The races are in the books, and the new point system has been received well by the participants. Now comes the calm before the storm. We need to drop back, and take in all of the information. Don’t worry, Winning Ponies will keep you up-to-speed with our Internet Radio Show, and the E-Z Win Forms will be ready and waiting to make your day a winner!
Churchill Downs – Kentucky Derby 139
Here are some runners who have caught my eye. I will be watching the works, and seeing how they ship into Louisville.
Black Onyx = 3rd start off the layoff, and recent winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. 4/5 ITM lifetime, and appears to relish poly track. Two back, he beat Crop Report who won the Rushaway at Turfway. Kelly Breen is a top-notch conditioner, and Joe Bravo is named to ride.
Goldencents = Kevin Krigger named to ride for Doug O’Neill. This son of Into Mischief rated nicely to win the Santa Anita Derby. O’Neill took down the race with a little known rider last year. Is he back to duplicate? Krigger looked awfully good rolling down the lane last out. Owner Rick Pitino is looking to win the NCAA Tourney and the Derby in the same year. Good things are happening in his camp.
Java’s War = Trained by Ken McPeek, and was ridden to victory in the Bluegrass by Julien Leparoux. This son of War Pass was tardy from the gate, and came from dead last at Keeneland. He spun 7-wide into the turn, and won by a neck over Palice Malice. He looks to be improving with every start, and is a far back closer. Circling the field in the Derby is a whole new game. He has run honest in 2013, and be sure to watch how his work schedule shapes up.
Normandy Invasion = Javier Castellano chose this son of Tapit over Revolutionary. His only victory is a maiden win, but he is taking great notice by handicappers. Bumped at the break in the Wood, and came rolling late after Verrazano. Javier did not take too much out of his tank, and he shows the needed kick that can turn out the lights at Churchill.
Orb = Joel Rosario will be aboard for Shug McGaughey. It took four times to get his maiden win, but has shown incredible maturing since. He is a son of Malibu Moon, and is riding a four-race-winning-streak. Top money rider for a hungry trainer can spell good things for punters. I like his style, and with a bit of racing luck should be a big part of the picture.
Overanalyze = Todd Pletcher trainee with Bejarano slated to ride. He won the Arkansas Derby, and has had a little trouble stringing two good races together. If he gets that working, he could easily be a major player.
Oxbow = Gary Stevens is back for his Derby partner D. Wayne Lukas. They know how to win, and this son of Awesome Again is very game. He may not win, but he gives an A+ effort every time. He is 2/2 ITM at CD, and Stevens didn’t come back to ride for the heck of it. This could be a story of two war horses doing battle on the big stage again. Oh, and Oxbow will be there as well…
Verrazano = How can you slight this colt? He is undefeated, and will have the services of the returning John Velasquez for Todd Pletcher. He is 4/4, and my only doubt is no two-year-old season. I like to see a foundation to build on, but he may not need it after all. He does everything very well, and the colt is so popular that they named a bridge after him! Watch how he handles CD, and look to see how Velasquez heals up to the Derby. I really feel he knows this horse and without him could be a different story.
I will be watching and taking notes as the runners get closer. There will be updates on how they are working, and who is looking good in the media spotlight. This is one of my favorite times of the year. We have been watching since last year, and now comes the big dance. Be sure to stay tuned each and every Thursday for the “Winning Ponies Internet Show,” with John Engelhardt. He will be talking Derby with the biggest names in racing to get you prepared. Oh, and before you make your first wager on the big weekend. Be sure and grab your E-Z Win Forms. They will have every angle covered, and make your handicapping day a winner ! – So, enjoy the short run up to gates, because it is almost post time!