• A look back before the look ahead
    musings on the Louisiana, Florida Derbys

    POSTED Apr 4, 2012
    For those looking forward to a big weekend of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brand prep races, Wednesday is a big day as Aqueduct, Hawthorne Race Course, and Santa Anita Park will each draw the Wood Memorial Stakes, Illinois Derby, and Santa Anita Derby, respectively, but before we look ahead to these major races on the Triple Crown trail, let's have a final look back at the first big weekend of the last round of preps.


    MY TAKE: The TCI boys lead with Hero of Order's upset in the Louisiana Derby and question whether there was an inside speed bias that helped the 109.40-to-1 longshot maintain his lead throughout the length of the stretch.

    My man, Frank Angst, is savant-like when it comes to identifying biases (and more important how to make money off of them when horses run back), so I should probably get his take first before offering a strong opinion, but I can't help but see a 13.47 final furlong and think that the horses behind Hero of Order just aren't good enough.

    By comparison, Nate's Mineshaft made all when winning the New Orleans Handicap and came home in 12.38 seconds. Hero of Order carried four more pounds as a three-year-old, but still--1.09 seconds in a furlong is quite a difference.

    You'll likely get a very generous price on any horse exiting the Louisiana Derby who happens to make the gate in Kentucky, though Hero of Order would need to supplement for $200,000 AND have less than 20 horses enter since early & late nominations get preference over supplements. If you believe the Mark Valeski excuse that he lost a shoe (or, rather, believe that the excuse excuses his loss) then maybe you say he blows by Hero of Order, wins by open lengths, and is a buzz horse for Kentucky. I could see using him if he's a bomb. Rousing Sermon can be this year's Giacomo--useful graded form at two and runs his race each time at three. Maybe he'll finally be good enough on Derby day? At 50-to-1 if he's in the gate, he's definitely a horse I'm using.

    The Florida Derby was disappointing from the standpoint that I identified Take Charge Indy as one of the two fastest (along with El Padrino) three-year-olds this year but didn't play him nearly strongly enough given that information and his price.

    As for Union Rags, Julien Leparoux took some grief for his ride on Union Rags, but I lean toward the horse not being good enough versus jockey error. The rail was wide open for Union Rags turning for home, and he just never accelerated like any of his backers would have liked to have seen.

    It's the type of prep race that yes, absolutely he can move forward off of and be a major player in the Kentucky Derby, but I'm going to have to pass on most tickets at an underlaid price. Of course, if Rousing Sermon finishes second then I won't want to miss the exacta with Union Rags on top!

    And lastly, congratulations to David N., who is the last man standing in the TwinSpires.com Triple Crown SHOWdown promotion. David has placed 14 consecutive winning $20 show wagers on major three-year-old races this year and has nine races left to get to the $1-million, including the aforementioned trio this weekend. Good luck, David!
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