2017-2018 Enlightened Trails final list

Finally, all is said and done. I have the results for this season’s Enlightened Trails all together. The only drama that now remains are which horse’s connections defect from the Derby and Oaks. Already, Runaway Light, one who was solid for me, is out. Quip’s owner has remained noncommital to appearing. Let’s get to the final list for my mythical Derby and see who I snubbed and who got snubbed when comparing to the actual Trail.
Here’s the Derby spreadsheet with the final totals:

Placings were determined first within the division, with 4 places assigned to each. No horse can represent 2 or more divisions. Real-life defections and injuries take the horse off my Trail and replace with those with less points or otherwse same or lower class races in the division. If determining tiebreaks, I factor division points, then class, then purse of races involved, then distance of race. I then look at overall points for the horses involved if need be.
The minor categories are those tracks whose best representative race that would fit on the real Trail are ungraded. This is the balance I present, against the real Trail which continues to focus on races in the same places, yet there is no love for the smaller tracks where some of the same horses got their start at.
From the 20 horses I chose, the most important race I found to be the Champagne for the 2YOs. At 3, there were the Tampa Bay Derby, the Blue Grass, the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial. 3 of the top 4 in those races are horses I’d choose for my mythical Derby.
Here are some of my own snubs:
I first looked at Solomini…who ran 2nd to Good Magic in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, 3rd in the CashCall Futurity, and 3rd i n the Arkansas Derby. 400 total points just isn’t enough.
Free Drop Billy had 350 total. He was 3rd in the Blue Grass, and 2nd in the Hopeful. Pony Up, Lone Sailor and Dream Baby Dream finish with 500 but failed to score further. Should Quip truly defect, Lone Sailor would get in because he finished in a better class race than the others.
As for the 8 snubs the real-life Trails handed me….here’s how I see them:
Mendelssohn/Gronkowski: the casual North American bettor doesn’t have much info on these….the horses ran in Europe where small info on races as we know them doesn’t come very easily. It remains a sticking point for me re involving horses outside the continent to race here. It ceases to be fair to the North American handicapper to try to bet on Euro racing, let alone Japan, Australian or other areas that lack the numbers. I do know that a Trail was constructed for horses in Europe, and it may well be a good one if it’s a true representation of the best per track in each area. In the UAE, only one race measures up, the UAE Derby. One race does not a Trail make. Moreover, I’ve failed to do a study on Euro races and my own version of their Trail. It might change my mind, but I won’t bet, or handicap, on it.

I will take what info I did get about horses running outside of North America…the AWDs, the class of race, maybe a few replays, conversion of The Racing Post numbers to Brisnet numbers. Hey, if either of these win…or better, if a series of North American races are won by Euro horses or elsewhere, will that finally change the game for good? Won’t Brisnet or other services finally figure out how to properly list details on past performances for such? I almost wish for it to happen. Mendelssohn, as it turns out, was very close for me to pick in the Future Wager, but I wouldn’t bet win at 5-1. I had fewer variables to work but at least they translated somewhat. Race for race, however, there is a serious gap that needs to be closed.

Solomini probably belongs here for sure, but he didn’t win any races in my Trail, and 2 of the 3 races where he contended in were at age 2…meaning less points up for grabs. Aside, I do have him for 2 Future Wager bets, so he did rank for me a while, and my heart and wallet will root for him. He just doesn’t add up in my own Trail.
Bravazo placed 10th in the Kentucky Jockey Club and 8th in the Louisiana Derby. He’s in the show because of his success in the Breeders Futurity (at Keeneland, whose best race is The Blue Grass Stakes) and the Risen Star (half a furlong and less of a purse than the Louisiana Derby).
My Boy Jack was 3rd in the Louisiana Derby. He also raced for wins in the Southwest at Oaklawn, and the Lexington at Keeneland. Also was 3rd in the Sham. All races are graced are on the real Trail. I only used the Louisiana Derby. Too many races on the Trail are used in the same areas to produce a candidate.
Promises Fulfilled was 3rd in the KY Jockey Club. He would finish 9th in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Also was 3rd in the Fountain of Youth, also at Gulfstream. There’s question about his stamina and class.
Free Drop Billy may have forged a true rivalry with Sporting Chance, yet he is in the show for sure. And, in fact, I have 2 Future Wager bets on him. I’d be elated if he were to win or be 2nd. Does he truly belong tho? He was 3rd in the Gothm, 2nd in the Holy Bull, 9th in the BC Juvenile, 3rd in the Blue Gass (my Trail), won the Breeders Futurity. He just happened to be in races where I don’t offer points.
As mentioned, Lone Sailor is in, should Quip defect. Points from me for being 2nd in the Louisiana Derby. Otherwise, he’s a serious question mark. 5th in the KY Jockey Club, 9th in the LeComte, 3rd in the Breeders Futurity.
Who did the real Trail snub for me? Reride is one such horse. He did win in my Minor division, the Big Drama at Delta Downs. Sporting Chance deserves better, winning the Grade 1 Hopeful at age 2, 4th in the Blue Grass at 3.




