Five of the eight entered, including an uncoupled pair from the Bob Baffert barn, can win this. The most probable winners are, however, the Baffert trained Southwest division winner and early favorite Castaway (2-1), and the local hero Isn’t He Clever.
Castaway won the slower division of the Southwest but appeared the more dominant visually; his mate Secret Circle, well, everyone knows how good he turned out to be. Rafael Bejarano comes with the package and they break from the pole position.
But we’ll take any valued offered on Isn’t He Clever (4-1), who’s won both of his Sunland starts. Actually, only he and Justanoldsong, a maiden breaker going a mile, are the only horses with any experience over the surface at all.
Isn’t He Clever is the fastest by definition, given his Equiform figure sprinting on Dec. 30, but in his prep for this, the Smarty Jones gelding distributed his energy more efficiently, the sign of a maturing animal.
Trained by local here Henry Dominguez, who’s 26% efficient with his repeaters, the altered horse worked a bullet for this and gets a switch to Luis Contreras, whose confidence got a boost with a stakes victory on the Spiral undercard Saturday at Turfway.
Taking Isn’t He Clever to win at 3-1 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with both Bafferts—the other being Stirred Up (8-1)—and adding Todd Pletcher’s Ender Knieval and El Camino Real winner Daddy’s Nose Best to the exotics mix. Post time for the Derby, the 12th at Sunland Park, is 7:45 EST.
Running Totals: (1050) 325-204-154 Total Dollar Return: $2,239.60 [win selections only]