Kentucky Derby Preps for Saturday, April 3, 2010 – Kentucky Derby
favorites Lookin at Lucky, Eskendereya look best in Santa Anita Derby, Wood
· Wood Memorial G1 – 1 1/8-miles - Aqueduct, Race 9
· Santa Anita Derby G1 – 1 1/8-miles - Santa Anita, Race 6
· Illinois Derby – 1 1/8-miles - Hawthorne, Race 7
The top two current Kentucky Derby favorites, Eskendereya and Lookin at
Lucky, will attempt to move forward once again today in the Wood Memorial
and the Santa Anita Derby respectively. The two favorites look solid but
they will likely be over bet, so we’ll tie them up in exotic wagers
and try to make a score that way. The Illinois Derby might be the race to
get a better price, as both Yawanna Twist and Backtalk are angle plays with
reasons to improve. Below follows our analysis of the Kentucky Derby prep
races for Saturday, April 3, 2010.
2010 Wood Memorial G1 – 1 1/8-miles - Aqueduct, Race 9
Eskendereya will be heavily favored to win the 86th running of the Wood
Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday and a repeat of his last race would make
him tough to beat. Often in a 6-horse field, the race becomes a battle of
wits among the riders, which often produces dumb rides, but even with a
bad ride it would be difficult to see Eskendereya finishing worse than second
in the Wood.
Eskendereya was dominant winning the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream
Park by 8 ½-lengths over fellow Wood Memorial entrant Jackson Bend
on February 20. He has the highest last race Beyer Speed Figure (106) and
is also the only horse in the Wood Memorial with a win at the distance.
Some are thinking Eskendereya might regress off his big win in the Fountain
of Youth and his Beyer Speed Figure jump from 92 to 106, but even if he
does, he still might be good enough. The only other horse in the Wood Memorial
to have ever cracked 100 on the Beyer Speed Figure scale is Jackson Bend,
and Eskendereya already trounced that one.
While Eskendereya is the most probable winner of the Wood Memorial, he
offers little wagering value if he goes off at his 4/5 morning line odds.
At 6/5 he would be very enticing, but that’s not likely to happen.
Our two angle horses in the Wood Memorial are Awesome Act and Schoolyard
Awesome Act won the 1 1/16-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 6 in
his first start off a four-month layoff and received a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.
While a bounce is possible, Awesome Act should move forward off that race
in one of his next two starts. We liked him the Gotham off his solid fourth
place finish in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, in which he
was beaten only 1½-lengths for the win.
Another indicator of the potential class of Awesome Act is the fact that
Interactif, who finished only half a length ahead of him in the Breeders’
Juvenile Turf, recently outbattled the previously undefeated Caracortado
to finish second in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita behind lone speed
Sidney’s Candy. Listed at 9/2 on the morning line, if Awesome Act
actually goes off at those generous odds we’ll have something on him.
Schoolyard Dreams is a bit of a sleeper who could go either way. He gets
a switch to top New York jockey Ramon Dominguez off a heartbreaking head-bob
loss to Odysseus in the Tampa Bay Derby after making an eye-catching move
on the turn and then hanging through the drive for some reason. Maybe he
likes to wait on horses. If so Dominguez he’ll have to time his move
perfectly to have any shot at all of posting an upset. Schoolyard Dream’s
Beyer Speed figures also seem a little low, his best being a 94. But the
bullet move he made in the Tampa Bay Derby and the fact that he may have
been waiting on horses in the stretch intrigues us. In his second start
off a six-week layoff and first ever in a stakes race he finished second
in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. We expected improvement from him in the
Tampa Bay Derby and we got it after a wide trip, but he fell just short
of winning. A price-play horse with Dominguez aboard, Schoolyard Dreams
might just get the trip he needs this time.
The remainder of the short field for the Wood Memorial includes Most Happy
Fella, who should provide some early speed but who appears outclassed at
this stage of his career; Carnivore, who recently broke his maiden at Laurel;
and Jackson Bend, who is tough to bet off his 8-1/2-length loss to Eskendereya
in his last.
We’ll take Eskendereya over Awesome Act and Schoolyard Dreams in
our main exactas, reverse it for a quarter of the amount, and play a small
box saver on the three.
2010 Santa Anita Derby G1 – 1 1/8-miles - Santa Anita, Race 6
The 2010 Santa Anita Derby goes through Lookin at Lucky. If he’s
recovered from his tough-trip head win over Noble’s Promise off an
11-week layoff in the March 13 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, he’s
the horse to beat at a short price.
