Welcome to the Road to Kentucky blog recap for week 6! This week our featured track is the Fair Grounds, with 6 stakes races on the program including 4 graded stakes. There are 12 races from the Fair Grounds as well as 3 bonus races from around the country, including the Tampa Bay Derby, the Rebel and the San Felipe.
The great thing about horse racing is that you are only one day or even one race away from redemption. Finding a cap horse or a few 15-1 shots can vault you way up the standings. There’s no better time than this week to start posting some better scores! Good Luck!
Race 1: This was a Clm17500 for 4+ at 1m originally scheduled on the turf run on the sloppy main track. I selected Watz His Name (ML 12-1) who finished two lengths behind race rival Pursue a Dream in his last start and that one will be one of the favorites in this field. My selection figures to go off at 15-1 odds or higher in this race despite the scratches. On the positive side, he makes his fourth start off the layoff and has been slowly improving for very good trainer Michael Stidham. He also has 7 career wins including 6 on the synthetic surface. In a wide open race, I will take Watz His Name as a flyer in the opener…
The Result: Man Named Sue pulled the mild upset at 9/2 over the 2 favorites Salic Law and Pursue a Dream. My choice went off at 14-1 and it looked promising early as he set the pace to the top of the stretch before fading to 5th. That’s 2 in a row for Man Named Sue since being claimed by Cody Autrey.
Maximum Points: Man Named Sue 198
Maximum Score: 198
My Score: 0
Race 2: This was an OC30K/C for Louisiana bred 4+ at 5.5f. I selected Pantera Phantom (ML 6-1) who has tactical early speed and exits 3 consecutive route races. He was overmatched in his last start at Delta Downs against stakes competition and drops into a better spot today. Three solid workouts since his last race and Albarado climbing aboard add to the positives. Trainer Patrick Mouton scores at 25% with the turnback move. Seemed to be playable at the price…Likely favorite Smith B Quick must negotiate the rail draw and figures to take heavy action.
The Result: A three horse pace battle developed and The Q Club emerged victorious at 3-1 over Double Helix and Time Is Crucial. My selection was sitting perfectly in fourth but wasted the trip and finished fourth.
Maximum Points: The Q Club 156
Maximum Score: 354
My Score: 0
Race 3: This was an Msw44K for 3yo Louisiana breds at 6f. Cajun Persuasion (ML 9/2) appeared to be one confirmed front runner in the field so I took him without hesitation. Lone speed is always dangerous. Several runners in here have similar speed figures and are lightly raced with good connections. I will need a sharp break from the gate in this one….
The Result: The first time starter by Gold Tribute got up in the final strides at 5/2 over Swing N Jones and longshot Augustus Macray. My selection dueled for the lead three wide but didn’t clear the field like I hoped he would. .
Maximum Points: Kissimmee Kyle 168
Maximum Score: 522
My Score: 0
Race 4: This was an Alw44000K for 3yos at 1m40. The morning line favorite Au Moon will get heavy support as he exits 2 stakes tries against the best 3yos on the grounds. He is very logical. I went a different direction and selected lightly raced Omniscient (ML 7/2) who exits an easy win against maidens. Omniscient is a 280K purchase sired by Pulpit. We’ll see if he handles the step up to face winners today. Au Moon and Northern Prince are also logical contenders. Interestingly enough, my database is showing that only 14% of dirt route races at Fair Grounds are won wire to wire from a 49 race sample this meet.
The Result: The favorites dominated this one as Omniscient stalked and scored at 9/5 odds with Albarado aboard. Northern Prince ran second and Au Moon faded to third. Nothing too surprising in this one.
Maximum Points: Omniscient 114
Maximum Score: 636
My Score: 114
Race 5: This was the 23rd running of the Bienville for fillies and mares 4+ at 5.5f on the turf. I selected Taletobetold (ML 4-1) making her second start off a short layoff and shipping in from Gulfstream Park. She is a true road warrior as this is her eighth race at seven different tracks. She has good early speed and should get a good position from just off the pace with jockey Leparoux aboard. Her last race was very poor, but she has bounced back with three workouts and Leparoux rode her in her last victory. Other main contenders in this race are Classify, Lady Chace and Coy Cat. These turf sprints are pretty tough!
