It's one of the biggest days of the year as the Wood Memorial and the Santa Anita Derby square off on both coasts in order to send several horses to the starting gate for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. NBC SportsNetwork will have coverage of both of the big races today (and in glorious HD), while the rest of the day's action can be found on TVG and HRTV.
Below are links to the changes at Aqueduct, Keeneland and Santa Anita today, via Equibase:
Here's a quick run through the major stakes action on Saturday and my thoughts on each race:
G1-Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 3yo, 1 1/8 miles, Dirt
Post Time: 6:28 pm Eastern; TV: NBCSN
Normandy Invasion needed that race at the Fair Grounds and he didn't run all that badly that day considering he started pretty slow and spotted the field a lot of lengths early. He has a right to improve off that effort and should find himself in the mix today if he's on his game. That being said, there isn't a lot of speed in this race to set up a closer like Normandy Invasion, and that also should make things very comfortable for race favorite Verrazano.
The recent maiden winner on the outside, 10-Freedom Child (30/1), is tasked with the responsibility of putting pressure on Verrazano in the early stages. I'm not sure he's up to the task.
G1-Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Park, 3yo, 1 1/8 miles, Dirt
Post Time: 7:00 pm Eastern; TV; NBCSN
With Hear the Ghost scratching out of the race and the Derby trail, the Santa Anita Derby is there for Flashback's taking if he wants it. Yeah, he got into that speed duel last time out and failed as the even money favorite in the San Felipe but he did very well to hold onto the place spot and I'm guessing the tactics will change with Garrett Gomez in the irons today.
Power Broker's trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall was beyond awful (one of the comments in the press area that day was to the effect that Power Broker's Trakus chicklet was off the screen in the first turn because he was so wide), Bejarano and Baffert at Santa Anita? Watch out.
Super Ninety Nine turned in a pair of top class efforts before flopping badly in the Rebel in his last start. Baffert brings him back on only three weeks rest (only? good lord, what have we become?) and I won't be surprised if he runs a much better race in this spot.
With a better trip, I like Power Broker with a big chance at an upset today.
G1-Ashland Stakes, Keeneland, 3yo, fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Poly
Post Time: 5:23 pm Eastern
I'm normally a little leery of "dirt only" horses going two-turns on the Polytrack (especially if they are offered at low odds) but I really like 3-Private Ensign (6/1) in the Ashland. She was 3rd in the G2-Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23, and I've got that race coming back pretty strong over all. And while this is her first start on a synthetic surface, sire A.P. Indy and dam sire Horse Chestnut have fared well offspring on the plastic. And I like the 6/1 odds.
I've got a bomb play in this race and is the 9-Allanah (50/1). She's taking a huge step up in class (on paper) but this daughter of Scat Daddy has run well on the Poly at Turfway and she possesses the kind of grinding style that might allow her to chug up for a piece of the prize if things fall apart in the final furlongs.
G2-Ruffian Handicap, Aqueduct, 3up, fillies & Mares, 1 mile, Dirt
Post Time: 2:26 pm Eastern
On paper the Ruffian looks like a two filly race between 2-Funnys Approval (7/2) and 6-My Wandy's Girl (9/5), and I can't find anything the really fault that conclusion although 4-Twice the Lady (5/2) probably makes this a three-way battle.
My ratings have the G2-Top Flight (the race Twice the Lady is exiting) as a slightly better race than the G2-Fritchie (the race Funnys Approval and My Wandy's Girl are exiting) -- so the question becomes which do we lend more weight to: the runner-up performance in the stronger race, or the stronger winning performance in the slightly weaker race? I'm not sure how effective Funnys Approval will be with another furlong to cover so this probably comes down to My Wand's Girl and Twice the Lady in the final strides. Sadly, I don't think we're going to get much in terms of odds on either of those two.
G2-Gazelle Stakes, Aqueduct, 3yo, fillies, 1 1/8 miles, Dirt
Post Time: 4:39 pm Eastern
I'll keep this one short and simple: I like the chalk, 2-Close Hatches (8/5).
G3-Bay Shore, Aqueduct, 3yo, 7 furlongs, Dirt
Post Time: 5:14 pm Eastern
8-Clearly Now (5/2) draws morning line favorite status off of a nice win in the G3-Swale at Gulfstream Park back on March 2. He certainly did nothing wrong that day and he's definitely one of the colts to beat in this spot but I'm looking in another direction in the form of 6-Honorable Dillon (4/1). I'm tossing that last race in the dust bin as he pretty clearly didn't want to have anything to do with going two turns in the Holy Bull. He gets the cut back in distance and ran the best race of his career at seven panel in the Hutcheson on Feb. 2.
This looks like a good spot for a rebound for Honorable Dillon.
1-Clawback (8/1) is an interesting mid-shot play in this race coming off a pair of ungraded races on the inner tracks this winter. He could be dangerous if he's able to corral the lead in the first quarter mile.
G1-Carter Handicap, Aqueduct, 3up, 7 furlongs, Dirt
Post Time: 5:49 pm Eastern
Another short and sweet pick: I love 2-Fort Loudon (5/1) on the slight cut back from a mile to seven panels. He was fantastic in the Gulfstream Sprint Championship earlier this year and he's excellent at today's distance.
|6-Apr||SA||Santa Anita Oaks||1||3yo||f||8.5||Dirt||6-Beholder||$2.60|
|6-Apr||SA||Santa Anita Derby||1||3yo||9||Dirt||5-Goldencents
|6-Apr||AQU||Carter Handicap||1||3up||7||Dirt||6-Swagger Jack
|6-Apr||SA||Potrero Grande Stakes||2||4up||6.5||Dirt||8-Jimmy Creed
|6-Apr||AQU||Bay Shore||3||3yo||7||Dirt||5-Declan's Warrior||$26.40|
|6-Apr||SA||Providencia Stakes||3||3yo||f||9||Turf||6-Scarlet Strike
|6-Apr||OP||Bachelor Stakes||3yo||6||Dirt||6-Officer Alex
|6-Apr||TAM||Hilton Garden Inn Sprint||4up||6||Dirt||10-Wild About Chrome
|6-Apr||TAM||Ocala Breeders' Sales||3yo||7||Dirt||4-City of Weston||$5.00|
|6-Apr||TAM||Stonehadge Farm South||3yo||f||7||Dirt||4-Tazetta||$55.60|
||3yo||8.5||Turf||1-Boy of Summer
|6-Apr||TAM||Distaff Turf||4up||f&m||8.5||Turf||1-Hooy Why
|7-Apr||OP||Arkansas Breeders'||3up||8.5||Dirt||4-Devil in a Half