Saturday, May 17, 2014

Preakness 2014

PIMLICO - May 17, 2014
Race 12 - 6:18 PM
Preakness S.   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,500,000
Distance - One And Three Sixteenth Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 – Dynamic Impact
2 – General A Rod
3 – California Chrome
4 – Ring Weekend
5 – Bayern
6 – Ria Antonia
7 – Kid Cruz
8 – Social inclusion
9 – Pablo Del Monte
10 – Ride On Curlin

#3 California Chrome enters this race as the 3/5 favorite – which means most people believe he’s got this race in the bag….and for good reason -  

California Chrome has won his last five races, many of them solid challenges. He is fresh off a strong Kentucky Derby victory – and for his style of racing he is in the perfect starting position (#3).

The only two things I can imagine preventing him from doing very well in this race is if the other horses purposefully box him in at some point and prevent him from escaping in traffic – it may seem unsportsmanlike, but I’ve seen mediocre horses do what they can to prevent a great horse from winning just to give themselves some kind of shot.

The other possible letdown would be if Jockey Victor Espinoza “asks” California Chrome to kick in at the end of the final turn and the horse just doesn’t have it in him this time.

Personally I believe that Espinoza is too good of a Jockey to let his horse get boxed in – and I also think California Chrome is going come out of the final turn firing on all cylinders -- so far this horse has run like clockwork.

It is very possible that California Chrome will go Wire to Wire in this race – meaning he’ll take the rail in the first turn and glide for most of the race until hitting the after burners coming out of the final turn and win this race by about 5 lengths. If all of this sounds a little too predictable or easy….what can I say he’s a 3/5 favorite?!?!

If (and it’s a big IF) #1 Dynamic Impact – can break very well, take the rail and push California Chrome wide in the first and final turns, and then find the strength to go toe to toe with the Kentucky Derby Champion down the stretch….he has a shot.

However if he doesn’t come out of the gate well – he could easily fall in the middle of the pack and never be heard from again – I also think he could try to keep up with a faster early pace then he’s prepared for and fade badly coming out of the final turn.

#2 General A Rod is a solid horse – but hasn’t won a race since January. Unless he “finds his stride” or California Chrome loses his – I don’t see him pulling off an upset -- General A Rod strikes me as a horse who will do very well should he continue running over the next few years.

#4 Ring Weekend – is a Tapit horse….and Tapit horses always concern me. I think this horse “could” be a lot of trouble for California Chrome – but that’s only if Ring Weekend takes an early lead and never looks back, which was his recipe for the Tampa Bay Derby.

See Video

However Ring Weekend finished 2nd against lesser competition in the Calder Stakes and it’s been 42 days since his last race. You could chalk an upset here to a horse bouncing back after a solid rest…..but I think it’s also likely this horse comes out rusty and finishes towards the back of the pack.

#5 Bayern – finished third in the Arkansas Derby and second in the Derby Trial Stakes. A solid horse – great jockey, but he seems out classed here.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
likes a Filly with an Attitude!
#6 Ria Antonia – the filly fresh off of her 6th place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. She has two victories (including the Breeder’s Cup Fillies) – but hasn’t won a race since that one back in November. I think the Owners/Management believes there’s a lack of talent in this race and maybe Ria can compete better against the fellas – interesting.

#7 Kid Cruz – He’s won 3 out of his last 4 races including his last victory which was here at Pimlico. He’s a bit of an unknown and at 20-1 could be worth a $2 bet.

#8 Social Inclusion is currently going off as the Second Favorite – however he doesn’t have a lot of experience as he has only three career races (although he won his first two). His last race was a 3rd place finish in the Wood Memorial 42 days ago.

I think most people are looking at his early speed as a sign he could be a challenger – but I disagree with him being the second favorite.

#9 Pablo Del Monte – he has won a 2 races in his 6 race career – he strikes me as a horse just happy to be here – I think 40-1 odds would be more suitable here – his  last victory was October 2013.

#10 – Ride On Curlin -  He has experience – 10 races – but he also doesn’t win much – Twice. He had a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby, but still finished a respectable 7th – I think he could easily end up in the top 3 – I just don’t see him beating California Chrome if the Cali runs his race today.

