Friday, May 18, 2012

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Preakness

The middle jewel of the Triple Crown takes place on Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore and both of the main Derby combatants, I'll Have Another and Bodemeister, will be on hand to try their luck again. Bodemeister has been made the morning-line favorite over his conqueror from Louisville. They Are Off will be joined this time for the Preakness by Dr. Reid McLellan, my former fellow handicapper from Houston, offering his selections for the Preakness in addition to my own. Here is the analysis:

#7 Bodemeister appears for all the world to be lone speed in the Preakness. However, it must be asked how much did the grueling fractions that he set in the Derby take out of him? It must also be asked if he is capable of returning to the races just two weeks off such a test when he has always had his previous races spaced out by approximately a month. Can he win the Preakness? Of course, I am just not sold on whether or not he will. On to #9 I'll Have Another, who has run only one bad race in six lifetime appearances. That came over a sloppy track at Saratoga in the Hopeful last September. His Derby performance was quite nice and the ride he got from Mario Guiterrez was pretty much perfect. He's three for three in 2012, winning three graded stakes races. Will he make it four? I think that #8 Daddy Nose Best is capable of a bounce-back effort off a 10th place finish in the Derby. He was the "hot horse" in Louisville to many observers and didn't come through there. Isn't it possible that he might step forward on Saturday and inject a price into the proceedings. Take note that Julien Leparoux returns to the saddle to ride here after not riding this colt in the Derby. There is always a "new shooter" that gets into the mix in the Preakness. My choice for that title this year goes to #1 Tiger Walk. He is owned by the local legends of Sagamore Farm. It would be nice for Maryland if that owner could once again be prominent in the Preakness. He is adding blinkers for this try and worked a bullet half-mile over the Pimlico track on Sunday, covering the distance in 47 3/5 seconds. I think that #2 Teeth Of The Dog, who finished ahead of Tiger Walk in the Wood Memorial, and #5 Went The Day Well, who closed outstandingly in the Derby to be fourth, also merit consideration.

Michael's Top Four Selections: I'll Have Another, Daddy Nose Best, Bodemeister, Tiger Walk

This year's Preakness handicapping task is a simple, straight-forward, logical puzzle of interesting pieces. #7 Bodemeister is now the "darling" of the racehorse media world. His Derby performance is being tabbed as the "best ever" by a front-runner- oh, except he LOST the Derby!! I don't see a single horse in this field that is fast enough to run with him early, so it will be his to lose. #9 I'll Have Another won the Derby, so he will be well-supported and has looked good so far in training at Pimlico. Plus, I like that trainer Doug O'Neill took him over to "Old Hilltop" for his pre-Preakness training. My Derby selection was #6 Creative Cause, who went back to California then flew across the country this week. This grey colt was in perfect position to strike in the Derby and flattened out. He has yet to show me that he has the necessary grit for a winning stretch move. The horse I thought made the best run in the Derby was #5 Went The Day Well. With the smaller field in the Preakness, he will not have to weave in and out of as much traffic and I think I will like his odds at post time better than the other three. I don't see any reason in the past performances to like any of the "new shooters", though a post parade impression might move one of them onto the bottom of the trifecta and superfecta plays.

Reid's Top Four Selections: Went The Day Well, I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Creative Cause

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again soon for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Grade 1 $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby

The 138th Run For The Roses will be held Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky with a field of twenty that I had been thinking was so wide open that you could start the race twenty different times and get twenty different results. I will say that my thinking has changed, as you will soon see. I am joined in analyzing the Kentucky Derby by They Are Off contributor Martha Claussen, whose paragraph on the race will follow immediately after my own. Here is the analysis:

