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Derby Trail Exacta 3.25.23
Derby 149 is closer than you think
That’s right - just 42 days out from Kentucky Derby 149.
This weekend is the first of three straight that will basically show us what the field is going to look like for the Derby - and give our last chance to judge the competition against their competition.
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These are a big three weeks.
It starts this weekend with five preps today and tomorrow - spanning the globe.
UAE Derby - Dubai
Louisiana Derby - Fairgrounds (Louisiana)
Jeff Ruby Steaks - Turfway (Kentucky)
Sunland Derby - New Mexico
The fifth of the five actually already happened, with Mitono O winning the 1 1/8 mile Kukuryu Stakes at about 2:10AM this morning. He gets 40 Derby points for the win and if want they can run him in the Derby.
While my buddy Matt Bernier is addicted to picking horses off the Japan Road to the Derby - I’ll keep fading for now.
Also run Saturday morning - The UAE Derby. Won by another horse from Japan Derma Sotogake. His owners already said they’ll point to the Derby.
The son of Mind Your Biscuits is fast and could factor in the Derby pace. Last year we got two from the race into the Derby field and they were complete non-factors.
Again - unless something wild happens the UAE runners are complete fades to me come Derby time.
The Sunland Derby tomorrow looked interesting when the field included Fort Bragg. He’s scratching and running against Forte in the Florida Derby next week. That leaves another former Bob Baffert runner Hard to Figure as a big favorite. Comes in with a 100 Beyer figure in the holster - tied for the fastest of the three-year-old horses.
Short price, likely winner - but hopefully he does win so we can fade in the Derby.
So, that leaves us two races to look at. With the help of a special guest.
Louisiana Derby (6:42 EST; FanDuel TV/Old TVG)
Of the races this weekend this is the most interesting as far a potential Derby horses.
This has become a very important race on the Derby Trail. They moved the race to 1 3/16 miles three years ago. Won’t count the first year with Covid. .
But 2021 - Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie ran 2-3 in the Derby after running in the Louisiana Derby. O Besos and Midnight Bourbon also ran well in the race.
In 2022 - My guy Epicenter used the race to show he could stretch out and rate his speed. Then lost the Derby to an impossible longshot. I’m still not over it.
Rich Strike? Really? That still hurts to watch.
Small sample size…but this has become a much more key race since the distance change.
Instant Coffee (#2) will be another short-priced favorite for Super Trainer Brad Cox. Instant Coffee is 3 for 4 lifetime. Only loss came against current Derby favorite Forte. Fast. Closes big - even in the dark of the Lecomte Stakes. And oh yeah he’s got one of the best trainers on the planet.
Cox has two more entered here but it sounds like only one will run. Tapit’s Conquest (#9) is likely to scratch from this race and potentially run in the Wood Memorial. He’s my silly longshot for the Derby at this point so hoping he runs there and runs well.
The push on Tapit’s Conquest is he’s bred to run all day, was super wide last time and was going to be a good price. He needs a pace to run at - might not get that here. But in a the Derby … again 90-1 on him for a few bucks was worth it in Futures Pool No. 5.
Jace’s Road (#11) is the other horse of the Cox trio. Has speed - which much of the field appears to lack. And if you’re willing to toss his worst two races - both run on a wet track - then you can make the case he’s a contender. And might have a pace advantage.
Kingsbarn (#6) looks like THE speed on paper. He’s 2 for 2 and cost $800k…but what did he really beat in Tampa? Feels like a Todd Pletcher is just taking a shot here.
Why can’t Steve Asmussen win this race again? He’s sending out two - Shopper’s Revenge (#1) and Disarm (#5). Shopper’s Revenge was based at Oaklawn this winter and just missed last time in a race where he was slow to start and then five wide in the lane. Legit excuse at 3-2.
Disarm (#5) is the other Asmussen..and assuming Tapit’s Conqust gets scratched he’ll be my pick to upset Instant Coffee. Debuted early as a two-year-old last June. Came back and won his second race going 7F at Saratoga. Then off until his last at Oaklawn where after starting slow looked like a no shot fade on the backstretch. But he was able to reengage down the lane and finish second.
If you project for a move forward here off that comeback race. Factor in the slow start. And account for Asmussen, the breeding and Joel Rosario aboard to ride? That adds up to a decent bet to me at anywhere near 10-1.
Cagliostro (#7) and Dennington (#10) come out of the same race at FG running 1-2. Both have to be left in the mix in the bottom of tris and supers.
Sun Thunder (#4) is way too short on the line at 5-1 off his Risen Star upset. No thanks.
Again, betting the race without Tapit’s Conquest the plays will be
10-1 Dirarm (#5)
2-1 Instant Coffee (#2)
12-1 Jace’s Road (#11)
10-1 Cagliostro (#7)
Will play Disarm to win/place at that price and key Disarm and Instant Coffee in tris with other contenders.
Update 12:51PM EST - As of right now Tapit’s Conquest is running in the LA Derby. All the reporting suggested otherwise. Not sure what the signals, if anything. Will update closer to the race.
Update 3:54PM - So looks like he’s running for sure. The plan “was” to run in NY next weekend now he says here. Confident Brad Cox? Has another horse he likes for the Wood? Will be using for sure in the exotics now and a win/place at 10-1 or better. Weird situation.
Special Guest Bomber Brad:
Look at that handsome face! Brad Bryant (Bomber Brad) is the Sportsbook Manager at Mohegan Sun. If you listened to Mut at Night over football season, Bomber Brad made you money. And made you a smarter bettor.
He also runs the best place to bet and watch on sports and horses in New England.
Before Mohegan - Brad spent years at Fairgrounds building up their racing product.
He picks winners and he picks prices.
I asked him for a quick though on the LA Derby
#6 Kingsbarn (6/1) - Unraced 2 y/o playing catch-up. Out of Uncle Mo. May be the the real deal with Pletcher and Prat combo.”
Jeff Ruby Steaks (6:25 EST/FanDuel TV/Old TVG)
This race is much less likely to have an impact on the Derby.
The Jeff Ruby is run over a synthetic surface. The Derby of course is on dirt.
The favorite here Major Dude (#1) is a turf horse. Most of the winners of this race go on to race (and run well) on turf. It’s another race where the winner will be a Derby fade.
Doesn’t mean it’s not a good betting race.
There is a lot of speed signed on here. TimeformUS lists it as a fast pace on paper.
With that in mind - give me Congruent (#8) on top. He’s old school - making his TENTH lifetime start today. His debut on synthetic last time was a good one - came from the clouds to win here at Turfway at 16-1. And that’s the issue - he’s going to be a much shorter price today. But his running style fits here … and maybe with Pletcher, Cox, Mike Maker all in here…this one trained by Antonio Sano drifts up in price.
Speaking of Pletcher - his longer price Proven Point (#12) looks interesting. Won going long last fall as a two-year-old. Has the speed to be involved early but does not look like he needs the lead. Johnny V at 15-1?
5-1 Congruent (#8)
15-1 Proven Point (#12)
5/2 Major Dude (#1)
This is not a race I’ll be super involved in but I’ll be playing Conguent at his ML of 5-1 or better. Hopefully Bomber has a better idea
Special Guest Bomber Brad:
#2 Scoobie Quando (15-1): Lightly raced three-year-old. Last out was a huge effort. Room for improvement.
New pick after the scratch
#7 Bluebirds Over (15/1) - Top 2 y/o Derby hopeful before the layoff. Last out may show he’s back!
Let me know if you’re playing in the comments below.
Get all your bets home. Go UConn.
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