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Monday Odds and Ends: Did Zito make a mistake with Dialed In? Is the Florida Derby "must win"?

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Several weeks ago, when trainer Nick Zito opted to run Kentucky Derby contender Dialed In in a allowance race instead of the Fountain of Youth (or another graded stakes race), one of the reasons he gave was that the colt was looking good in terms of graded earnings and would likely get into the Derby.  But the proliferation of high purse Derby preps has put that decision into serious question.

I updated the 2011 Triple Crown spreadsheet with this weekend's prep races and with the current graded earnings list, and as of right now, Dialed In is sitting right on the #20 spot with his next start slated for this weekend's Florida Derby. (2011 Triple Crown)  That leaves him with little room for error; anything other than a top two finish at Gulfstream Park could leave his Derby prospects in serious jeopardy (depending on the results of the remaining Derby preps). 

The same could also be written about Premier Pegasus (#21 in graded earnings) and the Santa Anita Derby.  While many would consider the San Felipe winner to be one of this year's top contenders, he's in no way guaranteed a spot in the starting gate.

-I made a quick note yesterday regarding the finish of the Sunland Derby on Sunday afternoon but here is a couple of additional tidbits: Twice the Appeal ran the final two splits in 26.37 and 13.47, for a three furlong finish of 39.84. The only other 9 furlong race to come home slower this spring is the G2-Lewis and Anthony's Cross. 

Astrology, while he's looking okay in terms of graded earnings, has got a lot of work to do to become a legitimate Derby contender.  The Steve Asumussen trainee was completely gassed as soon as the field hit the top of the stretch and was only able to run the final three furlongs in snail-like 40.11. 

Beer Meister, who won a listed stakes race at Turf Paradise last time out, came home the fastest of any in the Sunland Derby field at 12.95 for the final furlong (39.92 for three).

-The weekend stakes races just keep getting bigger and bigger from this point forward.  Take a look at some of the graded action scheduled for next weekend:

G1-Florida Oaks
G2-Swale Stakes
G2-Potero Grande Stakes
G2-Las Flores Stakes
G2-Gulfstream Oaks
G2-Rampart Stakes
G3-Excelsior Stakes
G3-Appleton Stakes
G3-Skip Away Stakes

And after next weekend is over, Keeneland begins it's 2011 spring meet.

-Speaking of this weekend's prep races, in terms of raw times, Pants On Fire's victory in the Louisiana Derby was the third fastest race at 9 furlongs by a Derby contender, trailing Soldat's win in an N1X at Gulfstream Park on January 21st and the win by Anthony's Cross in the G2-Lewis on February 12th.  The Beyer figure is the fourth highest at that distance.  We'll see how this race stacks up after the rest of the 9 furlong prep races are run.

-The Rainbow Pick Six at Gulfstream Park when unhit (again) on Sunday, triggering a $712,338 carryover pool into Wednesday's card.  With a couple of dark days before the next Rainbow Six, players will have plenty of time to handicap the sequence.

Wednesday's Pick Six will include the following races:

Race Condition Dist. Surf. Field
4 $10k Claiming 6.0 Dirt 10
5 OC $62.5/Allowance 5.0 Turf 8
6 $12.5 Maiden Claiming 6.5 Dirt 12
7 Maiden Special Weight 6.5 Dirt 11
8 $40k Claiming 8.5 Turf 11
9 $25k Claiming 8.5 Turf 11