Friday, April 23, 2010

Derby Trial Stakes

Churchill Downs
Saturday April 24, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:17 pm
Name: Derby Trial Stakes Grade: III
Purse: $200,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Game On Dude
Soaring Empire
Pleasant Prince
Hurricane Ike
Miner’s Reserve
Wow Wow Wow
Hear Ye Hear Ye

The Derby Trial Stakes primarily serves as a warm-up to the Preakness in three weeks – however in a few cases a couple of these horses, should they pull off a victory here, could turn right around and run in the Kentucky Derby next Saturday. It’s unlikely but it is possible.

The favorite in this outing will be the very explosive Eightyfiveinafifty. Had it not been for a strange equipment malfunction in the Whirlaway Stakes a few months ago – 85ina50 could have possibly already secured his spot for next week’s race.

His morning odds are 8 to 5 (kind of fitting if you think about it) – and everything about this race plays in his favor. There’s mild competition in this field – but a 1 mile race is a tailor made distance for this horse who will detonate out of the gate and set the course on fire in the early quarter mile – And once he establishes the lead – he’s tough to catch.

The two obstacles he’ll need to overcome is his outside post – which does present a challenge because of how much he needs that early lead – and the second most challenging factor for this horse is that…..he’s kind of an immature horse….i.e. he might be a little on the dumb side.

He reminds me a little of the Tim Robbins character “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham –

In that he’s an incredibly gifted horse physically, however in his last race he completely lost focus in the early going (staring at the infield instead of straight ahead) and it’s that kind of lack of focus that could cost this horse what should be a relatively easy win for him. Could that lost easy win be this Saturday?

Hurricane Ike (#5) finished a fading second behind Eightyfiveinafifty in their last race, the Bay Shore Stakes – currently he sits at 5/1 which I think is a little too generous for this horse – 8/1 or 10/1 might have me interested.

Pleasant Prince (#4) lost only by a whisker in the Florida Derby finishing 2nd behind winner Ice Box – and while his Florida outing was impressive he followed it up with a less than stellar 7th place in the Blue Grass Stakes.

This will be Pleasant Prince’s third race in little more than a month – and it seems to me that Ownership here is pushing for this horse to contend in at least one of the Triple Crown races. The big question is – did this horse just not “take” to the Blue Grass track or is this horse just too spent for a great outing here? I think you bet with caution here.

For many in this field this will be a rematch of the Florida Derby including Game On Dude who finished 7th, immediately followed by Soaring Empire (8th) and finally Miner’s Reserve who finished next to last in 10th.

I really thought Soaring Empire might turn it on right about now and blossom into something formidable, and with three year old horses it could still happen, but with Game On Dude, Soaring Empire and Miner’s Reserve I don’t expect any trips to the winners circle this Saturday.

Privilaged (#3) traveled from an unimpressive stint in California and finished 3rd in the recent Swale Stakes race (#8 Hear Ye Hear Ye finished 4th)– This horse will need some help – but at 15-1 he’s an interesting prospect. I’m not necessarily thrilled with his ability as much as I am unmoved by the rest of the field – such as……

Wow Wow Wow who has simply been Bad Bad Bad in his last three races finishing from most recent to least recent 10th, 8th, 8th, and 5th. He did win a 1 mile dirt race last November but let’s just say I don’t think Thanksgiving is going to come again this April. Wow Wow Wow is exactly what I would say if he wins.

And finally there’s (#9) Aikenite who also finished very poorly, 9th, in the Blue Grass Stakes. However in the Fountain of Youth Stakes he finished 3rd behind Eskendereya and Jackson Bend – and if his current odds of 6/1 remain I think he’s a good pick for second place.

In closing I think this race is Eightyfiveinafifty’s to lose – I think there’s a chance Pleasant Prince (if he’s not fatigued) could challenge him – but even then this horse is just dominate at 1 mile.

Closing Speed likes 10-4-5

For your entertainment pleasure - the song Nuke can't figure out the correct lyrics too - Try A Little Tenderness, by Mr. Otis Redding.

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