cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/03/2013 12:44 AM

Pitino chasing Derby win as a co-owner

May 2, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Rick Pitino became a Hall of Famer and an NCAA champion on the same day. Now the Louisville basketball coach is positioned to become a Kentucky Derby-winning owner if Goldencents wins on Saturday.

Talk about the greatest four weeks ever.

Despite attempts to downplay his hot streak, Pitino's appearance for Wednesday's workout at Churchill Downs showed how much people like being around a winner. He looked every bit the rock star wearing sunglasses as he walked through a throng of Cardinals and race fans who had waited patiently outside the barn.

And to think, Pitino owns just 5 percent of the horse that is a 5-1 choice to win the Derby from the No. 8 post. But given his current roll, it's hard to bet against him.

``Obviously, we're rooting for Goldencents, but the Derby is something that you never know'' how it will evolve, Pitino said. ``If we don't win it, I'd like to see someone like (trainer) Shug McGaughey win it. He's never won the Derby, he's a great trainer and a friend of mine. I'd like to see a Goldencents-Orb exacta, that would be awesome.

``It's anybody's ball game. It's not like basketball, where you can look at a team and say they've got a little bit more firepower. You just don't know in the Derby because you don't know who's going to get into racing trouble.''

Perhaps, but Pitino is an active participant in thoroughbred racing's crown jewel because Goldencents overcame adversity to win last month's Santa Anita Derby and earn his way into the 139th Run for the Roses.

After moving outside to surge past pacesetter Super Ninety Nine on the final turn, the brown colt held off Flashback for a one-length victory that came just hours before Louisville rallied past Wichita State 72-68 in a national semifinal in Atlanta. Goldencents instantly became part of a phenomenal roll for Pitino, the school and the city, boosting local rooting interest for the Derby.

Two days later, Pitino was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and the Cardinals went on to beat Michigan 82-76 for their first national championship since 1986. Louisville's women's team reached the NCAA final before their amazing run ended with a blowout loss to Connecticut.

Euphoria remains evident nearly a month later with Goldencents T-shirts joining the sea of Cardinals red championship gear. Many are hoping the karma is just as strong on Saturday when the horse battles morning line favorite Orb (7-2) and unbeaten Verrazano (4-1), the second choice.

``Coach has been on a tremendous run, and we just keep thinking that it's going to continue,'' said Goldencents trainer Doug O'Neill, seeking his second consecutive Derby win following I'll Have Another's last May. ``Watching him win that championship, especially after the injury to (guard) Kevin (Ware), has been very inspirational for all of us and we're all feeling it. Hopefully, we can keep the roll going.''

However, the possibility of winning the Derby has the 60-year-old Pitino wondering if the odds have been too good to him. Asked last week what he'd do if Goldencents won the Derby, the coach joked, ``I'd be walking around looking for lightning to hit me.''

Figuratively speaking, Pitino's racing associates want to make sure that happens.

Nobody seems to have a big problem with Pitino getting the attention this week despite his small stake in Goldencents, co-owned by Josh Kaplan, Glen Sorgenstein and Dave Kenney. At the very least, Pitino has created a buzz around Barn 45 that might otherwise be missing - though Kevin Krigger's quest to become the first African-American jockey to win the Derby since 1902 is another interesting subplot.

``I feel bad for Josh and Glen because they own 75 percent of the horse and they're overwhelmed with coach Pitino owning 5 percent,'' said O'Neill's brother Dennis, who found the horse that Kaplan and Sorgenstein bought for $62,000. ``But it's great for them. It's given the horse so much publicity that he would never get. And coach is a great guy on top of it. It would be different if you were dealing with someone you didn't really care for. ...

``He's been so good about taking pressure off, so to speak. He wants to win, but he really knows the business and how hard it is to win the Kentucky Derby.''

Pitino refers to it as a ``hobby,'' but is engaged in the partnership, naming several horses after Cardinals players such as guards Russ Smith (Russdiculous, since sold) and Peyton Siva (Siva, who finished 11th in Wednesday's eighth race at Churchill Downs), and center Gorgui Dieng (Gorgui).

With Goldencents running for glory in Pitino's backyard, the coach's minority stake in the horse doesn't matter with him benefiting from the majority of luck right now.

``You have just as much fun in the racing business whether you own 5, 10, 15, 20 or 80 percent,'' he said.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/03/2013 08:38 AM

Napravnik aiming to be first female Derby winner

May 3, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Rosie Napravnik isn't worried about history. She knows that will take care of itself.

Just to hedge her chances, though, the 25-year-old jockey is working on her chemistry with a longshot named Mylute in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Two years after achieving the best finish by a female jockey in the Derby, she will try to become the first woman to win it. Napravnik's pursuit of the milestone comes a year after she became the first female rider to win the Kentucky Oaks, the second-biggest race on Churchill Downs' marquee weekend.

Mylute is a 15-1 shot to win the Derby, but his last win came in December with Napravnik aboard. That performance offered a glimpse into her ability to get the most out of a horse, something she has shown in being the leading rider at four tracks.

Doing it again Saturday could make Derby history.

Napravnik is confident that Mylute could make it happen.

``Mylute will definitely come from off the pace because that's his style,'' said Napravnik, who will start from the No. 6 post position. ``That's not a bad style to have when the race is a mile and a quarter. It's very long, so if you can have a horse that can stay relaxed in the first part, that's definitely to your advantage.''

For her part Napravnik has been more relaxed preparing for her second Derby appearance. That hasn't been easy considering the barrage of media requests asking about her attempt to do what six women, including herself, have failed to do in 138 previous Derbys against male jockeys.

Napravnik is well aware of that history and tectonic impact her victory could have. But that quest is two days away, and the New Jersey native is simply embracing the attention her presence has brought to the sport.

Having gone through the Derby experience in 2011 while guiding Pants On Fire to a ninth-place finish, Napravnik feels more like a veteran the second time around.

``It's nice to have the experience of when I was here two years ago,'' she said. ``It's a little less overwhelming and I know what to expect. I've been able to handle it better.

``A lot has happened in my career since I was here two years ago. I think I've been more recognized, it's very flattering and everybody has been very positive. Winning the Kentucky Oaks last year was probably the greatest moment of my career.''

As it turned out, Napravnik's breakthrough victory aboard Believe You Can in the Oaks was just the first of several big moments. She rode Shanghai Bobby to five wins including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, helping the colt claim the 2-year-old championship.

A couple of months later she climbed aboard Mylute at Fair Grounds Race Course near New Orleans and immediately forged a bond that led to a second mount in the Derby. The horse earned his second career win by nearly 11 lengths on Dec. 26, his best effort in nine starts.

Napravnik went on to be Fair Grounds' top rider for the third straight year, adding similar honors at Laurel, Pimlico and Delaware Park.

``We're lucky to have her,'' Amoss said of Napravnik. ``It may be a bit surprising that she was available for the Kentucky Derby with what I thought about her being very much in demand. But their loss is our gain.''

