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Major Derby Prep Weekend
Let's take a (pre-scratches and changes) look at some of this weekend's stakes races.
COMELY STAKES - AQUEDUCT - RACE 7:
BROADWAY'S ALIBI is even-money on the morning line based on her 16 3/4-length romp, with a 100 Beyer, in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream on January 29. While that race was very impressive, Broadway's Alibi is no cinch to win the Comely.
First, the Forward Gal was raced over a sloppy, sealed surface. In three starts on fast going, Broadway's Alibi's numbers are 68, 79, 87 (although those starts were at two and I'd readily admit that she may have matured greatly since then).
Second, Broadway Alibi will attempt to navigate a mile for the first time and her stamina could be tested (although a one-turn mile is sometimes easier for a sprinter to handle than the two-turn counterpart).
Third, there is pace signed on for the Forward Gal. Broadway Alibi is a speed horse and her hand is forced from the inside draw. SINGLET, a stretchout sprinter trained by Tony Dutrow, may not be fast enough to wrest the lead from Broadway's Alibi, but she could apply some pace pressure on the backstretch.
Fourth, Broadway's Alibi missed time after the Forward Gal after shedding the frog from her left hind foot. While the foot shouldn't be stinging her this afternoon, one must wonder if the missed training will take its toll in the final furlong.
Fifth, Broadway's Alibi is facing a quality rival named MILLIONREASONSWHY. That foe, a Grade 2 winner trained by the underrated Nacho Correas, gave undefeated juvenile filly champion My Miss Aurelia a scare in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. She was freshened after that effort and returned with a rock-solid performance in the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel on March 3. That afternoon, she broke poorly but made a smooth three-wide move into contention on the turn. She had to work a bit in the stretch to fend off the multiple stakes-winner Dance to Bristol, but did so professionally. She received a 93 Beyer for the Wide Country, a race contested over "good" going, but she's also quick on dirt (90 Beyer in the Adirondack as a juvenile filly in August). Out of an A.P. Indy mare, Millionreasonswhy is bred to handle today's additional furlong without a fuss and she may get a good pace setup if Singlet forces Broadway's Alibi to go quickly in the opening half-mile.
Broadway's Alibi may be a freak and is a must-use, along with Millionreasonswhy, in multiple-race wagers. But, I wouldn't want to play her at an extremely short price considering all the factors.
Now, watch her win by a dozen again.
Selections: MILLIONREASONSWHY, BROADWAY'S ALIBI, WELCOME GUEST
Here are some quick-and-dirty selections:
Bay Shore: TRINNIBERG, HARDENED WILDCAT, HOW DO I WIN
Ashland: STEPHANIE'S KITTEN, HEART OF DESTINY, LOTTA LOVIN
Wood Memorial: GEMOLOGIST, THE LUMBER GUY, ALPHA
Santa Anita Derby: MIDNIGHT TRANSFER, CREATIVE CAUSE, LONGVIEW DRIVE
CARTER HANDICAP - AQUEDUCT - R10:
What a race! We have a Preakness winner (SHACKLEFORD), a Breeders' Cup winner (CALEB'S POSSE), a millionaire (JACKSON BEND) and a five-time graded stakes winner (CALIBRACHOA). They've all shown that they can win on the big stage, but I'm taking a chance with a runner that may be more potential than anything else right now. EMCEE, a lightly-raced son of Unbridled's Song, battled lameness early on and didn't debut until September of his 3-year-old campaign, but scored in his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin with an off-the-pace, 94-Beyer, run. I believe Emcee was scheduled to be shipped to Dubai in the winter, but he got sick and remained in the United States. Making his first start of the season in an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream on February 3, Emcee ran away from the field to the tune of a 107 Beyer. Last time out, in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct, Emcee was on the chase throughout. He pressed the fleet Royal Currier to the turn before ratcheting up the pressure. Royal Currier wouldn't falter immediately, however, and Emcee had to work harder than expected to get by that foe. By the time Emcee emerged with the lead, quality closers like Calibrachoa and Caleb's Posse were coming and the inexperienced Emcee just couldn't beat them away. This time, the pace scenario may be a bit different as Emcee could end up the main speed. If he gets a breather, he could be tough to run down late.
Selections: EMCEE, CALIBRACHOA, CALEB'S POSSE
Some more quick-and-dirty picks:
Providencia: LADY OF SHAMROCK, INDIGO RIVER, BYRAMA
Illinois Derby: EXPLAIN, Z ROCKSTAR, FRANKIE IS BACK
Potrero Grande: ROMAN THREAT, SWAY AWAY, AMAZOMBIE, CAMP VICTORY
WAIT A WHILE STAKES - GULFSTREAM - R10 - SUNDAY
Sunday is closing afternoon at Gulfstream and the Wait A While Stakes may be an opportunity to beat a runner that earned big numbers in Grade 1 grass races last year. DISTORTED LEGACY, entered for $50,000 last year at Gulfstream, improved drastically as the year unfolded for trainer Angel Penna. She placed, at 42-1 odds, in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont behind top-class Stacelita and followed that effort up with a fourth-place finish (beaten only a length) in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill. Distorted Legacy got sick following the Breeders' Cup, and the Wait a While, at a distance that could be shorter than her best, is her first start since. Also, for all of her achievements on grass, Distorted Legacy has yet to win on the surface (0-8).
I'll try to beat her with RACE TO URGA, a filly that has won three in a row against cheaper company for trainer Christophe Clement. She'll get a class quiz this afternoon, but has the tactical speed to be placed in good position. She doesn't get a break in the weights, but I believe she's stakes quality.