Grand National steeplechase analysis and picks

In figuring out this race, I tried a few different variables this year to see if I can pick more intelligently than in prior years. 40 runners makes this race enough of a crapshoot. Here’s what I used and how I used them:
I took the top 10s and ties of these variables:
AWD, combining sire and dam stats, ignoring those with no published number
OR rating from The Racing Post entering this race
Longest distance race won in career
Highest OR rating exiting a race at Aintree, lifetime.
Highest jockey/trainer combo in the last 14 days, with at least both having some success. No 0%s.
Any horse coming out of a somewhat troubled trip, including falls and pull-ups, save a winning race.
Prior win with gain or more of 4 lbs +, matching same move today.
Switch to jockey whom the horse has won with prior.
Horse who has won first off a 60-plus day layoff.
Longest layoff since prior race.
Number of equipment changes.
Prior similar switch in going that resulted in a win. Today’s course is listed as soft.
Putting all this together in groups of variables, I have this short list, noting that horses 24 through 40 are considered ‘field’…one wager on one is a wager for all.
27: Virgilio is my overall pick to win the National. His last win happened to come at Aintree on the Mildmay circuit. Since then, following a 6 month layoff, he was 8th of 12, then pulled up last time out at Doncaster. Trainer Dan Skelton’s made a number of changes here in prep. Wind surgery was done on 12/28. He drops 12 lbs to 10 stone 8 lbs, a move which gave him a win years prior. Switches back to regular rider Harry Skelton. Owns prior wins first off layoff. One of a few that has a win on soft ground while switching from different going. In his case, good going.

19 Gas Line Boy, whose dam-sire happens to be Affirmed, was 5th in last year’s National. A winner at 3 miles 4.5 furlongs, his connections are 33% over the last 14 days. Drops 7 lbs. Switches back to Robert Dunne. They won on the National course on 12/9/17…a race you can see part of here:

31: Buywise switches jockeys to Alan Wedge, winners together in 2014. Has won prior first off layoff…has been away since February 3. Drops 4 lbs.

11: Carlingford Lough. The 2015 and 2016 Irish Gold Cup winner increases 5 lbs and removes the tongue-tie. 107 days away from action, he switches bac k to Mark Walsh, with whom he won the 2016 Gold Cup. Prior wins first off layoff as well.

15 Vieux Lion Rouge is also a course winner, acheived on 12/3/16. A winner at the same 3 miles-4.5 furlong distance, he achieved a 152 OR following his 7th place finish at Aintree on 12/9/17 on this same course. Removes full blinkers, adds cheekpieces, used to block rear vision.

One more to make it 5 wagering options….
22 Ucello Conti’s connections are impressive: 33% for jockey Daryl Jacob (positive jockey switch to him), and 11% for Gordon Elliott. Was 6th here in the 2016 National.