Amoss struggles for an exact description of Napravnik's success but notes that her ability to connect quickly with her mounts. The only other jockey he has seen with that talent is Hall of Famer Pat Day, which is saying something.

At the same time, Amoss notes Napravnik's businesslike demeanor that has helped her deal with being in a male-dominated sport. Not to mention, all the attention she has gotten this week.

Napravnik is all smiles when it comes to the horse and specifically Mylute. She has been pleased with his breezes this week and looks forward to Saturday and a possible brush with history.

``He feels great, he's acting great and I'm very confident heading into the Derby,'' she said. ``Hopefully, we can make history.''

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 01:35 AM

Kentucky Derby Breakdown

May 3, 2013

The preps have been run, the works are done and now it's time to get it on.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the field for the 139th Kentucky Derby!

2013 Breakdown
PP - Horse ML Odds Jockey (Derby Record) Owner (Derby Record)

1 - Black Onyx 50/1 Joe Bravo (0-2) Kelly Breen (0-3)
Notes: The Derby version of the “Jersey Boys,” Breen and Bravo send out a colt who’s just 1 for 3 on dirt and who’s done his best running on turf and synthetics as evident by his last two wins, including the G3 Spiral at Turfway over their Polytrack last out. Hasn’t run in six weeks, has breezed just twice and drew the dreaded rail. Not for me

2 - Oxbow 30/1 Gary Stevens (3-18) D. Wayne Lukas (4-45)
Notes: Ok, who broke out Doc Brown’s time travelling DeLorean and took us back to 1988? That was the year Stevens and Lukas teamed up for the first of two Derby wins together with the fantastic filly, Winning Colors. The problem is its 2013, this horse couldn’t warm Winning Colors up and they caught a bad draw. His best moment came in the G3 LeComte this past winter at the Fair Grounds. This is a much different story. Plus, Stevens gave him a curious ride in the G1 Arkansas Derby last out. Figures to take a few sentimental dollars but none of them will be mine.

3 - Revolutionary 10/1 Calvin Borel (3-10) Todd Pletcher (1-31)
Notes: The first of five from the Pletcher barn, many feel no horse has trained better than he has since arriving in Louisville. It took him a while to get going but once he started winning three starts back he never stopped. While slow, his G3 Withers win came against little and was on the slow side while a fast early pace obviously was a big plus in the G2 Louisiana Derby last out. I used to fall for these deep closers all the time, but not anymore. I know a lot of people love that Borel, who piloted Pletcher’s lone Derby winner Super Saver to victory back in 2010, is aboard but keep in mind he’s riding because one of Pletcher’s go-to-guys, Javier Castellano, opted off. He’ll take plenty of money for several reasons but I’m not sold on him being nothing more than a plodder. A toss for me.

4 - Golden Soul 50/1 Robby Albarado (0-12) Dallas Stewart (0-2)
Notes: He’s won just one of his five starts, couldn’t get within shouting distance of Oxbow in the LeComte where he finished second and didn’t really do much in either the Risen Star of Louisiana Derby, yet his trainer thinks he belongs and was more than happy to get a spot in the gate when they started dropping like flies earlier in the week. Not much to like.

5 - Normandy Invasion 12/1 Javier Castellano (0-6) Chad Brown (Debut)
Notes: I was stunned when I saw the morning line price on this horse because I thought there was a good chance he’d be the favorite when you take into account Castellano staying here over Revolutionary and the way he closed in the G1 Wood Memorial when he was second to Verrazano. He has all the makings of the “wiseguy” horse and is another who has reportedly been training up a storm since he arrived at Churchill but did hit a bump in the road on Thursday when he ran off and basically quasi-breezed three furlongs. There is a reason, however, that this horse is still eligible for an entry level allowance contest. I don’t know if it’s his deep closer running style, the fact that he appears to have a bit of “hang” in him or a combination of both. If you’re a fan, and you get anywhere near that morning line price and he wins, consider it an extremely early Christmas present but I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. He won’t be that price and he won’t win.

6 - Mylute 15/1 Rosie Napravnik (0-1) Tom Amoss (0-2)
Notes: Another in here getting some attention, in some cases for reasons other than HIS ability that I just don’t get. Arguably ran the best race of his nine race career last out, his first without blinkers, but honestly had no excuse other than the fact that he’s just not as good, or as game, as Revolutionary. While they did beat the field by three lengths, third place finisher Departing didn’t sit the best trip and in all likelihood would have been right there. Napravnik was featured on “60 Minutes” this week and is looking to become the first female to win the Derby, something that will not be overlooked by the betting public. There may not be many of them but I’m confident there are better options than this guy in here.

7 - Giant Finish 50/1 Jose Espinoza (Debut) Anthony Dutrow (Debut)
Notes: Dr. Abramovici or Dr. Asadourian, please report to stall 7 in the Churchill Downs paddock because this guys’ owners have a SERIOUS case of Derby Fever. Third in the Spiral last out, his only two wins have come against N.Y. bred competition and easily has done better work on synthetics than conventional dirt. It’s rumored that Dutrow isn’t even going to Kentucky to saddle him. See ya!!

8 - Goldencents 5/1 Kevin Krigger (Debut) Doug O’Neill (1-3)
Notes: Krigger’s trying to become the first black jockey to win the Derby in over 100 years, O’Neill is looking to go back-to-back, having grabbed the brass ring last year with I’ll Have Another and this colt is California’s lone representative in the Derby this time around. He does his best running on or close to the lead, and despite what you might hear in the next 36 hours, he’s the speed of the speed. Got cooked when facing a bit tougher than he was used to in the G2 San Felipe two back before rebounding nicely in the G1 Santa Anita Derby last out. I’m not too sure he’s going to handle the added distance and he is an obvious bounce candidate. I’m taking a pass.

9 - Overanalyze 15/1 Rafael Bejarano (0-8) Todd Pletcher (1-31)
Notes: If his form pattern holds true, he won’t be close on Saturday as he has a serious “In/Out” pattern working and this figures to be an “out” kind of day. He’s capable of getting the job done on his better days, like when he gutted out a nose Remsen win over Normandy Invasion and last out when he stormed home in the Arkansas Derby, but then he runs clunkers, like his first start of the year in the G3 Gotham and you’re let scratching your head. Hasn’t done much since his last start, but it was just three weeks ago. Still, you’d like to have a little more consistency going into the Derby and the only constant with him is that he’s inconsistent. Not for me.

10 - Palace Malice 20/1 Mike Smith (1-19) Todd Pletcher (1-31)
Notes: Another eligible for an entry level allowance contest, this will be his third start in 35 days as he was chasing those elusive Derby points just so he could get here for his egotistical owner. So he’s here now, has a Hall of Fame rider who has a Derby win under his belt, has drawn well and should sit a pretty good trip. My biggest problem with him is that his best race was at Keeneland where he was second in the Blue Grass last out over the Polytrack and the fact that he tripped out but still couldn’t get the job done. Plus, he’s adding blinkers. The Derby is hardly the place to be experimenting with equipment changes. I think this may be too much for him in a fairly short amount of time.