The Result: Coy Cat ralied late to score at 9/2 over Lady Chace and Le Cordon Bleu. Coy Cat is now 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds. Taletobetold made the early lead but couldn’t last in early stretch. She faded to 5th at 5-1.
Maximum Points: Coy Cat 198
Maximum Score: 834
My Score: 114
Race 6: This was the 43rd running of the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks for 3yo fillies at 1m1/16th. It was a two horse race on paper between Rachel Alexandra and Four Gifts. Rachel Alexandra is going to be the odds-on choice so I selected Four Gifts (ML 5/2) as my selection. She ran a nice second in her last race behind War Echo after seemingly making a winning move into the stretch. She holds the home court advantage over Rachel Alexandra who has never races at Fair Grounds, but Rachel Alexandra looks very formidable on paper at a short price.
The Result: Rachel Alexandra toyed with the fiels at 1/5 as my selection ran a dull 4th as the 4-1 second choice. Flying Spur was second and Our Dahlia finished third. Flying Spur got the most contest points for her second place finish.
Maximum Points: Flying Spur 76
Maximum Score: 910
My Score: 114
Race 7: This was the 84th running of the G2 New Orleans Handicap for 4+ at 1m1/8. Eleven horses entered for this race and you can make a case for about every entrant. I thought it was wide open so chose another longshot Macho Again (ML 12-1) making his first start off a short layoff. He scored off a similar layoff at Saratoga last year and shows several trouble lines on form. He has shown to be capable on his best day and switches to Albarado for this. He also has a win over the track and the price should be right. It’s a Bird, Honest Man and My Pal Charlie are the main contenders.
The Result: Secret Getaway set the fractions until deep stretch but Macho Again rallied down the middle of the track to get up late at 10-1. Secret Getaway held second and It’s a Bird finished third. Nothing today from Honest Man for some reason. Macco Again was last early but the solid fractions worked to his benefit today and he appeared to love the slop!
Maximum Points: Macho Again 406
Maximum Score: 1,316
My score: 520
SanFelipe: This was the 72nd running of the G2 San Felipe for 3yo’s at 1m1/16. Pioneerofthe Nile will be the heavy favorite and he is one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby thus far. There were supposed to be a few scratches in the race so I just chose favored Pioneerofthe Nile to take this one.
The Result: Pioneerofthe Nile scored by a length and a half over Feisty Suances and Jeranimo. Pretty formful running of the San Felipe as Pioneerofthe Nile continues on the Road to Kentucky as one of the overall favorites. Feisty Suances gets the most contest points for his second place finish.
Maximum Points: Feisty Suances 192
Maximum Score: 1,508
My Score: 656
Race 8: This was the 17th running of the Mervyn Muniz Memorial Handicap for 4+ at 1m1/8 on the turf. No speed signed on so I tried longshot El Caballo (ML 20-1) who wired a turf field two starts back at Churchill Downs. El Caballo gets a class test today as he has never faced stakes competition. He is in the best form of his career and the probable pace scenario makes him a playable option in my view. Leparoux rides for trainer Ralph Nicks. Soldiers Dancer appears to be the logical favorite and he will be flying late. El Caballo was cross entered in Race 7 and I was set to select him in either race so we will see what happens.
The Result: El Caballo made the lead and carved out some moderate fractions before losing in the final stride to Proudinsky. A painful defeat for me as El Caballo was 17-1. Nownownow finished a close 3rd in a blanket finish. Favored Soldier’s Dancer never showed up.
Maximum Points: El Caballo 208
Maximum Score: 1,716
My Score: 864
Tampa Bay Derby: This was the 29th running of the G3 Tampa Bay Derby for 3yo’s at 1m1/16. I wasn’t crazy about the horses exiting the Sam Davis at Tampa Downs so I went to shipper Warrior’s Reward who ran a decent second at Gulfstream Park behind an impressive allowance winner named Dunkirk. He’s lightly raced making his third career start so we will see the class test today. Hello Broadway and General Quarters are the two favorites.
The Result: Join in the Dance was clear at the 16th pole at 35-1 odds but was run down late by Musket Man at 5-1 with 43-1 Justdontcallmejeri finishing 3rd at 43-1. Nothing from the 2 favorites but Musket Man finished strongly to get the money, avenging a 3rd place finish in last months Sam Davis. Join in the Dance got the most points for his second place finish at 35-1.
