Monday, August 8, 2011

West Virginia Derby - Recap

West Virginia Derby - Recap

Prayer for Relief
Rush Now
Sherriff Cogburn

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Infrattini, Awesome Bet, Little Drama, Dreamy Kid, Skipping the Score, Loranger Native

Scratched: Fred High

Prayer for Relief continues to impress!!! He’s won 4 out of his last 5 races and his most recent loss was a second place finish at a new and extended distance. In both the Iowa and West Virginia Derbies he scored the #1 post position and he's making the most from the rail – he still has time for another Derby (possibly the Pennsylvania Derby) and he may put himself in contention for the Breeder’s Cup Classic.

With 1/16 mile left in the race I thought Rush Now was a lock for the victory – I was extremely impressed with how well Prayer for Relief closed in this race.

Let me assure you that when I write that I’m scratching a horse off my list (Rush Now) that it  isn’t code that you should make sure and bet on him! Despite any evidence in the past, to the contrary.

My Da Vinci Code-esque style of analyzing horses aside….I had read that Rush Now is a horse with quite a bit of ability, and the West Virginia Derby was an excellent showcase for him. He may be the kind of horse that puts it together in the next few months and goes on a winning streak.

I rarely ask you to watch a race twice….but after you watch Prayer for Relief seal an impressive’ve got to go back and watch Infrattini’s come from behind run….when the announcer says, near the beginning of the race, that Infrattini is WAAAAYYY in the back…you’ll see two horses barely able to stay on the screen…..Infrattini is neither of those horses….he’s still several lengths behind them. As they head for home you’ll see him in the back closing – and then he goes to the far outside and does a remarkable job just to finish with a show.

Speaking of the announcer...his accent isn't like any West Virginia dialect I remember.....

Awesome Bet and Little Drama finished about where I thought they might….these are solid horses that could blossom with even more race experience.

Dreamy Kid was a big disappointment to me – what struck me as unusual was the sprint out of the gate and into the middle of the pack at the first turn. It just didn’t appear like he was running “his” race, this is a horse who has had quite a bit of success staying towards the back of the pack….Joseph Talamo is an excellent jockey and I’m sure they had their reasons --- but I think this horse is much more capable than a 7th place finish against this group.

I’m not a big fan of horses traveling across the country ---- so that also may have been the issue for Dreamy Kid.

Video to follow:

Friday, August 5, 2011

West Virginia Derby

Mountaineer Park
Saturday August 6th  , 2011
Name: West Virginia Derby Grade: II
Purse: $750,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Prayer For Relief
Little Drama
Awesome Bet
Rush Now
Sherriff Cogburn
Skipping the Score
Dreamy Kid
Loranger Native
Fred High

For the past few years the West Virginia Derby, and it’s very attractive purse of 750,000, have attracted a few top three year olds – including a few Kentucky Derby winners. Unfortunately that isn’t "as true" this year….as the headliners (and favorites) only have modest derby or stakes wins --- however both of these favorites have beaten solid horses and could pose as contenders in the upcoming Breeder’s Cup!

The two favorites for the West Virginia Derby are Iowa Derby winner #1 Prayer for Relief and Swaps Stakes winner #8 Dreamy Kid.

In his last race – Prayer for Relief enjoyed the same rail spot he’ll have this Saturday and he used it with aplomb. He remained slightly off the pace and as they hit the home stretch he was positioned without any traffic in front of him – and he strode to with winner's circle strongly.

#6 Sherriff Cogburn challenged Prayer for Relief in the final furlongs but faded into a second place finish.

#8 Dreamy Kid will also be a favorite in this race – and his style will (most likely) be in contrast to Prayer for Relief – as Dreamy Kid will likely hang back in the middle or back of the pack and make his late push shortly before the last turn.

In his last race Dreamy Kid stole a victory, with a bob of the nose, over Coil – Coil recently won the Haskell Invitational defeating Preakness Winner Shackleford and Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice……so while the favorites here at the WV Derby may be relatively unknown….that doesn’t mean they can’t run.

#2 Infrattini has won one race in his last four starts, but placed in the remaining three. At 8/1 odds and a solid post position – he may be worth a look. The distance in this race is a slight concern for him as he’s never raced beyond 1 1/16 – but he’s not the only one in this field looking at a new distance.

#3 Little Drama has finished in the money four times out of his last five races – however most of his finishes have been for a show. I don’t like his chances for victory here, but he’s a solid look if you’re betting a trifecta.

#4 Awesome Bet was the recent winner in the Barbaro Stakes – and has won three out of his last four races – his trip in the Lone Star Derby was a very disappointing 7th  - If Awesome Bet can run his race – I think he’s got a shot to upset.

#5 Rush Now recently finished 3rd behind Awesome Bet in the Barbaro Stakes and 3rd in the Philmont behind winner Little Drama. A number of racing experts really like this horse….he’s the horse that seemingly does everything well….but win. I’m scratching him off my list.

#7 Skipping the Stone has two races on his resume and both were 6th place finishes. He hasn’t raced since January and he’s going at 50-1. For this long of odds I like that he’s a three year old we haven’t seen since January….meaning he could have matured into a very competitive horse for this field….and no one would know it except his trainer. However it’s his first time back and he didn’t have a lot of race experience to begin with – it’s a good long shot bet……but he's a long shot for a very good reasons.

The other long shot is 30-1 West Virginia bred - #10 Fred High – who (according to my material) will be making his racing debut in this derby. I suppose one could argue he’s never lost a race….but my guess is you won’t be able to say that at the end of this derby.

#9 Loranger Native at 12-1 odds is an interesting wild card to me. He’s had five career races and finished in the money in all five – he returned to racing for a second place finish in his last race in June, but that was after nearly a four month lay-off. The combination of having one race to shake off the rust, and yet relatively fresh legs and a solid record makes him an intriguing 12-1 bet.

In conclusion – I’m not crazy about the three top horses Dreamy Kid, Prayer for Relief, and Sherriff Cogburn traveling across the country for this race – while 12-1 Loranger Native is merely taking a small road trip over country roads ….. (yeah I went there for the West Virginia Derby, even though Bill Withers Lean On Me should be the state song because he’s from West Virginia instead of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. – aka John Denver who was from New Mexico….but I digress….)

Everything looks like it’s working for Prayer For Relief and I like him for the win, followed by Awesome Bet, and a stuck in traffic at the turn Dreamy Kid.

Closing Speed likes: 1-4-8

However from the betting standpoint – Infrattini, Little Drama and Loranger Native all of enough talent to make their 8-1 / 8-1 and 12-1 odds worth a very solid consideration in either a exacta or win/place bets.

And yes we’re closing with West Virginia’s Son Bill Withers…..