11 - Lines of Battle 30/1 Ryan Moore (Debut) Aidan O’Brien (0-4)
Notes: Most years, for me anyway, the Euro import is an automatic toss but I have to admit, this guy intrigues me. He’s won half of his six starts and is two for two over synthetic surfaces. Last out in the G2 U.A.E. Derby he basically toyed with them, going 1 3/16 miles. His pedigree suggests he’ll love conventional dirt and he has enough tactical speed to get in the game early. There are plenty of knocks…Euros haven’t done anything in years, he will have trained just once or twice over the course but this isn’t a stellar bunch in my opinion. I’ll be using him in the bottom half of my gimmicks, especially if he’s anywhere near that price.

12 - Itsmyluckyday 15/1 Elvis Trujillo (Debut) Eddie Plesa, Jr. (Debut)
Notes: The most seasoned Derby starter with ten races under his belt, he really turned the corner this year in his races at Gulfstream. He won the G.P. Derby and G3 Holly Bull before finishing second in the G1 Florida Derby off of a two month layoff last out. He offered little resistance when Orb came calling but I guess he had every right to get a bit leg weary off the bench. Still, four of his five wins have come in South Florida, where he is stabled most of the year and his speed figures at Gulfstream are 15-20 points higher than anywhere else he’s run. Figures to be one of many trying to work out a mid-pack trip. Connections not used to this kind of pressure. Someone had to be second last time and there was nothing behind him. I’m tossing him out.

13 - Falling Sky 50/1 Luis Saez (Debut) John Terranova III (Debut)
Notes: Went gate to wire in the G3 Sam F Davis at Tampa to start the season but has gradually tailed off since. On or close to the lead type figures to be an early pace factor and nothing more. 2-2 to Falling Sky….he gawn!!

14 - Verrazano 4/1 John Velazquez (1-14) Todd Pletcher (1-31)
Notes: The only undefeated runner in this Derby, 23 horses have come into the Derby with a perfect record over the past 100 years and seven of them left with it intact. In a four race career that’s spanned just four months, this colt has done nothing wrong. He’s won on the lead and from just off the pace and has yet to get hit with the whip, an impressive point when you consider he won the Wood Memorial last out by less than a length. I know he didn’t race as a juvenile but he broke his maiden on New Years’ Day and hasn’t stopped since, an interesting move for Pletcher who usually preps a horse twice, maybe three times, before the Derby. He should sit a great trip in behind the speed and he’s drawn brilliantly. I can honestly say, with the utmost confidence, that this is his Derby to lose.

15 - Charming Kitten 20/1 Edgar Prado (1-10) Todd Pletcher (1-31)
Notes: Like stablemate Palace Malice, this colt earned his way here in the Blue Grass coming from way back on the far turn to finish third by just ½ length and he has an egotistical owner as well. The Derby will be his first start on conventional dirt and this guy has done his best running on turf. His pedigree suggests he’ll get the distance, but on the lawn. If he’s in the money, I’ll be tearing my tickets up.

16 - Orb 7-2 Joel Rosario (0-3) Shug McGaughey (0-6)
Notes: You knew immediately after he hit the wire when third in his debut that he’d be one to be reckoned with. Horses don’t break as poorly as he did at Saratoga and come flying like he did. They just don’t. It took him some time to get it together but he’s hitting on all cylinders now, seeking his fifth consecutive victory. The stretch out to two turns, addition of Lasix and scene in south Florida did him wonders this winter. He made up ground at Gulfstream three different times in races that had totally different dynamics. He has been known to act up in the gate and can be a head case, two things you don’t need when you’re racing in a 20 horse field that takes time to load in front of over 150,000 people. His talent alone makes him a very dangerous hombre and it seems as if anyone you ask that doesn’t have a dog in the fight is rooting for Shug, one of the nicest guys in the game. His rider is in the stratosphere right now and everything points to this guy running a big one.

17 - Will Take Charge 20/1 Jon Court (0-2) D. Wayne Lukas (4-45)
Notes: Lukas has used some unconventional methods in the past but this has to rank high on the list as he’ll try to get this horse home off of a seven week layoff, and this coming from a guy that usually treats Thoroughbreds like harness horses. Won both the Smarty Jones and G2 Rebel at Oaklawn this season but was awful in the G2 KJC over this course last season. Has worked a mile on two separate occasions in preparation for this but working them isn’t like racing them. Certainly has the pedigree to handle the added distance and who knows, maybe this tactic can work. I don’t think he can win but I’ll use him on the bottom of my exotic tickets.

18 - Frac Daddy 50/1 Victor Lebron (Debut) Ken McPeek (0-4)
Notes: Perhaps when the Derby is over we can have an entry level allowance race for Derby also rans. There certainly seem to be enough of them in here. I will say this: at least his Churchill form is good as he broke his maiden and finished second in the KJC here in a three week span last November. Has always been highly regarded and finally showed some of that promise when second in the Ark. Derby last out after a pair of Gulfstream clunkers. Didn’t get the best of the draw and appears way over his head against these.

19 - Java’s War 15/1 Julien Leparoux (0-6) Ken McPeek (0-4)
Notes: Finally, a price horse that we can somewhat sink or teeth into! The Blue Grass winner got off to a terrible start and trailed for most of the way before storming home to in by a neck under Leparoux for the first time, the first real rider this guys had. I’m more impressed with his two dirt races, however. He finished a tough trip sixth in the KJC last year when he broke poorly from the rail and raced wide then had to take on Verrazano when finishing second in the T.B. Derby to start his three-year-old season. Now, he’s drawn outside and out of trouble, will be one of the last to load and will be a healthy 20-1 or better. Plus, his pedigree and running style suggest he’ll love added distance. Using him in all of my gimmicks.

20 - Vyjack 15/1 Garrett Gomez (0-9) Rudy Rodriguez (Debut)
Notes: A month ago, this gelding was undefeated and being associated with fellow “Killer V” Verrazano in the weeks leading up to their showdown in the Wood Memorial. He took his shot at Verrazano on the far turn but was held in abeyance and things haven’t gone well since. He got sick, his trainer came under fire in Kentucky and now he’s drawn post 20. Funny thing is Rudy’s mentor Rick Dutrow, Jr. won this in 2008 from post 20 with Big Brown. I doubt things will go as smoothly for him. He’s not for me.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 02:20 AM

At the Gate - Kentucky Derby

May 4, 2013

When early betting on Friday closed it was not Orb or Verrazano that was the betting favorite for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, in fact neither was even second choice in the betting.

The early honor goes to the Todd Pletcher trained Revolutionary, who closed on Friday evening at 5-1, with a few more bucks wagered on him that Goldencents, who also closed at 5-1.

Orb was next in line at 6-1, and Verrazano was rather chilly on the toteboard, closing at an amazing 11-1.

The undefeated Verrazano has been the early betting favorite since earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure on Feb.2 second against first level allowance foes at Gulfstream Park.

