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Win – 7
Exacta – 1,2,7,9 Box
Trifecta –1,2,7,9 Box
Horses to Use in Vertical Wagers –7,1,2,8,11
Speed – Tapiture, Coastline, Tanzanite Cat, Kendall’s Boy, Walt, Strong Mandate
Stalkers – Louies Flower, Ride On Curlin, Son of Dixie, Fire Starter
Closers – Paganol, Bourbonize
#7 Strong Mandate (KY) – Let’s face it…everyone knew we’d pick him on top. He’s a horse we’ve been raving about since this summer, and finally he’ll make his 2014 debut. This first step toward Kentucky is not an easy one, but if he’s as good as we think he is this should be his race to lose. He has drawn perfectly, and should get a nice stalking trip off what should be a pretty contested pace. As long as Rosario can get the horse to relax, all systems should be go for a big time victory. If for some reason Strong Mandate doesn’t show up with his “A” game…look out because this thing becomes a WIDE OPEN scramble.
#1 Tanzanite Cat (FL) and #1A Paganol (KY) – Talk about a strong entry! Both of these horses are in with a shot, but call me crazy…I prefer Paganol over Smarty Jones winner Tanzanite Cat. If you’ll notice my predicted race shape, I expect a lot of speed in this race so that should set up very well for Paganol. I also believe the Smarty Jones came up a bit weak this year, so I’m not sold on Tanzanite Cat just yet. However, it doesn’t matter which one of these I prefer. You get them both, and I look for both to be in this thing with a shot.
#2 Tapiture (KY) – Definitely have him ranked second as far as talent goes in this race, but that rail draw really has me concerned. Tapiture is a horse that is capable of showing early speed, but I don’t really think he would normally be on the lead in this race. He may have to now that he’s on the rail. His break and his ride are going to be critical. This is also his first race off a layoff, so that could add to the troubles. Has a chance, but has obstacles to overcome.
#8 Ride On Curlin (KY) – I’m still cautiously optimistic about this one, but can’t put him on top based on being let down by him too many times already. There is no doubt this one has a load of ability, but he just doesn’t bring it every time. He had a nice prep for this in an allowance over this track last time out, so maybe that’s a good sign if you like him. The key will be the price. With a horse like this you should demand a decent price, and if you don’t get that I think you have to pass.
#11 Bourbonize (KY) – There is always a wild card in each race, and this is the one that fits that bill for me. Bourbonize is a perfect two for two, has a win over the track, and the race shape for this one looks to really be in his favor. The only question mark is class, which is definitely steep compared to his prior races. Not a horse you want to leave off your late pick 4 ticket!
#10 Fire Starter (KY) – No question in my mind he was best in the Smarty Jones, but still not sure his best effort can hang wit this group. His trip last time out gave him a big time excuse, and his gallop out was extremely strong although it was done under mile urging from the jockey. Probably one to considering playing underneath as I do think he’ll improve.
#4 Louies Flower (FL) – Talk about a horse that is getting no respect! He has been working very strong, comes in off a three race win streak, and was impressively victorious last time out in the Springboard Mile. So why do I have him finishing seventh? I’m not sold on how strong that Remington race was, and I just want to see what he does when stepping up in class before getting on his bandwagon. I don’t blame those who want to play him, but not for me this time.
#5 Kendall’s Boy (KY) – There was a time when this horse was being hyped greatly after his maiden breaking win at Churchill Downs, but the talk has quieted lately which makes him a “sneaky good” pick in this one. He recently was an impressive allowance winner at the Fair Grounds, but he did have things his own way in that race. Logical longshot will have a chance if he can settle behind the speed horses and not get burned on the front end.
#6 Walt (KY) – Lots of people are raving about his latest workout, but mark me as one that is not yet sold on this one. He was a great second in the Smarty Jones Stakes last time out, and may have won the thing if it hadn’t been for an awkward step in the stretch, but I’m still not sure he’s classy enough to hang with the elite. The Smarty Jones came up a little weak, and this one has come up tough…wait and see approach.
#3 Coastline (KY) – He was the beaten favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes last time out, and really he didn’t have much of an excuse. The good news is he now has that all important race over the track, so perhaps he can improve. However, there are probably other longshots that you are better off playing in this one considering the set up of the race.
#9 Son of Dixie (FL) – This is really the only horse that I give absolutely no shot of winning the race. The horse has just one victory, and even though he’s been beaten by some decent company, I just don’t think he’s good enough to hand with this group.
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