The Pace Scenario
Speed – Donegal Moon, Zulu, Laoban, Twizz, American Dubai, Cards of Stone
Stalkers – Lookin for a Kiss, Crescent Drive, Goats Town, Star Hill
Closers – Cherry Wine, Brody’s Cause, Zapperini, My Man Sam
From a pace stand point this race certainly sets up very well for a closer to come running late. Six horses are what could be labeled as speed horses as well as an additional four that can show good early speed. Of course some of these horses will most likely be cheap speed or out classed in the race so don’t expect a ten way battle for the lead. However, if you like a closer, and there are several good options here, you have to be feeling good about your chances.
#1 Lookin for a Kiss – Lightly raced horse is taking a shot here which is logical, but will most likely be a bit over his head in this spot.
#2 Donegal Moon – Complete hit or miss type of horse, but one I’d call a logical longshot in here. When he puts it all together he can run very well just like last time in a blowout win at Parx. Against stakes company he’s had some bad luck so maybe things can come together on Saturday. Not totally without a chance.
#3 Cherry Wine – Closed up to finish a nice fourth in the Rebel Stakes, and should run better in this spot that might even be a tad easier than that race. Wish he had a bit more turn of foot early on in the race, but if the pace sets up right I could see him making a nice run once again. Romans will have two horses that he hopes can lay back and make one run.
#4 Zulu – He’s going to be my top pick since I’ve liked him from the beginning, but the bad performance by Mohaymen does have me nervous as that is the only decent horse he’s been up against and he lost without putting up much of challenge. Believe he’s still improving though, and think he can stalk the early speed and get first jump on the leaders.
#5 Crescent Drive – Completely outclassed. No Shot
#6 Brody’s Cause – Threw in a completely clunker of a race in the Tampa Bay Derby as the favorite. This horse has to be better this time out as once again he’s said to be working out very strong leading up to the race. With the pace setup that should await him on Saturday it truly is now or never for him. I expect him to run much better, and lets not forget he’s the only graded stakes winner in the field…and that graded stakes win came at Keeneland.
#7 Laoban – Everyone’s favorite maiden is back! Finished second last time out in the Gotham Stakes over an Aqueduct track that was extremely speed friendly. I don’t look for him to get as lucky with the track today, but if the track does look to favor speed he’ll have a chance once again.
#8 Twizz – Nice maiden win last time out, but this jump up in distance is crazy. 6 furlongs to a mile and one eighth while also being overmatched is too much.
#9 Goats Town – Still a maiden, but has been beat by very good horses. Still give him no shot.
#10 American Dubai – Have never been much of a fan of him, but he’s better than what he ran in the Rebel Stakes last time out. Don’t blame them for trying a new track, and wouldn’t be shocked if he runs better. Not good enough to win this one though.
#11 Cards of Stone – Huge 13 length victory last time out at Aqueduct. Obviously this horse is getting ready for a steep class test though, but he does have Todd Pletcher on his side. Would still be a surprise if he won.
#12 Zapperini – Looks to be over his head here as he didn’t do much running in the Risen Star last time out.
#13 Star Hill – Finished a very distant third in the Tampa Bay Derby to Destin and Outwork, but at least those two horses are highly touted. Might have a very small shot to hit the board if he can sit off the pace and make a run
#14 My Man Sam – Really like this horse as a logical longshot to play underneath. Came running in a big way off of a layoff last time out to finish second to a very good horse in Matt King Coal. The pace sets up very well for him here so this could be his real coming out party. Don’t leave him off you exotic tickets.
Who is already in: NONE. That’s right…nobody running in this race is a lock to make the Kentucky Derby. Every horse in the race needs to have a good performance to make the Derby.
Who is on the bubble: Zulu, Brody’s Cause, Laoban, and Star Hill need a top four finish to lock in a position into the Kentucky Derby Starting Gate. Zulu and Laoban can probably make it in with a fourth place finish with out sweating much, while Brody’s Cause and Star Hill need to finish third or better to keep from being on the bubble.
Who really needs to win: Lookin for a Kiss, Donegal Moon, Cherry Wine, Crescent Drive, Twizz, Goats Town, American Dubai, Cards of Stone, Zapperini, and My Man Sam all need to either win or finish second to make into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Top Picks and Plays
I’m sticking by my guns and picking Zulu on top in this spot. The Mohaymen loss last weekend does hurt his value, but perhaps Zulu can help both of their stocks out with a win here. Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, and My Man Sam are three closers that would be great candidates to play underneath, and also in multi race wagers. Good luck everyone!