#11 Cupid – This is it…the last chance I’m giving Cupid. If he returns to his Grade 2 Rebel Stakes form I have no doubts he can wire this field, but his last two efforts are too bad to believe. I’m being careful this time and not recommending by any means that you single him, but the set up looks good enough for me to pick him on top today. I’m crossing out those last two efforts as something clearly wasn’t right with him. Since he’s entered here I have confidence Baffert has things figured out, and if he does he could take advantage of a skeptical pace scenario up front. Win or I’m done…lets see what he’s got today.
#12 Star Hill – Keeping with the theme of last chances…Star Hill is probably wearing thin on a lot of people as well as he’s looked like a solid bet at a solid price the last few times out and has ran fairly well, but not well enough for his backers to cash. I haven’t been one of his backers in the past, but I’m on the wagon today after what I thought was a solid Woody Stephens effort last time out. He’s much like Cherry Wine in the fact he’s very honest…he’ll come with a late run every time. I think he’ll be double the price of Cherry Wine though, and I think his form might be a touch better coming into this one. Could see him springing the upset.
#5 The Player – There is no questioning that this is “the buzz” horse coming into the race, and while I can understand the excitement, I am not as sold as some of the other public handicappers out there. His last two races have both been impressive victories that show he’s ready for stakes company, but are they good enough to suggest he’s ready to tackle this field? Perhaps, if he improves with added ground which I am assuming he’s going to do. His last couple of workouts look like he’s breathing fire heading into this spot…time for him to prove it today.
#2 Cherry Wine – There is no question he’s the class of the field, and his runner up Preakness effort is the best race any of these have run. However, that was over a sloppy track which has yielded the two best performances of his career. On a fast track he’s also ran well, but looks to be a classic “come running late and hit the board” type. I clearly think he’s going to come with a run again today, but this race looks have fairly weak pace on paper. Also note that when Cupid was at his best he defeated Cherry Wine by nearly five lengths at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. He’s the perfect horse to key in the second and third spots, but I wouldn’t put him on top on any of your tickets.
#7 Seeking the Blame – There is no doubting Seeking the Blame is going to have to take a big jump today to pull off an upset, but there are some positive signs that make me think he could. He’s only had two lifetime starts, and in his debut he was third but was beaten by a pretty nice horse in The Player who I have as a likely winner in this race. His second race he improved quite a bit to beat a maiden special weight field at Churchill Downs by almost four lengths. With that level of improvement again he could play a factor in this race. Definitely one you need a big price on to play, but I’ve seen crazier things…
#6 Cocked and Loaded – I’m over this horse as he’s done nothing but disappoint in 2016. If he beats me here I’ll just laugh and move on…there is no way I can back him.
#3 Pilot House – Rides into this one with a two race win streak, but this is quite a jump up today. Last time out he was facing allowance non winners of three company at Thistledown, and now he’s facing Grade 2 company in this spot. Looks to be a tough task here.
#4 Takeittotheedge – Romans threw this horse to the wolves in the Florida Derby off just one lifetime start and he got stomped. He’s had one race since that effort that wasn’t too bad, but just doesn’t look to be good enough to compete with this group today.
#1 Discreet Lover – Has ran in a couple of races similar to this including the Ohio Derby last time out where he finished an ok third. The depth of this field might be a bit tougher than that one was though so he’ll need to take a step up to compete.
#8 Whateverybodywants – Comes into this race with a two for three lifetime record, but this spot is way to tough today to keep his record looking that solid. Too much too soon…
#9 Torrontes – They’ve tried more than once now to get him a win like this, and it never ends up turning out well. Today won’t be much different.
#10 Call to Colonel – Comes into this one was an average resume, but is outclassed in a big way. His outside draw won’t help matters.