Saturday, April 13, 2013

2013 Arkansas Derby

OAKLAWN PARK - April 13, 2013
Race 10 - 5:28 PM
Arkansas Derby   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance - One And One Eighth Miles

1 – Carve
2 – War Academy
3 – Divine Ambition
4 – Falling Sky
5 – Den’s Legacy
6 – Heaven's Runway
7 – Texas Bling
8 - Frac Daddy
9 – Overanalyze
10 – Oxbow

The Arkansas Derby serves as a rematch of the Rebel Stakes for a healthy bounty of these horses, including #10 Oxbow, who finished 2nd, #5 Den’s Legacy (3rd), #7 Texas Bling (4th), and #1 Carve (6th).

Rebel Stakes:

To my surprise the horse getting all of the Morning Line Love is #2 War Academy – who has Oaklawn buzzing with comparisons to last year’s super contender Bodemeister.

Respect the Buzz!
Last year after only three relatively minor prep races, Bodemeister successfully won the Arkansas Derby (before finishing 2nd in the KY Derby and Preakness). 

War Academy enters the fray with two allowance race victories, and a fourth place finish in the Grade II San Vicente --- so why is he the favorite again??

One thing I have learned to respect is a certain “buzz” about a promising three year old horse – and it wouldn’t surprise me if the “promise” of War Academy comes to fruition (when you hear this kind of buzz you should listen)…..but I certainly don’t see this horse as a 2-1 favorite, especially considering that most of the field has been better seasoned here at Oaklawn (see Rebel Stakes), and this will be War Academy’s first attempt at this track.

In fact unlike a number of other Prep Races --- (I’m looking at you Florida Derby & Wood Memorial) – I see the Arkansas Derby as being a wide open race.

#3 Divine Ambition is starting at 20-1 – but finished with an impressive 2nd place finish in the Rushaway Stakes. He has two victories in five attempts and with a little luck could certainly contend here (that is unless he's running in the Bluegrass Stakes -- he is entered in both races).

Strangely Sensitively Cheetah is
slightly concerned about the
Religious Theme of 3,4 and 6....
#4 Falling Sky returns from a third place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby--- finishing well behind “The Monster” Verrazano – and a scrappy Java’s War (who will be contending in the Bluegrass Stakes). 

Falling Sky is going off at 10-1 and I’m not convinced he isn’t better prepared than the favorite.

#6 Heaven’s Runway is no chump. In the Southwest Stakes he finished behind Super Ninety Nine and Fear the Kitten – but ahead of Rebel Stakes winner Will Take Charge (finished 6th). Keep in mind the Southwest Stakes was a very muddy affair that day – and Heaven’s Runway could surprise if the ground is firm.  He may be the early speed in this race – and if he can muster the distance could be a lot of (profitable) trouble at 30-1!!

#8 Frac Daddy is coming off a disappointing 7th place finish in the Florida Derby – it pains me to write this because I was a big fan of Frac Daddy’s….um….Daddy – Scat Daddy – but Frac Daddy doesn’t appear to have enough talent to be a real contender here. He does strike me as a horse that may be a late bloomer, and develop into a class horse over the next year.....then again I may just be holding on to some false hope for this horse.

I believe, third favorite (4-1) #9 Overanalyze could be primed for a big run here. He returned from hiatus (after winning the Remsen Stakes in November) – and ran a predictably rusty 5th place finish in the Gotham Stakes in March.

Overanalyze showed a lot promise back in November – but his last outing certainly doesn’t inspire confidence.

And of course let’s not forget that Oxbow only lost the Rebel Stakes by a nose -- in my opinion he doesn't have the buzz....but he does have the experience -- and that could be the real difference here.

As they enter the final stretch it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see Oxbow and Overanalyze leading the charge, with Den’s Legacy somewhere in the top 5….the question is will another horse (like Heaven’s Runway) completely surprise here – will the buzz around War Academy be true or be quieted??

Throw a dart in this one – it’s practically wide open.

I’m going with some consistency and taking Oxbow to win this one – but I’m taking a surprise with Falling Sky Second and Overanalyze third.

Closing Speed likes: 10,4,9

At the betting booth I like

$2 Exacta – 9,10 w 3,4,6, = $6
$2 Win Bets on – 3 & 4 = $4

Total $10

The Bluegrass Stakes have never been especially kind to me…….

But Closing Speed likes:
Java’s War / Uncaptured  & West Hills Giant.

I like

$1 Exacta  – 4,7 w 1,11,12 = $6
$2 Win Bets on – 11, 12 = $4

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