03/28/2009 11:00PM

'Jojo' can upset if things go his way


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There are few holes, if any, in the resumes of favorites Dunkirk and Quality Road in Saturday's Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Unfortunately there is no value on them, either. With Dunkirk being 2 for 2 and a $3.7 million yearling purchase and Quality Road coming off a victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth with a 113 Beyer Speed Figure, their virtues fly out of the past performances, and are sure to result in them starting at short prices.

There is one horse, however, whose strengths may go somewhat unnoticed by the betting public - resulting in him starting as a mild overlay. That horse is Theregoesjojo.

Unlike Dunkirk and Quality Road, he has not been hyped as a star in the making. He has lost as many times as he has won (twice in his four-race career), and having cost only $42,000 at auction, he isn't a horse people are racing to the windows to bet because of his sales price. Nor does he have the speed of Quality Road, or the proven two-turn talent of Dunkirk.

What he offers, though, are odds of 5-1 on the morning line - well in excess of Dunkirk (9-5) and Quality Road (2-1).

Although his chances of victory are admittedly less than those two rivals, he has strengths that suggest he has better than a 5-1 chance of winning the race.

For starters, the 1 1/8-mile race sets up for his closing style, provided that Europe - a rabbit entered to ensure pace for Dunkirk - is not scratched. His presence would mean three front-runners in the Florida Derby, along with longshot Casey's on Call and Quality Road.

But with Europe and Casey's on Call seemingly not possessing the class to go with Quality Road for more than six furlongs or so, I would not be surprised to see Garrett Gomez send Dunkirk after Quality Road early on the final turn, knowing he has that rival to beat.

Lying in wait, poised to pounce right behind them, could be Theregoesjojo and Kent Desormeaux.

Theregoesjojo has other things to offer. He owns the second-highest Beyer Speed Figure in the race (a 105, trailing only Quality Road's 113), and he is more seasoned than Dunkirk and Quality Road, who have made two and three starts, respectively.

Granted, he has not raced two turns, as Dunkirk has done, but he has the pedigree to suggest he should like the added distance. His sire, Brahms, won the 1 1/8-mile Hollywood Derby on turf, albeit via disqualification, and his unraced dam is by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Beating the favorites won't be easily accomplished. Quality Road is blazing fast, and Dunkirk handled his first two-turn assignment nicely, winning by 4 3/4 lengths against a talented first-level allowance field despite a wide trip.

But at 5-1, Theregoesjojo is worth a play in the Florida Derby.

Crescent City: Milwaukee Miracle worth look

The Crescent City Derby is easily the deepest and most competitive of the four Louisiana-bred stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday. The race also offers a favorable wagering opportunity on Milwaukee Miracle.

Though he comes off a stakes victory last out in the Gentilly, I anticipate the betting public will view that race with some degree of skepticism, as it came on turf, not dirt, the surface on which the Crescent City Derby is being run.

But to conclude the turf was totally responsible for the win might not be fair. The Gentilly marked his first race going as far as 1 1/16 miles, and the distance, more so than the turf, may have been responsible for his improvement.

This is a colt that has already won two races on dirt and run third in a stakes race at Louisiana Downs on the surface. Look for him to maintain his sharp form and run a strong race at a square price.

Happy Ticket: This time, try Coach Mike

Earlier on the Fair Grounds card, Sax Appeal and Coach Mike renew their rivalry in the Happy Ticket Stakes. The duo have traded decisions in their last two starts, with Coach Mike beating Sax Appeal in the Champions Day Ladies at Fair Grounds on Dec. 13 before Sax Appeal turned the tables in the Feb. 7 Premier Night Matron Stakes at Delta Downs.

Coach Mike, first or second in her last seven dirt starts, is the choice to come out on top. She runs well off a short layoff, as she does Saturday, and she also excels over the Fair Grounds main track, where she is 3 for 4.

She also benefits from a nine-pound shift in the weights and an outside draw that should leave her in a favorable stalking position in the clear.