First we’ll start off with the Tom Fool Stakes, where Caleb’s Posse makes his four-year old debut:
#6 Caleb’s Posse (KY) – The REAL three-year old horse of the year makes his four-year old debut in this one, and he looks to be the dominant force in thE race. There is no questioning the talent difference between Caleb’s Posse and the others, but there are a few obstacles he’ll have to over come to win this one. He faces tough local specialist Calibrachoa, who is the defending champion of the Tom Fool Stakes. Caleb’s Posse is also coming off a bit of a layoff so there is a chance he may not be quite 100% geared up for this one. Still, I think he’s plenty good enough to over come all that and win this race.
#5 Calibrachoa (KY) – Although he’s struggled other places, there is no question Calibrachoa has a home track advantage at Aqueduct. He’s won six of seven starts at “The Big A” including last years Tom Fool Stakes. Calibrachoa also could be the controlling speed of the race, which will just make him that much more dangerous.
#1 Capt. Candyman Can (KY) – You always can expect a solid effort from Capt. Candyman Can. This classy six-year-old gelding is no stranger to big races. He’s raced in all the big east coast sprints throughout his career. Last year he came back off a year layoff to win two ungraded stakes, but could not take home a graded stakes victory. At age six his best days might be behind him, but leaving him off your exotic tickets would be dangerous.
#3 Justin Phillip (KY) – Justin Phillip is no stranger to big sprint races as well. He’ll be making his first start since last November, where he finished a well beaten sixth in the Bold Ruler Stakes to Calibarchoa. At his best he coud be a factor in this one, but I think he needs a race before you can give him too much support.
#4 Emcee (KY) – He’s the only “wild card” in the race. Emcee has easily won the only two starts of his career; a maiden and allowance race, both at Gulfstream Park this winter. Whether he can take the next step up in class is a real question mark. If you are looking for something that isn’t chalky, this guy is your logical play.
#2 Royal Currier (FL) – He’s had nice success in ungraded stakes but not much luck against graded company. This field looks a little tough for him.
Now on to the Gotham stakes, where Hansen tries to rebound from his first career defeat:
#5 Maan (KY) – Get your pocket books ready, because I think this race is going to return some BIG prices. I expect the heavy favorite to be Hansen, and I expect Hansen to lose. So who beats him? My top choice is Maan, a horse that is exiting a pretty good allowance win at Gulfstream where he rallied up the rail to prevail in the late stages. Maan is two for two in his career, and even though this is his first stakes race, I think he might be primed for a big time performance.
#11 Done Talking (KY) – This horse really caught my eye when he ran in the Remsen Stakes last time out. He came from 9th and made a bold move, finishing 4th just one length off the winner, and just a 1/4 length off my #2 Derby horse El Padrino. He returns here for his first start of the year and I think he’ll be live on the tote board. Look for him to be flying late again, only this time he may get up in time to win the whole thing.
#6 Dan and Sheila (KY) – His first stakes try was in the LeComte Stakes, where he finished 4th, but much like Done Talking he made up several lengths on the field before falling short. I think he’ll mature a lot in his second Stakes try, so look for him to be a major threat. One negative though; the Lecomte Stakes top 3 did not fair all that well in the Risen Star Stakes last week so maybe that race wasn’t all that strong.
#12 Hansen (KY) – The two-year old horse of the year was beaten easily last time out in the Holy Bull, and I don’t like his chances much in this race. I think he’ll be on the lead, but fade late and maybe just hold on for a piece of it. Hansen is a horse that may have peaked a little too soon. His Breeders Cup win was great, but did he flatter himself that day? Is he really that good? Time will tell, but I’m betting on no.
#1 My Adonis (KY) – My Adonis has been an up and down horse so far in his career, and honest I don’t know what to make of him. I’ve put him in the exotic group because I think he matches up with these fairly well if he brings his “A” game. His race last time out in the Holy Bull was decent and I do think he wants more distance so maybe he’ll show us his best stuff in this one.
#2 Stealcase (KY) – I’m putting him in this spot because he’s coming off a decent maiden win, and this time of year three-year olds can mature and become different horses. There is no way of knowing what he might do here, but if you like playing longer prices he’s worth a shot.
#8 Raconteur (KY) – This is one I’d be pretty scared of if I were one of the favorites, because I think he is improving. He was always in the mix in his maiden losses, but never could break through. Now he’s one two in a row, and this A.P. Indy colt may be starting to figure this game out at just the right time. I think people will consider him as the “other Pletcher horse” in this race so his odds may rise to price that is worth taking a look at.
#9 King and Crusader (MD) – Even though he’s won two in a row, I think this is too high of class for him. It’s a logical race for his connections to try though, and out of all the throw outs him winning would surprise me the least.
#3 Finnegans Wake (KY) – It’s hard to throw out a Dale Romans horse two weeks in a row, but I just don’t see him being up for the challenge against this field.
#4 Pretension (NY) – He’s been very good against New York breds, but don’t like his chances against open company in this race.
#7 Suns Out Guns Out (KY) – Still just a maiden, not happening against these.
#10 Side Road (KY) – Broke his maiden last time out at Aqueduct, but this step up is just too much.
#13 Tiger Walk (KY) – He was a well beaten third in the Withers last time out, and I think this field is better than that one was.