Breeders' Cup

Nyquist vs. Exaggerator Round 7 in Pennsylvania Derby

Photo: Michael Spector
Michael Spector

Top Choice

#5 Cupid – Lets face I shouldn’t make up any reasons why I’m picking this horse because we all know it’s the Bob Baffert factor.  He’s campaigned his three year olds so brilliantly this year, and has produced wins all over the country.  When the nominations came out for the Oklahoma Derby I thought that was a good spot for Cupid, but Baffert chose this race which makes me think Cupid is doing well and Baffert believes he’s ready to go win a race like this one.  Since winning the West Virginia Derby he’s had a couple of beast-like workouts so all signs look very positive leading into this race.  Baffert ships to win…

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#9 Nyquist – Can Nyquist, who was known for his great versatility at one time, rate off the pace once again or will he get involved with a speed duel like his last two races and burn himself out?  In both the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Stakes Nyquist burnt himself out early on in the race, and was totally spent when the real running began.  The pace in this one could set up very similar to the last two races so that’s a concern, however the long term forecast isn’t calling for rain so perhaps that’s the big change he needs.  On tracks that aren’t sloppy he’s a perfect 8 for 8 so maybe the slop just makes this horse look bad.  Lets hope so for his sake as he’s lost the lead in this division and has work to do to regain the top spot that he held for many months.

#4 Connect – He was really disappointing in the Travers Stakes last time out as he was my top pick and lost by twenty one lengths while finishing sixth.  I think he can bounce back today in a big way, but that effort was enough for me to look elsewhere for my top choice.  Maybe this is a horse that needs to be near the lead, and when he wasn’t in the Travers he just didn’t enjoy getting dirt kicked in his face.  Hopefully the Travers gained him some valuable experience, and he can improve off that effort.  His odds might float to double digits, which makes him a good horse to have on  your ticket.

#12 Hit it Once More – Almost labeled him as a “wild card” in this race, but his last two races have been too good to ignore as he’s earned a shot against open company today.  This New York bred has went wire to wire easily in his last two races, and actually has speed figures that can rival every horse in this race.  The question is…can he run those big numbers against top competition while not getting an easy lead?  We’ll find out for sure on Saturday.

Exotic Plays

#10 Sunny Ridge – This will be a longshot that could somehow clunk up for third or fourth mainly because somehow he finds a way to do it every single time.  Last time out he finished third in the Haskell at nearly 32-1 and has hit the board in 6 out of 8 races in his lifetime while running in some tough ones.  It doesn’t make sense that he’ll do it again, but it also doesn’t make since to completely leave him off the bottom of your tickets.

#7 Gun Runner – He tries hard every single time, and honestly he deserves to win a race like this eventually.  I’m not sure when that will happen though because I just think he lacks that little bit of talent that it takes to win these big time races.  I’m expecting another tough performance by him similar to his Travers and Kentucky Derby, but in the end I’m not sure he can get the job done and actually win.

Party Crashers

#3 Summer Revolution – This guy showed a great amount of talent at Saratoga this summer, and I think he’s an interesting entry here as he stretches out to two turns for the first time today.  His breeding suggests that he can do it, and I love that Mike Smith has picked up the mount here as he’s in town to ride Songbrid.  Maybe this experiment will fail, but if he does like going two turns I have little doubt that he can compete with most of these horses.  He’s a logical longshot if you want to take a chance in this race.

Throw Outs

#1 Awesome Slew – His runaway win in the local prep for this race makes him mildly interesting, but I can’t get totally on board because I don’t think he’s quite as good as the top level of horses in this group.

#2 Exaggerator – Ok I will admit this is a little harsh throwing the Preakness and Haskell winner completely out, but in what world is this horse a good bet at a short price on a dry track?  If it’s sloppy I’ll elevate him to my top choice, but on a dry track I don’t see any reason to think he can win.

#6 Wild About Deb – Was a horse I liked back in May a little bit at Belmont Park when running in the Grade 2 Peter Pan, but has ran very poorly in two starts since that race.  Can’t support him today in this very tough spot.

#8 My Man Sam – The pace could set up fine for him here, but I still don’t believe he’s a very good horse.  Just look at his performance last time out in the Travers, and two races back he was defeated by Tale of Verve.  Would be a shocking upset if he won this one.

#11 Discreet Lover – Head scratching entry here…not sure what the thought process is as he’s been defeated badly in all his stakes tries against top level competition.

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