1 TROJAN NATION Still a maiden, running in 5 races at that level since October, then finished 2nd in the Wood Memorial on 4/19 on muddy track, and a big spike in speed rating. Seems primed for a bounce today.
I’ve picked him to finish 12. No odds rating. I figure this deep closer is simply a mudder and he managed to benefit from a wicked hot pace. 250 points, lowest point total of all those who made both the actual Derby field and my mythical one. Wager: Two-time field selection
2 SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS Not in my EDT field. 8-3-4-0 lifetime, only non-placing was 2 races back, 5th in the Rebel. Broke maiden in 2nd attempt, won a 75k OC event, won the Clever Trevor, 2nd in the Springboard Mile, won the Southwest, 2nd last out in the ARK Derby. 2 stretchout wins, 1 shipping win. One of two horses in recovering pace mode: 94 first after layoff, then down to 93, then up to 99. Of all non-winners last out entering this race, this horse had the fastest trip from those who had any trouble that impeded a certain victory. His 6-wide trip coming from 9th to close to 2nd in the ARK Derby has to be considered.
Projected finish: 7th. Hoping he didn’t put too much effort in the Southwest and ARK Derby to warrant a bounce. Ranked in odds at 93-1, way over the 20-1 morning line.
Wager: Already with 14-1 future win pool wager, slight possibility of overlay on Derby Day
3 CREATOR took 6 tries to break maiden, then finished 3rd in the Rebel and won the ARK Derby last out. One of the four leading dosage profiles (Tapit/Morena, by Privately Held). Forged 3 consecutive lifetime bests. 2 stretchout wins, 1 shipping win.
Projected finish: 10th. I like the improved face form. ML odds: 10/1. My odds: 93-1. Wager: Already with straight win but from future wager; it would be my big score, as I have him at 58-1 in the future pool plus 2 field selections placements. Sire Future Wager too via Tapit at 7-1. Profitable.
4 MO TOM won maiden debut, was alternating 1st/3rd in a 58k allowance, then won the Street Sense, 3rd in the KY Jockey Club, won the Lecomte, 3rd in the Risen Star, 4th last out in the Louisiana Derby. Reclaimed after the Street Sense by original trainer Tom Amoss; only reclaimed horse in the field. Shares in best CD speed with a 94 in the Lecomte. Seems to win with slowly declining pace. 2 shipping wins, 1 stretchout win.
Projected finish: 3rd. Definitely to include in wins and exactas. Seems an overlay with morning-line at 20-1, as I like him as much as 9/2. I emphasis the reclaim move as key for success. I also have him in the Sire Future Wager via Uncle Mo at 9-1.
5 GUN RUNNER: 4 wins and a 4th lifetime, his only miscue in the KY Jockey Club. Won the Risen Star and LA Derby. 2 stretchout wins, 2 shipping wins. Second straight race gaining at least 4 lbs, winning the LA Derby in this manner. Paired up speed ratings in last 2 races.
Projected finish: 14th. Not enough evidence to suggest success. Not ranked in odds. Wager: Already have a 57-1 win bet on him from the first BC Pool. Hooked up in 5 exacta combos. Profitable.
6 MY MAN SAM broke maiden in 2nd attempt, 2nd in an 80 OC race, then was 2nd in the Blue Grass. One stretchout win. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. comes back to ride.
Projected finish: 15th or so, towards the back. No odds rating. Wager: involved in 2 field selections.
7 OSCAR NOMINATED broke maiden in 3rd attempt, was 2nd in a 57k allowance, 2nd in the K Gee Memorial, winner of the Black Gold and Spiral. Best AWD numbers from his pedigree (Kitten’s Joy/Devine Actress, out of Theatrical). One of 2 horses with strong pace form. Set small new top of 91 in the Spiral, just ahead of 2YO best 90 in the allowance race. Paired with an 87 in the Black Gold, ahead of 73 prior to this, slight risk of bouncing here. 1 stretchout win, 1 shipping win. This closer most successful when pace collapses ahead.
Prediction: 9th. Rated odds: 93-1, well ahead of morning line at 50-1. Thanks to my selecting Kitten’s Joy among 4 other sires in that particular future pool, I have a win bet on him at 40-1. Also included in 2 field selections. Very profitable horse.
8 LANI: The big wild card, thanks to the fact he’s run only in Japan and then won the big UAE Derby. No pace ratings to reference. 1 stretchout win, 3 shipping wins.