Enlightened Trails update (Oaklawn Park)

I’ve just become aware of the entries in the Fantasy Stakes and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. These races conclude the 2017-2018 Enlightened Trails series.
We’ll start with the Friday race, the $400k Fantasy Stakes, an 8.5 furlong race. Top 3 choices here are Wonder Gadot, Sassy Sienna and longshot overlay Tahoe Dream.
Sassy Sienna, for the real Trail, she does need the points. In the EOT, she has 0 points. Aside from her maiden debut, she won an optional claiming race of 62.5k on 1/15 to start her 3YO campaign, posting 85 Brisnet. Then a small new top of 88, nearly wiring the Martha Washington field here on 2/10, sloppy track and all. It’s the best off-track performance of today’s field. There are thunderstorms forecast for Friday. 3rd in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at today’s distance last time out. 3 works here, each very fast.
Tahoe Dream also needs points. Won her 4th maiden races vs fillies, then won a 75k claimer here on 3/29, 84 Brisnet, just shy of her lifetime best. Mid 80s scores in last 3 races, all at OP. Only filly stretching out in distance here, as the others have already run 8.5 furlongs.
EOT impact: This race concludes the Trails proper. For the Heartland division, I can concluded that the 2nd place finisher of this race would lose the tiebreaker vs Eskimo Kisses. That theory does hold water. So, only the winner of the Fantasy Stakes gets into my mythical Oaks. Monomoy Girl and Eskimo Kisses are now in, and Patrona Margarita is out.
Odds impact: No change from the ML rankings. If anything, Wonder Gadot is projected to take a ton of money. Princess Warrior will actually take less money than expected. I don’t like her enough to be a contender, but I have to respect the fact that she’s the lone deep closer of the field.

I decided to cover the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes also, which impacts the real Trail, but not mine. This race is for 3YOs, $200k purse, 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 here are overlay Greyvitos, then favored My Boy Jack, then longshot overlay Arched Feather.
Greyvitos broke maiden by winning his 3rd start, which happened to be the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar, scoring a huge 98 Brisnet score. Then won the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on 12/17 with a 93. No racing since then, but he’s worked consistently in California. Was 2nd of 39 in such a work on 4/7 at Santa Anita, 1:00:1 from the gate. Only horse here who has won stretching out in distance while currently doing so. I think he could be the favorite; 6-1 is high.
Arched Feather won his 3rd maiden race running a lifetime best 79 Brisnet. Duplicated that speed running 5th in the Smarty Jones. Dropped to 71 last time out in the Battaglia Memorial, first time on the all-weather surface. Best AWD numbers (Arch/Featherbed, out of Smart Strike). 74 speed here at Keeneland is best of this field.
Odds impact: Watch for Pony Up to get bet down from 6/1 to possibly 2nd favorite. Coming out of a 2nd place finish in the JR Steaks and a 99 Brisnet score, plus fully circling back to his best work since last fall’s layoff, he must be considered. Two others that should take more $, tho not enough for an overlay are Battle at Sea and Honor Up. Battle at Sea achieved new tops last 2 races in his maiden winner and the Central City Derby, both at Fair Grounds and his debut route races. Outside of his maiden debut, this Louisiana-bred has run mainly vs statebred horses. Honor Up ships in from the NY tracks. He has only run vs statebred maidens, winning in his most recent race with an 87. Peak was 89, acheived the race before. Lowest speed figure was his debut, an 81. Off since early December, he’s worked frequently, with a bullet on 3/27.

Finally we reach the Arkansas Derby, the final race of the Enlightened Derby Trail. 2 horses already have points in the division: Dream Baby Dream with 500, and Combatant with 100. Quip is in this race too, with 1000 from the South division. I don’t allow horses to represent 2 divisions at once. If he wins, I will likely let him represent from the Heartland, and bring in the first-out horse, Flameaway. Flameaway lost for the last spot in the South to Hofburg because Hofburg was in a Grade 1 race. Flameaway has only gotten to Grade 2. The other scenario would be to let Quip represent the South, and have the 2nd place finisher be in the EDT as well. Flameaway will not represent the Heartland with just 500 points. The big issue is the class. This race is Grade 1, $1 million. Winner gets into the EDT. My top 4 would all have 1000 points. Dream Baby Dream would be out if he finishes 2nd. I’d rather see the winner of a lower class race advance rather than a 2nd place horse.
For my Future Wager bets, I am rooting for Solomini as I have him at 19-1 and 25-1
With that typed, here’s how I see this race: Top 3 are Solomini, Quip and Dream Baby Dream. No overlays in this race.
Dream Baby Dream is dangerous as a longshot. Never mind that he has 3 3rd place finishes here with scores in the 80s. He did acheive a small new top last out, finishing 2nd to Runaway Ghost in the 9 furlong Sunland Derby. That score is best of this field. I very much like his recent form via pace.
Odds movers: Dream Baby Dream and Magnum Moon to take more $ than usual. Tenfold and Combatant, in the middle rank of the morning line, are going to take less $.

