(Thanks to The Oracle for his weekly R2K commentary. It provides not only some insight into the races, but also the race by race point summary and winning total projection gives all entrants an idea of what it will takre to win……the editor)
Kentucky Derby day brings us a sloppy race track and a very big scratch of the morning line favorite I Want Revenge. Today we will determine the overall winner of the contest with a spot guaranteed in the Horse Player World Series next February. Good luck to all!
Race 1: This was an msw48K for 3+ at 6f. I selected favored Mother Ruth (ML 2-1) for Baffert and Gomez making his second career start after just missing on the synthetic at Santa Anita. No value here but a likely winner. Raposa looks like the main competition but she has 5 seconds from six career starts.
The Result: Raposa broke beautifully and wired the field in a snappy final time with strong fractions. Mother Ruth could do no better than second and Awesome Grannie finished third. Early speed dominates the opener!
Maximum Points: Raposa 202
Maximum Score: 202
My Score: 52
Race 2: This was an Alw52700N2X for 3+ at 7f. I selected Indian Silver (ML 12-1) who ran third on the Keeneland synthetic in his last outing and should be forwardly placed. Talamo takes over for Bridgmohan and this horse also has a victory on an off track and at the distance. Heavenly Chorus and Riley Tucker are the two favorites.
The Result: Another wire to wire winner as Riley Tucker scored easily at 8/5. Heavenly Chorus finished second and Major Pleasure was third. Speed speed speed early in the card!
Maximum Points: Riley Tucker 110
Maximum Score: 312
My Score: 52
Race 3: This was an Msw48K for 3+ at 1m1/16. I selected Polished (ML 10-1) trained by Carl Nafzger and ridden by Theriot. He ran a huge figure three starts back at Gulfstream but has regressed since. His style may not be conducive to the way the track is playing so far. Eagle Poise and Gold Brew are the logical alternatives.
The Result: The speed didn’t hold this time as Luv Gov rallied for D Wayne Lukas and scored at 5-1. He was a 0 for 9 maiden but loved the off track today. Gold Brew finished second and Big Flirt ran third at 21-1. Eagle Poise had a terrible start and never factored.
Maximum Points: Luv Gov 220
Maximum Score: 532
My Score: 52
Race 4: This was an Alw50200N1X for 3+ at 1m1/16. I selected Glenwood Canyon (ML 5/2) who has finished in the money 3 out of 4 times at Churchill Downs. He exits two key races at Fair Grounds. Brother Keith is the current favorite.
The Result: Glenwood Canyon got a good stalking trip and scored over Northern Prince and A.U. Miner. It took him 9 starts to break his maiden but he has now won two straight.
Maximum Points: Foxy Bailey 188
Maximum Score: 720
My Score: 240
Race 5: This was an OC 80K/N3X for 3+ at 1m on the turf. I selected longshot Leading On (ML 10-1) who drew in from the also eligible list. He raced at Tampa in his last two starts and steps up in class for this one. Why Tonto and Pick Six are the co-favorites on the board.
The Result: The wrong longshot won for me. Jazz in the Park at 16-1 scored for Borel and Bobby Barnett over Desert Wheat and Pick Six. The turf course was rated good. My selection was 16-1 and never moved from the back of the pack. Jazz in the Park won at long odds three starts back at Fair Grounds and loved the off turf today.
Maximum Points: Jazz in the Park 538
Maximum Score: 1,258
My Score: 240
Race 6: This was the 75th running of the G2 Churchill Downs for 4+ at 7f. I selected Ide Like a Double (ML 15-1) with Albarado who has run in some Louisiana bred stakes races and is second off the layoff. Kodiak Cowboy is the favorite on the board.
The Result: Accredit won the race at 4-1 over My Pal Charlie and The Roundhouse. The winner was a front-running horse with Leparoux aboard and a bullet work at Churchill since his last race. He made a lot of sense. My selection couldn’t get to contention at 11-1.
Maximum Points: Accredit 200
Maximum Score: 1,458
My Score: 240
Race 7: This was the 54th running of the Grade III Eight Belles for 3yo fillies at 7.5f. I selected Lady’s Laughter (ML 15-1) making her second start off the layoff shipping in from Keeneland. Just Jenda and Four Gifts are clearly the ones to beat on class but I’m launching for longshots this afternoon.
The Result: Four Gifts won it at a decent 7/2 price over favored Just Jenda and Warrior Maid. My selection got caught in a speed duel and faded out at a bet down price of 5-1.
Maximum Points: Four Gifts 168
Maximum Score: 1,626
My score: 240
Race 8: This was the 24th running of the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile for 3+ fillies on the turf. I selected Tizaqueena (ML 8-1) who is a decent price despite winning 4 of 5 career races. She makes her first start in a graded stakes race so class will be the question. She has a front running style.
The Result: Tizaqueena battled very well along the inside and scored at 8-1 over Dawn After Dawn and Lemon Chiffon. Speed on the turf was the ticket in this race as Tizaqueena appears to have a touch of class in notching her 6th career win from 7 starts.
