Two stakes races along the Kentucky Derby trail are in my sights this weekend. I won’t be wagering $ on either but you’ll still benefit from my handicapping knowledge in this post. Changing my styles in handicapping yet again, being more selective with variables and selections within races, I am likely to include low-valued horses, keeping a watchful eye on any that seem underpriced.
On Saturday, it’s the Risen Star (Grade 2) at Fair Grounds. 11 horses, 4 coupled in entries.
6 of the horses merited some chance in winning this race from what I see:
#3 AFFORD has the dosage profile of these considering ideal horses that win on this track. In fact, he nosed out a victory in a $50k optional-claimer last time out here. Alternating show-win placings in all 4 lifetime starts. Could play if there are some scratches.
#4 OPTIMIZER is one of 2 horses to have won as long as 8.5 furlongs (maiden win, first start, last year’s Saratoga meet). Appears to lack credentials for an outright win.
#7 EL PADRINO can’t be ignored. Similar to AFFORD, all starts in the money, comes out of a $75k optional-claim win. He is the other horse who has won 8.5 furlongs. Fastest horse to his suited pace style in the field.
#1 MR. BOWLING (part of entry with #9 MARK VALESKI) is out of 2 G3 races…a 3rd in the Iriquois and a win in the Lecomte. The win in the Lecomte which you can see at gives him the best winning track speed of this field along with Z DAGER.
#8 SHARED PROPERTY is comfortable with Graded events….Beyond his maiden win in his first start, he won a G3 at Arlington Park, then took 6th in G1 Breeders Cup Futurity, then 3rd in the Lecomte. He’s got the best pace/speed form of the field: Despite the BC loss first time at 8.5 furlongs, he just pushed past his 2YO-best Brisnet speed figure..enough to cause a bounce, but not by much.
#5 Z DAGER ran 2nd in the Lecomte and shares the 95 Brisnet # at Fair Grounds.
My picks fall alongside what the morning-line suggests: EL PADRINO and the MR.BOWLING/MARK VALESTRI entry are strong contenders…but I like SHARED PROPERTY to win this race. He might even get some value for an outright win bet. I’d use these 3 betting interests in exactas. Z DAGER should be 3rd or 4th. http://sz0134.wc.mail.comcast.net/zimbra/mail?app=mail#3
Then on 2/26 is the Foiuntain Of Youth at Gulfstream. 8 horses doign battle, including top Derby prep horeses UNION RAGS and ALGORITHMS. The former ranked #2 for me in pool #1 of this year’s Future Wager, tho I passed at his 7-1 odds. The latter was not seriously considered in the pool for me.
As for the FOY…4 of the 8 horses seem to have some positive angles:
ALGORITHMS is the horse for course: last 2 races were wins at GP (including the G3 Holy Bull), and is undefeated in 3 starts. Best track pace of this field. Probably will be bet down to either favorite or 2nd-favorite. With a pair of triple-digit Brisnet #s, he could bounce downward.
CASUAL TRICK owns, by a slight margin, the best race-pace per speed type of this field. Seems to be a real fighter, dealing with traffic early and during races. Should improve and bounce back from his 75 Brisnet speed number.
UNION RAGS already has won the G1 Champagne last year, and is therefore top class of this field. Just missed winning the BC Juvenile. First start of ‘12 will define whether he continues on the Derby trail.
I don’t have a solid pick re form: Nobody looks convincing enough to play along these lines, but one horse seemed close. NEWS PENDING ran 5 maiden races before winning, then finished 2nd in a 75k optional claimer race while forging a new top, and a paired top at that. Both those races were with jockey Maragh. Switches to Desormeaux for this race. The big deal is that he is turning back from 9 furlongs to 8.5 and also from turf to dirt. Yet he’s upgrading in class for this one. Too much baggage for me to commit to.
My order of finish: CASUAL TRICK, ALGORITHMS, UNION RAGS. It might be worth playing these in exactsas. I suspect CASUAL TRICK is the one with the most value who can win and to play for win outright.