It is evident to me that there will be quite a bit of speed in this Derby coming from the likes of #3 Take Charge Indy, #6 Bodemeister, #9 Trinniberg, #14 Hansen, and #19 I'll Have Another. Calvin Borel is always dangerous in the Derby and him drawing the #3 hole with Take Charge Indy certainly gives his backers reason to hope. The classiest horse of the speed is the Arkansas Derby winner, Bodemeister, but he is lightly raced and didn't race as a two-year-old, which is a Kentucky Derby taboo. As far as those horses in the next flight, you have #4 Union Rags, #8 Creative Cause, #10 Daddy Nose Best, #11 Alpha, #13 Went The Day Well, #15 Gemologist, and #16 El Padrino. It is this set of horses that I think is the strongest in this Derby. I honestly think that the winner will come from this list of seven contenders. As far as the deep closers, there are #1 Daddy Long Legs, #2 Optimizer, #5 Dullahan, #7 Rousing Sermon, #12 Prospective, #17 Done Talking, #18 Sabercat, and #20 Liaison. Dullahan has been a hot horse since his win in the Toyota Blue Grass over the Polytrack at Keeneland, but his Churchill Downs record does not inspire. Most of the rest of this group are justifiable large longshots.

I think that portions of the speed will hold on well, especially Bodemeister. Of the second group, Gemologist is undefeated and gets Javier Castellano aboard. I am more and more impressed by his Wood Memorial as the days pass (and for that matter, Alpha's performance in the same race). El Padrino is a likable longshot in here at 20-1, plus you have the Rafael's Revenge angle since Bejarano was Bodemeister's regular rider until the Arkansas Derby win with Mike Smith aboard. I just don't see any of the really deep closers getting too involved in here, except maybe to pick up a chunk of the underneath awards.

Michael's Top Four Selections: Gemologist, Alpha, Bodemeister, El Padrino

The Kentucky Derby has become more and more unpredictable each year and there is no reason to think that the 138th Run For The Roses will be any different. Gone are the days where the horse had to run as a two-year-old and make 4-5 starts in their three-year-old campaign. Turf pedigree and better synthetic form are not a problem and don't get me started on my most hated topic, Dosage! So, I will stick to one basic premise that I feel is as important as any and that is to find a "peaking horse" that appears to be improving in some way with each start.

Daddy Nose Best won just two of eight starts as a two-year-old, but is undefeated this year and his Beyers have escalated from 93 in the El Camino Real Derby to 100 in the Sunland Derby. Steve Asmussen ran second with my pick last year, Nehro, and maybe this is his year. I don't mind Julien Leparoux leaving and Garrett Gomez taking over. No Derby scores for either, but Gomez has ten Breeders' Cup wins and knows how to get a horse in position for a closing rally. I doubt he will go off at 15-1, but should be a good value, nonetheless. Bodemeister was perfection in the Arkansas Derby, but did he peak already or is he the real thing? Pedigree suggests he can get the distance. Love the connections of Graham Motion and Johnny V with Went The Day Well. Of course, who wants to look like an imbecile by ignoring Calvin "Bo-Rail" and Take Charge Indy.

Martha's Top Four Selections: Daddy Nose Best, Bodemeister, Went The Day Well, Take Charge Indy

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers made using these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again in two weeks for a look at The 137th Preakness Stakes. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

What The Voices Think FORE!!!

This is the fourth consecutive year that I have polled some of my fellow racecallers to get their opinions on the Kentucky Derby. Last year, we had a first in that one of us (not me) selected the winner, Animal Kingdom. John Lies of Lone Star Park is back to defend his title and try to make it two straight winners of the Run For The Roses. Here are the opinions of some of the finest track announcers around today:

Pete "The Anchor" Aiello (River Downs)- Prospective
Tom Harris (Houston)- Bodemeister
John Lies (Lone Star Park)- Dullahan
Dan Loiselle (Woodbine)- Creative Cause
Frank Mirahmadi (Oaklawn)- Bodemeister
Don Stevens (Delta Downs)- Union Rags
Travis Stone (Louisiana Downs)- Gemologist

I will add more selections from the announcers as they come in to the home office. Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone...GOODBYE!