2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 wager

I had to wait upon the results of a few horses, along with the announcement of the Brisnet speed figures for the winners, to determine who now belongs in my top rankings, and who gets my wagers. The rankings went this way:  Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, Enticed, Free Drop Billy, Justify, Solomini, Mendelssohn, Audible, Flameaway, Title Ready, Bravazo.  I was waiting to see if Mendelssohn would take less money and drop to 6-1, and for Solomini to possibly gain and be better than 24-1. Neither happened, nor did any serious movements by my top choices. I was concerned about having to drop down to using the 99-1 Title Ready, who should be in the Arkansas Derby. As things turn out, I will have to rely on Solomini instead

As planned, I wagered win bets on the horses I felt I could get worse odds on that still ranked high enough.
$2 win bets on
Flameaway 42-1
Solomini 25-1 (double dip; I have him at 19-1 in Pool 2)
Audible 7-1

$1 exactas:
box of Bolt d’Oro (9-1), Enticed (27-1). Good Magic (9-1) over and under field (17-1)

Enlightened Trails update through 4/7/18

Just fascinating, this weekend was, to see how the Trails would play out. A lot of great results, no true surprises. The only proper drama I felt was the Sporting Chance/Free Drop Billy matter, which saw the latter winning the battle for 3rd but maybe losing out in my Trails. Does he have enough for the official Trails? That remains to be resolved.

Here are the current Enlightened Derby Trail results

And here is the Oaks Trail:


Let’s go region by region, Derby side first. To remind you, here are the tiebreak rules:
Better class win
Better purse
Overall points
Longer distance
If I have to split horses further, I judge head to head based on when they actually competed in races in the same field.

All wrapped up, as the winners of the 3YO races in this region all punch their tickets: Reride, Primo Touch, Paved and VIP Code (who won the biggest stakes of these 4)

NORTHEAST: Vino Rosso and Enticed finish 1-2 in the Wood Memorial, earning them enough points to lock their place in my mythical Derby. Firenze Fire was 4th, but had enough points thanks to his Champagne win at Belmont to earn a spot for me. Sporting Chance’s win at Saratoga in the Hopeful last year and its Grade 1 status is the reason I break the tie with him. Restoring Hope was 3rd in the Wood Memorial (Grade 2) and Untamed Domain’s Grade 2 win at Woodbine in the Summer also falls short.

SOUTH: Quip will actually run in the Arkansas Derby coming up, but already has qualified in my Enlightened Derby. His 1000 points from winning the Tampa Bay Derby is proof enough. Likewise, Noble Indy winning the Louisiana Derby and Audible in the Florida Derby all punch their tickets. This division is all set.

CALI: What proved to be the classiest and most influential race of my Trails, the Santa Anita Derby, sees the upstart Justify leading this division ahead of Bolt d’Oro. Core Beliefs and instilled Regard finished 3rd and 4th and also are in my mythical Derby.

