Kentucky Derby Preps for Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Kentucky Derby Preps for Saturday, February 20, 2010
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com

Six Kentucky Derby preps today? Are you kidding me? If you like watching good horses run youll certainly get your moneys worth this afternoon! Some of the best 3-year-olds in the nation will try to prove they belong on the road to the 2010 Kentucky Derby. No slackers allowed.

Here are the Kentucky Derby preps on tap for today all worth watching.

- Fountain of Youth Stakes G2 1 1/8 miles - Gulfstream Park, Race 10

- Hutcheson Stakes G2 - 7 furlongs Gulfstream Park, Race 8

- The Risen Star Stakes G2 1 1/16 miles - Fair Grounds, Race 10

- El Camino Real Derby G3 1 1/8 miles - Golden Gate Fields, Race 7

- The Southwest Stakes 1 mile - Oaklawn Park, Race 10

- Turf Paradise Derby 1 1/16 miles - Turf Paradise, Race 8

Well be betting small today (but we will be betting), while keeping a sharp eye out for exceptional performances - the gutsy, fast or eye-catching type, looking for our Kentucky Derby horses. Below is a brief rundown of each of todays Kentucky Derby preps.

Fountain of Youth Stakes G2 1 1/8 miles - Gulfstream Park, Race 10

The most important Kentucky Derby prep of the day features the return of last years Remsen G2 winner Buddys Saint. Hes undefeated in three starts and proven at the 11/8-mile distance but he hasnt run since winning the Remsen on November 28, 2009 at Aqueduct. Trainer Bruce Levine scores at a 19 percent clip with these layoff types and Buddys Saint has been working well for his 2010 debut. If he runs his best race hes a better horse than these based on last years form, but keep in mind that his connections are pointing their Derby horse towards bigger and better things down the road. And there are a few horses in here that not only have talent but also heart. At a short price well be looking elsewhere, at least for today.

The only other horse in the Fountain of Youth who has cracked the 100 mark on the Beyer Speed Figure scale is Jackson Bend, the little horse that could. Now trained by Nick Zito, Jackson Bend makes his second start off a layoff after a game comeback effort in the one-mile Holy Bull Stakes G3 at Gulfstream Park on January 23. If Jackson Bend gets a smart ride from just off the pace he should be the first to make a bid in the stretch and the 5-for-7 Hear No Evil colt has won going 1 1/16-miles.

Eskendereya could be the overlay horse in the Fountain of Youth. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he some stamina in his pedigree and he makes his second start off the layoff after a wire-to-wire allowance score going a mile at Gulfstream Park on January 7. Sixth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last year after some early trouble, he does know how to rally, he looks like hell get the distance, and gets the services of the J R Velazquez, the leading rider at Gulfstream Park.

While the top three look solid in the Fountain of Youth there are a number of horses in here that bear watching for different reasons, who could improve substantially with some additional experience. Aikenite, beaten only 2 -lengths in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last year, makes his second start off the layoff after some minor trouble n the January 23 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. Pulsion makes his first start off the layoff since his troubled eleventh place finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November, but did finish second behind current Kentucky Derby favorite Lookin at Lucky in last years Norfolk Stakes G1 at Santa Anita. Pleasant Prince steps up in class while making his third start off the layoff but has sharp trainer Wesley Ward in his corner, has some stamina in his pedigree and is proven at the distance. Prince Will I Am is another stepping up in class with some stamina in his pedigree and a proven ability at the distance against allowance horses. Positive Split dueled and tired to finish third beaten two lengths on January 18 going 1 1/8-miles in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in his first start since October. Ice Box defeated both Pleasant Prince and Positive Split in their aforementioned 1 1/8-mile condition allowance races from just off the pace in his first start back since October on January 18 at Gulfstream Park. Lost Aptitude has never run on the dirt but sports a record of 3-1-1 from six starts on the turf, including a narrow head loss on January 1 in the Tropical Park Derby going 1 1/8-miles. Lots of superfecta fodder here, but more importantly, watch the outsiders for any signs of improvement that is out of the ordinary.