It looked as if the colt would head to Derby Day as the betting favorite after his Wood Memorial (G1) win, but that all changed when Orb got to Louisville. The Florida Derby winner has been the buzz horse all week on the backstretch and was installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite.

Now it appears any of three runners could end up the betting favorite by post time this afternoon.

The weather is a still a question mark, and the chance of rain has gone up and down and of late Friday night it does look good for Louisville according to

Showers early becoming a steady rain later in the day. High 63F. Winds ESE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 90%.

I thought we had a good shot of beating the heavy favorite Dreaming of Julia in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Friday and I was right. The filly had a terrible rip and checked in fourth.

The only problem was I never really gave Princess of Sylmar much of a chance, nor did hardly anyone else. She returned $79.60 for the win and set up some really nice payoff in the Oaks-Derby Double:

Oaks-Derby Double $2 Will-Pays
1. Black Onyx, scratched
2. Oxbow, $2,133.40
3. Revolutionary, $790
4. Golden Soul, $3,599.20
5. Normandy Invasion, $742
6. Mylute, $1,508.20
7. Giant Finish, $5,844
8. Goldencents, $953.60
9. Overanalyze, $1,246.80
10. Palace Malice, $1,547.60
11. Lines of Battle, $2,337.20
12. Itsmyluckyday, $983
13. Falling Sky, $6,241.40
14. Verrazano, $804.60
15. Charming Kitten, $3,617.80
16. Orb, $621.40
17. Will Take Charge, $3,088
18. Frac Daddy, $3,943.80
19. Java's War, $1,685.60
20. Vyjack, $1,313.80

In addition to my Derby Day Report I have my full card report available for Belmont Park as well as my Best Plays Report, which includes my eight strongest plays for Saturday from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.

Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Belmont Park action, my Saturday Churchill Downs Reports, my weekend Best Plays Reports, as well as my Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day reports for just $99.95.

Here is today's opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Clm $15,000B (1:05 ET)
7 King Rock 7-2
2 Willy Pay 6-1
3 Temecula Creek 5-2
8 Real Estate 8-1

Analysis: King Rock stalked the early pace and came with a mild late rally to finish third last out on the inner track at the Big A against $12,500 non-winners of three or a race since Sept. 16. The gelding was claimed out of the race by the Ness barn that is 38% winners first off the claim. This guy has not won since May of '11 where he beat restricted $25,000 claimers, but fits here against this week group.

Willy Pay stalked the early pace, made a good middle move to take over the lead and headed for home with the lead but was caught late and had to settle for the runner up spot against $12,500 non-winners of three or a race since Oct. 5. The gelding was making his first start off the claim by the Quick barn. He cuts back to six furlongs and he did break his maiden going one turn in a seven furlong maiden race at the Spa last July. The gelding comes in here in decent form and the 6-1 morning line looks fair enough.

WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,3,7,8
TRI: 2,7 / 2,3,7,8 / 1,2,3,7,8

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 7 The Ft. Marcy (4:13 ET)
1 Speaking of Which 2-1
2 Real Solution 3-1
3 Lubash 7-2
5 Bombaguia 4-1

Analysis: Speaking of Which shipped in from the west coast and landed with the Clement barn after making his first two starts in the U.S. in Southern California. He was a game second in the Twilight Derby (G2), but then faded to finish a well beaten 14th in the Hollywood Derby (G1) The colt had to take up sharply in tight quarters nearing the quarterpole and could not recover. Three runners have come out of that race to win next out. He is in good hands as he makes his first start here for the Clement barn that is 22% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn and has solid numbers brining runners back off the bench.

Real Solution makes his U.S. debut here for the Chad Brown barn. The colt ships in from Italy where he won his first three starts and then was sixth in Group 2 company. He ran second in the allowance ranks last out off a four month layoff. He makes his local debut here adding lasix for a sharp barn that does good work with overseas invaders.

WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,3
TRI: no play

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:

CD Race 7 The Humana Distaff G1 (2:08 ET)
1 Jamaican Smoke 5-1
6 Aubby K 7-2
8 Byrama 5-1
2 Rumor 5-2

Analysis: Jamaican Smoke exits the Madison (G1) on poly where the filly set a sharp early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths for the top spot. Her lone start over the main track here was a win versus Alw-1 foes last May and it was her career top speed fig to date. She has enough pedigree to handle a wet track and she now is on a more speed friendly racing strip while drawing the rail. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and if she can get the jump on Burban who is quick, she may be a danger to take this group gate to wire.

Aubby K was a smart looking winner of the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs off a 6 1/2 month layoff. Burban exited the race to win the Break Thru Stakes and Ice Cream Silence came out of the race to win the Doubledogdare (G3) in her next outing at Keeneland on April 19. She looks capable of moving forward off her last effort and she will need to if she wants to be competitive in this spot. She has enough pedigree to handle a wet track.

Byrama was near the back of the pack early while saving ground, was angled our four wide for the stretch drive and was blocked at the eighth pole when the leader drifted. She finished up with good energy when angled toward the outside inside the final furlong, beaten just a neck. Two back on turf she ran a good second in the Buena Vista (G2) behind the talented Mizdirection, who came back to win the Las Congas (G3) in her next start, her tenth in 15 career starts. This will be the filly's first go on dirt as she has only raced on turf and the fake stuff. Her running style is not perfect for this surface but she should get a solid pace to run at and she figures to be a decent enough price.

WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8

Live Longshots:
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.

Belmont Park
R1: #1 #8 Real Estate 8-1
R2: #1 I'm Stoked 8-1
R3: #7 Doc Cebu 12-1
R3: #5 King Balthsar 12-1
R5: #8 Forever for Always 8-1
R6: #3 Game Token 10-1
R8: #10 Ghostly Vision 12-1
R10: #4 Brandy's Big Guy 8-1
R10: #1 Lion Aint Easy 15-1

Good luck today!

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cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 08:23 AM

Kentucky Derby betting: Horse-by-horse preview and picks

Two trail blazers will try to make history in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Rosie Napravnik rides Mylute trying to become the first woman to win the race and Kevin Krigger looks to become the first African-American jockey to win the Run for the Roses in over a century.

Here's a look at Saturday's 19-horse field and the Kentucky Derby odds after the No. 1 horse, Black Onyx, was scratched:

2. Oxbow (Jockey-G. Stevens) 30-1

Ran a dismal fifth as the second choice in the Arkansas Derby. Lacked the gate speed and really didn't close well either.

3. Revolutionary (C. Borel) 10-1

Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel makes this one a legitimate threat. Revolutionary has won three straight, including a gritty effort in the Louisiana Derby.

4. Golden Soul (R. Albarado) 50-1

Had a rough trip finishing fourth in the Louisiana Derby. Is a hard-working colt but barely drew into the field and doesn’t figure to be in the mix.

5. Normandy Invasion (J. Castellano) 12-1

All the signs point to a major effort from this one. He’s in fine form and Castellano chose to ride him over Revolutionary.