HEARTLAND is the one division that can still change, with the Arkansas Derby coming up in a week. The Blue Grass Stakes proved the worthiness of Good Magic and Flameaway. Free Drop Billy did get points but just not enough for this division to find his way in. Sporting Chance already had a tiebreak win in the Northeast. Blended Citizen is in thanks to his Grade 3 1000 point win in the Jet Ruby Stakes. Runaway Ghost qualifies via his own Grade 3 1000 point win in the Sunland Derby. Flameaway already had an extra 500 points via the South division, finishing 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby. His 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass, a Grade 2 win, is better class than the Jet Ruby and Sunland Derbies, so he gets in (for now!).
Looking at the nominations for the Arkansas Derby, we have to see what horses with class get the advantage, as well as those with points. If none of my current top 4 in this division were entered, it would require only the winning horse in the Arkansas Derby to make the show, and it would knock out Flameaway, who has 500 points, making him a hard-luck loser (noting his other tiebreak loss in the South).
77 were nominated to the race, with about 9 horses that could be entered in this race that already have Heartland division points.
Blended Citizen 1000
Dream Baby Dream, Pony Up 500
Arawak, Greyvitos 250
Seven Trumpets 125
Combatant 100 (of course, he just ran Saturday, so this is unlikely)
Promises Fulfilled 50
High North 25
And then there are those with points outside the division:
Audible 1000
Quip 1000
Reride 500
Snapper Sinclair 100
Solomini 150

A Blended Citizen win or 2nd place finish makes it easy for the 3 horses at 500 points to get in also. Dream Baby Dream and Pony Up would need the win for any other result. But a tiebreak would be advantageous, as this is a Grade 1 race. We know that Quip is being pointed to this race. Should Quip or Audible find his way into the top 4 it would likely knock out Flameaway, as I must have separate horses in separate divisions. I would have to open up a spot and tiebreak within the South (and maybe Heartland divisions for that juicy scenario). Should Reride score here, it might open up a spot in my Minors division for someone else.
And that’s just for starters! Of course, the reality principle takes hold: Who needs points on the actual Trail?

Putting this question aside, let’s see the Oaks Trails:

Locked up, as Woodbine track announcer Robert Geller would say. Go Noni Go won the 100k Bourbonette Oaks. Blamed won the 200k Sunland Park Oaks. Go Noni Go also has points from her 3rd place finish in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies.

My Miss Lilly and Sara Street finish 1st and 2nd in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct, giving them enough to get into the mythical Oaks. Separationofpowers’ 300 points is enough to get in as well. She had won the Frizette at Belmont, and was 3rd in the Spinaway at Saratoga.

1st and 2nd also made the difference for Midnight Bisou and Spectator in the Santa Anita Oaks. Thirteen Squared was 3rd and fell into a tiebreak for points with Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Caledonia Road, and Del Mar Debutante winner Moonshine Memories. Each won at the Grade 1 level, but it’s the Breeders Cup that had a higher purse, $2 million at stake, that sets her apart. Aside, she had finished 2nd in the Frizette.

SOUTH: 3 races, 3 winners. No room for 2nd place finishes here. Andina Del Sur (Florida Oaks), Chocolate Martini (Fair Grounds Oaks), Coach Rocks (Gulfstream Park Oaks) deserve representation here. This division is closed.

HEARTLAND division wraps up the Trail on Friday with the running of the Fantasy Stakes. Meanwhile…Monomoy Girl’s win in the Ashland Stakes should be enough. She also has 100 from her 2nd place finish in the Golden Rod. Eskimo Kisses was 2nd. She was also 2nd in the Fair Ground Oaks. Patrona Margarita, 3rd in the Ashland is currently in place to advance. She also scored 25 points via a 3rd place finish in the Texas Futurity. She wins in the current tiebreak over Ultima D (winner of the listed Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies stakes), and Road To Victory (winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod). Ashland Stakes ranks ahead of the Golden Rod for purse. Andina Del Sur was 4th in the Ashland, tho her 125 points are actually insurance points, thanks to her win in the Florida Oaks.
27 were nominated to the Fantasy Stakes, with 6 horses with prior EOT points that may make an impact.
From within the division:
Dessert Honeys 50
Outside the division:
Wonder Gadot 300
Princess Warrior 250
Cosmic Burst 100
Stronger Than Ever 25
Sydney Freeman 10
If 4 new shooters in terms of points sweep the 4 places, who advances to my mythical Oaks?
Patrona Margarita is undoubtedly out with her 250. Monomoy Girl is in with her 1000. Eskimo Kisses with her 500 would have to survive a tiebreak. And she should, considering that she has 2 Grade 2 placings, making her more valuable than whoever is 2nd in the Fantasy, which is Grade 3.

Overnight I have to plan my strategy and figure who now gets my $ in Pool 4 of the Derby Future Wager.


