Saturday, May 18, 2013

Preakness Stakes 2013

PIMLICO - May 18, 2013
Race 12 - 6:20 PM
Preakness S.   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance - One And Three Sixteenth Miles

1 – Orb
2 – Goldenscents
3 – Titletown Five
4 – Departing
5 – Mylute
6 – Oxbow
7 – Will Take Charge
8 – Govenor Charlie
9 – Itsmyluckyday

I began writing this blog several years ago in hopes of following the early career of a Triple Crown winner – and we’ve come close to breaking the thirty four year drought twice in recent years with Big Brown and I’ll Have Another.

Big Brown had mechanical difficulty in the Belmont, and I’ll Have Another unfortunately sustained an injury after the Preakness and was unable to race in the Belmont.

I believe #1 Orb has the talent to be a Triple Crown winner – He’s won his last five races, against quality talent – and the distance of the Preakness should be perfect for his style.

There is a 70% chance of rain, and he's proven that he can run in the mud (see KY Derby). 

A number of people are concerned with his #1 post position – and I’ll add that I have some concerns, but I don’t see it as being a big disadvantage. 

Orb has shown a maturity and a racing style that will allow him to sit back and find a spot he’s comfortable running in. If he’s able to keep up with the middle of the pack and find an opening in the final stretch I suspect (as long as he doesn't come out flat) he’ll sail by his competition to the winner’s circle as he has in the past few races.

I certainly agree that Orb should be the favorite in this race…..but I think he’s facing a bigger challenge than his 1/1 morning odds indicate, considering the competition….and here they are......

#2 Goldenscents finished a very disappointing 17th in the Kentucky Derby – but this horse has bounced back before (With Santa Anita Derby and Delta Downs Jackpot victories). I’m throwing away his KY Derby performance – too much mud and too many horses. I disagree with his 8/1 morning line odds, I think this horse should be the second favorite here.

#3 Titletown Five is the longshot here at 30-1 odds….now these odds I completely agree with. I believe he’s completely outclassed in this one.

#5 Mylute and #4 Departing are the second and third favorites in this race respectively.  Mylute finished 2nd just ahead of Departing in the Louisiana Derby…..and Mylute was the next closest finisher to Orb in the Kentucky Derby (5th), that's facing him again today….but I’m just not a believer in these two horses being the second and third favorites in this race. I do like their post positions --- but if the ground isn’t muddy I think there are bigger challengers to Orb than these two.

Like #6 Oxbow – I like Oxbow and I think if he continues racing he’s going to be a very good horse in the next few years. I think if he runs "his" race and Orb runs into traffic Oxbow could pull off an upset here, but he’s the kind of horse that will need help. Oxbow is just kind of a Blue Collar, Lunch Pail, get the job done kind of horse – however I don’t think he has the explosive talent of some of the other contenders.

The next three horses are the ones that scare me the most…..

#7 Will Take Charge --- again I’m throwing away the muddy crowded KY Derby --- and I’m looking at his victory in the Rebel Stakes. I think on solid ground this horse is a bigger contender than his 8th place Kentucky Derby finish or his 12/1 odds would indicate. If the ground is muddy….he doesn’t seem to run well in the muck so I may cross him out at that point…..but if it’s dry – watch out.
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
would like to be addressed
as Governor from time
to time.

#8 Governor Charlie – worries me the most. It’s been 55 days since he last raced, however in his last outing the Sunland Derby, he kept up with the leaders on a 23 second first quarter,  a 46 second half mile and finishes a Mile 1/8 well ahead of the rest. This horse may be able to go wire to wire in this race, and if the rest of the horses gang up on Orb and try to prevent him from winning by simply keeping him pinned to the rail or in traffic…..Governor Charlie could be the horse that benefits the most.

In my opinion this horse will be rusty having taken almost two months off – however he’ll also have the freshest legs on the track, especially compared to six Kentucky Derby challengers who just ran 14 days ago in a different state.

At 12/1 odds…..He’s definitely my LONG SHOT ALERT!

Finally #9 Itsmyluckyday --- currently going off at 10/1 after a 15th place finish in the KY Derby. I still think this horse has SCARY TALENT….because he was absolutely stunning in his Holy Bull Victory. However this will be his third time going up against Orb and he has yet to beat him. It’s getting harder to believe that Itsmyluckyday just didn’t have a lucky day in the Holy Bull.

Closing Speed likes: Orb, Governor Charlie, Goldenscents

If I’m betting $8 here’s who I like

$1 Exacta = 1/8 w 1/2/7/8/9

If Governor Charlie’s odds stay around 15-1 or 20-1 --- I like laying down $10 to win, and $10 to place.