6. Mylute (R. Napravnik) 15-1

Reunited with Napravnik, who was aboard in Mylute's last win in an allowance race at Fair Grounds, he was heavily raced as a two year old. Trainer Tom Amoss said he lacks the killer instinct but he's been improving and a threat to hit the board.

7. Giant Finish (J. Espinoza) 50-1

Figures to be the longest shot on the board. Didn't have the speed to take the lead at 23-1 in a Grade III event last time out. Pass.

8. Goldencents (K. Krigger) 5-1

How's this for a daily double? Louisville coach Rick Pitino will try to become the first coach to win an NCAA basketball title and the Kentucky Derby in the same year. Trainer Doug O'Neill won the race last year with I'll Have Another.

9. Overanalyze (R. Bejarano) 15-1

Was a bit rank in winning the Arkansas Derby and had to survive a claim of foul in the race but it was still an impressive performance.

10. Palace Malice (M. Smith) 20-1

Could move up on an off track. He’s bred for the distance and has worked well. By Curlin and adds blinkers. He’ll get a call at some time in the race.

11. Lines of Battle (R. Moore) 30-1

Trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, he’s shown he can get the distance but he’s loaded with so many other variables. Has never raced on dirt and has run just once this year.

12. Itsmyluckyday (E. Trujillo) 15-1

Has the second-best Beyer speed figure in the race and was a solid second to favorite Orb in the Florida Derby. Figures to be there, maybe second.

13. Falling Sky (L. Saez) 50-1

After relinquishing the lead in the Arkansas Derby, this one dug back in and reclaimed the edge before fading in the stretch. Figures to set the pace again here.

14. Verrazano (J. Velazquez) 4-1

One of five horses trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle in the race. No horse that didn’t run as a two year old has won the Kentucky Derby since 1882, but Verrazano has won all four of his starts including a game effort as the well-bet favorite in the Wood Memorial.

15. Charming Kitten (E. Prado) 20-1

The fact that this one has never run on a dirt track before raises a red flag. Works weren't bad but there are too many questions to recommend.

16. Orb (J. Rosario) 7-2

Shug McGaughey star was installed as the morning-line favorite after winning each of his three races this season. Has the hottest jockey in the sport aboard and, while the post is unfavorable, his workouts are certainly sharp. McGaughey has never won the Kentucky Derby and said if his horse can get a clean trip to the first turn he can win it. If...

17. Will Take Charge (J. Court) 20-1

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas last won the Kentucky Derby with Charismatic in 1999. Has the game passed him by? The No. 17 horse has never won the Derby.

18. Frac Daddy (V. Lebron) 50-1

Was no match for Overanalyze in the Arkansas Derby despite a good run toward the front. The added distance in the Kentucky Derby could prove costly.

19. Java's War (J. Leparoux) 15-1

Has tactical speed but may choose to unleash his solid stretch run here. Has won three of his seven races and was a fine second to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby.

20. Vyjack (G. Gomez) 15-1

Colt has been under 24-hour surveillance after three of trainer Rudy Rodriguez's horses have tested positive for a banned substance in the past year. He must be related to A-Rod. Vyjack doesn't have the pedigree.

Picks: Orb, Itsmyluckyday, Normandy Invasion
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cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 08:24 AM

Kentucky Derby weather report: rain expected

Churchill Downs will see overcast skies with rain showers. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s with winds blowing between 5-15 mph.

At 5:00 p.m. ET, roughly 85 minutes before the race, the forecast calls for nine mph winds going south with showers.

No horse has an edge in the sloppy conditions. All 19 horses are inexperienced on muddy tracks, according to UPI.

"It'll make the Derby much more wide open," said Frac Daddy and Java's War trainer Kenny McPeek. "How they handle it and what kind of trips they get are completely out of our control."

Normandy Invasion trainer Chad Brown said he doesn't train his horses on wet tracks.

"I don't know if you can teach them to like it. We're going to find out with them," Brown said to UPI.

Golden Soul's trainer, Dallas Stewart, says that his horse is "out of a Mr. Prospector mare and they love the mud."

Here's the odds for the race:

Verrazano +300
Orb +300
Goldencents +350
Itsmyluckyday +400
Revolutionary +550
Normandy Invasion +1,000
Overanalyze +1,200
Java's War +1,500
Mylute +1,500
Vyjack +1,800
Will Take Charge +2,000
Palace Malice +2,200
Frac Daddy +2,500
Oxbow +3,000
Lines Of Battle +3,000
Golden Soul +4,500
Falling Sky +5,000

Black Onyx has been scratched from the race due to a bone chip in his front left ankle.
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cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 12:15 PM

Black Onyx scratched from Kentucky Derby

May 3, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Long shot Black Onyx was a late scratch for the Kentucky Derby because of a chip in his left ankle, leaving 19 horses to vie for the roses.

The scratch occurred Friday after early wagering for the race had opened, so Black Onyx's No. 1 post position will be left empty on Saturday. The remaining horses will stay in their original starting gate positions.

Trainer Kelly Breen said the colt looked good training on Friday, but he had some swelling in the ankle, so an X-ray was taken which revealed the chip.

``He's back in the barn. He's not feeling that bad because he just tried to bite me,'' Breen said. ``It couldn't have been worse timing.''

He said it's too early to know if Black Onyx will need surgery or just recover on his own.

Jockey Joe Bravo was left without a Derby mount. He hasn't won the race in two previous attempts.

``I'm just very thankful that the horse is going to be OK,'' he said. ``I'm just really sorry for the whole team.''

The scratch came too late for Fear the Kitten to get into the Derby. The colt was on the list of also eligibles as the 21st qualifier in the point standings which determine the field.

Black Onyx qualified for the Derby by winning the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He was 50-1 on the morning line

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 12:21 PM

Shug’s Derby Diary: Final Preparations

Shug McGaughey has saddled nine Eclipse Award champions and nine Breeders’ Cup winners during a Hall of Fame training career that has spanned more than three decades. The native of Lexington, Ky., looks to win the race of his dreams as he prepares Orb for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. McGaughey, 62, is taking visitors to America’s Best Racing along for the ride. Here is the second installment of his Derby Diary, as told to Tom Pedulla:

I could not stop smiling after Orb worked four furlongs in 47 4/5 seconds on Monday at Churchill Downs. I felt relieved to have it behind us and I was elated with how well it went. I sent him out with Jennifer Patterson, who has worked him every time and is able to give me what I want every time. She is a huge part of our team and she delivered again.

One of Orb’s few flaws is a tendency to wait on horses once he makes the lead, thinking he has done enough. So I sent him out with a stablemate, Overwhelming, as company with the hope that he would put her away and keep on going. He did that as easily as you would ever want to see. Jennifer said she never had him at a high gallop.

The work was another sign of what I have known since he shipped from Payson Park to Churchill Downs. Not all horses like this track. He is just fine with it and, after running him three times at speed-favoring Gulfstream Park, I cannot wait to run him here. I would not be surprised if he is the post-time favorite. He has done so well here and people have seen it.