Outlook: Near the back of the pack. With nothing to reference, I’m not gonna gamble, literally. I do happen to have this Tapit colt for a win bet via the Sire Future Wager at 9-1.
9 DESTIN. Here, folks, is your Derby winner. A horse I had never profiled specifically until now. Todd Pletcher has made the most changes of any trainer in prep beforehand. 1 stretchout win, 1 shipping win. Taking on 6 lbs more today; gained 4 in winning the Tampa Bay Derby last time out, up from 116, his other big win in the SF Davis on the same track. Much has been made of his 8 week layoff. I think the fact that he won his maiden debut means he can shrug off any talk of rust. The kicker: Best turn time between his last 2 races; 23.6 seconds in the Tampa Bay Derby was a full second faster than in the SF Davis, while achieving a lower speed figure. He must have more in the tank now. Runs best when there are slow fractions.
Prediction: Winner. Definite to include in wins/exactas. One of 4 overlays in this field. I have him at 8/5, with morning line at 15-1.
10 WHITMORE: Next door to my Derby pick is the one horse I must be careful about. I have absolutely no action on him whatsoever. One of 2 horses (the other being Suddenbreakingnews) who is recovering in pace. Won his maiden debut, 5th in the Delta Downs Jackpot. After layoff, 92 in a 62k OC, down to 91 in the Southwest (2nd), up to a pair of 97s in the Rebel (2nd) and ARK Derby (3rd). 1 shipping win. This deep closer needs moderate to slow fractions.
Prediction: Middle of the pack, maybe 13th. Not seriously considering but not a throwout either.
11 EXAGGERATOR: Here’s the pace horse, certainly going to be bet down by those looking at those numbers and nothing much else. Has a very nice dosage profile entering today (Curlin/Dawn Raid, by Vindication). Won 2nd maiden race, won the Saratoga Special, moved to routes and was 2nd in the Breeders Futurity, 4th in the BC Juvenile, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot, 2nd in the San Vincente, 3rd in the San Felipe, winner last out in a dynamic renewal of the Santa Anita Derby, proving his mud prowess by coming back from 16 lengths at 1st call. 3 stretchout wins, 3 shipping wins. Closer needs pace collapse.
Prediction: 6th; among the best of the rest. I am guessing the spectre of the big race will be too much for him. Rated odds at 73-1, not at all like how the morning line caters to him at 8-1. Still, I have this popular horse in 8 exactas plus a straight win bet. Major profitable horse.
12 TOM’S READY shines with a nice dosage profile (More Than Ready/Goodbye Stranger, by Broad Brush). Racing since last August, won 3rd lifetime race at maiden level, 2nd in the Street Sense, and 2 more 2nds in the LeComte and LA Derby. Spiked up to lifetime 95 Brisnet last time out. Best worktab of the 22 horses, 4 works at CD, 2 of them very fast, one a bullet. 1 shipping win
Prediction: 4th, and a must include in wins/exactas. I rate him at 7-1, better than morning line of 30-1, so this is an overlay for sure. I only have him as a singular field selection.
13 NYQUIST, the undefeated big fave, I’m very willing to play against. Winner of the Best Pal, the Del Mar Futurity, the Front Runner, the BC Juvenile, the San Vicente, and the FL Derby. Outside of his maiden race, he’s never trailed in the stretch of a race. 5 shipping wins, 4 stretchout wins. His 102 in the Best Pal was bettered back in February in the San Vicente with a 103, then bounced to a 97 in the FL Derby. I can see a bounceback, but no promise he’ll race in triple digits, as the San Vicente was 3 months ago.
Prediction: Back of the pack, maybe 17th, falling prey to the unique situation that is Churchill, where he hasn’t raced yet. Not rated in odds. I have him via the Sire Future Wager (Uncle Mo, 9-1), plus a straight 7-1 win wager.
14 MOHAYMEN is the 4th of the 4 horses I like in dosage (Tapit/Justwhistledixie by Dixie Union). Also a bounceback in pace possible. Equaled his 2YO best 2 races back in winning the FOY with 102, then bounced to 87. He scored that initial 102 2 races before in winning the Remsen. So the pattern could hold up here today.2 stretchout wins, 2 stretchout wins. Undefeated until running into Nyquist last out in the FL Derby. For the most part this early/presser does run best in moderate fraction, slightly slower in the latter half of races. Gained 6 lbs while winning the Remsen; adds 4 today.
