John Pricci executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

All Stakes Late Pick 4 Preakness Fans

Exclusively for

The following is a thumbnail sketch of every horse in today’s Late Pick 4 at Pimlico, concluding with the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes. All horses listed by program number with early line odds


1-MONSTER SLEEPING (15-1) has worthy turf slate (10) 4-3-2 but winless in two starts at the trip, makes course debut and owns slow figures. Of six sibs to win, she’s the lone grass winner.

2-PEACE PRIZE (30-1) raced greenly in U.S. debut but rallied gamely for place and was claimed into barn that doe OK with new acquisitions given a limited sample. Rider Kali 2-for-9 for this barn but this is entirely different animal for this 4YO.

3-TIGER RIDE (7-2) has won half of her six turf starts, including two at this trip, has competitive Pricci Energy Ratings with this group and makes third start off the layup for Motion, profitable with graded stakes runners, and barn regular Prado in the boot.

4-CAMILLIE CLAUDEL (20-1) of dams two offspring to win, none have come on turf. Best guess for recent secondary allowances winner is that she’s looking for race to shift to wet main track.

5-OL’ FASHION GAL (6-1) looks like bargain purchase for $60K is a nicely developing 4YO winner of Grade 3s in both Canada and U.S. Stable rider Leparoux aloft but this class jump looks formidable here. Interesting prospect.

6-NISHARONA (12-1) is 5YO daughter of mare that has produced four turf victors from as many winners to race including her. Returns with bounce-rebound pattern, she handles any type of ground but this is ambitious win spot for turf barn yet to win a graded stakes.

7-FLYING TIPAT (15-1) boasts ordinary 2-for-15 turf slate at lower levels and has run to run a competitive figure. Romans’ charges know for surprises and is reaching for home boy Lanerie here.

8-JOSDESAIMEAUX (4-1) is a lightly raced 4YO with gaps in her running lines but has repeatedly brought her ‘A’ game recently. Owns competitive recent PERs and is second off a layoff for Casse/Lezcano team that’s enjoying profitable 2016.

9-MISS MONEY (9-2) is a nicely developing 4YO that was highly competitive in overnight stakes at Fair Grounds this winter. Returns fresh with steady works for Flint barn, whose horses often outrun their odds. Note switch to Castellano.

10-GINGER N RYE (12-1)placed gamely in a Laurel overnighter when making slowly run 4YO debut. Figures to benefit for crafty turf connections (limited sample) and owns promising turf slate (4) 2-2-0 with a win at this trip.

11-VIELSALM (30-1) the closest she’s come to this level of competition is a narrow defeat vs. Maryland-breds last year as 5YO. Beaten 3-1/2 lengths in tough-trip sprint return from layup Apr. 24 but draw does her no favors.

12-HEATH (6-1) makes second start off the layup for Mott (21%) in which she handled 11 rivals off the bench and has been very competitive in overnight turf stakes. Owns versatile style beneath versatile Geroux with worthy 3-for-8 turf slate, including two wins at the trip.


1-LAZARUS PROJECT (20-1) has never been worse than second in five career starts that includes two wins. Nicely bred for wet and added distance, well drawn and attracts Gary Stevens. Orseno profitable with this type of spacing.

2-CADEYRN (15-1) recently broke maiden after adding blinkers, earning excellent PER, and is bred nicely for wet both sides of pedigree and for distance on top side. Jeremiah Englehart otherworldly 33% profitable with his shippers, has crisp recent works and picks up Rosario.

3-KINGSLAYER (15-1) is 2-for-2 since Servis added blinkers earning excellent figures, albeit at Parx. Bred both sides for added distance and wet ground with Navarro taking a return call.

4-VOLUNTARIO (10-1) just missed in route debut, a one-turn mile at Aqueduct, now ships in for Rudy Rod with switch to Rosario. Bred for added distance on dam’s side.

5-AMERICAN FREEDOM (5-2) had troubled trip when ambitiously spotted in G3 Pat Day. Has wet pedigree, bred both sides for added distance, worked crisply at CD before shipping in for Baffert, a 31% scenario. Highly regarded colt could rebound quickly here.

6-DONEGAL MOON (8-1) raced very wide in G1 Blue Grass, losing all chance, following big-figure 13 lengths score at Parx. Pletcher has excellent recent at Pimlico—profitable with shippers overall—and can improve quickly given switch to Castellano.