Enlightened Trails update (Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Keeneland)

4/7/18 ties some of the big stories in the
Enlightened Trails as well as the actual Derby
and Oaks trails. \


The Grade 1 Ashland Stakes is for leading 3YO
fillies, running 8.5 furlongs, for a $500k purse.
My top 3 here are favored Monomoy Girl,
overlay CS Incharge, and other favorite Eskimo
CS Incharge elevated from maiden status in her
5th race, blazing to a wire to wire victory at
Gulfstream Park, sloppy track, 92 Brisnet. Then
in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay she won with an
82. One win first off layoff. Switches back to
Luis Saez, who got her that win.
Odds movers: CS Incharge will be the forgotten
horse, taking less $ than anticipated.
Monomoy Girl, already the favorite, will be
even more so. I can see using the 2 favorites
over CS Incharge, the latter horse also to use
for win.

The Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes is for leading
3YOs, going 9 furlongs for a $1 million purse.
My top 3 here are favored Good Magic, overlay
Gotta Go, and Flameaway. Arawak and the
also-eligible Determinant are also overlays.
Quip’s scratch, announced Thursday, has no
effect on my handicapping.
Gotta Go won the 80k Street Sense with an 89
Brisnet, bettered in February with a 93,
finishing 2nd in the Grade 3 Swale, Followed it
up with a 6th place finish in the Fountain Of
Youth, 93 score. Pace pattern suggests an
uptick from 93. Waiting 4 weeks to stretch out.
4 works in prep, 1 a bullet.
Flameaway has won 5 of 8 lifetime. 2nd last
out in the Tampa Bay Derby with a 97 Brisnet
score. Prior to that was his fastest win, 101, in
the SF Davis. Track bias in his favor;
backstretch runners do very well at the 9
furlong distance, winning 4 of 7 at the meet,
and 2 of 7 from the 8th post and outward.
Arawak won a 50k allowance race in December,
matching a lifetime best of 84 Brisnet. Then
was 3rd in the Battaglia Memorial with an 88,
then blazed to a 98 in the Grade 3 JR Steaks,
first attempt at 9 furlongs, running 3 wide in
the stretch.
Determinant is in the show following the
scratch of Quip today. Maiden winner after 3
tries, winning at the 55k level and 9 furlongs,
84 Brisnet a increase over prior. This late
closer of a horse gained 2.5 lengths on his
rivals by the 2nd call en route to a 1.75 length
Odds movers: Public is likely to bet these
horses down: Marconi, Blended Citizen, Gotta
Go, Free Drop Billy (to favorite status) and
Determinant. Good Magic, despite being ML
favorite, actually might open higher and take
far less money than figured. Remember that he
peaked at 105 back in November, and he did
seem to do well comparatively at 2nd call last
time out before fading to third. That may have
had to do with the average to slow pace. But he
was favored in that one as well. I feel the
smart money will bet him down, but there are
so many others that deserve a nod, I cannot
believe he’ll remain around 2/1. Of course I’m
willing to be wrong, and wager along with my
contenders and overlays.

The Gazelle Stakes is for top 3YO fillies,
running 9 furlongs at Aqueduct, 300k purse. I
don’t have confidence to pick 3, but I can give
you two: My Miss Lilly and Sara Street. My
Miss Lilly might be the slightest of overlays
here. After winning her maiden debut on a
sloppy fast-paced 6 furlong race here, she
finished 3rd in the Grade 3 Forward Gal at GP,
then 3rd in the Busher back here. Speed
ratings were 86, 87, 86. I like her pedigree
here: Tapit/Wicked Deed, out of Harlan’s
Holiday). 3 works at Belmont since, 1 very fast.
Gained 1.5 lengths on leader by 2nd call last
time out.
Odds movers: Public very possibly will bet
further down the 2 ML favorites in Midnight
Disguise and Smokinpaddylassie. Sara Street
might be lost in the shuffle from 3rd choice to
2nd last. Overall, not a good race to wager
on outside of the overlay.

