“After Pharoah went, you sort of need something like this. It’s been like that with every good horse I’ve retired, you’re wanting some more.” – Bob Baffert, trainer of Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Mor Spirit
The Santa Anita contest card last Saturday included four graded stakes races, and featured the return of last year’s 2-year-old champion filly Songbird. She didn’t disappoint as she picked up where she left off last year with a dominating victory at odds of 1 to 9. There is a lot of buzz from race fans that Songbird should attempt to win the Kentucky Derby this year, but the connections have not indicated they will be taking that path.
On days like this, it can be difficult to go against the heavy favorites with your wagering dollars. However, I still stubbornly cling to the strategy of selecting longer priced horses in the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest that I “hope” will either run second or perhaps upset the heavy favorite on the win end. So far this year it hasn’t worked out, but there are still 13 more opportunities.
The maximum score this week was 2,588 points, which should put the winning score somewhere in the 1,500-1,600 point range. The critical horse you needed was Nusret, who won the opener at 22-1. That winner alone was worth 30% of the total points, so it will be tough to overcome if you don’t have that one. Nusret was exiting his career best effort from a speed figure perspective, and he showed three 5-furlong workouts over the past three weeks. He was facing winners for the first time but on paper he looked fit and healthy. It was a great find if you decided to use him last Saturday!
Mor Spirit, a Pennsylvania-bred, won the featured Robert B. Lewis double-point race as the 3 to 5 favorite for trainer Bob Baffert. He looked pretty good tracking the speed and pushing by in the lane. Jockey Gary Stevens was also pleased with Mor Spirit’s performance, so it looks like this will be one of Baffert’s major players in the 3-year-old division this year. The last really good Pennsylvania-bred horse that I can recall was Smarty Jones in 2004. If Mor Spirit turns into anything resembling Smarty Jones, he will be making many trips to the winner’s circle!
I ended up with 234 points for the week. It was an effort the Carolina Panthers can relate to! Perhaps I will have Puppy Monkey Baby fill out my contest sheet this Saturday when we return to Tampa Bay Downs. Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!