never really got going until it was way too late and ended up a closing sixth. Maybe Calvin Borel won't wait until it's hopelessly late to get him rolling.

THE PICK: #6 Isn't He Clever (6-1)

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