by The OracleKentucky Derby day is finally here as we watch and wager on the 13th and final contest at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is clearly the signature event today as Big Brown tries to buck several historical trends to wear the Roses from post position 20. Colonel John rolls in from California with plenty of compliments from the on-track pundits at Churchill this week. We will know the answer shortly after 5:00 Central! I’m not in contention for the overall points, so I made my selections with the hope of contending for the weekly prize. Good Luck in the final installment of Road to Kentucky 2008! The main track today – sloppy; turf course – yielding.
Race 1: This was an Alw67000N2X for 3+ at 1mile. I went to the outside horse, Catmantoo, as he exits two consecutive second place finishes and is 8-1 in the morning line. The favorite is Biker Boy, who dominated in his maiden victory at Gulfstream Park back in March.
The Result: Favored Biker Boy drew off and won easily at 8/5, followed by Bullet Rain and Catmantoo. The favorite wins the first at Churchill.
Maximum Points: Biker Boy 106Maximum Score: 106My Score: 30
Race 2: This was an Alw64000N1X for 3yo fillies at 6f. My original selection scratched so I moved to the outside and chose Loving Vindication, a 725K purchase trained by Robert Frankel and ridden by Edgar Prado. No price here as he is currently 9/5 on the board with the strong connections and pedigree.
The Result: Lenawee pulls the upset at 16-1 as the fractions were hot on the front end with a sub-21 first quarter and the half-mile in 44 and change. Looney Lynda rallied for second and Grand Obsession finished third. The winner Lenawee woke up in her last start at Keeneland and continued her winning ways today. My selection contested the early pace but blew the turn and fell out of contention.
Maximum Points: Lenawee 528Maximum Score: 634My Score: 30
Race 3: This was an OC80K/N$Y for 3+ at 7f. This looks like a two horse race on paper between Spin Master and First Defence, and I selected First Defence off the layoff for Frankel and Castellano. Hopefully Frankel’s runner will outperform his horse from Race 2! Spin Master opened surprisingly dead on the board at 9/2!
The Result: First Defence held off a game Forest Attack by a head and Vicarian finished third. Spin Master grabbed the lead but was finished at the top of the stretch. The 6/5 favorite gets it done in Race 3.
Maximum Points: First Defence 96Maximum Score: 730My Score: 126
Race 4: This was an Msw61K for 3+ at 1m1/16. I selected Screen to Screen, who has made most of his career starts in California with the exception of a second place finish in the Winstar Derby at Sunland Park. This runner has three seconds from five lifetime starts and looks overdue for a win.
The Result: Cherokee Artist prevailed at 7/2 over Scibelli and You and I Forever. Scibelli ran a very game second at 22-1 and was the top point scoring horse in the race. My selection Screen to Screen was in a great position entering the turn but went backwards from there.
Maximum Points: Scibelli 286Maximum Score: 1,016My Score: 126
Race 5: This was the 74th running of the Grade II Churchill Downs for 4+ at 7f. This was a wide open race; I selected Junior College shipping in from Oaklawn Park with an 11 for 24 lifetime record. His last outing at Churchill was a freakish front running victory at 9-1 odds last November.
The Result: Elite Squadron grabbed the early lead from the rail and wired the field at 4-1, setting some very strong fractions on the front end. Noonmark rallied for second and Hewitts was third. My selection was in a good spot along the inside, had a bit of trouble on the turn, and was outfinished for the minor awards. So far it has been difficult to make up ground on the front running horses!
Maximum Points: Elite Squadron 204Maximum Score: 1,220My Score: 126
Race 6: This was the 53rd running of the La Troienne for 3yo fillies at 71/2f. I selected Keep the Peace, a front running type exiting two Grade II races at Keeneland and Gulfstream Park. She should be a strong factor on this speed favoring track and is a decent price on the board at 9/2 odds currently.
The Result: Keep the Peace and Game Face hit the wire together, but it was favored Game Face who prevailed narrowly on the inside. Game was the 9/5 favorite in here. Tiz to Dream finished third. Another front running victory on the main track.
Maximum Points: Game Face 114Maximum Score: 1,334My Score: 204
Race 7: This was the 19th running of the Grade III Churchill Distaff Turf Mile for f&m3+. Dreaming of Anna should be the one to beat after her two solid front running victories at Tampa Bay Downs. I leaned another direction and selected Danzon from the Pletcher barn in the hope that Dreaming of Anna doesn’t run her “A” race. If she does, they are all running for second in my opinion.