7-DAZZING GEM (9-2) had been seriously considered for Preakness run but has found likelier winning spot here. Third in Gun Runner’s Louisiana Derby, moved prematurely and wide when fourth in G1 Arkansas Derby. Well placed and picks up Luis Saez.

8-MOON KING (15-1) has improved in both recent starts after switching to route racing, befitting pedigree and connections. Mare’s four offspring all winners, bred for wet and reunites with winning rider Leparoux.

9-CHARMED VICTORY (20-1) goes turf to dirt for Jenkins, 19% effective in that scenario. Likely to improve but unlikely to seriously challenge the top win contenders signed on here.

10-DISCREET LOVER (15-1) has improved markedly after he began routing three starts back beneath Flores, including placing to Kingslayer and Preakness entrant Abiding Star, earning competitive PERs. Rider sticks.

11-I CAME TO PARTY (20-1) was more aggressive after adding blinkers for recent turnback into sprint. Nicely bred for wet but stretching out again with dubious distance pedigree.

12-FEARLESS DRAGON (20-1) was given two starts but found the range in second KEE start at being well back at the widows for no apparent reason. There’s no telling how good. Bred for wet but not the trip.

13-GONE LOCAL (30-1) hasn’t started since being badly outrun in OBS Championship in Ocala this January. Won 50K maiden-claiming prior by 10. Bred for trip, O’Connell can get one ready, Prado takes the call but post a killer.

14-GETTYSBURG (5-1) has enough class and talent to overcome horrible position and stayed fairly well after setting solid pressured pace from post 12 in Creator’s Arkansas Derby. Todd/Johnny runner has been meeting the division’s best; this is easier, post notwithstanding.


1-LONG ON VALUE (12-1) is 4-for-14 on turf with three seconds but winless in four starts at the trip and one over this course. Goes well when fresh, has pole position and handy style fits switch to Geroux. Three purposeful works at BEL base for this.

2-ZA APPROVAL (10-1) is graded stakes tough and always fires, earning good figure on both the TG and PER scales. Worked lights out at CD base for return here with Casse reaching out for Leparoux. Gelded 8YO makes season’s debut but has won when fresh.

3-CAPTAIN DIXIE (20-1) earned improved Energy Rating in second start following Ness claim, SOP for this outfit. Of four lifetime turf wins, three have comes at the trip; Juarez takes the return call but seems to prefer firm footing.

4-TAKEOVER TARGET (8-1) is not as fast as some of these but fast enough to score in second start off the layup for Chad/Irad team. Still developing 4YO owns two graded wins and two of his four lifetime wins have come at the distance. Cut in the ground only helps further.

5-CONQUEST TYPHOON (15-1) has been compromised by tough trips this season including too-late finish from last in G1 Makers Mark going a mile. Working great since then and reunites with winning rider Lezcano.

6-GOLDEN SABRE (15-1) is an in-and-out gelded 6YO that has demonstrated that synthetic surfaces are his best game. Still, it’s Graham Motion, who remains profitable in graded stakes.

7-GRAND ARCH (4-1) is an extremely classy G1 winner who earns excellent figures by any measure, acts on any footing and a very laudable (4) 2-1-1 at this trip. With tactical speed and kick, always eligible to work out a trip beneath regular pilot Saez.

8-PRINCE GAGARIN (15-1) was a resolute winner of his U.S. debut over soft ground at KEE while making 4YO debut for Matz. Group placed in Europe, still developing 4YO is 1-for-1 at the distance and note switch to Castellano.

9-RING WEEKEND (9-2) is easier the stronger half of uncoupled Motion entry, a multiple graded winner who took the G1 Kilroe Mile when last seen—14 months ago. But trainer is 21% profitable with 90-days+ returnees and gelded 5YO, working well at Fair Hill base, picks up Johnny.

10-EL KABEIR (20-1) was on the classics trail last year enjoying mixed success, lacks any turf experience and appears to be looking for a rescheduled turf event for Terranova, who is profitable with lengthy layups.

11-FORCE THE PASS (5-1) was a good third while appearing in need of 4YO debut in which he was pressed/pressing on the lead throughout in G3 Appleton. G1 winner at 3 was a good second in the Murphy here in 2015 and has four solid works (two bullets) since his last.

