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Road to Kentucky Week 8

The contest moves to Hawthorne today with bonus races at Aqueduct and Santa Anita. Interestingly enough, the winners of the Wood Memorial and the Santa Anita Derby have only won the Kentucky Derby once each over the past twenty years (Fusaichi Pegasus won the Wood in 2000 and Sunday Silence won the Santa Anita Derby in 1989) although also-rans in these races have done quite well on the first Saturday in May. Wood favorite Eskendereya needs more earnings to solidify his spot in the Derby field and Lookin at Lucky is already set to go out on the West Coast. The Illinois Derby is a pretty evenly matched field but probably not the top caliber 3-year-olds are represented. Perhaps someone will jump up and run a big one today ala War Emblem who parlayed an Illinois Derby win into a Kentucky Derby win in 2002. Good luck with your selections! The track condition today at Hawthorne is good.

Race 1: This is a Clm18000 for 4+ at 1m1/16. I selected Sword and Shield (ML 5-1) who ships in from Tampa and has been running in some key races on that circuit. He has two prior wins at Hawthorne.

The Result: Oughta Be Mine won it as the 7-1 longest shot in the field over Sword and Shield (9/2) and Rylee River (5/2). The winner was making his third start off the layoff and dropping in class but was beaten 15 lengths in his previous start.

Maximum Points: Oughta Be Mine 274
Maximum Score: 274
My Score: 96

Race 2: This is a Clm5000N3L for f&m 3+ at 6f. I selected Cart’s Forty Nine (ML 5-1) who is extremely fast early and breaks from the outside post. She returns from a 4 month layoff and she ran a good second at Hoosier off a similar layoff last year at 9-1. Two late scratches reduce the field to six horses.

The Result: Keys to Anna (7/2) split horses late and got up over Cart’s Forty Nine (2-1) and Trix of Trade (1-1). The winner has been improving since the trainer change to Mendoza.

Maximum Points: Keys to Anna 158
Maximum Score: 432
My Score: 158

Race 3: This is a Clm4000 for 4+ at 1m1/16. I selected Nick Bob (ML 8-1) who has good tactical speed and is third off the layoff. He has been defeated by a few rivals in this race but does own three wins at Hawthorne from eleven starts. His last race over a “good” track resulted in a win at 5-1 odds.

The Result: Wayoff closed for the win at 2-1 over Monhocracy (5/2) and Nick Bob (6-1). The winner notched his eighth win at the distance from seventeen starts.

Maximum Points: Wayoff 132
Maximum Score: 564
My Score: 198

Race 4: This is a Clm10000 for f&m 4+ at 1m70. I selected Stormy April (ML 5-1) making her second start off the layoff with a drop in class. She has three wins from six starts at Hawthorne.

The Result: Another closer wins from the rail as Umma Umma gets the money at 5/2. Wildwood Domain (9-1) was up for second and Stormy April (5/2) finished third. Lone speed failed again.

Maximum Points: Umma Umma 144
Maximum Score: 708
My Score: 228

Race 5: This is an Alw28000N2X for 3+ Ill breds at 1m1/16. I selected Pleasantlysurprise (ML 5-1) who exits a win as the favorite and switches to jockey Karlsson. He might be better off tracking the early leaders on this track although he does have good early speed.

The Result: Denham held off a pair of longshots to prevail at 3-1 over Creole’s Affair (10-1) and Where’s Winston (9-1). My selection tired through the lane at 5/2. The track still looks pretty dead to me with slowish times.

Maximum Points: Denham 168
Maximum Score: 876
My Score: 228

Race 6: This is a Clm4000 for 4+ at 6f. I selected Bigsurprisemister (ML 12-1) who switches back to jockey Thornton who won on the horse three starts back at 14-1.

The Result: Five Star John outfinished the heavy favorite Nafir’s Lad to win at 5-1. Nafir’s Lad (4/5) finished second and Mr. Canyon Run (19-1) was third. This was the highest point horse of the day so far. The winner had also won at 8-1 two starts back. My selection made a mild move for fourth at 9-1.

Maximum Points: Five Star John 214
Maximum Score: 1,090
My Score: 228

Wood Memorial: This is the 86th running of the G1 Wood Memorial at 1m1/8. Eskendereya is the horse to beat but for contest purposes I think you need to go another direction. I’m not sure I would bet real money against Eskendereya right now. I did select Schoolyard Dreams (ML 5-1) who had two good efforts at Tampa Bay Downs. He might have moved a little early in the Tampa Bay Derby and was just nosed out at the wire. More patient tactics may be on tap for today. As they head to post Eskendereya is 2/5 and Awesome Act is 5/2.

