Racing Dudes Pick: #10 Fiftyshadesofhay
Racing Dudes Value Play: #5 Gold Medal Dancer
Analysis: The Iowa Oaks may be the first stakes on the card Saturday, but it is the deepest field of the entire festival. The headliners are Black Eyed Susan winner Fiftyshadesofhay (KY), and Eight Belles Stakes winner So Many Ways (PA). Both wins were impressive, but it’s significant to mention that Fiftyshadesofhay’s victory was round two turns, while So Many Ways win came in a sprint. The mile and one sixteenth distance of this race could be the major factor separating the two. Hitechnoweenie (KY) was the winner of the local prep, but will have to step her game up to compete with the top two. Seaneen Girl (KY) ran in the extremely difficult Kentucky Oaks and finished ninth, but hasn’t had much success since. The once promising two-year old has not come back quite as strong in her three-year old season. The lightly raced Gold Medal Dancer (KY) comes in off a solid second in a Churchill allowance where she was beaten by Flashy American, who is an older horse that is favored in the Iowa Distaff on Friday. The two other shippers coming in for the race are recent Churchill Downs maiden winner Plenty O’Toole (KY), and Presque Isle runner Cloudy Vow (KY). Three local horses include Braseana (KY), Glorys Last Chance (KY), and Canticle (KY). Out of those three Canticle has the best chance of winning as she is coming off a nice second place effort in the Panthers Stakes last time out.
Racing Dudes Pick: #4 Betweenhereandcool
Racing Dudes Value Play: #2 Kale’s Kourage
Analysis: This years Iowa Derby is definitely filled with “up and coming” horses. Three horses come into this race on two race winning streaks and the other four have at least hit the board in stakes races in the past. The Bob Baffert trained Manando (KY) actually has been made the morning line favorite, but he probably hasn’t shown enough to warrant favoritism. He’s just two for nine lifetime, and doesn’t have a great track record in stakes races. Trainer Kenny McPeek brings back Our Double Play (KY) who won the local prep race for this. The colt is steadily improving, but has never won a race past one mile. Bashaar (KY) was second to Our Double Play in the Prairie Mile, but made a huge closing move on a track that favored speed. The added distance should really be to his liking, and the colt has started to hit his stride since winning back to back races at Oaklawn. Speaking of hitting their stride, Betweenhereandcool (KY) comes in off back to back wins at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs. The Steve Asmussen trainee seems primed and ready for his first stakes try. Kale’s Kourage (FL) comes in as the local favorite (and Racing Dudes favorite) for this race, and has won two allowance races in a row. The colt has shown steady improvement and development over the winter and spring, and looks to be ready to step up into stakes competition. Looking Cool (KY), who finished second in the Northern Spur at Oaklawn two races back, and Stormdriver (LA) finish out the field of seven.
Racing Dudes Pick: #5 Prayer For Relief
Racing Dudes Value Play: #6 Taptowne
Analysis: Last year this race was won by Fort Larned, who went on to win the Breeders Cup Classic in an incredible performance just four months later. Successful Dan was also in that race, which made for an entertaining showdown. This year looks to be another showdown between two horses, although the quality might not be as strong. Prayer for Relief (KY) and Silver Max (KY) look to be the standouts in this one. Silver Max has done most of his work on the turf, but surprisingly he was a huge ten length winner on the dirt last time out. Prayer for Relief was the winner of the 2011 Iowa Derby, but is winless in his last twelve starts. However, he has had two solid second place efforts in Grade 3 races to start this year. If you are looking for value Taptowne (KY) could be your best bet. He’s never won a race of this magnitude, but he was a solid second in the Oaklawn Handicap earlier this season. Nicklaus Way (KY) will be making his stakes debut, but this could be a nice spot for him to try. Red Lead (FL) has been around for what seems like forever, but is only one for nine over the Prairie Meadows oval. He ran in the Cornhusker in 2010 and 2011, but a sixth place effort was his best finish. Tiz Ready (KY) is the lone local horse in the field, and is the longest shot on the morning line at 20-1.