Most people agree this is California Chrome’s race to lose – I think if there’s going to be a surprise it will be Ring Weekend or Kid Cruz……but it seems unlikely.

Closing Speed like: California Chrome / Ride On Curlin / Ring Weekend (3/10/4)

With these odds it’s difficult to make a bet – but….

$1 Exacta Box (3/7/8) = $6

$1 Pick 3 (beginning with the Race before the Preakness) – 1/3/4/6/7 with 3 with 1/2/3/4/5 = $25

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kentucky Derby 2014

CHURCHILL DOWNS - May 03, 2014
Race 11 - 6:24 PM
Kentucky Derby  (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Fourth Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Vicar’s In Trouble
2 –  Harry’s Holiday
3 –  Uncle Sigh
4 –  Danza
5 –  California Chrome
6 –  Samraat
7 –  We Miss Artie
8 –  General A Rod
9 –  Vinceremos
10 -  Wildcat Red
11 – Hoppertunity -  Scratched
12 – Dance with Fate
13 – Chitu
14 – Medal Count
15 – Tapiture
16 – Intense Holiday
17 – Commanding Curve
18 – Candy Boy
19 – Ride On Curlin
20 - Wicked Strong

As we prepare for the 2014 Kentucky Derby many are disappointed because of what “could have been”.

So many very talented young horses found themselves off the Derby trail due to injury – Horses like New Year’s Day and Havana who finished 1st and 2nd in the Breeder’s Cup Futurity, Florida Derby Winner Constitution, Cairo Prince who looked untouchable in the early spring and several others give this year’s Triple Crown a “depleted” feel.

And it’s my opinion that because so many horse racing fans had their eyes on other horses – #5 California Chrome may seem like he’s simply the best of the rest……however his Santa Anita Derby victory is something to behold.

As you watch this race there are a number key points to consider.

He keeps pace with Dublin Up in a 22.89 quarter mile – which is a fairly swift pace for this distance and at this age.

In the final stretch he doesn’t wobble or wander into a different lane – which is often a sign of fatigue in these young horses --- instead he runs a VERY STRAIGHT line and he runs it several lengths in front of a number of quality horses.
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
wonders...why do Haters
gotta Hate??

One other item to consider – his mile and a quarter was the fastest of  “big” derby winners (Wood Memorial / Arkansas Derby / Florida Derby / Louisiana Derby) and he did it without being pushed.

Granted Santa Anita tends to be a little faster… there's room for doubt....but there's a lot of whispers that this horse ain't all that....despite his dominate victory....

See Video:

So there’s a VERY good reason this horse is the favorite – and he has a sweet post position to start the race.

However he could get swallowed up in the pack of 18 other horses --- and California Horses have fallen short many times before in Kentucky so if you don’t feel like betting the favorite here are some other horses I think you should consider.

#1 Vicar’s In Trouble – This horse has a great Twitter account….no I’m not kidding – unfortunately this very talented Colt drew the #1 spot and I believe he’s going to get engulfed by EVERYONE to his right and will probably lose this race in less than 2 seconds into it.

HOWEVER – if Vicar’s in Trouble can manage to shoot out of the 1 spot and find a way to grab the early lead….he could be very tough to catch…..but that’s asking A LOT!

No matter where he finishes – if he runs in the Preakness….don’t forget this horse.

#4 Danza….okay for those of you who don’t know – this horse’s sire was named Street Boss --- so you combine “Boss” with “Danza” and you get……

Oh --it HURTS
But you'll share this if you have the chance.

Word play aside – Danza pulled off a solid victory in the Arkansas Derby and being positioned just inside the favorite California Chrome might just be the best place to be…..however in my opinion the Kentucky Derby could be overwhelming for Danza as this will only be his fifth career race – and his only two victories are the Arkansas Derby and his Maiden race back in July 2013.

He certainly flashed talent in the Arkansas Derby – but I think this could be too much, too soon for this horse.

