04/15/2011 1:45PM

The Wizard's free Arkansas Derby pick


Arkansas Derby Race 11 at Oaklawn Park
Saturday, April 16

Note: This is a bonus free pick, in addition to the Wizard's free DRF Race of the Day pick for Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes

The questions that everyone had, myself included, about # 4 The Factor dealt with his incredible speed and whether he would have any chance to carry it over a route of ground. His win in the Rebel showed not only that he can get a route of ground, but that he is not a one-way speed crazed colt who will never be able to rate. Jockey Martin Garcia said afterwards, that as the field reached the far turn in the Rebel, The Factor took a very deep breath and he knew the horse had more than enough in the tank to finish the job. Today’s field is once again quite large, and there are some new shooters set to face The Factor. However, it seems illogical to think that the connections of any other potential pacesetters will opt to go toe-to-toe with the San Vicente and Rebel winner. That will likely lead to him setting an unpressured pace once again, on a track that has played kindly to speed, especially going two turns over the last two weeks.

One of the best things about the spring is that you see horses step up and develop rapidly and #2 NEHRO fits that profile. After scoring a maiden-breaking win on Presidents’ Day, trainer Steve Asmussen tested deep waters in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Dispatched at 36-1, this son of Mineshaft finished strongly up the rail to snag the place dough. Distance is never going to be an issue for him, as he’s kin to the graded stakes-placed mare Sweet Lips and multiple route winner Saint Marden. His dam, The Administrator, was also a winner going two turns, and his sire, Mineshaft, won at 10 furlongs twice at 10 furlongs during his Horse of the Year campaign in 2003. The rail draw for this colt will allow jockey Corey Nakatani to save ground just off the pace.

#3 ELITE ALEX is a horse that I have chased on numerous occasions. All I have been left with is disappointment. I am willing to give him another chance, more as an underneath horse than a winner. Calvin Borel anticipated there would be more pace in the Louisiana Derby, taking him to the back of the pack. The quick tempo never materialized and he was subsequently forced to rally into a negative setup. The addition of blinkers, something trainer Tim Ritchey has done with great success over the last five years, should keep him a bit sharper early.

# 1A ALTERNATION is 3 for 3 since stretched out to two turns and undefeated in 2 starts at Oaklawn. He has an outstanding distance pedigree which can only help stretching out to 1 1/8 miles.

No Win bet on The Factor. If my second selection # 2 Nehro is 8-1 or higher, make a small Win bet.

Main exacta 4-2, reverse for half.. Saver exactas 4-1a and 4-3,. reverse for very small.

Trifecta box 1-2-3-4 in case The Factor runs out.