Couch Capper

Couch PotatoI was laying low last weekend with a long overdue dentist visit to man-up, and get my wisdom teeth removed. For this pain in the jaw experience, I spent mucho time on the couch listening to how things are shaking out for the Derby. Here are some insights that jumped out, and they began to make me take focus.

Dullahan is a Dale Romans trainee. He is a beast who can run on poly, turf, and dirt. They haven’t tried broken glass yet, but that is right after he walks on the runway of hot coals. I would agree that the comparisons to Paddy O’ Prado fit like a glove. He is versatile, and the prep over the turf this past Saturday may have given just a peek at things to come. You can add in the name of News Pending as one who is maturing along the road. He ran solid in the Fountain of Youth, and Romans thinks he is a legit runner.

Hansen has been the runner to pay close attention. He rated off a bit last out with an impressive win in the Gotham. I have not been able to open an article without hearing about the “Great White Hope.” I think he is a superior animal running about 75%. He still has more in the tank, and my only question is why take him to the Wood? He leads the graded earnings, and doesn’t need to have a dog-fight at this stage in the game. There will be rabbits waiting to take his edge off, and plenty of stalkers to run at him. This race may turn up to be a surprise of a prep. So many runners gunning for the graded earnings, and I don’t want to see him peak too soon. I still think he would have been better suited to the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, as it would have been a little softer spot. Just last year, a runner by the name of Animal Kingdom used this race to springboard to victory in the Derby. Hansen is 2-for-2 at Turfway impressively, and what a day it would have been. Many turned out Friday night just to watch him school in the paddock at Turfway Park. He would have been tight and ready to work to the race. Far be it from my opinion to cast doubt, but can he get that final furlong at Churchill? This son of Tapit looks the part, and his style is maturing. But, that final 1/8th of a mile gets pretty grueling.

Union Rags looks like a bad dude. If the racing gods smile upon his camp, I don’t think the Derby winner will be paying $97.80 to win this year. Michael Matz has a killer who is learning from every step. I like it that there is still more to do, and the Florida Derby will answer many questions. El Padrino, Golden Ticket, Alpha, News Pending, and Take Charge Indy have made plans to be there on this day. But, if he runs anywhere close to what the paper holds, this race will have us talking Triple Crown fever again. Union Rags ran green in the Breeders’ Cup, and has matured with every step since. I am of the crazy opinion that more can be learned from a hard fought second than an easy win. I am going to use Union Rags as an analogy to Syracuse, and Kentucky. The green effort in the Breeders’ Cup has allowed the connections to tighten him down a bit. They lost that day, and they will be much the better come money time. He is my horse plain and simple, and I will try and find value with him in every wager possible.

Mark Valeski from the barn of Larry Jones has shown me a glimpse of something good. He has a solid pedigree, and is in the hands 0f a conditioner who can do magic. His second place finish against El Padrino in the Risen Star was good stuff. He looked game, and he is far from reaching his peak effort. I like his style, and if he can get some more graded earnings. Mark may be a player that first Saturday in May.

Creative Cause may be one that deserves more than just a nod. His victory in the San Felipe was super. He ran all over the course, and still looked strong. When he was asked at the top of the lane by Rosario, he went a little wide as he had momentum galore. He doesn’t seem to need the whip, and it will take an excellent reins-man who knows how to communicate with his hands to get his best effort.  He should be sharp and fit heading to Louisville, and may give Union Rags more than bargained.

So, as I sipped soup and watched races this past weekend, I am beginning to whittle down my list of runners. It is now time to make some money on runners who need the graded money. Trust me, there is still time, but you need to start writing your selections down in pen from this point forward.