In this business, it is rare when everything goes according to plan. So far, this has. He had gate problems early in his career, so that is always something for us to pay attention to. He went to the gate last Friday morning and he was perfect. I schooled him in the paddock last Saturday. It went as well as I could expect.

I can’t tell you how he is going to handle the huge crowd on Derby day. It is a concern, but it is a concern for every horse. It is something they have never seen before and will never see again. We’ll just try to stay cool – him and me.

I know I will get nervous as the big day approaches. For now, I keep telling myself that we have done everything we can do. We needed things to go the right way, and they have. My people have done a wonderful job of being as all in as I am. It takes a team, and I could not be happier with the members of my team.

That group includes, of course, our jockey, Joel Rosario. As pleased as I was with how John Velazquez handled Orb when he won the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, I was equally satisfied to regain Rosario once Velazquez took another direction with Verrazano.

Rosario rode the horse earlier and no jockey in the world is hotter than he is right now. He is on fire. His confidence has to be through the roof, and my confidence in him is through the roof. He is a young, energetic rider trying to get accomplished what every young rider – and one older trainer – wants to get accomplished.

I will not give him a lot of prerace instructions. I know our horse will go the mile and a quarter, and that means a lot. I do think it will be important to get Orb into the race early. There does not look to be a great deal of pace and I do not want to leave him with too much to do. Beyond that, I will wish Joel good luck and tell him to ride his race because no one can be sure what will happen once those gates open.

It has meant so much the last few weeks to have people I never met before wish us good luck. I was going through the airport in New York last weekend and it happened. It seems that everywhere I go, people are wishing us well.

I have been asked many times what it would mean to my career to finally win the Derby. I can only tell you this is the race that is on top of my list and has been for a long time.

Will it happen? With a 20-horse field, so much will depend on the trip. If all goes well, I think we have a tremendous opportunity to win. If it does not, we will pack up and wait for the next crop of 2-year-olds to arrive with the hope they always bring.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 12:25 PM

Not on my tickets

LINES OF BATTLE: None of the Coolmore stock from Ireland ever has done anything off the plane in the Kentucky Derby, and this year’s UAE Derby was one of its weakest ever, with Soft Falling Rain skipping the race to run in the Godolphin Mile. The UAE Derby also lacked a Godolphin blueblood of any repute this year, so there’s less to appreciate about that race than even Daddy Long Legs a year ago. And he finished last under distress in Louisville. Lines of Battle clearly is not the worst horse in the race, but he would appear once again miscast in the wrong race in his stable’s pursuit of history.

GIANT FINISH: The last horse to enter the Derby picture just before the draw, this New York-bred has not faced top competition. His pressing, forward style likely will find him chasing quicker runners and giving way when the real running begins. Trainer Tony Dutrow said he would send an assistant down to saddle the horse. If the trainer’s not showing up, neither is my money.

FALLING SKY: Rarely are horses who finish in the high teens in the Derby the late-running plodders, so the weakest of the early pacesetters and chasers often end up in retreat. If he gave away five lengths late in the Arkansas Derby and Tampa Bay Derby with modest paces, the extra distance, bigger field, and increased pressure Saturday could triple that total, unless he runs the race of his life. Faith in him delivering such a performance, not shown anywhere in his past performances, has checked out of my hotel. I would love more than anyone to see a grandson of Sea Hero win this, as he still rates one of my favorite horses – and Derby winners – ever. But fondness doth not make a wallet thick.

VYJACK: There’s no mystery about it: Vyjack is as mysterious as any horse in this year’s Derby. He won four straight starts before suffering his first loss in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, where he finished a length behind Verrazano in third. After the race, word from the ownership was that Vyjack bled (through Lasix). That soon changed to a lung infection, and regardless of the ailment, Vyjack was shipped from his Aqueduct home base to the Fair Hill training center in Maryland so he could be treated in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. If it was a lung infection and it has cleared up, we could see a return to his big win in the Gotham Stakes. The gelding looked to have special qualities in that score, like Smarty Jones in 2004. But if he carries an issue with bleeding through Lasix, the demands of the Kentucky Derby, in conjunction with a pedigree that’s already sketchy to achieve the trip, could result in a total retreat. This is a horse who could finish first or last and makes it difficult for me to put him in the middle ground. He has the ability to become the next Kentucky Derby winner but will have to do it with my cash sitting on the sidelines. If you’re ranking the most talented of this crop, he’s way farther up the charts than this. But for Saturday’s race, we have too many other options with less mystery.

BLACK ONYX: If you’re building a statue of a Derby winner, hire this guy to be the stand-in model. Unfortunately, he was scratched from the Derby on Friday morning.

WILL TAKE CHARGE: The long layoff and lack of a 1 1/8-mile prep are two serious violations of trust when it comes to a Derby horse for me. I’ve been a fan of this guy since Keeneland last fall, and his Unbridled’s Song-Take Charge Lady pedigree made him a dream date for a return to the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. The fact that trainer D. Wayne Lukas opted to train him for seven weeks instead of running in a race he was born to compete in makes me skeptical that he is about to peak. We’ve seen Will Take Charge show speed in some races and settle more in others. Given that he’s fresh, the Rebel winner might find himself chasing faster horses early but overeager and resisting to settle. If that’s the case, the 10 furlongs are going to get him. He needs too much to go right for me to recommend, even if I am a fan.

FEAR THE KITTEN: This also-eligible entrant did not make the Derby field because Black Onyx was not scratched until after the Friday morning cutoff time.

GOLDEN SOUL: There’s not much difference between Golden Soul and the aforementioned Fear the Kitten. They ran second and third in the Grade 3 Lecomte while employing similar tactics, and neither has won a race this year or a stakes. If you don’t think the pace comes back the block, this son of Perfect Soul becomes very difficult to recommend. Yes, he’s a closer, but the pedigree doesn’t scream for 10 furlongs. Still, he edged Fear the Kitten in New Orleans and seems marginally better on dirt than that rival. The Louisiana Derby rates as my top prep of the season, and that race’s fast pace likely aided his rally from last of 14 to be fourth. He’s going to pass some horses, but how many remains a number too low for me to use in the superfecta.

MYLUTE: When you ask a good horse to run a bit farther than he’s most likely capable of, his final placing most often is more a product of the competition. Against the right field, with the right pace setup, overcoming pedigree and past-performance limitations can be achieved. It’s all about the matchups in that case. But when the rivals number 19, including nine coming off major graded stakes victories, the possibilities for a horse like Mylute to stave off so many challengers becomes a losing numbers game. This is one of the most talented middle-distance horses in the entire 2013 crop from this eye, but his inability to close out a two-turn race four times in five tries speaks to a massive challenge Saturday. Expect him to be much closer to the pace in the Derby than he was at Fair Grounds, and he will continue to hang on as long as the closers sputter. Those who launch from the back with fervor, however, likely collar him.