The Result: Speed continues to dominate on the turf the past two days as Bayou’s Lassie pulls the front running upset at 12-1 odds. I didn’t see anyone besides Dreaming of Anna on the early lead so this one surprised me quite a bit. Dreaming of Anna finished second. My selection, Danzon, never reached contention.
Maximum Points: Bayou’s Lassie 386Maximum Score: 1,720My Score: 204
Race 8: This was the 22nd running of the Grade I Humana Distaff for f&m 4+ at 7f. I selected Miraculous Miss, but the way the track has been playing I’m not expecting much from this pick. I need a bigtime speed duel to develop for any chance whatsoever.
The Result: Closers took down the top two spots as I got the speed duel I was looking for, unfortunately my closer was not among them as Intangaroo at 14-1 scored over 16-1 Baroness Thatcher. A front runner Hysterical Lady finished third. My selection finished fourth at 6-1. Perhaps this race gives the Kentucky Derby closers a little bit of hope!
Maximum Points: Intangaroo 492Maximum Score: 2,212My Score: 204
Race 9: This was the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic for 3+ at 1m1/8 on the turf. I felt pretty good about selecting Thorn Song as he is a front running horse on a turf course that has been favoring speed for the past two days. He needs to handle Einstein, a turf monster who has been firing consistently good races while defeating Thorn Song in his last two starts.
The Result: Thorn Song grabbed the early lead like I was expecting but offered little resistance around the far turn and it was Einstein at 2-1 who ultimately prevailed over Out of Control and Artiste Royal. Einstein scored as the 2-1 favorite.
Maximum Points: Einstein 130Maximum score: 2,342My score: 204
Race 10: This was the 134th Running of the Kentucky Derby. Undefeated and favored Big Brown breaks from post position 20 as he tries to buck several historical trends that are not in his favor. He looked super impressive winning the Florida Derby and has won all three of his starts easily. I selected Colonel John as I felt the California horses had been doing very well against the Midwest horses and I liked the workout he showed at Churchill downs this week. After the top two, I thought it was very difficult to separate several other contenders in the race.
The Result: Big Brown once again proved to his detractors that they are flat-out wrong about him as he galloped four wide around the track and cruised to a 4 length victory over Eight Belles and Denis of Cork. Big Brown looks almost unstoppable as he has the tactical speed to lie close to the pace and move at will against his competition. Perhaps if he gets stuck down on the inside he might encounter some adversity, but he looks like a legitimate Triple Crown contender to me if he stays healthy. Eight Belles was the top point scorer in the race for finishing second. She tragically broke down past the wire and was euthanized on the track after her excellent performance today. My selection, Colonel John, had a bit of trouble early, made a wide bid around the far turn and finished evenly for sixth. It should be noted that the synthetic surface runners finished 6th, 9th, 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th. Not a good sign in the first year with so many preps being run on the synthetic. Time will tell if this affects what trainers do with their horses prior to the Derby.
Maximum Points: Eight Belles 510Maximum Score: 2,852My Score: 204
Race 11: This was an Alw64000 for 3+ at 1m1/16. My selection was Manager Boire, although my confidence level is pretty low with today’s results! The heavy favorite is Sonoma Cat coming in from the Fairgrounds at 6/5 odds.
The Result: Admirality scores from just off the pace at 7/2, with Mambo in Seattle second and Lemon Custard third. The favorite weakened late to miss the board and my selection never contended.
Maximum Points: Admirality 168Maximum Score: 3,020My Score: 204
Race 12: This was a Msw61000 for f&m 3+ at 6f. The final race of the contest and it’s been a very long road! I selected Quiet Mover with Albarado aboard as a possible price play from Fairgrounds. The heavy favorite was Pious Ashley at even money.
The Result: Pious Ashley scored a convincing win at even money with Maiara second and E Major finishing third. My selection ran fourth to cap off a very difficult day for me. The favorite scored to end the Road to Kentucky contest 2008.
Maximum Points: Pious Ashley 102Maximum Score: 3,122My Score: 204
Summary: It’s going to be difficult for the chasers to make up much ground today, so if you were already in the top 10 there’s a good chance you stayed there. The Derby didn’t produce any big point opportunities for the people hanging around in the top 100. The weekly prize might see somebody with 2,000 points this week. Congratulations to everyone that cashed either in the weekly contest or in the overall point total. It’s a very strong feat of handicapping to finish high on the board in this format. For the rest of us, there’s always next year!