12-TAKE THE STAND (6-1) has been freshened by Mott awaiting this since taking the G2 Muniz at FG this winter. Owns worthy (11) 6-2-0 turf slate with versatile running style. Winning rider Prado takes the return call.

13-CAGE FIGHTER (20-1) hails from barn that’s profitable 15% in LAY-2 scenarios and acts on any ground but don’t know how much he got from season’s debut when he was eased is also is poorly drawn.


1-CHERRY WINE (20-1) has yet to win a stakes yet was 9-2 in 14-horse G1 Blue Grass, coming from far back for third after encountering trouble, beaten 1-3/4s for all of it, missing place by a nose. Acts on any footing, especially wet, has an explosive turn of foot that fits race dynamics and Pimlico layout.

2-UNCLE LINO (20-1) was second in the G3 Lewis Memorial, third to Exaggerator in the SA Derby, then gamely withstood pace pressure to win California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos. Better than generally rated but this is an extremely tall mountain to climb.

3-NYQUIST (3-5) How can one say a bad word about the seventh undefeated winner in Kentucky Derby history? Nothing except that was a career effort on the Thoro Graph scale and he returns in two weeks. Very classy, athletic, tractable with disposition and heart. Managed brilliantly and handled wet footing at GP. THE one to beat.

4-AWESOME SPEED (30-1) has won four of six lifetime starts including the Mucho Macho Man at GP and just missed in the Tesio at Laurel. Alan Goldberg 24% profitable in graded stakes. Very talented runner but speedy style works against today’s dynamics.

5-EXAGGERATOR (3-1) was monstrous winning sloppy G1 Santa Anita Derby by 6-1/4 lengths and was an excellent second in Nyquist’s Derby coming from nearly 20 lengths back between calls. Honest and hickory tough, he’s suited by dynamics and promise of wet footing. Excellent value at early line odds.

6-LANI (30-1), the Peck’s Bay Boy of the 2016 sophomore class, ironically was bumped by Destin soon after the Derby start then was forced wide into the stretch. No amount of trip handicapping can level the playing field enough to make this boy a serious win threat but price shot should not be ignored in exotic positions.

7-COLLECTED (10-1) has won four of six career starts including two Grade 3s and has won going nine furlongs. Bred on both sides for wet footing and Mr Baffert is 31% effective with shippers. Speed/pressing style works against today’s dynamics, however.

8-LAOBAN (30-1) was second in the Gotham racing with an inside bias then finished fourth, beaten 4-3/4 lengths, in the Blue Grass. Failed to make the Derby cut but returns here with a new rider, gifted Florent Geroux. But a tall order, obviously.

9-ABIDING STAR (30-1) is an Uncle Mo 3-year-old most bettors never heard of. Obviously has quality having won five straight from 6-1/2 furlongs to 1-mile 70 yards. But it’s a lot farther from Bensalem, Pa to Baltimore, Md. than a roadmap indicates.

10-FELLOWSHIP (30-1) moved prematurely when fourth, beaten 5 lengths in G3 Pat Day Mile behind streaking Sharp Azteca on Derby undercard. One turn mile should serve as perfect prep for stretch back to two turns. Late run style suits dynamics and could land a share.

11-STRADAVARI (8-1) is the dark horse of Preakness 141. Won both two turn appearances by a total of 25 lengths, earning excellent figures, and has continued to train well for Pletcher/Johnny team. Looks set for his first foray into stakes, and he had better be in light of Saturday’s challenge. Post draw obviously hurts chances.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On the Record Selections

Written by John Pricci

Comments (9)


Saturday, May 14, 2016

All Stakes Pick 4 at Belmont Park

Exclusively for


1-Cavorting (8-5) finished one-paced after saving ground in 4YO debut, the G3 Distaff four weeks ago. Benefits, is 2-for-3 at Belmont but draws unenviable pole slot and is 0-for-2 at distance. Very classy but with mixed signals.

2-Include Betty (5-1) won the G1 Mother Goose over this ground at 3 and is 2-for-2 at the trip. Hard-tryer should benefit from season’s debut Mar. 5 but speed figures lacking here.

3-Spelling Again (12-1) circling back to excellent Pricci Energy Rating under exact dynamics at CD three back. Cox 27% profitable going sprint to route after improving in Cox barn. Excellent value at early line odds.