Then there’s the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, with
3YO colts going 9 furlongs, for a $750k purse.
Top 3 are Old Time Revival, Vino Rosso, and
Evaluator. 2 horses, possibly as many as 5,
may be considered overlays.
Old Time Revival won his 3rd maiden race, with
a 90 Brisnet. Surpassed this with a 94 in the
Miracle Wood at Laurel Park on 2/17, nearly
wiring that field in his route debut.
Considering it was on a ‘good’ surface, and
there’s precip forecast for Saturday, he could
be a sneaky pick. 2nd in the Gotham last time
out with a 101 Brisnet score, a bit of trouble at
the start. I’m a bit worried about a bounce
from that score.
Evaluator won his maiden debut at Saratoga,
an 8.5 furlong race. 7th in 2 Grade 3 events,
the With Anticipation and the Pilgrim. Nosed
out a win in the 250k Sleepy Hollow at Belmont
last October, first try at the mile distance and
on dirt, with a 93 score. Nosed out of a win in
the Damon Runyon here, scoring a 91. He can
certainly score off the layoff. Waiting since
1/15 to stretch from the mile distance.
Blinkers on him for the first time.
Two I like as possible overlays really depend
on whether they get forgotten about in the
wagering, say, 30-1 or worse.
won in his 5th maiden start last time,
competitive through the 8 furlong race under
sloppy conditions. Has to be considered for
off-track. King Zachary broke maiden in his
3rd try last time out with a nice 94 score, first
time at a route, winning by 7.75 lengths. I like
the nice progression of speed figures for his
career: 80 at 2YO, then 88 and 94 at 3.
Odds movers: Firenze Fire, Old Time Revival,
Enticed, Restoring Hope all should be taking a
fair amount of money between them. Vino
Rosso might take a bit less and actually be
some hidden value compared to these.
Evaluator definitely will be overlooked.

Now to Santa Anita and the SA Oaks, Grade 1
event for 3YO fillies, $400k purse. My top 3 in
this are overlay/longshot Exuberance, favored
Midnight Bisou, and Finess Bere. Exuberance
broke maiden in his 3rd race here, and his first
as a route, on 10/13. 4th in the Grade 1 Starlet,
matching his lifetime best. Switching jockeys
to Nakatani from Baze, she set a small new top
of 87, running 2nd in the Grade 2 Las
Virgiennes, here on 2/4, first off layoff, and off
slow at the start. Waiting the longest to stretch
out of these, she put in 6 works here, 4 of
them very fast. Gained 2.5 lengths last out at
2nd call.
Finess Bere comes from French stock on the
dam side (Pedro The Great/Miss Fine, out of
Kaldoun), and indeed began her career with one
race at Vichy, winning the Prix du Parc
Napoleon. She’s run faster races in the US ever
since, coming out of 2 small new tops for both
of her 3YO races. 4th in 3 straight, all 75k
stakes events. Gained 3 lengths by 2nd call
last time.
Odds movers: Ultimately the favorites will
remain so. Exuberance I feel will be the one
who gets somewhat overlooked here.

Finally we get to the Santa Anita Derby, $1
million at stake in this Grade 1 event, 9
furlongs in length. My chosen top 3 are
longshot overlay Orbit Rain, followed by the
highly favored Bolt d’Oro and upstart Justify.
Orbit Rain hasn’t won in 3, tho he has taken to
route racing well, finishing his last race on
12/26, debut on turf and at today’s distance,
with an 83, small new top. 6 works in prep, all
here, 1 a bullet. This late closer gained a
length at 2nd call in last start. I’m banking on
the long layoff to be helpful to his cause, even
if he’s still a maiden.
Odds movers: I see Pepe Tono taking some
interest here among the longshots. Comes out
of a big pace spike to 95 on a muddy SA track,
a 75k optional claimer race

2018 Derby Future Wager Pool 4 analysis

Pool 4 comes in the middle of arguably sports’ busiest week…the NCAA championship, the first week of MLB, and The Masters. It will also be a Super Saturday, as this week and next will finally determine the point totals for the actual Derby and Oaks Trails, not to mention solidify my own version of the Trails.

