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Road to Kentucky Derby 136 - vol. 4

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 28: A horse walks off of the track on a morning of rain during the training for the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 28, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 28: A horse walks off of the track on a morning of rain during the training for the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 28, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The march towards Louisville picks up major steam this week with stakes races for three year olds taking place all over the country.  This week in Volume 4 on the Road to Kentucky Derby 136 I'll take a look back as last wekend's action, a look ahead to the stakes and horses on tap for this weekend, unveil a new Top 10 contender list, and provide a rundown of the speed figures earned by every horse in the major prep races so far this year.

Before we get to the meat of this post, I'd like to quickly note the final odds for Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.  This year "The Field" finished as the bettering favorite at 3/2 odds which means if you placed a $2 future wager on "All Other 3 YO's" and that bet were to hit on Derby Day, you would win a whopping $5.  Don't everyone get too excited.  Second choice Lookin At Lucky closed out Pool 1 at 8/1 odds.

I honestly don't understand the motive behind wagering on "The Field" in a future wager.  Obviously the individuals that put their money in that direction now have all non-Pool 1 horses covered for the Derby, but at the same time they are receiving horrendous value.  Let's say that the Derby winner is not among the list of Pool 1 horses and the "The Field" pays off on Derby Day.  There's a very slim chance that the winner of the Derby is going to pay $5 for a $2 bet.  For comparisons sake, Big Brown paid $6.80 as the favorite in 2008, while the undefeated Barbaro paid a generous $14.20 as the second betting choice.  In other words, if you were to save your $2 "Field" future wager and could come up with the winner on Derby Day through the powers of actual handicapping (rather than just playing the percentages), you would likely be rewarded with more than $5 for a $2 bet.

The Will Pays for Exacta Future Wagers are provided here.  Thankfully there wasn't an option to play "All Others" with "All Others".

Last Week

G3-Sam F. Daivs: A pretty impressive performance by Rule, a son of Roman Ruler that wired the field at Tampa Bay Downs on his way to a three length win.  Rule did all the dirty work and had plenty left to put easily put away the field in the stretch.  Schoolyard Dreams was well beaten by the winner but ran a pretty solid pace considering he was right up on the early pace and still held second by a comfortable length.  Local star, Uptowncharlybrown, was never really in the race and passed tired rivals in the stretch.  Word after the race is that this colt might be fitted with a set of blinkers for his next effort, likely the Tampa Bay Derby.

Although he ran well over the course, Rule is not expected to run in the Tampa Bay Derby but will instead be pointed towards a Grade 1 event at a yet to be determined location, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.  My guess is that he shows up in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.

G2-Robert B. Lewis
:  Santa Anita was finally able to run the previously postponed Lewis Stakes, albeit with a disappointing field of only five horses.  Once the race finally went off the undefeated Caracortado was able to stalk the pace and roll by the leaders at the top of the stretch to win by a length and three quarters.  And while the winner ran a perfectly solid race I was most impressed with the performance of Dave in Dixie, who finished strongly in the stretch.  This horse could really take a nice step forward off this effort and looks like he would love some additional ground to cover.  Pacesetter Tiz Chrome faltered badly in the stretch and appears at this point to be better suited to shorter distances.

G2-San Vicente: A son of Candy Ride out of a Storm Cat mare, Sidney's Candy destroyed the field in the 7f San Vicente on Monday.  During the post race commentary on HRTV, Gary Stevens was extremely confident that this colt would have no problem stretching out to two-turns at next asking after noting how strong he galloped out after crossing the finish line.  I don't doubt his conclusion but Sidney's Candy is going to have to learn to rein it in a little bit if he wants to get a mile and a quarter.  A horse that can go 1:08 and change for six has some serious speed under him.

This Week

Up next on the road to the Derby is the busiest weekend of prep races so far this spring, thanks in large part to the re-scheduling of the G3-Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.  The chart below summarizes the major events for three year old colts this coming weekend.

Track

Race

Distance

OP

G3 - Southwest Stakes

1 mile

FG

G2 - Risen Star Stakes

1 1/16 miles

GG

G3 - El Camino Real

1 1/8 miles

GP

G2 - Fountain of Youth

1 1/8 miles

GP

G2 - Hutcheson Stakes

7f

TuP

Turf Paradise Derby

1 1/16 miles

  • Fair Grounds has already drawn the entries for the Risen Star and you can find the entries here.  A full field of twelve is scheduled to go to post in what should be an extremely contentious affair.
  • Golden Gate Fields has also drawn the entries for their Saturday card, including the G3-El Camino Real Derby.  Those entries can be found here.
  • The Turf Paradise Derby is an ungraded event for $50,000 and not, in my estimation, a true Derby prep.  But it still can be fun to watch.
  • The Fountain of Youth is expecting Buddy's Saint, Jackson Bend, Eskendereya, Pulsion, Aikenite, and possibly William's Kitten.
  • The full brother of Barbaro, Lentenor, will run in a N1X Allowance event on the grass today at Gulfstream Park.  Trainer Michael Matz
  • The current #2 on my Top 10 Derby Contenders list, D'Funnybone, is expected to enter the G2-Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park this Saturday and not the Fountain of Youth and it remains to be seen whether this colt will be pointed toward the Derby or towards three year old sprint events.  The Hutcheson, like the San Vicente this past weekend, is a seven furlong sprint event and will tell us little about this horse's potential at two-turns.  At best it's a chance to sharpen form and pocked some graded earnings.

Top 10 Derby Contenders

Rank

Last

Horse

Notes

1

1

Buddy's Saint

Makes 3 YO debut on Saturday in the Fountain of Youth.

2

2

D'Funnybone

G2-Hutcheson is the likely spot for him this Saturday.

3

3

Super Saver

Handily worked 5f in 1:01.40 at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

4

4

Jackson Bend

Blazed 4f in :47.00 at Palm Meadows on Saturday.

5

5

Lookin At Lucky

Next start likely the San Felipe on March 13th.

6

6

Noble's Promise

Connections pointing towards the Rebel at Oaklawn.

7

7

Dryfly

Will likely go in the re-scheduled Southwest on Saturday.

8

8

Eskendereya

Part of a loaded field in the Fountain of Youth.

9

10

Uh Oh Bango

Likely pointed towards Rebel for first start of 2010.

10

--

Rule

Set quicky pace and dispatched foes at TAM.

Dropping Out: Drosselmeyer - somebody had to make way for Rule

Prep Race Speed Figures

Handicappers tend to use speed figures in a variety of ways.  Sometimes they are the key to eliminating one contender as compared to another, while other times they provide general clues to the overall strength of a particular race.  Here's a list of the major prep races run so far this year along with the speed figure for each horse in the race.

G2-San Vicente (7 furlongs)
94: Sidney's Candy
84: Tiny Woods
80: Classical Slew
75: Runaway Bandido
71: Quiet Invader
68: Gilligan
60: Raging Wit

G2-Robert B. Lewis (1 1/16 miles)
97: Caracortado
94: Dave in Dixie
93: American Lion
89: Tiz Chrome
81: Tango Tango

G3-Sam F. Davis (1 1/16 miles)
98: Rule
93: Schoolyard Dreams
91: Uptowncharlybrown
85: Silver Craft
72: Middle of the Nite
69: Tristen's Mambo

Whirlaway (1 1/16 miles)
86: Peppi Knows
84: Afleet Again
83: Three Day Rush
47: Papa's Nice Cat
---: Eightyfiveinafifty

G3-Holy Bull (1 mile, one-turn)
91: Winslow Homer
90: Jackson Bend
83: William's Kitten
81: Thank U Pilippe
80: Homeboykris
80: Aikenite
73: Wild Lime
73: Litigation Risk
57: Piscitelli

G3-Lecomte (1 mile, two-turns)
90: Ron the Greek
87: Maximus Ruler
86: Letsgetitonmon
84: Cool Bullet
83: Wordly
78: Turf Melody
77: Citrus Kid
74: Depaul
65: B'wanagoldmine
64: Rock Hard

Smarty Jones (1 mile, two-turns)
91: Dryfly
87: Pleasant Storm
84: Kitty's Turn
82: Crider
74: Don't Put It Back
61: Productive Envoy
58: Beware the Tiger
55: Wow Wow Wow
41: King Snake
41: Perfect Drive
39: Wildcat Nation
14: Prince Rooney

G3-San Rafael (1 mile, two-turns)
91: Conveyance
88: Cardiff Giant
86: Domonation
78: Lucky Rave (GB)
76: Via Verde

Count Fleet (1 mile 40 yards)
78: Laus Deo
77: Worth a Buck
74: Turbo Speed
69: Ibboyee
49: Afleet Again
24: Run to Grand Ave.
3: Our Commander