Maximum Points: Join in the Dance 720
Maximum Score: 2,436
My Score: 864
Race 9: Here is the featured 96th running of the Louisiana Derby for 3yos at 1m1/16th. Friesan Fire has been holding these at bay in two professional wins over the track and he is the deserving favorite. He shows up with an impressive 5f bullet work in the holster. California invader Papa Clem may be quickest of these early as he tries conventional dirt for the first time. The California shippers have had good success this year. I like both of those choices but ultimately selected Terrain (ML 10-1) who makes his first start since December and has some sharp workouts at Fair Grounds over the past month. This is another road warrior with starts at 6 different racetracks already. I’m guessing that Terrain will be the higher price of my contender group, which includes Patena, Flying Pegasus, Papa Clem and Friesan Fire.
The Result: Friesan Fire proved to be much the best of this group as he drew away to a huge victory as the 2-1 favorite. Papa Clem just held Terrain safe for second. It looked like Terrain would finish second in mid-stretch but he hung late. The others need to regroup but they are probably history as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned.
Maximum Points: Friesan Fire 272
Maximum Score: 2,708
My Score: 968
Race 10: This was the 58th running of the Duncan F. Kenner for 3+ at 6f. I selected Sok Sok (ML 9/2) for trainer Steve Asmussen who has run his two best races over the Fair Grounds oval. He freaked in December 2007 with a 109 Beyer figure and has been seen twice since then. Bridgmohan was aboard for that race and he rides again today. Kodiak Kowboy and Ikigai appear to be the main threats.
The Result: Sok Sok stalked and scored at 3-1 woth Kodiak Kowboy rallying late for second and 12-1 Garifine finishing third. Asmussen had Sok Sok ready to roll off the layoff.
Maximum Points: Sok Sok 166
Maximum Score: 2,874
My Score: 1,134
Race 11: This was an Msw42000K that was moved off the turf and run on the sloppy main track. I thought Total Gentleman was strictly the one to beat from post 13 as he drew into the field as being entered for the main track only.
The Result: The heavy favorite didn’t show up at 6/5 for Asmussen as Budget scored at 8-1 over Buriedbeyondbelief and Charlie Temper. Total Gentleman had no excuse in a terrible effort. Budget was a Seeking the Gold 3yo returning from a 3 month layoff for trainer Albert Stall.
Maximum Points: Budget 320
Maximum Score: 3,194
My Score: 1,134
Rebel Stakes: This was the 49th running of the Grade II Rebel Stakes for 3yo at 1m1/16. Strong Derby candidate Old Fashioned makes the second start of his 3 year old campaign and if he improves off his last race he will be the winner today. He faces the same main rival in Silver City and with several stretch out types the pace could be pretty heated. Even though I think Old Fashioned will win the race, I selected Wise Kid from a pace perspective hoping he can pick up some pieces and run second. If Old Fashioned falters than who knows? Wise Kid will get a good pace to run at and has improved with each of his 3 starts.
The Result: It looked like a replay of the Southwest early as Silver City cut out a 46.0 half mile with Old Fashioned breathing down his neck. As they turned for home Old Fashioned kicked clear and appeared to be home free but Win Willy closed from the far outside and scored for Mac Robertson at 56-1 odds! This horse broke his maiden at Canterbury Park last summer and also scored in an optional claimer sprinting at Oaklawn earlier in the meet. Congratulations to Mac Robertson and everyone who selected this horse in the contest!
Maximum Points: Win Willy 1,968
Maximum Score: 5,162
My Score: 1,134
Race 12: This was an OC50K/N1X for 3yo at 5.5f that was switched from the turf to the main track. Several scratches in the field including my selection so I ended up with the post time favorite who was Valiancy from post 13.
The Result: Valiancy won it at even money over Gallatin Forest and Pacific Tsunami. Nothing to report here after the previous race!
Maximum Points: Valiancy 96
Maximum Score: 5,258
My Score: 1,230
Summary: Win Willy. was obviously the key today as his score in the Rebel at 50-1 was worth nearly 2,000 points. The Canterbury connections may have led a few people to use this horse as a flyer but I couldn’t see it. What’s next for Win Willy? If you found that one somehow you have a shot as the winning score should be in the 3,000 point range. That’s a huge move up the board if you figured that out. Next week we go to Turfway Park and there are no bonus races on tap. Good luck next week!