The world of racing is focused on Arkansas and Kentucky. There are two prep races that have historically played a great role in sending players to the Derby. The weather is looking well for both ovals, and all that is left to do is let the horses do the talking. One race looks like a sure thing to the public, and the other offers up many options that can light up the tote board. Now, for the million dollar question… Which one is which?
Keeneland – Saturday
Let’s focus on the $200,000 All-Stakes Pick Four:
Race #8 – The Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) – 1 1/16 miles on the turf – 4:42 p.m. ET
#2 Zagora - 3rd off the layoff for Chad Brown. J.J Castellano in the irons gives me solid confidence, and they win 35% as a team.
#3 Tapitsfly - Leparoux up for Dale Romans. This gal is 6/6 ITM at the distance, and the Romans barn looks too well across the nation with a little racing luck.
#4 Aruna - Ramon Dominguez has been healing, and today is his big day a little later. Been off since the B/C, and was full of run that day. The Motion barn excels in getting runners ready to peak at the right time.
Race #9 – The Commonwealth Stakes (G2) – 7f – 5:13 p.m. ET
#1 Comedero - Very speedy gelding from the Mike Stidham barn. James Graham is in the saddle, and he has a graded win under his belt this year.
#2 Right One - Garrett Gomez aboard for the Clemente barn. Nicely bred to enjoy the turf, and Gomez is making the big comeback after breaking his heel in California.
#5 Lonesome Street - Fair Grounds shippers have been doing well in Lexington, and Joel Rosario is in the irons for Mike Maker. 2/3 ITM at Keeneland, and the price should be better than 3-1.
Race #10 – The Shakertown Stakes (G3) – 5 1/2 f on the turf – 5:44 p.m. ET
#3 Great Attack - Jeffrey Sanchez may be the most underrated rider on the grounds. He is up for the red-hot Wesley Ward, and is a stalking turf machine.
#4 Havelock - Rosario for Darrin Miller making a second off the layoff move. Very solid closer, and will need some pace to run down.
#9 Chamberlain Bridge - Jamie Theriot in the driver’s seat for Bret Calhoun. This 8-year-old gelding by War Chant can strike at any time. Ships in from the Fair Grounds, and Theriot knows this guy well.
Race #11 – The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes Stakes (G1) – 1 1/8 miles – 6:18 p.m. ET
#4 Hansen - This colt by Tapit may be the early favorite for the Derby, if he wins, according to Mike Battaglia. Ramon Dominguez has been taking it easy for his Derby mount, and the owner Dr. Hansen is said to have over 100 guests to see his charge run. You will be able to pick his runner out easily as he is almost white, and his entourage will be the talk of the racing world. There is plenty of speed, and he will have to rate if he is to win on the way to Louisville.
#6 Dullahan - Kent Desormeaux up for Dale Romans. This colt has the look of something special. In my heart, he is the main contender and will have a say so in the race. He won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity last October at Keeneland. Makes the turf to poly move, and if you saw his last race, it was definitely a prep going forward.
#3 Prospective - Luis Contreras is the pilot for Mark Casse. Exits a game win in the Tampa Derby, and will have to duplicate if he wants to win this one.
The cost of the ticket for 50-cents will be: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = $40.50 / I would also key Hansen solo for a 3 x 3 x 3 x 1 = $13.50
Oaklawn Park – Saturday
Race #11 – The Arkansas Derby (G1) – 1 1/8 miles – 6:45 p.m. ET
This race is more than wide open. There is no payoff that would surprise me, and approach this heat as an opportunity to make some money.
#1 Cozzetti - This long shot for the Romans barn has been all the talk this week. Romans feels he is sitting on a big effort, and this son of Cozzene is making the second off the shelf angle. If the pace is solid, he may get rolling along the rail late in the game for Jose Lezcano.
#2 Stat – How many times do you see John Velasquez ride a 10-1 shot in a major race? If so, he usually has something live. He has faced Union Rags as a beaten favorite in his two-year-old season. This grey colt should be up close, and if J.V. gets a clean trip, he will be a player at a price.
#11 Bodemeister - The rejuvenated Bob Baffert brings a runner named for his son Bode. They take the blinkers off for this race, and Mike Smith is the hired gun to pilot him today. He has the speed to jump, or lay just off. I think we will hear from him in races to come. He should be a major player in this race.
Best of luck with one of the last prep days. Runners will let their efforts determine the contenders from the pretenders. This is the best time to be playing as everyone is trying to get to Louisville, and there is mucho cash on the line. Be sure to get your E-Z Win Forms as early as you can. Preparation can be the difference between a good day and a great day!