4-Calamity Kate (8-1) earned career best figure winning Delaware Oaks last year and broke maiden at this trip, on this course at 3. Won off similar layoff last year and picks up Johnny. Fair early line quote.

5-Welcome Aboard (30-1) is 6-for-17 vs. weaker on turf and 2-for-9 on dirt. Reed 22% with his shippers but this is extremely ambitious.

6-Carrumba (7-5) owns fastest PER, handles any footing and is (7) 4-3-0 lifetime including (3) 2-1-0 slate at Belmont and is 2-for-2 at trip. Well posted and dynamics suited with regular partner, aggressive Jose Ortiz. Deserving favorite; strongest on Thoro-Graph scale


1-Recepta (5-2) appeared badly in need of season’s debut chasing the pace in G1 Jenny Wiley won by the great turf mare Tepin. Benefits from effort, class relief, switch to Belmont (5) 2-0-2 and attracts Johnny. Improvement expected.

2-Ticking Katie (20-1) has not taken a backward step on Pricci Energy scale in four North American starts; 1-for-1 over course and distance and might trip out from inside slip. Money prospects at double-digit odds.

3-Ball Dancing was out-posted in 5YO debut vs. Tepin in G1 Jenny Wiley now makes mini-turnback with promise of possible cut in the ground. Won G2 Sands Point here at 3 and is 1-for-1 at the trip. Returns with proper spacing and class drop for white hot Chad shed with Javier on the re-ride.

4-Tapitry (10-1) impressive favorably winning 4YO debut at Aqueduct at two turns beneath Ortiz. Different dynamics and competition here but is 0-for-2 at Belmont. Puncher’s chance in superfecta.

5-Sistas Stroll (15-1) might have been best when narrowly beaten in 4YO finale at KEE (see replay) by weaker but won at this level as 3YO. Working well for Proctor, 19% profitable with 90-days+ layups, attracts Lezcano but no easy spot this…

6-Strike Charmer (8-1) finished well for place in season’s debut at Big A, cycling back to best figure for new trainer Hennig (1-dfor-1 at meet through Thursday) and reunites with winning rider Ortiz. Mixed signals given 0-for-4 slate at the trip.

7-Miss Atomic Bomb (30-1) was third in that same race and Cornelio takes a return call but must improve big time to reach money position.

8- My Miss Sophia (3-1) comes off series of excellent PERs in G1 and G2 competition. Owns versatile style, gets sic pounds from favorite and reunites with winning rider Rosario. Excellent upset chance.


1-Supah Czech (30-1) earned decent PER in maiden win at Laurel and bred for added ground but this is a completely different ballgame on several levels.

2-Singleton (20-1) is the Trojan Nation of the Peter Pan—winless in four lifetime starts, but was a willing third going a flat mile behind subsequent Pat Day Mile winner, Sharp Azteca.

3-Adventist (4-1) stakes placed in three consecutive graded events, including G1 Wood Memorial last out. Tries home ground for first time and gets Irad Ortiz after having been handled over-aggressively in recent starts. Talented 3YO has stakes wins in his future.

4-Decorated Soldier (6-1)
has won two straight including the listed Northern Spur at Oaklawn but is up in class and distance while stretching to a one-turn nine furlongs.

5-Governor Malibu (10-1) earned top figure score to win the Tesio at this trip after adding blinkers last out. Promising NY-bred broke maiden at a flat mile on this track three back; undefeated in three starts since Lasix, finishing strongly with the eyewear last out.

6-Wild About Deb (8-1) showed marked improvement to break maiden impressively at SA when given added ground for 3YO debut, earning competitive PER. Sign of confidence shipping in for today’s G2—both D’Amato ships-in placed gamely on Derby undercard.

7-Unified (4-5) was most impressive winning both lifetime starts, including the G3 Bay Shore while stretching out in class and distance over sloppy Big A strip. Has worked four times since the Bay Shore and takes next step for Jimmy Jerkens, profitable in stakes and with runners attempting to repeat. Exciting prospect Belmont Stakes bound given top performance here.

8-Lost Iron (15-1)
comes off sharp maiden score at this trip after adding blinkers in Big A finale. Owns strong bottom-side route pedigree, has worked sharply since last and retains Alvarado. Super-exotics potential at huge price.