Prediction: 8th. Ranked in odds at 73-1, not near his morning line odds of 10/1. I already have him with an 8-1 straight win bet, plus 9-1 via the Tapit future pool connection, and inclusion in 6 exacta combos. Profitable.
15 OUTWORK won his maiden debut, then a 75k OC race, 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby with a 96, then paired up this number in winning the Wood Memorial. 1st or 2nd in every call in his 4 races. 2 stretchout wins, 2 shipping wins.
Prediction: 18th. Just plain outclassed compared to the talent in this race. No odds ranking by me. One field selection, plus 7-1 with the Uncle Mo connection.
16 SHAGAF. Won his maiden debut with 99, then 90 winner in a 75k OC, 94 winner in the Gotham, then 5th in the Wood Memorial with a 92. 2 shipping wins, 1 stretchout win. Depends on fast, consistent fractions for a win.
Prediction: Despite success with a few races, I think he’s outclassed here, probably will be back of the pack. Doesn’t rank in odds. He’s my one Bernardini colt from the Sire Future Wager, good for an 11-1 straight win bet.
17 MOR SPIRIT impresses with 3 wins and 4 seconds lifetime. Won the Los Alamitos Futurity and the Robert B Lewis; 2nd in the KY Jockey Club, San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby. One of two horses with best speed rating at Churchill, a 94 in the KY Jockey Club, and a sloppy track at that. Forward pace form with the 102 in the San Felipe 8 weeks ago. 1 stretchout win, 2 shipping wins. This closer wins with slow to moderate pace.
Prediction: 5th. Despite this, I have him in just 1 exacta combo and one straight win bet. Profitable. I think he’s worth 14-1, about on par with morning-line 12-1, so he bears watching for moderate value.
18 MAJESTO took 5 tries to break maiden, mainly at Gulfstream, then got a 2nd in the Florida Derby. Paired uip lifetime bests of 97 and 93 in last 2 races. No trainer changes evident to help his cause. I have him twice as a field pick.
I rank him last among the 22 horses along with the next horse. I have to take him down some notches as he’s a bounce risk with nothing really positive in his favor. Not ranked in odds.
19 BRODY’S CAUSE I had ranked as a Derby pick for a good while, until other horses did better alongsides. Looks outclassed compared to others here now. Won in 2nd lifetime start, then won the Breeders Futurity, 3rd in the BC Juvenile, 7th in the Tampa Bay Derby, then won the Blue Grass. 3 shipping wins, 2 stretchout wins. I don’t handicap so much by post position unless there’s definite track bias, but the 19 post can’t be helpful.
Prediction: Probably in the back of the back. No rank in odds. Despite this, I have him in 3 exacta combos and a 21-1 straight wager. Profitable.
20 DANZING CANDY: Winner of 2nd maiden effort, won an 80k OC, and the San Felipe, then 4th in the Santa Anita Derby .101 in his maiden breaker, 104 in the San Felipe is a small new top, set 8 weeks ago, just on the threshold of consideration for strong pace form. The 87 in the SA Derby certainly is a bounce, and I’m willing to consider a bounce back. Based on run-style, this sprinter has the fastest pace numbers. 3 stretchout wins, 1 shipping win. Pattern of Brisnets suggests triple digits today.
Prediction: 2nd. My odds for him are 4-1, better than the ML 15-1 odds, so a true overlay here. This is another horse I did not have wagers on prior at all.
Upon scratches, these two will enter into the field:
21 LAOBAN: One of the 4 horses of 22 who is in a bounceback role. Still a maiden after 5 races, was 3rd in the Sham, 2nd in the Gotham (92 speed figure), 4th in the Blue Grass (tiny bounce to 88). Eric Guillot to remove blinkers for this race.
Outlook: Last for sure. Not rated in odds. Twice picked as field selection.
22: CHERRY WINE: 5 tries to get past maiden status, he would win a 75k OC, then go 4th in the Rebel, 3rd in the Blue Grass. Forged lifetime best in each of 3 races prior to the Blue Grass, paired up with 92 in that one. 1 shipping win. Only other horse here to gain in turn time while dropping in speed figure. This deep closer actually needs relatively slow fractions.
Prediction: 11th. Not rated in odds. I have him with a straight win wager, 31-1, and a field section.
This is the one race I’ll go 4 deep in win bets and exacta combos, so long as I heed the rules outlined in my Oaks post for what bets to avoid.