#6 Samraat – was undefeated  in five races, until finishing 2nd in the Wood Memorial  --- maybe this was just an off day for this horse, maybe the Trainers weren’t concern with winning and were more focused on getting ready for the KY Derby??? My feeling is that at this point in his career asking for anything over a mile and 1/8th is asking for more than he’s got.

#7 We Miss Artie – Okay you want my CRAZZZZZZZZYYYYY long shot pick – then consider We Miss Artie winner of the Spiral Stakes, and also the owner of a solid post position as well.

He’s got a solid late kick which has won a number of Kentucky Derbies – I think he’s underbet…..however in February he finished 8th behind Wildcat Red and General A-Rod, so he may be lucky just to finish in the top 10 here. But he could easily be 100-1 at the bell.....

#10 Wildcat Red finished 2nd (behind Constitution) in the Florida Derby – and I like this horse – however I think he may need the early lead to contend (which I don’t think he’ll be able to get) – and it appeared to me that he wilted at the end of the Florida Derby, which is either a lack of competitiveness or struggling with a lesser distance than the KY Derby --- neither make me optimistic.  However with a little luck he could certainly be in the top 3.

#12 Dance with Fate – If I’m betting just one horse to upset California Chrome it would be the 20-1 Blue Grass Stakes winner Dance with Fate!  I’m not real crazy about placing my hopes on the Blue Grass Stakes winner, because the surface for the Blue Grass is Synthetic which is different from the Kentucky Dirt. 

Dance with Fate also finished only 2nd in the relatively lowly El Camino Real Derby….which also doesn’t inspire…..he only has three victories in eight attempts…..HOWEVER….

Dance with Fate shows solid maturity and patience in the Blue Grass which featured 14 horses….so numbers don’t rattle this horse.

He also closed strongly and looked very comfortable stretching it out a little more distance… other thing to consider the past seven Kentucky Derby Winners all came from Posts 10 or greater (and 4 out of those 7 were #11).

#12  Orb/ #11  I’ll Have Another  / #11  Super Saver  / #11 Animal Kingdom / # 11 Mine That Bird / #20 Big Brown / #10 Street Sense. – it hasn’t been since Super Horse #8 Barbaro that we’ve had a winner inside #10.

In my humble opinion – Dance with Fate should be no less than the third favorite in this race.

See Blue Grass Stakes:

#13 – Chitu is an interesting prospect.  He’s won 3 out of 4 career races – however he hasn’t raced since his victory 41 days ago in the Sunland Derby. His Sunland time was 1:47 – similar to California Chrome. At 20-1 he may be worth a few dollars to bet……he definitely fits the bill of the horse that crosses the finish line first and everyone reaches for their program to find out who this horse is???

However in Feb. he was defeated by #18 Candy Boy --- and Candy Boy finished well behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita.

#15 Tapiture worries me strictly because he’s a Tapit horse……he’s finished progressively worse in his last two races (4th and 2nd) after showing some promise as the victor in the Southwest Stakes in February. I don’t think he can muster the distance…..but still he’s a Tapit horse, and those Tapit horses seem to be wired to win.

#18 Ride On Curlin – I loved this horses sire Curlin – and Jockey Calvin Borel definitely knows how to show up big in the Kentucky Derby…..but only 2 wins in 9 races…..and even my “boy” Curlin didn’t win the KY Derby.

#20 Wicked Strong – will likely go off as the second or third favorite in this race and it makes a lot of sense. He finished strong in the Wood Memorial, his post position doesn’t really affect his style of racing as he’s likely to stay in the middle or back of the pack and close in the final stretch.

He’s got a great closing kick and if California Chrome doesn’t show up – he could be the one to beat.

Closing Speed likes: California Chrome / Dance With Fate / Wicked Strong

If I were betting $30…….

$10 – #11 to win (Dance With Fate) = $10
$1 – Exacta Box 5/10/20 – (California Chrome / Wildcat Red / Wicked Strong) = $6
$1 – Exacta Box 5/11 with 5/6/10/11/19 = $10
$2 - #7 to place = $2

$2 - #18 to win = $2

And for the record - Alyssa Milano - DEFINITELY THE BOSS
Anytime - Anyplace!