CHARMING KITTEN: I love the fact that his dam is named Iteration, which means to repeat a process over and over with the hope that you achieve a desired result. Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey are going to run their entire litter of Kittens until one hits in the Kentucky Derby. But that forecast this year looks cloudy at best, even if I’ve twisted in the wind more so on this horse than I probably should. I like the turf-to-Poly-to-dirt progression that’s worked so well in recent years for Animal Kingdom, Paddy O’Prado, and others. And Charming Kitten was moving quite well on the back end of the Blue Grass. But trainer Todd Pletcher criticized this colt’s workout earlier in the week, and that’s a situation you simply don’t see unless the workout was decidedly on the disappointing side. I toyed with the three Blue Grass alumni for inclusion on my tickets and will stand against this pricy option with some hesitation.

JAVA’S WAR: Like Charming Kitten, this colt was ringing the bell late in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. But unlike Charming Kitten, we’ve seen what this Ken McPeek trainee can do on dirt, and it was a solid second in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. But the audible to run in the Blue Grass was owner Charles Fipke’s, not McPeek’s, and the trainer had cautioned publicly after the Tampa Bay Derby that Java’s War was too small and not built for the rigors of the first Saturday in May. He circled the field in the Blue Grass for a rally that even befuddled a Polytrack student like me. Java’s War wouldn’t be the first horse slight of build to win the Derby. And on dam-side pedigree, which I deem most important for distance success, he’s wonderfully bred to be a successful runner at the Derby distance and beyond. I don’t think he’s of the quality of Dullahan from the 2012 Blue Grass, who wound up third in the Derby, which means his late rally could fall just outside the exotics. But I’m not sure he’s handling the track well enough here this week to make the exotics radar, so I have moved him down some.

OXBOW: I wouldn’t be shocked if veteran jockey Gary Stevens tries to pull a Winning Colors and fires this horse to the lead. Nobody will out-pedigree him for Churchill Downs and 1 1/4 miles. His daddy won the Breeders’ Cup Classic here, and his dam is a sister to Tiznow, who won the first of his two BC Classics under the Twin Spires. The question for Oxbow becomes whether he’s moving the right way coming into the Derby. His Arkansas Derby was subpar in a poor change of tactics, and his training at Churchill Downs has not led anyone to believe that a big bounce-back is near. This is a horse I like a whole bunch, but I’m not sure the Derby works for him. It’s about peaking on the right day, and I’ve lost some faith that Oxbow’s day can be this Saturday. I’ll be cheering for the Golden Boys, Lukas, and Stevens but keeping the gold in my pocket after a tough decision.

VERRAZANO: Fool me three times, and my cap will be doffed for good. Countdown readers may recall (why do I remind you of my bad opinions?) that I swung against Verrazano in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 1 Wood Memorial, each time in favor of horses with the home-field advantage at better prices. Rewinding the video, that didn’t work out too well, as the unbeaten colt kept on winning. Now he comes to Louisville as one of the expected Derby favorites, except that no one with a keyboard or microphone picks him to win this time. I’ve been picking against him all spring. This is a bandwagon that you might not want to board. Furthering things I really shouldn’t remind anyone of, it was early in 2012 that I deemed Verrazano’s older brother, El Padrino, as perhaps Todd Pletcher’s best-prepared early-season Derby hope ever and even went as far as to circle him as the winner before anything bloomed that spring. By the time May rolled around, El Padrino looked like a hot mess at Churchill Downs and was badly off form. The twist here is that Verrazano is the anti-El Padrino, lacking any of that good juvenile foundation but coming into the Derby in a more positive shine. No, the Wood Memorial didn’t dazzle anyone on margins, but it was good enough that it lured John Velazquez off of Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Orb in order to stick with him. If you think Velazquez was tied to Pletcher and that was the lone reason, look no further than to see fellow Pletcher pilot Javier Castellano abandon Revolutionary for the Chad Brown-trained Normandy Invasion. When it comes to Derby mounts, you ride the horse, not the barn. Velazquez’s faith in Verrazano merits weight in our handicapping decisions; it’s not simply a “yes, sir” deal with the barn. To the point of the rider, lest we forget Velazquez is coming back from a fractured rib and wrist in recent days, and those are two pretty important pieces of the operation for a jockey. Couple that with a lack of a 2-year-old foundation that very well could catch up with Verrazano. No unraced juvenile has won the Derby since 1882, and that’s because those horses lacked months of 2-year-old training. Most unraced 2-year-olds are dealing with shin issues and growing pains that prevent them from training, or else they would be at the track. Only a few times in a century does a freak like Curlin or Bodemeister come along and challenge that norm. But even those horses failed to smell the roses. If you believe Verrazano brings more to the party than Curlin or Bodemeister, you go to the windows. If you don’t, you roll the dice like I’m going to Saturday. What’s the penalty for “fool me three times,” anyway?

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32961 Followers:38
05/04/2013 12:27 PM

Exotics inclusions

FRAC DADDY: Respect the Arkansas trail to Churchill or be beaten by it. That’s the mantra since 2004, when a long procession of horses from that circuit first started dotting the Derby superfecta. They haven’t missed one since. Frac Daddy made a premature move down the backstretch of the Arkansas Derby, one that left him in a drive far too long. If Victor Lebron harnesses the move better Saturday, this Churchill Downs-loving colt appears to want the distance. Not every Oaklawn raider has been a Smarty Jones, Bodemeister, or Curlin in repute. There are Kentucky Derby superfecta fillers like Steppenwolfer, Papa Clem, and Denis of Cork. This is a physically strong, stout colt who has not had the smoothest of seasons, with foot and lung issues. I don’t see him winning, but an exotics jolt approaching 30-1 or 40-1 is not without intrigue as I punch the SAM machine.

NORMANDY INVASION: While he’s narrowly built like Real Quiet, I’m not sure that leggy, slender look will play well in a 20-horse field with his past running style. Normandy Invasion seems a bit fresh in his training of late for his closing style, and perhaps Brown wants him up closer to the pace, but this is no time to change tactics. This is a supremely talented colt with a high ceiling, and he’s capable of more than his 1-for-5 record, but did he get enough out of his two preps? Given the putrid record of the Wood Memorial alumni here the past decade (none in the money since 2003), you wouldn’t be against the grain so much if you took a shot eliminating him. But it’s no easy thing to do with a horse who obviously calls out to you on the screen that he’s a player. I will be including underneath, but probably not an exacta player.

GOLDENCENTS: No horse in Derby 139 appears more dependent on the pace than the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner. From point A to point Z, he may be the fastest horse on the trail. But who pushes him off those points across the alphabet soup and pushes his buttons of patience likely decides his fate. While I abandoned his predecessor, I’ll Have Another, from win contender to exotics contender last year after he drew post 19, Goldencents started his evaluation below the win cusp for me, even before the pill pull. I respect him, but I don’t trust him. The California crop has been so bad this year that it resembles nothing of the stalwarts whom that coast boasted in 2012. Horses like Creative Cause, Bodemeister, Paynter, and I’ll Have Another all seem in a league far above what was on display in 2013 out west. The mere fact that Bob Baffert developed not a single Derby horse to make the gate this year puts raises suspicion about just how good Goldencents may be. Stacking up contenders based on strength of schedule still holds merit. To his credit, and why Goldencents is not a toss-out, is the fact that he hit the road at age 2, won a very productive edition of the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, and was a solid second in the Grade 1 Champagne to since-injured champion juvenile Shanghai Bobby. Where he falls short of I’ll Have Another would be on pedigree for the distance. He’s simply not as well-bred for the route as last year’s champ. But he’s still a viable candidate to take them a very long way and see his number in lights.

