Welcome to the Road to Kentucky blog recap for week 9! Last week we saw two great 3 year olds as Quality Road edged Dunkirk in the Florida Derby. Today we have multiple prep races to handicap, including the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood from Aqueduct and the Illinois Derby. In a late development, The Pamplemousse has been scratched out of the Santa Anita Derby. That leaves Pioneerof the Nile as the heavy favorite. Eleven races at Hawthorne and two bonus races means there should be a LOT of points available to make a move up the board. I need to run the table so let’s get started.
Race 1: This was a Clm18000 for 4+ at 6f. I selected Montalvo (ML 5-1) making his second trip over the track for trainer Kordenbrock. He has struggled at higher levels since being claimed, but drops back to his previous winning level. The price should be right. He will have to contend with the two logical favorites Life’s Lessons and Gato’s Pirate.
The Result: Favored Gato’s Pirate scored narrowly over Life’s Lessons and Cockadoodle. My selection sprinted clear and faltered on the turn to finish fourth. This one was all chalk.
Maximum Points: Gato’s Pirate 93
Maximum Score: 93
My Score: 0
Race 2: This was an Alw30000N2X for 3+ Illinois bred at 6f. I selected U Teachem Cart (ML 7/2) making his second start off the layoff. The main contender is the ML favorite Blue Knight.
The Result: Publish pulls the upset at 17-1 over Carson’s Hawk and U Teachem Cart. Publish was part of an uncoupled entry for Christine Janks and he rallied strongly to be up in time at a big price.
Maximum Points: Publish 590
Maximum Score: 683
My Score: 24
Race 3: This was a Clm10000 for 4+ at 1m1/16th. I selected Whatitsallabout (ML 3-1) who is a standout on paper after the scratch of two rivals. This horse was disqualified after winning his last and shouldn’t be denied today.
The Result: Whatitsallabout won easily at 3/5 odds. Scooter Roach was second and Bearific finished third. Favorites dominate the third.
Maximum Points: Whatitsallabout 75
Maximum Score: 758
My Score: 99
Race 4: This was a Clm5000N2L for 3+ at 6f. I selected Davids Secret (ML 9/2) making his third start off the layoff and dropping in class. He faced a runaway winner last time and has speed to get good position early. Jockey Thornton stays aboard. The main threat will be Smarty Mouth making his second start off along layoff.
The Result: Nafir’s Lad scored at 5/2 off the layoff with 55-1 shot Criminaly Insilver finishing second and Good Credentials running third. Criminaly Insilver gets the most contest points for his second place finish. Nothing from my horse at 3-1 he finished last!
Maximum Points: Criminaly Insilver 532
Maximum Score: 1,290
My Score: 99
Race 5: This was a Clm4000N1Y for 4+ at 6f. I couldn’t get away from the favorite Dual Jewels (ML 3-1) in this spot. This horse has been routing lately but he does have two wins at the distance from five tries. His last race figure is very imposing against this modest group and the top connections sealed the deal for me. Master Fancy may have a chance if he can shake loose early but his form has been poor recently.
The Result: Alabama City stalked and scored over Dual Jewels and B Like a Lion. A couple of late scratches left a short field. The favorite rallied a bit late in this one.
Maximum Points: Alabama City 140
Maximum Score: 1,430
My Score: 144
Race 6: This was an Msw26K for 3yo Illinois breds at 6f. I selected Royally Outfoxed (ML 5-1) as he is second off the layoff and showed improved early speed at 20-1 in his last start. Trainer Gestes is wheeling him back quickly and it appears that Royally Outfoxed is sitting on a win. Account Closed, Cart Doctor and Uno Chapo are the other possibilities on paper.
The Result: The Real Chas scored at 7/2 with a late rally over Cart Doctor and Royally Outfoxed. The Real Chas was a second time starter shipping in from Oaklawn Park and he got the trip today.
Maximum Points: The Real Chas 188
Maximum Score: 1,618
My Score: 174
Race 7: This was the featured 52nd running of the Grade II Illinois Derby for 3yo at 1m1/8. Last year’s running was won by 15-1 front runner Recapturetheglory and I’m using similar logic in this race and selecting Perfect Song (ML 6-1) who is shipping in from Laurel after a wire to wire victory. Giant Oak and Musket Man were the others to consider.
