Kentucky Derby Prepping 2.10.24
Nysos impressive. Tampa Bay Downs in focus
The star of last weekend’s Prep Four-Pack was a horse who can’t even run in the Kentucky Derby.
Nysos (above) looked like a good thing in winning the Robert B. Lewis stakes, getting a 105 Beyer in a runaway victory. Just an effortless domination of that field.
Trained by Bob Baffert - who for a third straight year is barred from running in the Derby - Nysos received no qualifying points toward the Derby starting gate. Same for runner-up Wine Me Up, also trained by Baffert.
Be curious how it plays out for the West Coast-based horses in the next few months. Do they ship out of California to avoid races with multiple Baffert entries? How will the Derby field look with Baffert eating up all these Cali points?
Churchill Downs (CDI) is a private company. You made your battle with them personal, so they added a year to your ban. Seems pretty simple to me.
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The owners of Nysos and other potential Derby horses all had the chance to transfer their horses away from Baffert and stay eligible for the Derby. If they decided not to, that’s on them.
The biggest winners here are the folks at the Preakness, who should benefit from Baffert vs. CDI by getting Nysos to their starting gate for the third Saturday in May.
As for the other preps, wins by Uncle Heavy, Mystik Dan and Hades all take a backseat to the no-show from 2-year-old champ Fierceness at Gulfstream. That was…bad.
With Fierceness bombing and Nysos ineligible, it does feel like the Debry is a wide-open affair as of Super Bowl Weekend.
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Sam F. Davis Stakes (Grade III)
5:15 EST Fox Sports 2 (I think)
For some reason, I associate this race with the old Mohegan Sun Racebook and Nick Zito. He seemed to always have a contender in here in the early 2000s. Todd Pletcher has recently used this race as part of his Derby planning.
Pletcher’s #6 Agate Road (7/2) is making just his second career start on the dirt. He was scratched out of a turf stake last week and pointed here “because he was training so good on the dirt.” Hopefully, the DRF Clocker Report will have more details. He looks like a horse that will be okay closing. But 7/2? Woof.
#9 Change of Command (3-1) is the ML favorite. He had a sweet setup last time and still had a hard time putting away the runner-up late.
#2 Tireless (12-1) won here at Tampa last time with a wide trip. He came from off the pace that day and Timeform labeled the course okay for closers, but I liked the effort. Did it going two turns, too. Looks like there is some talent here.
If you’re willing to toss wide effort in the slop last time, #7 Copper Tax (5-1) fits this race. My issue is he looks more like a sprinter to me. Would not take much lower than the listed ML price of 5-1.
#5 No More Time (10-1) was scratched out of the Holy Bull last week, something I should have realized in writing up the race. We liked him as a price last week, and his trainer likes the way he is training.
“Looking for the points for the Derby,” Jose D’Angelo said about the reason for going to Tampa. “He’s training very, very good and I think he’s going to like that track over there.”
It feels like going two turns is what #11 Fulmineo has wanted to do all along. Weird race last time where the jockey had to make what looked like an early move into a glacially slow pace. Got nailed late. Looks okay at a big price.
Even #12 Elysian Meadows might be okay, He beat a horse last time that came back to run an 80 Beyer. I like the idea of Bill Mott shipping in here and taking a shot, but the outside post is no great shakes.
#3 Patriot Spirit has shown big speed and is going to be fresh off a layoff here. If he goes, this race could really have some juice early.
The more I looked at this race, the less I wanted either one of the favorites.
I’m willing to bet #2 Tireless at anywhere near the 12-1 ML. Lightly raced. Should be able to sit off the early speed in there. Has two decent efforts going longer on the dirt. And was faster on dirt than turf. There is upside here and you’re getting the other Pletcher at a price.
Underneath, I have to use #11 Fulmineo off that weird race last time. I’ll be against #6 Agate Road and won’t be shocked when he goes off favored in here.
Nice card Saturday at Tampa. Looks like two loaded maiden races (2,9). And the great Jason Beem on the call.
And if you’re reading this every Saturday and playing the preps, make sure you’re reading Chuck Simon’s previews each week, too.
Good luck if you’re playing. Safe trips for all.
Derby Prep Record 4-1-1-1 (-$7.50)