#4 Whitmore – I could be crazy…but I’m taking a horse with one career start to beat the classy Exaggerator! Whitmore’s maiden win at Churchill Downs was too good to ignore. After breaking a bit slow and showing some greenness, he put it all behind him in the stretch and dominated the field winning by over seven lengths. This horse should stretch out nicely to the mile and one sixteenth, and it should also be noted that he was nominated to the Jackpot before he ever even ran a race. With Exaggerator struggling to find the winners circle lately I’m willing to take a shot against, and Whitmore’s upside is pretty large. Hopefully he’s a little more professional in his second start.
#9 Exaggerator – If you are a class handicapper this race will be fairly easy to for you as Exaggerator has the class edge over the rest of this field by a wide margin. After dominating the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August, he was second in the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity and fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile. Nothing wrong with a resume like this…and is no question the deserving favorite. If he shows up with his best race he will be very tough to beat.
#3 Sunny Ridge – Sometimes horses can jump up and surprise you! I remember watching his maiden win at Monmouth Park in a 40k maiden claimer and thinking he was ok for that level but nothing much past that. Then he went to Saratoga in the Sanford Stakes and at the time “proved me right” as he finished seventh. However this horse has had two really strong efforts since that have “proven me wrong” as he went back to Monmouth and won the Sapling Stakes, and then finished second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. That race was ran over a very sloppy track, but his other efforts have been over a fast track so you don’t have to worry that he’s just a slop horse. There is no doubt he can win this race, and this is actually a class drop for him today while every one other than Exaggerator will be moving up in class.
#7 Found Money – Almost put this one in the “Likely Winners” category but didn’t want to list FOUR horses in that category. Look if I’m playing a pick 4 this horse would definitely be on the ticket, but sometimes you have to take a stand on the straight bets and this is who I took a stand against. When he’s matched up against the best horses he hasn’t faired all that well. Even against Cal breds (who aren’t bad) he has struggled to pick up wins. His resume has a lot of runner up finishes…might do that again today.
#1 Forevamo – Winner of the local Jackpot prep race, and also has the meets top jockey in Colby Hernandez as well as successful trainer Al Stall. The win in the stakes was actually the colts first win in three tries, but amazingly it was probably the easiest field he’s faced after facing tough fields at Saratoga and Churchill Downs. Still, I do think the quality of this race is fairly strong, and I’m not sure he’s quite good enough to win the race. If you’ve got some free bets, would be worth an underneath play.
#5 Harlan Punch – Was not a huge fan of the local prep for this race where Harlan Punch finished second, but I am a fan of the connections of this horse. Tom Amoss knows a thing or two about winning in Louisiana, and jockey Gerard Melancon owns Delta Downs! He might not be good enough to take home the big prize in this spot, but this horse is not one I would be willing to leave off an exotic ticket.
#2 Memories of Winter – All kinds of intrigue surrounds this horse with perhaps the biggest story being his jockey Patrick Valenzuela. Valenzuela, better know as “P Val,” is making yet another return to racing and everyone is waiting to see how he does. He’s had a troubled personal life, but certainly can ride with the best of them when focused. As far as the horse goes, he’s had two nice efforts to open up his career winning a maiden at Monmouth and an allowance at Laurel Park. How will that form transfer and match up to a Grade 2 field? That is the only question that remains.
#6 Texas Jambalaya – Finished third in the local prep for this one, but was an eye popping 74-1 in that race! When you look at the form you know why as there isn’t much to get excited about. Afraid that third place finish may have given them false hope.
#10 Iron Dome – This years running of the Delta Downs Jackpot came up fairly tough, so a horse like this that broke its maiden at Thistledown is tough to get excited about in this spot.
#8 Cowboy Classic – 0 for 6 maiden who has had two starts at Delta Downs and was beaten by a combined 11 lengths in those starts. Not a great sign…