I used the usual variables. Here are the benchmarks that were set by the top 7 in each variable:
Combined AWD: 14.5
CD pace: 85
Best class win: Grade 1
Binomial pace: 587 (translates to about 97 Brisnet)
Distance: 8.5 furlongs
Positive pace progress achieved by 9 of the 23 horses.

Top 10 countdown:
10: MY BOY JACK Since the last pool, he matched his small new top of 98 in the Southwest with a 99 in the LA Derby, good for show, 3/24. He does have consistent numbers and just qualifies for overall pace. Has the requisite 8.5 furlong win from the Southwest Stakes. Pace progress at 2 upon a 2nd place finish in the Del Mar Juvenile Trial. I do like him as a potential longshot, and if I can’t use the others ranked ahead. Next race: Arkansas Derby on 3/14

9 BRAVAZO: 40-1 for me in Pool 3. Locked in for the Derby, his next start. Last start was a bounce from peak of 98 to low of 76, first try at 9 furlongs. Best of 2 CD races was 85. Won the Risen Star at 8.5 furlongs. Pace progress at 2 successful in his 2nd start, breaking maiden in his route debut, scoring an 81.
Could be worth a double dip if worse than 45-1.


8 AUDIBLE scored big last out with his Florida Derby win, 9 furlongs, 107 Brisnet. Fastest of the 23 in this field. 6-1 ML suggests he’ll take more $, and I’m not very likely to pick him as it is. Runs next in the Derby.


7 MENDELSSOHN joins the fray, having won the 1-3/16 UAE Derby by 18 lengths. It is dthe longest distance won by any in this field. Appears to have scored better in speed figures at age 2. 10-1 is interesting…he might have some backers and it’s possible I might choose him. Next race is the Derby.

6 TITLE READY finds his way on the list after matching small new top of 94, running 4th in the Grade 2 Rebel. His lone CD race earned him an 85. Before the Rebel, he won a 76k allowance race, first try at 8.5 furlongs. Steady improvement during his 2YO campaign. 50-1 looks very good here, and he could be picked up .

Next 3 were top 7 in 4 of 6 variables:
5 SOLOMINI was 2nd in the Rebel. 1st or 2nd in all 5 lifetime races, and first off layoff at that. One of the better pedigrees (Curlin/Surf Song, out of Storm Cat). Won the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity at 8.5 furlongs. Lifetime Brisnet numbers run from 94 to 101. I have him at 20-1 already, so he’d have to be worse than 25-1 for me to wager on him. I’d have to hold my breath for a bit, as his next race is the Arkansas Derby, 4/14.

4 ENTICED I latched onto when he was 29-1 in Pool 1. On 3/10 he won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, cutting back to a mile, blazed with a 104. Very likely not to wager again on him. Pedigree is rather competitive (Medaglia d’Oro/It’s Tricky, out of Mineshaft). Ran a 93 in his lone CD race, winning the 8.5 furlong Kentucky Jockey Club. He races on Saturday in the Wood Memorial.

3 FREE DROP BILLY is part of several exactas. I wagered on him at 33-1 and 44-1. He’s on the doorstep of getting into the Derby, so he might need a top 2 finish in Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes. He ran 3rd in the Gotham with a 96, nearly matching his 99 in the Holy Bull. Won the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at 8.5 furlongs. His 98 in the Hopeful proved he was ready for bigger and better things.

These 2 were top 7 in 5:
2 BOLT d’ORO: Unless he has a somewhat bad showing in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, he won’t be a double digit pick for me. Still, he’s an outstanding call. I have him at 8-1 from Pool 2. Best pedigree here: Medaglia d’Oro/Globe Trot, out of AP Indy. After a 4 month layoff, he finished 2nd in the San Felipe, 98 Brisnet. 5-4-0-1 lifetime, with speed figures from 91 to 105.

1 GOOD MAGIC I have a few exactas with, and a win bet of 11-1 from Pool 1. I rank him slightly faster in pace than Bolt. 3rd in the Fountain of Youth on 3/3. Good breeding here: Curlin/Glinda The Good out of Hard Spun. Lifetime speed figures are 92 to 105. He’s in the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday. Not sure if he’s attractive at 8-1. But if he loses, then there is some possibility.