The Result: Perfect Song got the lead but he was finished as they turned for home. Musket Man moved to the lead and scored over Giant Oak and longshot His Greatness. Musket Man has now won 5 of 6 career starts and heads to the Derby as one of the under-the-radar longshots in the field.
Maximum Points: Musket Man 292
Maximum Score: 1,910
My score: 174
The Wood Memorial: This is the 85th running of the Grade I Wood Memorial for 3yo at 1m1/8. I Want Revenge is strictly the one to beat but I selected the entry (ML 6-1) hoping maybe they can both hit the board from off the pace. West Side Bernie is the stronger half of the entry and has been competitive in several graded races. I Want Revenge is the lone serious Derby contender in the field.
The Result: I Want Revenge was dead last out of the gate by many lengths but rallied impressively and still prevailed as the heavy ½ favorite. West Side Bernie rallied down the outside for second and Just a coincidence was third. I Want Revenge was very impressive and moves to the Derby as one of a handful of logical contenders. This field was a bit suspect in my opinion but it was a super effort by the winner.
Maximum Points: Entry 186
Maximum Score: 2,096
My score: 360
Santa Anita Derby: Very disappointing that The Pamplemousse scratched today as it really lessens the excitement for this race. I selected Mr. Hot Stuff thinking that the pace would be relatively fast but now he might have too much work to do. Pioneerof the Nile now becomes the heavy favorite in the race. Chocolate Candy is another with a big chance in this spot.
The Result: A formful running of the Santa Anita Derby as Pioneerof the Nile scored at 3/5 over Chocolate Candy and Mr. Hot Stuff. The top two finishers should be on their way to Kentucky with some legitimate hope for success. Pioneerof the Nile has shown good tactical speed in his last few races and has been right on the pace as the hit the top of the turn.
Maximum Points: Pioneerof the Nile 162
Maximum Score: 2,258
My Score: 428
Race 8: This was an Alw26000N1X for 3+ at 6f. I tried a big price; the Minnesota bred L’Etoile Du Nord shipping in from Fairgrounds. He chased a sub-45 half mile in his last and that was too fast. He will need to run a career best effort here but he will be over 10-1 in the gate. Moralist, Cool Lover and Prestidigitation round out the contender group.
The Result: Moralist scores at 5-1 in impressive fashion for Tammy Domenosky. Prestidigitation was second and Cool Lover finished third. My selection did get the lead at 28-1 but couldn’t last very long on the front end.
Maximum Points: Moralist 220
Maximum Score: 2,478
My Score: 428
Race 9: This was a Clm5000N2L for 3+ at 6f. I selected Peterman (ML 8-1) making his second start off the layoff and dropping in class. He has a win over the track and drops into a competitive spot today. Hot Rolston is the main contender in the race.
The Result: Chipnchatter sprinted clear and lasted by a nose over Peterman and Hot Rolston. A three way photo goes to Chipnchatter at 7/2.
Maximum Points: Cliffy’s Future 168
Maximum Score: 2,646
My Score: 514
Race 10: This was an Msw26K for 3yo Illinois bred at 6f. I selected Powerful Zen (ML 10-1) a first time starter by Cartwright who gets 15% winners first time out. Sharp workouts and first time Lasix in the holster and this isn’t a very deep field.
The Result: Favored Agnostic rallied strongly for a powerful win with Terrific Tim finishing second and Daves River running third. My selection made a bid on the turn but flattened to 5th at 10-1.
Maximum Points: Agnostic 112
Maximum Score: 2,758
My Score: 514
Race 11: This was a Clm4000 for 4+ at 1m1/16. I selected Revivalist (ML 4-1) who has the best early speed on paper and breaks from the rail. He was just claimed by Rivelli and is a snappy 6 for 7 at Hawthorne. Beat him to cash…
The Result: Dancingforthegreen rallied past the heavy favorite and scored at 12-1. Revivalist ran second at even money and Young Brave finished third.
Maximum Points: Dancingforthegreen 390
Maximum Score: 3,148
My Score: 566
Summary: The Derby prep races were very formful so it will be hard to make a huge move up the board this week. A score in the 2,000 point range will be in contention. I Want Revenge was the most impressive winner as he overcame a bad start and trouble to win the Wood Memorial. Pioneerof the Nile continues to show that he the best on the West Coast and Musket Man is now 5 for 6 lifetime after winning the Illinois Derby. It still looks like 7 or 8 horses have a legitimate chance for the Kentucky Derby. See you next week!