Defection from Derby Follows Week 14 of Road to Kentucky – Contest Recap


“Baffert Removes Cupid from Kentucky Derby Trail.” – Headline in the Daily Racing Form

Week 14 in the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest gave everyone an opportunity to pick up big points, as winning favorites were scarce throughout the day.  Two heavily favored runners, Cupid and Swipe, headlined the double point bonus races and both fell flat.  Cupid was found to have a breathing issue subsequent to the race, and he has been withdrawn from Kentucky Derby consideration.  Swipe was making his first start as a 3-year-old, after a runner-up finish to Nyquist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  His late kick never materialized and he finished mid-pack as the 2-1 favorite.

By my calculations, the maximum score this week was 4,914 points.  Based on history, the winning score of 2,648 by Trista Kleinsteuber was expected. Only two players surpassed 2,000 points which was a bit of a surprise but with so many points available, and many above average scores, many players had the opportunity to jump way up the leaderboard if they aren’t already near the top.  Six of the 13 contest races were worth over 350 points, including both double point races.  The top point horse this week was the runner-up in the Lexington Stakes, One More Round.  The California invader set the pace and held second at 40-1, continuing the trend of west coast maidens shipping East and doing well in these Derby preps.  Laoban and Trojan Nation were two other longshots that fit this pattern.

Cupid’s Rebel victory and Arkansas Derby defeat was eerily similar to another Bob Baffert runner’s fortunes back in 2011.  That year, The Factor shipped in from California and romped in the Rebel Stakes, only to be soundly defeated at odds-on in the Arkansas Derby by Arch Arch Arch.  An extremely fast pace doomed both Baffert runners, and it has since been reported that Cupid has a throat issue that will require surgery.  Baffert still has Mor Spirit on track for the Kentucky Derby, but there will be no one-two punch this year like he had last year with Dortmund and American Pharoah.

I scored 926 this week thanks to One More Round, but I had virtually nothing at Oaklawn Park.  Congratulations to the winners and those that advanced there overall scores. Nicely done!

In addition to Cupid’s Derby defection, there was more bad news in the thoroughbred world this week.  Songbird came down with a fever and will miss the Kentucky Oaks.  That may cause some trainers to reconsider their next move.  Hopefully Songbird is back to 100 percent very soon.

This Saturday the contest track is Keeneland, but since the Derby preps are over there will be no bonus races.  Plenty of prize money up for grabs, however. And don’t forget the $10 Super Satellite Contest either. This is an inexpensive way to get involved in the bigger handicapping contests held at Canterbury throughout the year.

Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!

The Oracle

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