ITSMYLUCKYDAY: The Florida winter flash has much more physical presence than I had known. “Lucky” looks like a machine. While it’s fair to wonder if he peaked too early in the year, it’s to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.’s credit that he backed off of running in February’s Fountain of Youth. That rest might be exactly the right remedy that most early-winter horses who peak too soon aren’t ever given. Itsmyluckyday has been given time to reboot this year, and the spacing of his races and talents could take him a long way Saturday. The pedigree still seems a bit short to win the shooting match. And realistically, you have to assume Orb must come back to him to reverse the Florida Derby finish. Those two factors lead me to put this horse on the bottom of the exotics and not the win end, but he’s a very serious top-five player.

PALACE MALICE: No horse adding blinkers has won the Kentucky Derby since Sea Hero in 1993, but I thought Palace Malice looked exceptional in his workout inside of Overanalyze in recent days. He never gave an inch and galloped out best. The dam-side pedigree built for turf is what I love in a Derby gene pool, and with sire Curlin on top, Palace Malice theoretically should be better the longer he goes. Granted, that defies this horse’s past performances, where he’s guilty of flattening out late in races. My first take on him was that he had a stamina issue, the classic “hanger” who can’t finish his drink. But some “hangers” have idling issues more so than fitness, and increased focus could make them resist the urge to idle when they’ve drawn alongside their rivals. Blinkers on, for a horse like Palace Malice, could make a monumental difference. Albeit a workout and nowhere near the Derby distance, I thought his morning move in blinkers was a step in the direction that this one-time “hanger” might be a price banger to watch. I’ve mentioned my deep respect for this year’s Louisiana Derby, and it’s a fact that the Polytrack preps at Keeneland and Turfway have been highly potent in the Derby superfectas (since 2007, Keeneland’s first spring meet with Polytrack, every year except 2008 has had at least one Polytrack prepper). We talked about this horse back in January in Countdown as one of Las Vegas’s hottest winter-book plays (he was 35-1 at Wynn Las Vegas despite not racing since August), and he’s grown on me in recent weeks. If not for the blinkers, I’d probably be less interested. With them, he’s a horse at 20-1 or 30-1 under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who could be just what your exotics need under a potentially formful win result. And if he’s still a hanger, he wouldn’t be the first to stick the landing on the bottom of a trifecta or superfecta.

OVERANALYZE: Trainer Pletcher called his final Derby workout “the best I’ve seen him breeze ever.” I won’t use words like “best” and “ever” with Overanalyze, but I did rank him as the top 2-year-old of 2012, and his Arkansas Derby victory was as good visually as anyone this season. Granted, it was slow. But it looked good and was done the right way, with a pounce and draw-away style. The success of the Arkansas Derby as the key prep for Louisville has been unmatched since 2004, so winning the Arkansas Derby in commanding fashion makes you a player even if that race appears to be a peg below its par. In Rafael Bejarano, you get one of the best riders in the game not to have won a Kentucky Derby, and it’s only a matter of time before that changes. Two wins at 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen and Arkansas Derby add up to respect. It’s fair to note that he’s run big races every other race, so he’s on pattern to throw a dud. That can be a physical issue when some horses do not reproduce their best every time, but sometimes it’s just a coincidence. The beauty of taking the optimistic view here is that Overanalyze will be every bit of 15-1 or 20-1, so you’ll get paid to err on the side risk.

Win contenders

REVOLUTIONARY: The term “battle-tested” gets tossed around often on the Derby trail, and it’s something for which I’ve always had a fondness. You don’t measure great athletes by their best days. You measure them by their greatest successes when they don’t have their best stuff. Even when faced with impossible adversity in the Withers Stakes this winter at Aqueduct, Revolutionary escaped a race that less than 1 percent of the current horse population could have won. The athleticism to navigate through the stretch that day defies speed figures, brilliance, and the calling cards many horseplayers employ. And if you want speed and brilliance, it’s not like Revolutionary hasn’t shown that. Dial back to his fall maiden win at Aqueduct. Backers will get “Mr. Derby” aboard in Calvin Borel. I hear moans that Borel hurts your price, but price only matters if you win. Losers still cost $2 where I come from. There’s no one you’d want up in this race more than Borel, and if you’re fortunate enough to win, the point or two on the tote board won’t crush your weekend. The pedigree is a slick mix of speed up top by sire War Pass and stamina on the bottom with Runupthecolors, the winner of the Grade 1 Alabama at 1 1/4 miles. Revolutionary’s gallop-out after the Louisiana Derby rates as one of the best I’ve seen on the trail for a horse making that next distance step. If it rains, and the forecast says it could, remember that sire War Pass won the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Monmouth on perhaps the sloppiest track ever for a major race.

ORB: The Kentucky Derby often comes down to the “now” horse, the one ready to run the race of his life. No horse or jockey is any more “right now” than Orb and pilot Joel Rosario. Fans who watched Rosario make a record-breaking mockery of the Keeneland meeting in April know what I’m talking about. And it’s obvious that Orb has become the “buzz” horse since arriving in Louisville, stealing the spotlight from New Yorkers Verrazano and Normandy Invasion. His recent workouts have cut the price on Orb from what I felt would have been 7-1 or 8-1 to probably 7-2 or 4-1, and that’s a tough pill to swallow if you’ve been hedging on his relative merits against the rest of the field. But I’ve never doubted his talents and place among this crop since he closed twice to win over a Gulfstream Park strip where closers just don’t win like that. Admittedly, there is some Shug McGaughey-homerism going on with a lot of horseplayers who want to see the lovable horseman get his first Derby win. I won’t argue against that sentiment, as there won’t be a more deserving guy under the Twin Spires on Saturday. The only concern will be if Orb can keep it together mentally before the race. If he stays composed, faith in Rosario and the horse to work out the trip are at a maximum level.

It’s a two-horse Derby in my eyes, and the last time I said that was 2006, when Barbaro and Lawyer Ron stood out from the field. The former won by a dominant margin, while the latter exited with a knee chip and later became a champion at age 4. The top pair in this year’s Derby give me that same vibe.

High Fives

Jeremy Plonk’s top-five rated performances by class so far this season (Dec. 26 to present).

Stakes Race
1. ORB (Florida Derby, Gulfstream, March 30)
2. ITSMYLUCKYDAY (Holy Bull, Gulfstream, Jan. 26)
3. VERRAZANO (Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, April 6)
4. VYJACK (Gotham, Aqueduct, March 2)
5. REVOLUTIONARY (Withers, Aqueduct, Feb. 2)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: