2014 Arkansas Derby & Blue Grass Stakes

Wesley Hitt

The final two major prep races for the 2014 Kentucky Derby are slated for this afternoon: the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Work has unceremoniously kicked my butt this past week. The good news, however, is that work is not allowed to kick my butt on weekends so... time for the horse racing action! The Blue Grass at Keeeneland. The Arkansas Derby on closing day at Oaklawn Park. And opening day at Emerald Downs out here in the Pacific Northwest where (for once) it looks like we'll get a sunny and dry day to start the new racing season.

Below are links to the scratches and changes for some of today's racing:

Keeneland Scratches & Changes
Oaklawn Park Scratches & Changes
Santa Anita Scratches & Changes
Aqueduct Scratches & Changes

I didn't take too long of a look at either of today's major races but fortunately Siva's #3 Rose has a great piece on today's racing from Keeneland. For my part, I had a couple of quick thoughts on the contenders:

  • Medal Count wheeling back just seven days after winning the Transylvania is a pretty bold move. He clearly likes Polytrack and he should really love some extra distance given the pedigree. Plus, he's displayed a nice ability to sit a few lengths off of the pace in his previous Poly/Turf races. On the downside, if he wins the Blue Grass he clearly looks like a horse that has zero chance of running well on dirt given the results of his only two tries over the Derby surface.
  • The field for the Arkansas Derby provides the player with quite a few options for their wagering dollar. First, Bob Baffert ships in Bayern from SoCal following a couple of impressive performances against lesser competition earlier this winter. He's sat on the bench for a bit after his blow out win versus allowance company but appears ready to try and take this field gate-to-wire in his third lifetime start.

    Tapiture, Ride On Curlin, Commissioner, Conquest Titan, and Strong Mandate all provide intriguing options in this race, so much so that I really don't know where I'll ultimately end up when making my bets around post time. Given what looks like will be a lively pace, I'd like to lean towards a colt that can make a good late move but I'm not 100% sold on off-the-pace runners like Commissioner and Conquest Titan. Both of those colts recent efforts were pretty disappointing, in my opinion, and I'm not sure I feel comfortable putting a lot of faith in either in this spot today. I suppose it's going to come down to the odds board today.

This is your weekend open thread.

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