04/02/2010 9:57PM

Questions, Questions, Questions


As we creep ever closer to Louisville and the first Saturday in May, we'll start getting some answers as to the overall quality of this intriguing crop of three-year-old hopefuls. 

This weekend's racing action features three major prep races starring the top two sophomores in training.  The indomitable LOOKIN AT LUCKY will attempt to maintain his position at or near the top of most polls in the Santa Anita Derby while the exciting ESKENDEREYA hopes to cement his position as the East Coast's, and trainer Todd Pletcher's, best hope of snatching the roses when he starts as the likely betting favorite in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. 

While those two fascinating prospects should be tough to deny in what should be their final prep runs before the Kentucky Derby, they are by no means slam dunks on paper.  While the others are still sorting themselves out, they'll have to answer these, and perhaps more, questions:

1.  How good is AWESOME ACT?  Will he have enough foundation after missing some training time due to weather as well as to a reported pastern infection?

2.  Was SCHOOLYARD DREAMS the victim of two premature moves at Tampa Bay Downs or does he hang when he puts his nose in front?

3.  Does JACKSON BEND want to go this far?

4.  Does WHO'S UP try and make life difficult for SIDNEY'S CANDY going into the first turn?  Can Sidney's Candy get this distance?

5.  Does SETSUKO's improved workout times indicate that Richard Mandella has him ready to fire his best shot tomorrow?

6.  Is CARACORTADO the same horse when he doesn't get an ideal setup?  He had a perfect trip in the Lewis and then flattened out badly when forced to move too soon last time.

7.  Will ALPHIE'S BET be able to duplicate his visually impressive Sham win from this tough outside post?

This is doubtlessly the greatest sport in the world.  We can debate these questions until the cows come home, but if we can deduce the handicapping puzzle, we get paid.  Even if there aren't any winning tickets in our future, hopefully some answers are forthcoming.

Eskendereya and Awesome Act seem like two good horses, but I'll take a small shot with Schoolyard Dreams.  If Dominguez can time his move just right, he may be able to pull off the mild upset.

I'm a Sidney's Candy fan, and will certainly use him with Lookin At Lucky in multi-race wagers, but I'm concerned about a possible pace battle with Who's Up.  Perhaps SKIPSHOT is worth a look for Jerry Hollendorfer at what figures to be a square price.

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.