As we hit the New Year, the weeks spiral toward that first Saturday in May. The racing starts off slow, and picks up speed like a roller-coaster going downhill. This weekend, the price of poker goes up as the Kentucky Derby point values take a hike to 50-20-10-5. Now, if you were wondering how much that will matter. If you win a 50-point race, that all but guarantees a place in the starting gate for Kentucky Derby 140.
The forecast calls for 82 degrees and clear.
Race #1 – O.C. $75,000N1X – 7 1/2 on the turf – 12:40 pm ET
#9 – Rockford (6-1) – Jose Lezcano up for Bill Mott, and they are making a second start off the layoff where the barn wins (10%). This gelded son of Rock Hard Ten is coming back to the turf, and cutting back in distance. He is 1/1 on the weeds, and had some very nice works at GP. His dam La Treizieme has 4 starters, 4 wins, and 2 of which are on the turf. I am looking for a perfect stalking trip where Lezcano pounces on the leaders at the top of the lane.
Race #3 – O.C. $25,000 – 1 1/16 on the turf – 1:35 pm ET
#12 – Red Vine (3-1) – Joel Rosario in the saddle for Christophe Clemente (23%). This is the second start off the shelf for a son of Candy Ride, and the barn wins (20%). He was beaten favorite last out, and the barn comes back for (24%) payback. Clement wins with (21%) of his turf runners, and Rosario is a (48%) ITM sod rider. It was a good comeback effort, and there are solid works at Payson Park.
Race #4 – O.C. $25,000N1X – 1 mile – 2:03 pm ET
#1 – Normandy Invasion (7-5) – Javier Castellano (30%) in the irons for Chad Brown (21%). He has been on the shelf for 9 months since the Kentucky Derby. He drew off like a winner that day only to be rundown by the faster closing Orb. His works are regular at Palm Meadows, and the barn wins with (28%) of long away runners. The rail is winning at (19%), and with the loose cannon speed of #6 – Risk Factor he should come gunning late. All reports are that he looks good and fit to make his comeback.
Race #9 – The (G-2) Davona Dale – 1 1/16 – 4:31 pm ET
#4 -Aurelia’s Belle (6-1) – Joe Rocco Jr. gets the nod for Wayne Catalano. This daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is three off the shelf, and the barn wins with (22%) of their runners making this move. Last out in the (G-2) Forward Gal, she tracked just off the undefeated Onlyforyou. With the added speed, she should be able to settle out, and let the others soften up her foes. She has the appearance of wanting a longer distance, and should be able to stalk a smoother trip.
Race #10 – The (G-3) Canadian Turf – 1 mile on the turf – 5:01 pm ET
#9 – Bad Debt (6-1) – Joel Rosario gets the call for Micheal Trombetta, and this Florida-bred is a monster on the weeds. This son of Grand Reward is 33/39 ITM on the green, and 10/13 ITM at GP. He was squeezed back last out, and ended up a beaten favorite. The barn comes back to score at (26%) on this move.
Race #11 – The (G-2) Fountain of Youth – 1 1/16 – 5:31 pm ET
#12 – Top Billing (7-2) – Joel Rosario gets the mount for Shug McGaughey (22%). This son of Curlin is fast closing sort who is lightly raced and 3/3 ITM lifetime. His last effort was a come-from-the-clouds closing move under mile hand urging. He circled 4 wide, and the rest of the field looked tied to a pole. His style will not be compromised by his post, as he should take back and come wide to avoid traffic. He is going to face #1 – Commissioner, and his style is a second flight stalker who can weave in and out of traffic. They look like the same kind of runner, but one has agility and the other has brute force power. Box them up with #4 – Wildcat Red to complete the exotic.