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Derby Trail Exacta 4.1.23
Big spot for the current Derby Favorite.
Two house-keeping items before we get into a pair of Derby preps
A big congrats to US! Well hopefully you, too. Last week my top pick was Disarm in the Louisiana Derby. Ran a good second. Got bet - was running late. Looks like a Derby and or Preakness contender for sure. But how about Bomber Brad giving out the winner.
#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.
Great call Bomber! Gotta go follow him on Twitter @bombabrad
I have my doubts the winner wants to go a mile and a quarter - but on this day Bomber nailed it. Wire to wire. Speed kills, again. And for those who boxed our choices - well you got back $94 for every $2.
We’ll put Bomber to work for our two preps today, don’t worry.
Horse bettors - in my experience - complain about everything. Myself included. Trainer put the horse in a bad race. Jockey sucked. Stewards screwed me. NYRA makes too many changes. Stronach stinks. West Coast racing blows. My rebates are too low…I could go on and on.
So I won’t ignore the fact that today’s Derby preps are on easy-to-find TV in HD. It wasn’t long ago you had to hope your ADW would have the video for some races. Now we get two networks, full broadcast, high-def, people on TV who actually know and like racing. Will I eventually complain about those same people - yes I will. But today is a reminder we have it pretty good even compared to 10 years ago.
Two very different races this week. Both important for how we look at the 149th Kentucky Derby.
Florida Derby (640 EST; CNBC and Peacock)
Was lucky to emcee the 3rd Anniversary Party for legal sports betting Thursday at The Brook in Seabrook. NH. Before the event got started ended up talking racing with a man named Richard - a WEEI listener and a guy who drives from Essex, MA to Mohegan Sun every year for our Derby Party. Loyalty!
Started talking about the Florida Derby
“Who’s gonna beat Forte?” he asked.
Well that’s the question this week and if he runs huge, the question for the next five weeks.
Forte (#11) towers over this field because he’s been good and as we talked about since he ran last time in the Fountain of Youth - this group of 3 y/o have not shown us much.
Not only does Forte have the highest Beyer figure in the field (100) - his second best Beyer (98) is the second best Beyer in the field - by seven points. Speed figures are just part of the equation but he lays over the group there.
His trainer has won the Florida Derby six times. His jockey is one of the best. He’s by far the most likely winner of the race. And if runs big - you’re looking at a horse who could be as short as 5/2 in the Derby starting gate.
He draws post 11 for this race and that might be a bigger concern than his equine opposition. Mike Welsch of DRF has the 11 post just 2 for 49 dating back to 2008. You have a short run into that first turn at Gulfstream from there. Could he get caught wide and cost himself position? Sure. But who in this field can take advantage? Anyone?
We picked Mage (#4) in the Fountain of Youth to upset Forte. He was slow to start then wide most of the way from there. He finished fourth and considering the inexperience and trip I thought it was a good race. He’s reportedly training well and gets a plus (+) jockey in Luis Saez. His 10-1 seems fair but I’m guessing he takes money.
Timeform US gave Forte at 119 speed figure for this FOY win. Fort Bragg (#10) and Cyclone Mischief (#9) are closest on those numbers at 113 each. Fort Bragg skipped the Sunland Derby to come here. Fort Bragg has some early speed but there is other speed in here. He’s going to have to push early from post 10.
Cyclone Mischief keeps getting entered in big spots by his trainer Dale Romans. Nice bounce back to be third to Forte last time after a no-show in the Holy Bull. A move forward even a little and he can get in the number.
Dubyuhnell (#12) draws the worst of the posts. Two for two on a wet track and did have some trouble in his last but a pass for me. Maybe later in the year.
The “Why is this horse running here?” feels from Jungfrau (#1) are strong. Maybe because he’s a Juddmonte homebred? Is Bill Mott really running him here if he’s not at least a little talented? Going to be a huge price in a field where after Forte…eh.
I’d love to pick against Forte in a race he doesn’t have to win and a post that is not advantageous. But this group does not inspire much excitement. Or confidence after the heavy favorite. Tried to get interesting here but could not.
11 - Forte (4/5)
4 - Mage (10-1)
9 - Cyclone Mischief (8-1)
10 - Fort Bragg (5-1)
Will be checking the exacta markets under Forte. And playing tris where Forte wins and Mage has to hit the board with him.
But the impact on this race for the Derby is huge even if he runs big.
After helping us to a $94 exacta last week we’re going back to Bomber for his bombs this week - first up the Florida Derby.
#7 Miracolo (30-1)
Catch me if you can! On the improve, stretching out, blinks, bullet work
Arkansas Derby (7:42 EST; FS2)
A much different race than the Florida Derby - at least on paper.
No huge favorite. The top contenders all within a few Beyer points of each other. A fun race to handicap...if you can find the winner.
This one should feature a lively pace with Harlocap (#3) and Two Eagles River (#4) battling on the front.
My guess is Two Eagles River takes some money because he beat Disarm last time and that one ran well at Fairgrounds in the LA Derby. But no way he gets the same sort of soft pace here, right? Harlocap figures to be right there and of the two “speeds” I prefer that one.
The question is will Reincarnate (#8) be part of the early pace? Some buzz that last time out he was supposed to be on the front but wasn’t? Slow start an excuse? His stablemate went to the front instead. So what is the plan this time? Another one of these “formerly trained by Bob Baffert” horses we have to deal with for at least one more year on the Derby Trail.
Red Route One (#10) ran in that same race and came storming from the back - he had a better trip in the lane than Reincarnate who got himself squeezed. Blinkers on at this stage as Asmussen tries to get some sort of early speed into this son of Gun Runner. Likely favorite?
Rocket Can (#7) cost us the exotics by running second last time but fits in here for sure. Appears to have positional versatility.
I was surprised to see Angel of Empire (#6) the fourth choice on the morning line. He has a win at this distance already - the only horse in the field that can say that. His loss in the Smarty Jones was not that bad - his stablemate Victory Formation won that and was well-regraded at the time. Should be able to sit a nice trip here for a trainer who at times feels unbeatable.
All of the top four look logical. Outside of that group Harlocap and the D. Wayne Lukas longshot Bourbon Bash (#1) look like the most likely to get into the number.
9/2 Angel of Empire (#6)
4-1 Rocket Can (#7)
3-1 Red Route One (#10)
15-1 Harlocap (#3)
I’m probably being stubborn with Reincarnate but I don’t have a feel for the talent out West this year and the former Baffert runners continues to be a fade for me.
Win bet on Angel of Empire 4-1 or better. Fading Reincarnate.
Bomber Brad again with a “bomb” in this one
#3 Harocap (15/1)
Asmussen/Santana. One of the two in this field who have been today’s distance. Two Phil’s (3rd in last Harlocap race) went on to win the Jeff Ruby.
Let me know who you’re betting in the comments below or on Twitter @MikeMutnansky
Could not have said it better myself, Pres.