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Derby Trail Pick 4.15.23

One last chance to punch a Derby ticket

Three weeks!

I’d say it snuck up on us but having this weekly post and handicapping exercise has been a good prep for Derby 149.

Saturday is a last chance of sorts for anyone trying to make the Derby starting gate with the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. It’s the final race on the traditional “Derby Trail” that offers Derby points to the top four finishers.

Disarm is a horse we liked in the Louisiana Derby - he ran an good second there. He’s back in here and likely the only horse that might actually go to the Derby off this race. He’ll need to finish third or better to accrue the points he’ll need.

Unless something crazy happens with the current projected Derby field, it’s going to be Disarm or bust out of here.

Even without the drama of multiple Derby contenders, this is a really good betting race on paper. Before we get to that.

  1. If you’re at all interested in betting on horses, this piece from the Financial Times about CAW (Computer Assisted Wagering) groups is a must-read. It’s a sobering look at what we’re up against as bettors. In this case the “we’re” includes you, me and every weekend handicapper out there. And what we’re up against is groups of people who are getting huge rebates on their bets, who are able to use AI and data to find undervalued bets and bet them in the last seconds before a race is run. In many cases lowering the price massively on a horse you bet on to win.

    If you’ve wondered why a horse you bet on at Keeneland this spring was 10-1 going into the gate, 8-1 at the start of the race and then 5-1 as they crossed the wire…the CAW groups are the reason. Imagine betting the Patriots at -110 only to find out after the first quarter it was actually -125. It sucks. And the industry needs to take more notice.
    I’ll have more on this in the future because it’s a big deal.

  2. How about that 30-second video above? Just a brief glimpse of the best Kentucky Derby party in New England at Mohegan Sun. Thrilled to be hosting again with “The Big A” NYRA’s Anthony Stabile.

Seating will be limited and is going quickly.

If you’re planning on going - reach out and check on seating options for the glorious Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook. You can find seating options here -

It’s an awesome event. Paid seating reservations come with food and beverage credits and contest entries. They are going fast. Any questions feel free to reach out to me. See you there.

The Lexington Stakes (5:16 EST, FanDuel TV)

It’s always fun when as a handicapper you have no real interest in betting one of the likely favorites in a race. That’s where I am here.

Aribian Lion (#11) is going to take money. He’s 7/2 on the morning line, trainer by SuperTrainer Bob Baffert. Has fast races in his PPs. Is being touted already as a potential Preakness horse.

But boy does he look like a sprinter. The two efforts trying to go longer are not for me. I guess you can make the case he breaks the race open on the front end? I think he’ll have some company and I don’t think he wants the disNo thanks at what will be a short price.

Disarm (#6) was our pick at 10-1 last time out. He’ll be less that half that in here. And I’m sure they want to win - but will they really extend in the lane if he’s a lock to get second or third. Any placing in the trifecta gets him the points he needs for the Derby. Right there on speed I expect he’ll be right there but not my top pick.

First Mission (#5) ran fast on Beyer and TFUS first time sprinting. Last time won as easy as could be when stretching out. Now faces winners and will be a short price - but a short price trained by SuperTrainer Brad Cox. He’s the most likely winner to me.

Empirestrikesfast (#8) has the looks of a runner. And in his win first time out beat Dreamlike, who came back to run third in the Wood Memorial in only his third start lifetime. Big contender.

The price horse I have to use is Denington (#7). This guy had no shot in the pace-less Louisiana Derby. The race before that he won and got a 112 TFUS speed figure. That would put him in the mix here. He’s a closer. He needs some pace to run at I get it. Hoping the 10 and the 11 hook up early and give this guy a shot to get into the exacta. And he’ll be a price.

3-1 First Mission (#5)
20-1 Denington (#7)
7/2 Disarm (#6)
4-1 Empirestrikesfirst (#8)

Will likely play trifectas getting 5 and 7 into the number.

Really fun race on paper. For betting today and looking at some potential players in this three-year-old crop going forward.

Fun cards at Keeneland and at Aqueduct today. Let me know what you like or who you like. More on Forte and betting the Derby next week.

Mut (Mike Mutnansky)