Thursday, March 27, 2014

Down to the Wire: UAE Derby, Florida Derby, & Louisiana Derby

We Miss Artie stamped himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby via his win in the Spiral Stakes last week and runner-up Harry's Holiday was one of ten late nominations following his good showing in the fifty point prep at Turfway Park. In the Sunland Derby, the Bob Baffert duo of Chitu and Midnight Hawk finished one-two and although I don't believe they can stay for ten furlongs, these are two horses who always seem to run well and that's commendable. 



3/29/2014: Meydan Race 4 -- UAE Derby (all weather, about 9.5f):
My choice in here is the Aidan O'brien trained Giovanni Boldini, who most recently finished second behind Outstrip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. I discussed this race, as well as, the full Dubai World Cup card in detail in my Dubai World Cup Preview and Picks post.

3/29/2014: Gulfstream Park Race 14 -- G1 Florida Derby (9f):
A big race with rain potentially in the forecast makes for an interesting dynamic for the marquee race of the Spring at Gulfstream Park. Cairo Prince will be the heavy favorite here and deservedly so. A multiple graded stakes winning son of red hot sire Pioneerof the Nile, Cairo Prince's only loss was when he lost to Honor Code by the smallest of margins in the Remsen. His draw will be a tricky one, however, as he drew stall three and will start between probable pace setter Constitution and Wildcat Red, who should also be forwardly placed. Cairo Prince has relished running on the outside in the clear in all of his runs and will likely be forced inside and behind horses and while he's more than capable of handling those circumstances, playing a horse at short odds who will likely be forced into a situation he's yet to encounter is usually a bad bet. Constitution has shown himself to be headstrong and he'll do whatever he needs to get the lead, which probably won't bode well in a race such as this that appears to be loaded with speed. Wildcat Red and General a Rod have gone toe-to-toe all year and to me are the ones who I'm looking at to run a big race here. Both of them have distance concerns (as does just about everyone in this field) and both run their best races when on the front end early, so I do expect them to be forwardly placed. If they make the Derby gate, I believe General a Rod has more upside of the pair of them and he's the one who would interest me more as a Derby prospect, but in this race I'll side with Wildcat Red. The Fountain of Youth winner, Wildcat Red has won two straight, he's shown an ability to rate just off the pace in the past, and he should be able to save ground along the rail. Velazquez gets the mount.

Pick: Wildcat Red to win
Bankroll Play: $10 on Wildcat Red to win

3/29/2014: Fair Grounds Race 11 -- G2 Louisiana Derby (9f):
Many of the contenders from the Risen Star return here, but a longer distance and much different post positions for the top runners should provide for a different result than we saw last time around. Vicar's In Trouble had no chance when drawn out wide in the Risen Star. He rated off the lead in that race, which was a change from what we had seen from him prior to that run and he made a big move going into the far turn to get close to the leaders. When he was unable to snag the lead, he looked like he may have given up a little and he did come home a bit flat, so it will be important to see how he handles the extra half furlong here. Albano was forced to the lead when he drew the rail in the Risen Star. I'd expect him to go back to his pressing style here, but drawing outside does not help his cause especially considering he tired late in the Risen Star. The winner of the Risen Star Intense Holiday also returns in this spot. I expect him to run well here, but he'll be a short price come post time and drawing the rail probably won't help him much, as he tends to make one sweeping move along the outside. In Trouble is a newcomer to the Fair Grounds who most recently finished a close third behind Samraat and Uncle Sigh in the Gotham, but the probable pace scenario will not be in his favor with Rise Up and Vicar's In Trouble likely joining him on the front end. Commanding Curve is incredibly intriguing to me in this spot. With Rise Up and In Trouble mixing it up on the lead, Commanding Curve should get a solid pace to close into. The Risen Star was his first start since November and he had a similar wide, plodding, but closing type of a trip to Hoppertunity in there. He should improve off that effort, he's put in a number of five and six furlong works recently, and should be fit and ready to go here. Whether or not he's fast enough to compete will be the question, but unlike many of the others, I'm not concerned about the distance with this son of Master Command.

Pick: Commanding Curve to win, place, show and Exacta Box: Commanding Curve & Vicar's In Trouble

Weekend Quick Picks for Saturday, March 29, 2014:

Dubai World Cup: Picks for the Dubai World Cup races can be found on my Dubai World Cup Preview and Picks post

Gulfstream Park Race 2 -- Allowance Optional Claiming: #6 Kaigun  (scratched)
At this course and distance, Kaigun is as consistent as they come. He appears to have steadily improved since the Fall and he nicely used his speed to win a $62,000 optional claimer last time out. Back in November, he finished a good third in a G3 at Churchill Downs behind River Seven and Frac Daddy, so there's no reason to think this step up in class will be too much for him.

Gulfstream Park Race 6 -- G2 Gulfstream Oaks: #6 In Tune
Daughter of Unbridled's Song is undefeated in two starts, her most recent of which was over 8.5f in a NW1 allowance in which she easily defeated a field of nine. She has all the looks of a filly who's getting hot at the right time and she should be in control of the early speed again here.

Gulfstream Park Race 9 -- Allowance Optional Claiming: #1 Danalin
I've been a fan of this daughter of Curlin since her debut and although she hasn't won since then, she has run well aside from a foray onto the dirt, in which she struggled. She returned to the turf last time out and closed strongly to finish fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths after encountering trouble at the start. She returns to the same course, distance, and level here.

Fair Grounds Race 10 -- G2 New Orleans Handicap: #8 Palace Malice
It's been billed as the showdown between Palace Malice and Normandy Invasion, both of whom won their most recent starts going a mile at Gulfstream. Normandy Invasion may be more well meant in this spot and Palace Malice did have to really work to win last time out, whereas Normandy Invasion had an easy prep over a smaller, weaker field. Normandy Invasion gets the slight weight edge and if he were ever going to beat Palace Malice, it would be here, but I think Normandy Invasion will ultimately go off favored, which is why I'll side with the Pletcher trained son of Curlin.
**Suggested Double: 8 / 6,7


1 comments:

mully1 said...

Excellent blog Candice. Added you to my blogroll tonight.

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