Thursday, April 8, 2010

Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn Park

Saturday April 10, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 4:47 pm
Name: Arkansas Derby Grade: 1
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Super Saver
Noble’s Promise
Northern Giant
Uh Oh Bango
New Madrid
Line Of David

I think the best way to preview the Arkansas Derby is to put these horses into three categories – similar to the Good the Bad and the Ugly, these horses might be described as the Early, the Late and….well the Ugly.

I’ll begin with the last category “The Ugly” which I believe properly surmises the prospects of New Madrid and Berberis. Neither of these horses have any experience with the kind of distance they’ll be running this Saturday or any experience against the level of talent in this field. I just haven’t seen anything in their past performances that makes me believe either of these horses pose any threat.

I’ll move on to three horses that make up the group I’m calling “The Early”. Super Saver, Uh Oh Bango, and Pulsion will mostly likely compete for the early lead.

Super Saver scored an excellent post position (#1) while Pulsion received the absolute worst (#9), for their style of racing. However I believe Pulsion could pose an interesting threat to Super Saver’s chances in this race.

In Pulsion’s last two races (The Florida Derby and The Fountain of Youth) he set a hot tempo that he was unable to sustain for anything over a mile, and the results were the same in both races – 6th place.

However I believe in The Florida Derby his early challenge to Rule caused Rule (another horse who likes to be a front runner) to get out of a comfortable tempo, exert too much energy early, and it left him “spent” in the final stretch allowing Ice Box and Pleasant Prince the opportunity to fly by him.

The morning line has Super Saver as the slight favorite over Noble’s Promise, and that might be due to having last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Calvin Borel on board. As the race unfolds it will be very interesting to see how Borel and Super Saver deal with both Uh Oh Bango and Pulsion challenging for the early pace.

If Super Saver extends himself so much as to win the battle of the early – I think he’ll definitely lose the War to “the Late group” of Dublin and Noble’s Promise.

For Noble’s Promise, Dublin, and Uh Oh Bango this is the rematch from last month’s Rebel Stakes where they finished second, third and fourth behind Lookin’ For Lucky.

The best news that Noble’s Promise could have received this past week is that Lookin’ for Lucky wasn’t in this race, because Noble’s Promise has finished immediately behind the Lucky one in his last three races. Unless Noble's Promise has a hang up in this outing (like Lucky did in the Santa Anita Derby) he's my "favorite" to win this race. I think he's got the most ability and this race sets up very nicely for him.

Dublin is a horse that I believe showed a lot of promise very early in his 2 year old career but hasn’t matured at the same pace as many of his contemporaries, and in fact a number of horses who didn’t show any early promise may have passed him by in ability. It’s interesting that two Kentucky Derby analysts have Dublin in their Top 5, one has him in their Top 6 and two analysts don’t have Dublin even in their top 10. I tend to agree with the latter two opinions.

In contrast to Dublin one horse that intrigues me, because he does seem to be improving with each race is Line Of David. I’m not going to make any bold predictions here (like he’s going to win) but I think he could sneak into the Top 3 – a lot depends on how much “juice” Super Saver and the Early bunch still have left as they wheel around the final turn.

And finally there’s Northern Giant….yeah I know I wrote three categories of the Early, the Late and the Ugly and then proceeded to technically give you three categories + 2 more horses….but if we just go with my original thought I get to put this in my blog –

I say worth it.

Anyway one final horse to look at is Northern Giant – who finished 2nd in the Lane’s End with Calvin Borel as his jockey. I think Northern Giant also has a chance to crack the top 3 – because he’ll be carrying less weight (118) then the “big” three (Super Saver / Noble’s Promise / Dublin), he’s the only horse with any experience at this distance (2nd place finish in the Lane's End) and if his odds remain at 8/1 – he might look good in an exacta bet.

In conclusion I like Northern Giant to squeeze in-between winner Noble’s Promise and third place finisher Super Saver.

I will say this I don’t like betting against Calvin Borel (still really stinging from Mine That Bird last year) – but that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Closing Speed likes 3 /4 / 1

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