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Race of the Week: Mystic Lake Derby

MysticDerby_LogoThe second edition of the Mystic Lake Derby is fairly similar to the first, with connections hailing from all corners for this $200,000 purse at a mile on turf. Last year’s winning owner, Terry Hamilton, is back with the favorite in this year’s running in Dorsett, recently Grade 3 placed in the Arlington Classic.

To put the field’s complexion in perspective, two stakes winners have drawn in and they are 9/2 and 6/1 on the morning line. Surprisingly, that 6/1 stakes winner is the lone victor at a mile on turf thus far in his career. Red Zeus is an Arizona native who’s made his running here since spending the winter & spring in his home state, but came up with a solid victory last time on the main track against lesser foes. The payoffs may not need a Brinks truck for their removal, but this is still a guessing game to a degree with the undeveloped talent in the gate. Here we go!

1. Impassible Canyon – Can one ever throw out Mike Maker when he ships in for a stake? I don’t want to but I could be forced to with the difficulty in the first three legs of this late pick four. He gives up a whole lot of experience to this field and draws the rail to go with it. He’s not a speedy fellow out of the gate so that may not be an issue – but traffic could become one on a turf course that hasn’t been all that tiring on front runners. He has shipped many a place to find a comfortable surface and spot, and while he’s been close each time none of his races really scare you into singling him here. The fact still remains that his two best performances have been on Turfway’s synthetic track and Ellis Park turf. Not to undermine either place, but there are some big fish coming to swim.

2. Dorsett – This is your morning line favorite looking to keep the owner’s record perfect in this race. Hammer’s Terror was a little more seasoned by the time this race came around last year, but it appears this one is coming around a bit later in life with lots of talent. He can come from various points in the pack too, over many types of going. I’m sticking with lots of Chicago turf horses just because of what they’ve been through this spring as far as weather & whatnot. A lot of their allowance fields have been loaded with horses seeking turf and not getting it – when races stay on the grass they are TOUGH. His one really off race came on the dirt and unless that happens he’s a must use. Lori Keith will also try to keep her record perfect in the derby, and looks very live in that respect.

3. Finding Candy – He started off the year with a bang but hasn’t shown the same fight since that time. Maybe the slop was his friend that day? He fought it out on the front end gamely to break his maiden but winners have been a little too much for him early and late, as the margins of defeat in his last two have been hefty. Chongo did run impressively the other day but this horse is also back on less than a week’s rest… Hmmm. Interesting that he hasn’t flourished on turf as his mother’s only win came over the grass. This is one that may mature with grace but for now still has some things to iron out.

4. Coastal Breeze – Nothing wrong with a win streak. He’s looking for his third in a row in the Derby, and also draws Channing Hill up from Chicago to take the mount. He and Catalano have had their ups and downs at the Arlington Meet this spring but have been rock solid when right. This horse obviously fits in that category and has shown his versatility for all other surfaces besides dirt. Baffert enters a lot of maiden special weights in duos and this one always seemed to be a cut below his stablemate. Given a change of scenery the colt seemed much better off and showed the speed trained into him out west. Though his first try on turf wasn’t a resounding win, his subsequent synthetic efforts show the front running improvement to merit a shot here. Channing rode him in his first win, and the second and third finishers were well clear. May be the one in the right spot at the right time.

5. Kale’s Courage – He got a head start on some of his recently-arrived competition by getting a route win in over our track in May, though it was taken off the turf. What he beat that day remains to be seen, but given that it was on the dirt we still don’t know what the horse can really do on the track. There are a couple of winners in his family on the turf, and one can excuse his effort in the Iowa Derby against better. A couple that defeated him that day went on to run in the Jim Dandy last weekend, though not all that well. Lots of question marks here but he is the real deal.

6. Evan’s Calling – He has plenty of turf running behind him but only one win to show for those eight starts. Many were sprints in Louisiana, but the horse has learned to rate a bit as he’s gone along. He hasn’t won yet at a mile but has come around in that respect a bit lately. He was beaten pretty fair & square by Coastal Breeze two back but again, hasn’t necessarily needed the lead as he’s gained experience. He’s still good for non-2 competition though (like many) and will be a little up against it after trying stakes company once. He ran an even third in said race at the Fairgrounds and just doesn’t seem to have made steps forward as much recently as in the past.

7. Red Zeus – The raw stats are in his corner, but they are mostly due to his fifteen starts to dwarf the rest. He’s made three of them on turf and is a stakes winner over the surface, but that was against Arizona-breds and in fact we saw the top three finishers all come back to fill a trifecta in his last race on dirt. Were these three it in the quality three year old department this winter or is there more to it? He needs no pace help and is familiar with his jockey Alex Canchari. He hasn’t touched our turf before but got a bullet work in to prepare for this and is the one least-altering his schedule for the race. A few things to like about a local at a price – he will be on my ticket.

8. Officer Alex – The name immediately should say “I’m by Officer, and I learned how to run very early on.” He got in a couple of state-bred wins before hitting the road to Arkansas this spring, and had a very good spring after fleeing the Kentucky Derby trail early on. While he locked horns with grade 3 types a couple of times, both outings were unsuccessful and the same can be said of his two route efforts. He didn’t beat one horse home last time in his initial go over turf, and this one perhaps has the look of one seeking mud. He’s two of three over an off surface and his early lick makes him a must use if it’s washed off the weeds.

The three I’ll be using are Dorsett, Coastal Breeze & Red Zeus. This is a field that could line up at the end of it at the wire but this has the look of a lot more potential at this point than proven stardom. Find the colt moving forward at the right time and you could find value right along with it. Good luck in a grassy pick four on Saturday!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.

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