Kentucky Derby Preps for Saturday, March 20, 2010 – Florida Derby,
Swale Stakes, The Private Terms
Kentucky Derby Prep Races
· Florida Derby G1 - 1 1/8 miles – Gulfstream Park, Race 11
· Swale Stakes G2 – 7 furlongs – Gulfstream Park, Race
· The Private Terms – 1 Mile – Laurel Park, Race 9
Florida Derby G1 - 1 1/8 miles - Gulfstream Park, Race 11
Rule will try to make it five in a row in the 59th running of the Florida
Derby on Saturday, March 20, 2010 and if you’ve watched him run in
the past you know you don’t want to miss this.
A 3-year-old bay colt by Roman Ruler-Rockside by Personal Flag, Rule likes
to do things the hard way, taking the lead early under pressure, shaking
off the other speed in the stretch and holding off the ralliers. If he was
a fighter you wouldn’t want to be in the ring with him for round 12.
The knock against Rule is that he hasn’t really beaten any horses
of consequence. But he has done all that has been asked of him.
In his first and only start as a 3-year-old on February 13 in the 1 1/16-mile
Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, Rule dueled to the stretch and drew off
to win by three lengths over Schoolyard Dreams. Rule was given a 98 Beyer
Speed Figure for that win and Schoolyard Dreams came back to finish a game
second beaten a nose in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who also conditions current Kentucky Derby favorite
Eskendereya, Rule is expected to be favored in the Florida Derby. If we
can get 2-1 or better on him he’s the play. We won’t be betting
the farm on him however, as there are still some questions to be answered.
While Pletcher says Rule can come from off the pace to win, he still has
to prove it, and there is other speed in the Florida Derby. Additionally,
this is only Rule’s second start off a layoff and he’s running
further than he’s ever run. His pedigree says he’ll get the
1 1/8-miles of the Florida Derby, but if he ends up in an all out duel or
doesn’t make the lead, who knows what will happen.
Our feeling is that if Rule improves and runs his best race, he’s
the legitimate horse to beat. J R Velazquez, currently second in the standings
at Gulfstream, will be shooting for his third consecutive win aboard Rule.
Velazquez and Pletcher are operating at a 22 percent win clip as a team,
while Pletcher scores at a strong 27 percent with horses that have won their
Should Rule duel and falter, the likely upsetter could be Radiohead. Now
trained by Richard Dutrow, Radiohead made his 3-year-old debut on February
27 off a 15-week layoff and impressively won a mile allowance race at Gulfstream
Park by three lengths. In his race previous to that he was beaten only four
lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A Grade 2 sprint winner in
Europe and Grade 1 stakes placed, also in sprints in Europe, Radiohead at
this point looks like he can beat decent horses if he can handle 1 1/8-miles.
The remainder of the field in the Florida Derby is made up of horses that
will have to improve to win. Of those eligible to improve, Miner’s
Reserve may have the most upside. He’s only run twice, but in his
last he battled on the lead before drawing off to win a one-mile allowance
race at Gulfstream Park by five lengths for trainer Nick Zito. That race
resulted in a 94 Beyer Speed Figure and he does appear to have some quality
stamina in his pedigree.
We played Pleasant Prince in the exotics last time out as one of our pedigree
longshots in the Fountain of Youth and he finished fourth beaten 10 ¼-lengths
by current Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya, who won that race by 8 ½-lengths.
At 50-1, Pleasant Prince was only beaten 1 ¾-lengths for second by
some decent horses that would be well bet in the Florida Derby. We’ll
be including him on our exotic tickets again today.
Swale Stakes G2 – 7 furlongs – Gulfstream Park, Race 10
We don’t see any horse in the Swale Stakes that looks like they can
win the Kentucky Derby. Likely favorite D’Funnybone won the 7-furlong
Hutcheson G2 at Gulfstream Park in his first start off a 14-week layoff
but he was not visually impressive. If he came up against Rule at this point
in the Florida Derby, Rule would pummel him. While he was awarded a 99 Beyer
Speed Figure for his Hutcheson win we don’t believe it at this point.
The only other horses in the Swale that look like they might have a shot
to win, Hear Ye Hear Ye and Ibboyee, were also both coming off layoffs when
they lost to D’Funnybone in the Hutcheson, so they could improve,
but neither are enticing enough to bet on. If D’Funnybone runs his
race, he should win at a short price.
The Private Terms – 1 Mile – Laurel Park, Race 9
Plantation is the horse to watch in the Private Terms Stakes and is probably
worth taking a shot on at what should be a decent price. He is undefeated
in three starts, has tactical speed and now stretches out from six furlongs
to a mile. He received a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for his most recent win at
Charles Town in an NX3 allowance race and now steps up in class to face
better horses. Likely favorite Don’t Blame the Cat offers little value
at morning-line odds of 6/5 and likely second choice Regal Warrior also
looks like an ordinary horse. If Plantation can step it up a notch he can
win this at decent price.
Recap of Last Weekend’s Kentucky Derby Prep Races
We were a little disappointed with our pick Caracortado in the San Felipe,
but were not surprised that Sidney’s Candy wired the field as the
lone speed. Sidney’s Candy is probably a little better than we thought
he was. We were more impressed with Interactif, our longshot pick who finished
second at 6-1 and outfinished Caracortado for the place. Caracortado obviously
needs a pace to run at when facing better horses and Interactif just appears
to be a tough horse. Both can still improve, whereas we’re not sure
Sidney’s Candy could wire a field of Kentucky Derby quality.
Our pick in the Rebel Stakes, Dublin, was too close to the pace and paid
the price in the stretch in his second start of the layoff. Logical choices
Lookin at Lucky and Noble’s Promise ran 1-2. Dublin should have been
sitting back waiting early and rallying late. We’ll give him another
chance to prove himself, but he really does have to prove he belongs with
good horses. A proper trip from off the pace will reveal his class better.
Odysseus, one of our angle plays, won the Tampa Bay Derby, while another
of our angle plays, Schoolyard Dreams, finished second to top a $33.80 exacta.
The first four finishers were separated by only a length after an excellent
stretch battle but we’re not sure whether any of these horses are
Kentucky Derby quality just yet. Another race will provide more insights,
and a few of these could still have some upside.
Zenyatta won the Santa Margarita Invitational as expected and proved once
again she should have been awarded Horse of the Year in 2009. Rachel Alexandra
lost the New Orleans Ladies while performing with courage despite tiring,
and will now avoid facing Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom Invitational - but
there’s no question who the better horse is. Despite a tricky trip,
Zenyatta still only had to run 100 yards to win. And she had something left
at the wire.
Zenyatta might even be the best horse currently in training.
Good Luck in today’s Kentucky Derby preps!