Maximum Points: Tizaqueena 336
Maximum Score: 1,962
My Score: 576
Race 9: This was the 23rd running of the Grade I Humana Distaff for 4+ fillies and mares at 7f. I selected Royale Michelle (ML 10-1) who is undefeated over a wet track and at the distance. Bejarano takes the call. Game Face for the top connections of Pletcher/Gomez is the favorite from the outside.
The Result: Informed Decision rallied between runners down the stretch and got the money at 3-1. Longshot Temple Street rallied for 2nd at 32-1 and there was a dead heat for third between Dubai Majesty and Modification. Dubai Majesty looked like the winner in mid-stretch as she was on the lead but faltered in the final strides. My selection was in the mix at 6-1 but finished a close 5th. Temple Street got the most contest points for her second place finish.
Maximum Points: Temple Street 340
Maximum Score: 2,302
My Score: 576
Race 10: This was the 23rd running of the Grade I Turf Classic for 3+ at 1m 1/8 on the turf. I selected El Caballo (ML 12-1) who suffered a heart breaking nose defeat i9n his last race at 17-1. He has finished 1st or 2nd in 9 of 11 career races and continues to improve for trainer Nick Ralphs. Einstein is the current favorite on the board at 2-1.
The Result: Einstein proved once again that he is one of the top handicap horses in the country as he notches another Grade I win as the 9/5 favorite. He has now won Grade I Stakes races on the grass and synthetic and graded stakes races on the dirt. His career record is an impressive 11 wins from 25 starts. Cowboy Cal finished a close second and Court Vision ran third. My selection ran poorly, didn’t show his customary early speed and didn’t contend at 11-1.
Maximum Points: Einstein 120
Maximum Score: 2,422
My Score: 576
Kentucky Derby: This was the 135th running of the Grade I Kentucky Derby for 3yo at 1m ¼. This is the culmination of the contest and correctly selecting the winner of this race could be worth up to 3,000 contest points if you have the right longshot. Players near the lead don’t need a price they just need to be right! The scratch of I Want Revenge this morning puts favorite status on Friesan Fire. I selected Pioneerof the Nile (ML 4-1) who has won four Graded races in a row at Santa Anita on the synthetic track. He has never run over a dirt track but did get some positive reviews about his appearance at Churchill Downs this week. I liked his versatility in being able to handle different pace scenarios and you can’t underestimate having Gomez in the saddle. All in all I gave him the slight edge over Dunkirk and Friesan Fire but it will probably come down to who gets the best trip and handles the off track. Friesan Fire is already proven over an off track at Louisiana Downs. The last two off track Derbies were won by horses racing near the front end (Go For Gin 1994 and Smarty Jones 2004). I don’t think we will see a deep closer this year either but I’m betting that Pioneerof the Nile will be closer to the pace than some people think. Good luck in this year’s Kentucky Derby!!
The Result: Calvin Borel scraped paint with 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird and he drew off with ease to with this year’s Kentucky Derby! I honestly don’t see how you can make any kind of a case for the horse on paper but he won easily and the result cannot be denied. He qualified for the race by winning a Grade III 7f race on the synthetic surface at Woodbine last year and other than that finished last in the BC Juvenile. He followed that up with a second and fourth place finish at Sunland Park in non-Graded stakes races. Pioneerof the Nile finished second and Musket Man ran third. It will be interesting to read what the connections of Friesan Fire, Dunkirk and a few others have to say because they were never heard from. I can only suppose that the track condition had quite a bit to do with it. This can be a humbling game sometimes and I don’t believe I heard one national handicapper give this romping easy winner any chance whatsoever. Congratulations to everyone who wrote down “8” on your Road to Kentucky form; you just gained about 4 weeks worth of points in 2 minutes! Mine that Bird was a “Cap” horse so he was worth 3,600 points. I was completely wrong about the race not being won by a closer!
Maximum Points: Mine That Bird 3,600
Maximum Score: 6,022
My Score: 1,020
Race 12: This was an Alw50200N1X for 3yo fillies at 7f. I selected Knockout Bertie (ML 9/2) who won her only other start to date at 15-1 and shows three very solid workouts at Churchill Downs. This is the final race of the entire contest!
The Result: Favored Luster scored from the rail at 4/5 odds followed by Honchis’n Ponchis and Girls Image. The rail was good today indeed! Honchis’n Ponchis got the most contest points for his second place finish.
Maximum Points: Honchis’n Ponchis 104
Maximum Score: 6,126
My Score: 1,020
Summary: Numerologists may have had a shot at selecting Derby winner Mine That Bird but conventional handicappers didn’t. It’s likely that a few players had the horse so a winning score of 4,000 points this week is certainly within reach. If you tabbed Mine That Bird and you were within a few thousand points of the overall lead you just might have won yourself a trip to the Horseplayer World Series next year. Congratulations to anyone who found that triple point “Cap” horse! The sloppy track at Churchill today certainly provided us with some difficult and interesting results. That’s horse racing!