The Kentucky Derby is just a month away, and the big four remaining prep races will play out over the next two weeks. There are three big ones on Saturday. We will break down each here. If you want to play these races, sign up at mybookie.lv.
No definitive favorite has yet emerged, but a couple key contenders will hit the track over the next two weeks — McCracken in Saturday’s Blue Grass and Classic Empire in next week’s Arkansas Derby. Right now the horse I am most intrigued by is Gunnevara, who was third in the Florida Derby. The Kentucky Derby should suit his style very well.
One thing to keep in mind is preps are just that; some horses need points to get in the race. Others just need to get in one more race to be in the best shape for Derby Day.
Let’s break them down:
The intriguing horse here is Mo Town, who was very good as a 2-year-old. His only 3-year-old effort was a poor performance in Louisiana when he finished fifth as the favorite in the Risen Star. He should bounce back here in his second start of the year.
As far as the rest of the field, there simply is not much. Irish War Cry collapsed in his last race but should be your early pace setter. Battalion Runner is a lightly raced Todd Pletcher runner. Pletcher is one of those trainers who tries very hard to win preps and worries about the Derby on Derby Day (and his record there shows that). Don’t be shocked if this horse freaks today. Cloud Computing is another who could improve.
Bottom line: Not a great betting race. We will just play Mo Town (no. 2) across the board and hope his last race was the fluke.
BLUE GRASS STAKES
Unbeaten McCracken is the horse to beat, but he lost some time to injury after his last race. There are some viable options here if you think he can be beaten. Tapwrit, J Boys Echo and Wild Shot might be viable alternatives. But the horse to play is probably Practical Joke. He had a nice seasonal debut in Florida, and should improve quite a bit. If McCracken is on his game, he rolls, but Pratical Joke has a huge chance to do it here. We will keep this one simple: Betting the 7 to win, and trifectas 7 with 2-3-4-5 with 1-2-3-4-5 and 2-3-4-5 with 7 wit 1-2-3-4-5.
Good luck. Next week we will dive deeper into the Arkansas Derby.
SANTA ANITA DERBY
This is a great betting race. A 13-horse field, a vulnerable favorite, and several long shot possibilities. The problem? Getting the right horse. This is completely wide open.
Iliad is the likely favorite off a non-threatening second behind Mastery, who would be a heavy favorite if he had not gotten hurt. Gormley has shown promise but tossed in a clunker in last. American Anthem never ran a step in Arkansas.
Reach The World is one of three Bob Baffert horses, and jockey Mike Smith opts for this one. Will need to improve, but he should. The pace should set up nicely. I will be looking at a couple trifecta plays: 2 with with 1-3-7-9-11 with as many horses on the bottom as possible, and then 1-3-7-9-11 with 2 with the same. (I will be using ALL). Another potential play? key the 1 horse in second and third, using the 2-3-7-9-11 in the 1-2 spots. If you are short of funds, drop the 9 and 11 from the tickets in that order. (If you need more details on these types of plays, pick up a copy of Acing Racing 2016).