Saturday August 7th, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:45 pm (Local Time)
Name: West Virginia Derby Grade: II
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES
Toh’s Grey Cat
Currently I’m keeping a very close eye on two horses that are at very different stages of their careers – as it just so happens both of them are running this weekend.
The first is Zenyatta the undefeated Breeder’s Cup Classic champion who attempts her 18th straight victory in Del Mar this weekend. This is probably her last race in California and if everything goes as planned I’ll be right there along the fence as she comes home to keep her undefeated record alive.
The second horse I’m keeping a watchful eye on is Concord Point (#7) who will be the odds on favorite in this year’s West Virginia Derby. After Concord dominated at the Iowa Derby I suspected he might show up in last week’s Haskell Invitational, where he could compete against Preakness winner Lookin’ At Lucky and Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, however it is possible he’s not ready for that kind of talent just yet…..after the WV Derby we should have a clearer picture.
From what I’ve seen if Concord Point gives his best effort there isn’t a horse in this field who can give him much of a challenge…however, Concord Point does have a history of “bouncing” (meaning he tends to win every other race, instead of several races in a row).
And I do think there are a couple interesting upset possibilities, Nacho Friend (#1) could be one of them. In the past six races Nacho has piled up 1 win, 1 place and 1 show. He hasn’t been particularly successful against the higher tiered horses, but he does have some experience at this distance. I like Nacho to be in the mix, but I don’t see him as a contender for a win.
Thiskyhasnolimit (#2) finished a distant second behind Concord Point in their last outing. Similar to Nacho I like this horse to be a contender for everything except the win – one thing to keep in mind, this horse has a win and a place in two attempts in the mud….so if the rain starts falling in the Appalachians, keep this mudder in mind.
While we’ve got mudders in our eye – Not Abroad (#4) also has a win and a place in two sloppy outings. Not Abroad might have been bettered named as Not ABride – because he’s finished in the bridesmaid spot (2nd place) for five out of his last six races. Consistent horse, but I don’t think he’s going to win this Saturday.
Skipshot (#3) is an interesting prospect – he recently won the Swaps Stakes and in doing so kept Santa Anita Derby victor Sidney’s Candy out of the winner’s circle. Then again, in his last race against Concord Point he finished a very mediocre 5th. Skipshot is the kind of horse who could win this race of finish 4th or 5th ??? Bit of a wildcard here.
Exhi (#5) is the second favorite in this race going off at 7/2. Exhi will attempt to continue his four race winning streak and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Concord Point were closer in odds as they break from the gate. His last race the Victoria Park Stakes matched this distance and everything points to this horse having a solid outing this Saturday.
Gunfighter (#6) is currently sitting at a very intriguing 10/1. This horse in particular presents a number of problems for the favorite Concord Point and Exhi. All three of these horses usually contend for the early lead – and all three of them usually lack success when they don’t obtain the lead by the half mile maker. Its possible that any three of these horses could set up an early pace that will lead to them being spent well before the finish line.
Shookstown Road and Toh’s Grey Cat are the true longshots of this race going off at 30/1 and 50/1 respectively. Both horses are getting their first looks at substantial talent and neither of them have been particularly impressive against the lesser talents they’ve faced.
Even if the three speeders are spent going into the final turn, I don’t think either of these outside horses can take advantage of it….these two would need a LOT of help.
While I acknowledge that the early speed could be a trap in this race, I like Concord Point to win – his Iowa Derby win was just too impressive for me to ignore. I like Exhi to finish second with Thiskyhasnolimit to take a photo finish 3rd.
Closing Speed likes: 7-5-2
My musical selection for this weekend is an artist who was born and raised in West Virginia and is one of my personal favorites. While John Denver’s Almost Heaven may be claimed by the state of my birth….it is Bill Withers who is truly the voice and soul of that state.
(Incidentally this song was sampled by Blackstreet for a song called No Diggity)