Hutcheson Stakes G2 - 7 furlongs Gulfstream Park, Race 8

The 57th running of the Hutcheson G2 marks the return to action of likely favorite DFunnybone, who was last seen finishing thirteenth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, but he had better be at the top of his game if he expects to win his race. Both speedster Wildcat Frankie and the horse that beat him in his last in the slop, A Little Warm, are runners on the improve, with thet latter having cracked the 100 Beyer mark in his latest. The question is, did the sloppy track help A Little Warm in his last or is he for real? Trained by Anthony Dutrow (32 percent win clip), were thinking hell run big today in his second start off the layoff. The horse to really watch in the Hutcheson is Radiohead. At 5-1 on the morning line he could prove to be the overlay of the day if ready. Last seen finishing a troubled seventh beaten four lengths in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November, the former European has switched trainers since than to Richard Dutrow and has a bullet five-eighths work on February 12.

The Risen Star Stakes G2 1 1/16 miles - Fair Grounds, Race 10

Drosselmeyer looks like the horse to beat in the Risen Star. Hes got one of the top trainers in the business in Bill Mott and he makes his second start off the layoff after a nice win in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park on January 31. He should be coming from a few lengths of the pace in the Risen Star and our only concern is that he might be better suited to more distance. Still, if we got the morning line 4-1 on him wed certainly be betting. Ron the Greek also has a sharp trainer in Tom Amoss and comes into this race off a win in the Le Comte Stakes G3 going a mile and 40 yards. In that race he finished with a flourish after a good pace setup and he may not get quite the same scenario here. He should be rallying late and would not be a surprise. Another who should fly late is Stay Put, who has pointed to this race ever since a strong rallying win in an allowance optional claimer at Fair Grounds on January 3 going a mile and 40 yards. If you like him youll likely get a good price and he does have a chance. The speedy Tempted to Tapit blasted Aqueduct maidens going a mile in his last but should get pressure from Discreetly Mine today. If either one of those two gets loose and slows down the pace they could go a long way.

El Camino Real Derby G3 1 1/8 miles - Golden Gate Fields, Race 7

The El Camino features a rematch between Triple Crown nominees Ranger Heartley and Connemara. Ranger Heartley had things all his own way on the front end in the California Derby in their last meeting and defeated Connemara by three-quarters of a length, but Connemara was making his first start since November 4, 2009 in that race and it was also his first start in a stake. Connemara also broke slow that day and could turn this race into a real battle with a sharp break today. So Ranger Heartley may have to prove himself.We might just take a shot on Jairzihno in this race if we can get good odds. The former European finished third in a his first start back at Santa Anita on February 3 after a four-month layoff going 1 1/16-miles and if he gets a duel to stalk and improves well.

The Southwest Stakes 1 mile - Oaklawn Park, Race 10

The Southwest Stakes pits San Rafael Stakes G3 winner and front-end type Conveyance against wire-to-wire Smarty Jones winner and local hopeful Dryfly. Conveyance drew outside and if these two go at it the race could set up for San Rafael runner up Cardiff Giant. Well also be watching Cool Bullet, who appeared to hang in his first route attempt in the Le Comte on January 23 at Fair Grounds. Both Domonation and Dublin are also capable of rallying into a decent pace. Dublin hasnt run since November 1 but he is the only Grade 1 winner in the field.

Turf Paradise Derby 1 1/16 miles - Turf Paradise, Race 8

Indian Firewater is the horse to beat in the Turf Paradise Derby. The 2-1 Bob Baffert trainee just missed in his last at Santa Anita, losing by a nose to The Program, a decent horse that would beat these. He should be the controlling speed and if he can slow it down hell be tough to get by at a short price. But we like overlay odds, which we arent likely to get here, and there are others elsewhere in the Derby preps that are more enticing. Well only be watching this race, and taking notes.

Watch closely today. You might find your Kentucky Derby winner!

Good Luck!