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
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
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
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
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
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