The Result: Eskendereya likely goes to Louisville as the Derby favorite after another impressive performance winning by open lengths at 2/5. Jackson Bend (7-1) finished second and Awesome Act (5/2) was third. The winner simply tracked a slow pace and blew them away when asked. Pletcher’s top colt fired a large bullet today as expected. Schoolyard Dreams was fourth best today at 8-1.

Maximum Points: Eskendereya 148
Maximum Score: 1,238
My Score: 228

Race 7: This is the 53rd running of the G3 Illinois Derby at 1m1/8. I selected Turf Melody (ML 6-1) who might find this track to his liking the way speed hasn’t been holding. He exits a fourth place finish in the Gotham Stakes and finished about three lengths behind race rival Yawanna Twist who is currently on the board at 7/5.

The Result: The favorites dominated this one as American Lion (3-1) won it over Yawanna Twist (6/5) with a large margin back to third place Backtalk (7/2). My selection finished fourth at 11-1. The winner is a Tiznow colt who made his first start over a dirt surface.

Maximum Points: American Lion 304
Maximum Score: 1,542
My score: 228

Santa Anita Derby: This is the 73rd running of the G1 Santa Anita Derby at 1m1/8. I selected Skipshot (ML 15-1) who ships in from Golden Gate for Hollendorfer. He is on the upswing having won three in a row and gets tested for class today. He fired a very strong bullet workout at Santa Anita before the race. Lookin at Lucky is the heavy odds on favorite as they head to post.

The Result: Sidney’s Candy sailed wire to wire at 7/2 with a closing Setsuko (12-1) second and a troubled Lookin at Lucky (4/5) third. Lookin at Lucky had to check sharply on the turn costing him position. My selection was second in midstretch but faded out of it late at 25-1. Sidney’s Candy looks pretty strong. Not many horses draw away on the polytrack like he did today.

Maximum Points: Sidney’s Candy 360
Maximum Score: 1,902
My score: 228

Race 8: This is an Alw26000N1X for f&m 3+ Ill breds at 6f. I selected Our Girl Magic (ML 15-1) who returns from a four month layoff with Karlsson aboard.

The Result: Stealth Woman prevailed at 3/5 over Raspberry Jam (6-1) and Shopping Cart (9-1). The track has dried out and speed is doing much better. My selection showed brief early speed and faded at 17-1.

Maximum Points: Stealth Woman 84
Maximum Score: 1,986
My Score: 228

Race 9: This is the Cryptoclearance50K for 4+ at 1m1/16. I selected Marilyn’s Guy (ML 5-1) shipping in from Oaklawn Park. He finished second to Win Willy back in January and has won 3 of 7 at Hawthorne.

The Result: Shadowbdancing scored a front running victory at 2-1 over P D Q Kiddo (9-1) and Marilyn’s Guy (5/2). Shadowbdancing was lone speed and he took advantage.

Maximum Points: Shadowbdancing 144
Maximum Score: 2,130
My Score: 258

Race 10: This is an Msw25K for 3+ at 6f. I selected Cherokee Lord (ML 5-1) returning from a four month layoff and making his first start as a three year old. He showed some promise last year with a runner up finish at 9-1.

The Result: One Slick Cat sailed wire to wire at 5-1 over Mike’s Gust O (26-1) and Cherokee Lord (7/2). Mike’s Gust O got the most contest points for his second place finish.

Maximum Points: Mike’s Gust O 304
Maximum Score: 2,434
My Score: 308

Race 11: This is a Clm6000 for 4+ at 6f. I selected Red River Aggie (ML 8-1) who ships back to Hawthorne after two starts on the Turfway Polytrack.

The Result: Longest shot of the day Cowboy Shoes (11-1) won it over Doughnut Man (5-1) and J. Pa (13-1). My selection tracked and faded at 5-1.

Maximum Points: Cowboy Shoes 430
Maximum Score: 2,864
My Score: 308

Summary: It was another good day if you are in a strong position in the overall standings because there weren’t any huge prices. Only three races all day generated more than 300 points so I would expect a winning score in the 1,500 – 1,800 range just like last week. Eskendereya will be the deserving Derby favorite off his last two races. He is making good horses look very ordinary. Lookin at Lucky and Sidney’s Candy are the best of the West and we will see the final preps for Noble’s Promise and Dublin next week in the Arkansas Derby. The target is Eskendereya right now.

The Oracle