Selections: RACE TO URGA, DISTORTED LEGACY, ENTRUSTMENT
For a more-detailed analysis, check out the video previews that Mike Beer and I produced under the "Handicapping Preview" heading:
More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I want to know.
Have a great holiday weekend!
You Feel Lucky, I see your REVERON will probably go in the Lexington to try to ensure getting into the Derby. :) Annie
Hello Dan and formblogworld....I've been sticking to my plan of playing only B.C. and Derby and it has been a long wait, but I am looking forward to it. I like some of the obvious horses a lot: Creative Cause, Alpha and Union Rags. 3 horse exacta box if I had to do it today...I think CC and UR have clearly shown a top class of talent and that Alpha looks primed to run a career race a la Super Saver. I may change my mind but if I stick with this plan I think value is there because it it the Derby with a 20 horse field, Borel, Pletcher, Baffert, I'll Have Another and Hansen will all take money and the point is to get it right first of all. I agree with Rosario that Creative Cause needs to get outside of horses in the stretch. Compare the Norfolk and San Felipe to the B.C. Juveniile and Santa Anita Derby and it is clear that he feels squeezed even in mild traffic when he's inside of horses. So hopefully he gets post 6 or outward. Same thing goes for Union Rags...because he needs to be in the clear to use his tactical speed. Alpha I'm less worried about post position...I just want Union Rags and Creative Cause to both draw post 6 or higher. I give the slight win edge to Creative Cause because of his 102 Beyer and his pedigree, but Union Rags looks like the real deal to me regardless of speed figure. I do have a little problem thinking he may prefer 9 furlongs, but the postiives outweight the negatives to me. That's just my opinion. Hopefully Jake Mo or Optimizer impress this weekend and give me reason to latch onto a longshot but for now with all 3 of Alpha, CC, and UR losing their final preps I will have to seek value in that helping their odds.
MKB probables for the Blue Grass: ANNIE and GRACIE'S Hansen :) YOGI'S Dullahan DALE'S Ever So Lucky SALUKI TOM'S Howe Great HAIRY'S Holy Candy CASEYJEAUX'S Prospective JEFF'S Russian Greek BYANOSE'S Scatman will run there or the Lexington. JEANNE'S Raconteur wants no part of HANSEN, and may run in the Arkansas Derby instead. :) Ditto ALYDARANDEASY'S Adirondack King may run in the Lexington instead. Annie
Whoo, Dale, EVER SO LUCKY worked 57 flat at KEE for the Blue Grass. :) Annie
MPM, Correction: That's American Turf at CD. Annie
Gracie, Oh oh, Dr. Kendall Hanson has apparently alerted the media to watch carefully for something eye-opening in the paddock with our HANSEN. He's not going to embarrass us, is he? Annie
MPM, Apparently your HANDSOME MIKE is experiencing "less than desirable energy levels" and will skip the Arkansas Derby and point to the American Turf at OP. See, there is not supposed to be any late night clubbing with your MKB horse during Derby prep season. :) Annie
Dick W, You have always been such a devoted MKB owner even though you haven't had the best of luck in the draws, so I certainly have no problem with your adopting MORGAN'S GUERRILLA with possible Preakness hopes. We know there are often new shooters in the Preakness when Derby fever is over and many tired Derby prospects decide to pass the Preakness since they have no hopes of a Triple Crown anyway. So, good luck with him! Annie
TBTA, After a morning spent taking abuse from one of my particularly nasty out of state customers I stepped outside angrily puffing away on a smoke when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to get a quick blog read. All I can say is you made my day do a complete 180, much more to this blog than horsies for sure. Thank you so much, I needed a smile and you got one. My employees must have thought that was a really good smoke. I'll do my best to bring whatever I can to the table here on formblog. I miss Steve too, I wish he knew how many times when I didn't know which way to go on CA racing I would turn to his posts for validation. Eastern philosophy has got me through some tough times, I love Confucius when I need to get happy, and Sun Tzu when I need to get mad. Once again, thank you. Slew, no problem man that was good enough I'll wait for part 2. My late mother told me stories about him that match your description. My dad is not a race fan, but she would sneak away from the house to go to Churchill and Keeneland to watch the legends. She never wagered a dime, but would oil paint them in her free time. Get those batteries recharged buddy. Daddy Long Legs is creeping into my subconscious. Don't know what that means I'm certainly not clairvoyant but for some reason that Dubai race keeps playing in my head. Piranha PE
Annie Well, my luck with MKB horses continues to be of the bad variety. Here is my take on the Illinois Derby. I am amazed that Currency Swap was bet down to almost 5 to 2. I was even surprised that he was the M L favorite at 4 to 1. Even the PH contest participants had him at 3 to 1 ! As much as I wanted him to do well as his MKB owner, as a horse player I felt like he was a toss. He just had not done that much and that pedigree was very suspect for getting the distance. He ran pretty well for 3/4, which will likely be the distance for his next race. I think he can be a useful sprinter. As for my PH contest pick in that race, I used Morgan's Guerrilla. Not too much has been said about him, but I thought he ran a nice race. I know their plan with him was to go right to the front but after not getting off well Rosie had to come from off the pace a bit. He made a nice move to take the lead in the stretch but could not hold off Done Talking, losing by only 3/4 of a length. Anyway, I think he deserves some watching. Maybe the Preakness ? Even though he won't be going to the Derby, I would be willing to take him on as my 2nd MKB horse if no one else puts in a claim. What say you ? Thanks for all the work that you do to give us all the experience of being 'owners'. Dick W