Good Luck Champ - I'm pulling for you!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kentucky Derby 2013

CHURCHILL DOWNS - May 04, 2013
Race 11 - 6:24 PM
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands   (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Fourth Miles

1 – Black Onyx
2 – Oxbow
3 – Revolutionary
4 – Golden  Soul
5 – Normandy Invasion
6 – Mylute
7 – Giant Finish
8 - Goldencents
9 – Overanalyze
10 – Palace Malice
11 - Lines of Battle
12 – Itsmyluckyday
13 – Falling Sky
14 – Verrazano
15 – Charming Kitten
16 – Orb
17 – Will Take Charge
18 – Frac Daddy
19 – Java’s War
20 - Vyjack

They're saying 90% chance of showers……historically this race is difficult to break down, the parity of this years talent makes it exceptionally difficult to break down…..and then you tell me there will likely be rain and mud?!?! Ohhhhh Kentucky Derby how you task me!

With one exception – I’m writing my breakdown with the idea that we’ll luck out and weather won’t be a barrier in tomorrow’s race --- despite the mere 10% chance of that happening.

If you decide to bet tomorrow and the track is just a mess -- my suggestion is to bet a number of long-shots ...because the playing field will (in my opinion) be more even and at the same time more unpredictable.

#1 Black Onyx (Spiral Stakes winner) – has been scratched…… If this horse returns for the Preakness I think he could be a threat – ownership probably hated the inside position and the chance of bad weather.

#2 Oxbow. I like this horse, but he needed a little help in this one and instead he picked up a difficult opening spots for his style of racing. I think he’ll get buried early in this race and won’t be able to break free until it’s too late.

#3 Revolutionary (Louisiana Derby winner) – Rarely will you see me write this in my blog, because I’m not big on “Betting the Jockey” but if the track is just a mess of mud  tomorrow – I like Revolutionary a LOT in the Kentucky Derby. He’s a very talented colt, he’ll fight for a victory – but Calvin Borel just “GETS” this track. Borel won in the mud a few years ago with Mine That Bird – and I believe (in this race) he could be a difference maker.

#4 Golden Soul – unless he’s great in the mud?? He’s got one victory last December against no one special. Sold starting spot….but that’s all I see – I think he’s over matched here.

#5 Normandy Invasion – Interesting prospect of a horse (I see him becoming a very good four and five year old), solid post position – but I think he’ll need a lot of help to win here. Wouldn't surprise me if he landed in the top 5 though. Last trip to the winners circle was in November.

#6 Mylute – (2nd in the Louisiana Derby) love the starting spot, he’s a fighter…but I see him as being outclassed here as well. Solid horse…but not a superstar.

#7 Giant Finish – (3rd in the Spiral Stakes) I think he’s a sleeping talent….but I haven’t seen enough to put my $2 down on this horse even though I love the odds (50-1…and likely higher when they go off) and I love the starting spot. He's the kind of long shot I like in bad weather.

#8 Goldencents – (Santa Anita Derby Winner) – Santa Anita is in my back yard and for a number of years I put the Santa Anita Derby winner as a sentimental favorite of mine….only to be greatly disappointed year in and year out (I’m looking at your Colonel John..and Pioneer of the Nile)….but last year Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another took the first two races in the Triple Crown against equally difficult talent, compared to this year.
Of course last year I gave up on
Santa Anita Winners.

Goldencents has talent, a great starting spot and a jockey with an extremely cool dialect!! But I can’t help but see this horse as being a very good horse among a few possibly great ones. Then again perhaps he is peaking at the right time?

#9 Overanalyze – (Arkansas Derby Winner) Great opening spot and after a long layoff this horse could be coming into his talent. I believe this horse could have another gear that he hasn't shown us yet – he won the Arkansas Derby going wide for much of the race, which he’ll have to repeat, but he’s a tempting bet. If this horse has “found his stride” than he could easily be a modest upset here. A lot of things working for this 12-1 horse.

#10 Palace Malice – (2nd Blue Grass Stakes) Good opening spot….and his Dad, Curlin, was a Champion….however his dad isn’t running today. I’d be surprised if this horse cracks the top 10.

#11 Lines of Battle (UAE Derby Winner) It’s unique to get the UAE Derby winner in the Kentucky Derby….Lines of Battle has already won the Middle East version of the Kentucky Derby and is only going off at 30-1 here?? I don’t like how much he’s had to travel….but I see this horse more like 10-1 than 30-1. I think you throw down a few bucks if the weather is bad.

#12 Itsmyluckyday – (2nd Florida Derby) First of all I think he’ll be over bet because of his name…..however this horse concerns me more than any other “longshot” in the field. He strikes me as a horse who has VERY SCARY talent…..but he also strikes me as a horse who doesn’t have that drive – that NEED to win consistently. I can see this horse winning by 5 lengths or finishing in the bottom half.  15-1 makes him considerably tempting. And sure….throw in some mud and he becomes even more of an enigma.

#13 Falling Star – Seems out classed here.

#14 Verrazano – (Wood Memorial winner) He’s undefeated. One of his owners just won the College Basketball Championship – and this horse (unlike Itsmyluckyday) seems to have the talent AND the drive to win big races. Unfortunately I believe weather hurts this horse perhaps more than the other horses.

One thing I have seen in horse racing is that if you have a champion caliber animal – you may decide NOT to push that animal if the weather is bad….it seems (in other bad weather races) a few managements have reigned in their horses, making sure the champion caliber horses have a safe trip as opposed to risking whatever you need to do for victory…and if you lose the Kentucky Derby you lose a shot at immortality…..however you could also be saving an amazing animal that breeding offers are already being whispered about.

Then could just tell the jockey to win, no matter the risk (it is the Kentucky Derby after all!!!)

Tough call. If the weather is bad and this horse comes out flat and then he turns around and tears up the Preakness (in good weather)……you’ll know my reason why.

#15 Charming Kitten – Seems outclassed here. 

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
hopes that when you read
Charming Kitten
You thought of him.

#16 Orb (Florida Derby Winner) he’s the morning line favorite and will probably flip flop a few times with Verrazano for that distinction before the gates open. The reason Orb will be favored is that he seems to have everything going his way right now.

Fantastic opening spot for his style of racing. He’s won his last four races against quality talent – and even with muddy conditions I believe he’ll be a strong contender in the end.

He’s a late charging horse, so traffic could be an issue for him late – but I think his early position will give him the opportunity to pick his spot going into the first turn and allow him to run the race he’ll want to run.  Unlike what I see right now in Itsmyluckyday – this is a horse who is both mentally and physically ready to be a champion…..but there is a LOT of talent in this race this year.

#17 Will Take Charge – (Rebel Stakes Winner) Quite frankly….this horse scares the hell out of me. He hasn’t raced in 49 days which could make him a little rusty coming into this race. He did not run well in the mud in the Southwest Stakes --- but he ran VERY well in the Rebel Stakes and Smarty Jones Stakes.

He’ll be able to stalk the likely favorite (Orb) and both of them are late charging horses.  I don’t like placing my hopes on a horse who has been sitting out for a month and a half….but this long shot is definitely worth a look. He’s a dangerous horse.

#18 Frac Daddy – Similar to Palace Malice --- I like this horse, I loved their sires….but I don’t see them doing well in the big dance.

#19 Java’s War – (Blue Grass Stakes winner and Half brother to Revolutionary) – I also really like this horse – however he doesn’t have a great opening spot for his style of racing and I think he’s slightly outclassed here. He’s the kind of horse that could also develop into a great four or five year old horse.

#20 Vyjack – (3rd Wood Memorial) he absolutely dominated the New York group before Verrazano showed up in the Wood Memorial . Very solid horse….but I don’t see him having much of a chance in this one.

In closing I believe Orb and Verrazano are the two most talented and proven horses entering the Kentucky Derby….and both of them will need luck to defeat one another (along with quite a bit of surrounding talent).

If the track is muddy – I like Revolutionary – don’t get me wrong this horse could very well win this race without the help of bad weather and a great jockey….however if the playing field becomes more even due to bad weather – Calvin Borel has been a game changer here before.

I think with a little good luck Goldencents or Overanalyze could win this race and it would be a modest upset. However with just a slight amount of bad luck I think either of these horses could end up finishing in the bottom half of the field. It really is just that talented of a field this year.

The horses that scare the hell out of me are:

 UAE Champion Lines of Battle  -- because he’s already claimed being the best three year old horse in one half of the world -- then he travels here, gets a great opening spot and is given mouth watering odds!!!

Itsmyluckyday – because I think this horse has explosive ability….but it’s also an elusive and unpredictable ability.

Will Take Charge – I see a horse that could be a little like I’ll Have Another from last year – who comes in under the radar and makes you check your program twice after he crosses the finish line.

I’m looking forward to a great race – and I hope the storm clouds spare us a soupy track.

Closing Speed likes: Orb, Overanalyze, Revolutionary.

On a personal note I’ll be very happy if a couple of different horses win……however with such a closely contested race I think you bet the longshots a little more.

If I’m betting $20 here’s who I like

$4 – Win #11 Lines of Battle

$1 - Exacta -  3, 9, 12, 17 w/ 14 & 16 = $8
$1 – Exacta – 14 & 16 w/ 3,9,12,17 = $8

**And if the track is bad $10 Win #3 Revolutionary.