Kentucky Derby Preps for Saturday, April 10th

Kentucky Derby Preps and Analysis for Saturday, April 10, 2010 Arkansas Derby, Bluegrass Stakes
by Kenneth Strong of

Kentucky Derby Prep Races

-Arkansas Derby G1 – 1 1/8 miles Oaklawn Park, Race 9

-Toyota Bluegrass Stakes G1 1 1/8 miles Keeneland, Race 9

Arkansas Derby G1, 1 1/8-miles, Oaklawn Park, Race 9

Hard luck Nobles Promise appears to be getting some much needed class relief when he meets eight rivals in the 74th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday while Dublin will try to make amends for a dumb ride in his last.

In his last three starts Nobles Promise gave everything he had only to finish second to juvenile champ Lookin at Lucky twice and third to that one and Vale of York in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. He was beaten half a length in the Breeders Cup Juvenile on November 7, 2009; three-quarters of a length in the Cash Call Futurity On December 19, 2009; and a head in his first start back off the layoff in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 13. He now makes his second start off the layoff in a race that should set up for him and theres no Lookin At Lucky to get by late this time. His last race Beyer Speed Figure, a 98 going a mile and a sixteenth, was the best of his career, and he could bounce off that effort, but hes been outrunning his sprinters pedigree so far and his best race makes him the logical horse on heart, talent and the company hes been keeping.

From a pattern point of view its now or never for D. Wayne Lukas trainee Dublin, who has yet to prove he has the ability to beat good horses going a distance, but at least hes had excuses. The winner of last years 7-furlong Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga made his first start off a 15-week layoff in the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park and finished a solid rallying second beaten three-quarters of a length by tough speed horse Conveyance, who came back to run a good second in the Sunland Derby. In his second start off the layoff good things were expected, but instead of sitting back and coming with a big late rally, Dublin moved early under jockey Corey Nakatani, forced the pace, bounced and faded in the stretch. He has the pedigree to get the 1 1/8-miles of the Arkansas Derby and is reunited with jockey Thompson, who rode him properly in the Southwest Stakes. Listed at 7/2 on the morning line, if Dublin goes off at that price or better hes an angle play.

With intelligent rides from off the pace, both Nobles Promise and Dublin should be able to take advantage of what should be a forced pace set by any of a number of rivals in here including morning line favorite Super Saver. Uh Oh Bango, New Madrid, Line of David and Pulsion are also capable of forcing or setting the pace and none of them are likely to stick around late if thats the case.

Super Saver makes his second start off of a 14-week layoff after setting the pace and tiring late in the mile and a sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby on March 13. Hes made the lead in each of his last four starts and could go a long way if able to shake loose early here and slow it down. The problem is there are a few others in here that might want a say up front.

Uh Oh Bango, who we liked as a longshot in the Rebel Stakes off a 13-week layoff, likes to sit close and should move forward after tiring to finish fourth, beaten six lengths in the Rebel. New Madrid out-dueled maidens to win his last going, a mile and a sixteenth at Oaklawn and now gets a severe speed/class test. Line of David has won two in a row in wire-to-wire fashion going a mile on the turf at Santa Anita. Pulsion normally likes to come from off the pace but in his last, the Florida Derby, he dueled with tough guy Rule and came out on the losing end, fading to finish sixth beaten seven lengths after an ill-advised attempt to drive Rule into the ground. Rule would handle all the speeds in this race. Pulsion exits two tough races in the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth, and he makes his third start off the layoff. He gets blinkers off for this race and at 15-1 he has the makings of a live longshot.

While were concerned about the pedigree of Nobles Promise and the fact that he might bounce, were going to stick with him simply because we think hesgame and has been facing better horses than most of these. Our second choice is Dublin, but hell need a perfect trip and he has some proving to do. In the exotics well be using Super Saver underneath, assuming he can put away the other speed; Pulsion on the blinkers off and past company angle; Uh Oh Bango on the possible improvement angle; and Northern Giant as a plodding rallier in the third and fourth spots in the trifectas and superfectas.

Toyota Blue Grass Stakes G1, 1 1/8-miles, Keeneland, Race 9

You can pick your angle in the wide open 86th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and were going to go with Interactif on pedigree, class and guts.

The grandson of Unbridled is out of a Broad Brush mare and should have little trouble getting a mile and an eighth; hes been running game and close in good company; he makes his third start off a layoff; he gets top California jockey Raphael Bejarano and at 4-1 on the morning line his price is especially enticing.

A gutsy third beaten only three-quarters of a length in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf on November 9, 2009, Interactif came back off a three-month layoff to finish third beaten by a nose in the Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. In his next start he sat just back off a slow pace set by lone speed and subsequent Santa Anita Derby winner Sidneys Candy in the San Felipe going a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita and outgutted the accomplished Caracortado to finish second beaten by half a length. He gives his best every time he steps on the track and has the speed to stay close throughout. On what may be a class drop in the Bluegrass, he might even set the pace, although his wide post could hamper him slightly. Still, the price will be right.

We loved Pleasant Prince as a longshot at 29-1 in the Florida Derby going a mile and an eighth on March 20 and he didnt disappoint despite losing the head bob at the wire to finish second. He comes into this race with the best last race Beyer Speed Figure (99), loves the distance and continues to improve as he learns how to run. Listed at 3-1 on the morning line, those are probably fair odds on this grandson of A.P. Indy and he should have enough class to sit close and make a run at the leaders in the stretch.

Interactifs stablemate Aikenite has every right to improve off his third place finish last out in the Fountain of Youth going a mile and an eighth at Gulfstream Park on February 20. We liked him a little in that race at 7-1 but he had some trouble early and in hindsight he had no chance of beating current Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya, who won by 9 -lengths. Aikenite was only beaten three-quarters of a length for second in that race however, by the hard-trying Jackson Bend, and probably should have finished second. Also listed at 4-1 on the morning line, improvement is expected here.

Odysseus will take his share of betting action but he is tough to get a handle on at this point in his career. He made his third start off a 10-week layoff in the mile and a sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby; his third win in a row after a tough stretch battle and was given a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his efforts. That win came on the class raise after a romping 15-length allowance win and his ability to win on the class raise was impressive. The problem is were not sure how good the horses he beat were, and this bunch is definitely better. He has the pedigree to get the mile and an eighth distance of the Blue Grass and could win if he improves, but at a short price of 7/2 on the morning line and the fact that we think he could run well without winning, were not betting him to win today.

The remainder of the field just isnt enticing enough to bet with any kind of confidence. First Dude finished fifth beaten 6 -lengths in the Florida Derby but did have some trouble in the race and that was his first try in stakes company. He has some speed, is proven at the distance and improvement is not out of the question. Stately Victor has been running in allowance races on the turf at Gulfstream Park without winning. Codoy won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in his first start off a 14-week layoff but received only a 77 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort and was subsequently disqualified and placed second. Paddy OPrado and Make Music for Me could be the sleepers. Make Music For Me rallied to win a minor turf stake going a mile at Santa Anita in his first start off a 10-week layoff, but was third beaten only 1 -lengths by Lookin at Lucky in the Cash Call Futurity last year. He could have some upside. Paddy OPrado won the mile and an eighth Palm Beach G3 over the turf at Gulfstream Park in his second start off a 5-month layoff and is basically an unknown as he switches to Polytrack after four consecutive races on the turf. He is however, proven at the tricky mile and an eighth distance of the Blue Grass.

At overlay odds of 4-1, were sticking with Interactif to win.

Good Luck!