#7 Paynter (KY) – If things go according to plan, Paynter should dominate this field on his way to a possible start in the Preakness. It’s amazing to imagine how much talent this colt might have. After breaking his maiden in his first ever start at five and one half furlongs, Paynter was asked to run in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby next. It was an insane class jump, but Paynter finished a respectable fourth despite having a troubled trip. He was beaten just over three lengths by two seasoned horses in Creative Cause and I’ll Have Another, both of whom have a legit shot to win the Kentucky Derby. So you can see the potential this horse has, now it’s time to show it! I look for him to do just that this Saturday night, as this is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
#11 Bourbon Courage (KY) – If Paynter falters in this race, Bourbon Courage is the most likely candidate to pick up the pieces. While this is a jump in class for him, he has shown all the signs that he is ready for it. He’s never really been challenged in his two lifetime races, winning by a combined eleven lengths. This looks like a horse that is really starting to develop, and I like where they have him spotted here. Even though it’s a graded stakes, this field is not going to blow anyone away. Logical spotting plus a fast horse usually equals good things.
#4 Nonios (KY) – Two reasons make me think this horse is going to run pretty well. First, I think the mile distance suits him perfectly. His two races at a mile at Golden Gate were both pretty good as he finished first in an allowance by six lengths, and third in an allowance. Second, you have to respect these connections. Garret Gomez has signed on to ride and Jerry Hollendorfer doesn’t just ship horses for no reason. I think Hollendorfer believes this horse will enjoy the dirt surface. To me this is a nice horse at a decent price to use on the bottom of your exotic tickets.
#5 Hierro (KY) – At one time this was a horse Steve Asmussen had Kentucky Derby hopes for, but those hopes came tumbling down this winter at Santa Anita. Last November Hierro broke his maiden at Chruchill very impressively, and was a horse that had a little buzz heading into 2012. His next start was in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita where he was a well beaten fifth, and most recently he finished fourth in an allowance race at Santa Anita as well. So while the horse looks to be heading in the wrong direction, I put him as an exotic play simply thinking a return to Churchill Downs might be what the horse needs. It’s possible he didn’t care for the surface at Santa Anita, and if he runs back to his Churchill form he will be tough to handle.
#3 Saint of Saints (FL) – Here is a big wild card in this race. Saint of Saints has only raced twice in his career, but his maiden win last time out at Gulfstream caught my eye. He wore down a pretty decent horse in that race, and looks like he could move forward off that performance and run big in this one. To me this one looks like a horse that is rapidly improving, which is always something to take serious with three-year olds this time of year.
#9 Stealcase (KY) – Let’s see if the cut back in distance might move this horse forward. His maiden win was pretty solid, but since then he has finished fifth and sixth in two Kentucky Derby preps. Both those races provided tougher competition than what he’ll face today, so that coupled with the distance cut back makes him a logical longshot play.
#10 Motor City (KY) – At 15-1 this one is definitely worth a look. His biggest win came over this surface last fall in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. Since that race he’s ran only once when finishing eighth in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream, but one can say that may have just been a race to knock a little rust off of him.. Look for him to move forward in this one, and possibly make some noise.
#1 Tarpy’s Goal (FL) – Out of all the throw outs I like this one the best, but his races against graded company just haven’t been very good. Maybe play him on your deep exotic tickets, but I don’t think he’s a top three horse in this one.
#2 The Black (CA) – It’s always dangerous to throw out a Calvin Borel horse at Churchill, but I don’t think The Black is ready for this kind of step up in class.
#6 Quick Wit (KY) – This one just doesn’t look to be up to this level quite yet. In both graded stakes tries he’s been beaten pretty badly.
#8 Seve (KY) – Dale Romans has sent four horse to compete in this race, and this one looks like an obvious throw out. He’s raced eleven times and has one just once, including two ninth place efforts against graded stakes company.