Lookin at Lucky has only lost once in seven starts, and that narrow miss
came when he finished second by a head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
last year after a wide trip. In his Rebel win he had some minor trouble
at the start and was also squeezed back and taken up on the turn for home.
He then came wide for the drive and commenced a workmanlike rally to get
up in time. Many are saying Lookin at Lucky could bounce; that this race
doesn’t count for him; that the Kentucky Derby is the real goal; but
he still looks like a horse who doesn’t like to lose. The morning
line has Lookin at Lucky 3/5, which might be unrealistic. Even money would
be more like it. And if you get better than that, he’s the play.
Sidney’s Candy may try to steal this race as he did the San Felipe,
zipping to the front, setting a slow pace and holding well in the drive.
He looks like he could be the lone speed if he wants to be, and if that
happens he will go a long ways and might even win this. If he tries to slow
it down too much however, he could get pressure from recent Golden Gate
allowance winner Skipshot, and maybe even Caracortado, who fell victim to
the slow pace set by Sidney’s Candy in his last an ended up finishing
third, having his undefeated streak snapped at five. We cashed on Caracortado
in the R B Lewis at 9/2 and were expecting better of him in the San Felipe.
He now looks like he needs a pace battle to run at.
We loved Alphie’s Bet at Predictem in the March 6 Sham Stakes and
he didn’t disappoint at a great price of over 8-1! He has the ability
to dig in and accelerate late, which is something a number of entrants in
here cannot do –they are simply running on talent. Alphie’s
Bet is outrunning his talent and seasoning right now, and it will be interesting
to see if he can do the same with these. This is a different league than
those he beat in the Sham. Still, the Sham was at today’s distance
and he is making his second start off the layoff. Alphie’s Bet likes
to sit back and wait, come wide for the drive, pounce on the early bidders
and accelerate late. His Beyer Speed Figures may be a little low at this
stage of his career, but if some type of battle develops on the turn or
in early stretch, he could surprise.
If you’re looking for a longshot for the superfecta, throw in Posse
Power, who had enough trouble in his last start, the El Camino Real Derby
at Golden Gate on February 20, to cost him the win. He finished with decent
energy in that race after steadying early and being blocked twice in the
stretch and looks like he could improve. His numbers are quite a bit lower
than the best in here, but he may have some upside yet.
We think Lookin at Lucky is the best horse in the Santa Anita Derby, but
we’re unlikely to get decent odds, so we’ll play him first and
second in the exactas and trifectas with Sidney’s Candy, Caracortado
and Alphie’s Bet, playing heavier with Lookin at Lucky on top. In
the superfecta we’ll use Lookin at Lucky first and second with the
same three horses, add in trip horse Posse Power, and play the all leg in
third and fourth in some smaller combinations with our key horses.
2010 Illinois Derby – 1 1/8-miles - Hawthorne, Race 7
The 53rd running of the Illinois Derby features numerous horses trying
to earn enough money to get into the Kentucky Derby but a few of them simply
don’t look like they will get any better.
American Lion, Stephen’s Got Hope and Dave in Dixie all exit the
much tougher San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita with rather nondescript efforts
while Boulder Creek exits the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. None of the aforementioned
horses would strike fear into the hearts of the major Kentucky Derby contenders
at this point in their careers so we’re going to go with a couple
of angle horses.
Yawanna Twist made only his third lifetime start in the Gotham Stakes at
Aqueduct on March 6 and finished second beaten 1 ½-lengths by Awesome
Act. The latter will be taking on Eskendereya in the Wood Memorial on Saturday.
Yawanna Twist had some minor trouble in the Gotham and had to wait briefly
to get running room before rallying behind the winner. He would have made
it a photo with a better trip and his eligible to improve in today’s
Backtalk is an interesting horse. He comes into the Illinois Derby off
a half-length win in the Sportsman’s Paradise Stakes going a mile
in the slop at Delta Downs. That was Backtalk’s first start off an
18-week layoff and he had an uncomfortable trip before exerting sheer will
to win late. A winner of the Sanford Stakes G2 at Saratoga last year, Backtalk
looks like a horse who wants to win and if he moves forward in his second
start off the layoff with a better ride than he got in his last race, he
should at least make the exacta for sharp trainer Tom Amoss.
With the California shippers likely to take good betting action in the
Illinois Derby we might just get good solid prices on both Yawanna Twist
and Backtalk and bet them both of them to win. We’ll also box them
in the exactas and play the pair to the board in all three spots in the