1-Morandi (8-1) showed marked improvement in second U.S. start vs. weaker, earning competitive PER. Javier taking return call from white hot Chad/Schwartz team. Should benefit from marathon trip given bottom-side pedigree and likely pocket-sitting here.

2-Money Multiplier (15-1) was second in Spa’ G3 Seneca last fall. Irad takes the return call for this huge jump in class.

3-Can’thelpbelievin’ (15-1) was second at this trip two back but was DQ’d and did win at this distance here last year. Was a good second to Grand Tito at GP two back. Gelded 5YO has been going well vs. weaker.

4-Closing Bell (8-1) won Dueling Grounds Derby last fall earning competitive PER and was third in G2 Muniz Memorial last out in March. Lezcano takes a return call and promise of softer ground can help here.

5-Go Around (10-1) has won both his starts this year as late developing 4YO and has (3) 1-0-1 slate on this ground. Switches to Alvarado who’s been riding at profitable 24% rate for Mott last 90 days. Strong bullet work for this.

6-Up With the Birds (6-1)
was second in Canadian G1 last season for Motion whose horses have run well at young meet. Kin to two stakes winner from Motion-profitable in stakes= who taps Jose Ortiz. Could offer value at early line or higher.

7-Kaigun (5-2)
is hard-hitting 6YO gelding that has six straight exacta finishes, including a Pan American score, in graded events. Gets along very well with Bravo and is well spotted in this soft Grade 1.

8-Biz The Nurse (20-1) is well bred for marathon trip and Albertrani profitable with 90-days+ returnees. Switches back to Saez seeking first graded score.

9-Wake Forest (2-1)
just missed when second to Kaigun in quickly run Pan Am marathon in first start for Chad at GP this winter. Retains Johnny and returns with excellent spacing and very well placed to earn first G1 title with 'A' game for house connections.

Written by John Pricci

Comments (5)


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

KENTUCKY DERBY 142: Post Positions Matter

LAS VEGAS, May 5, 2016—America’s Race is a little more than 48 hours away and the draw for post positions didn’t make picking the winner any easier.

But maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, a real Louisville lollapalooza. Let them all run and let the horseplayers and public in, too, especially the public.

On Saturday, anything that will work goes: names, colors, hat pins, lucky numbers. Or, to the event, jockeys, trainers, handicappers and “squares,” the casual bettors that built this town.

In the end, it’s the horses that will decide it, they always do. Brown horses, black ones, grays, and some the color of Trump’s hair; the orange kind, not the softer blond hue.

As a horse race, the Derby has it all. This year, it mostly has horses that want to do their best running at the end. But the usual factors need consideration; race dynamics, form cycles, recent local workouts, etc., etc.

The Derby is for dreamers of every stripe; the connections, horse fans, sport’s fans and gamblers, making it the world’s greatest racing spectacle, an aw-shucks equal of the Melbourne Cup, the Arc de Triomphe.

It is the stuff of legend, and one of 20 horses will emerge the answer to a trivia question by Sunday morning. Which of those own the attributes to become one of the ones? A handicapping sketch, listed in post order with early line odds:

1) TROJAN NATION 50-1 a.k.a. “the maiden,” Victory is impossible to fathom, but this does not make him a bad horse. He ran third behind subsequent Rebel-winning Cupid in SoCal made things interesting for Outwork in the Wood while in tight on the fence. The fence doesn't get any tighter than in a 20-horse Derby lineup. In the last 50 years, only Ferdinand (1986) succeeded.

2) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS 20-1 is arguably the strongest late runner in a field loaded with them. But he’s no plodder. In winning the 7-furlong Clever Trevor Stakes at 2 he was 4-1/2 lengths behind a half-mile of 44 3/5. He will race in the Derby with a shadow roll, a nose-band that acts similarly to blinkers by promoting better focus. Intriguing colt wasn't helped by inside draw, but may not be hurt too given his style.

3) CREATOR 10-1 has become a revelation since he arrived in Hot Springs. His sweep-to-lead maiden breaker was breathtaking, a harbinger of finishes to come, including a needle-threading strong finish to take Oaklawn's signature event. The Tapit colt is at tops right now and inside draw may produce similar Arkansas Derby tactics.

4) MO TOM 20-1 sadly for his connections, has become the stuff of trip-handicapping legend, such were the nightmares he encountered in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. Those losses were a combination of deep closer style and pilot error, mostly the latter. Despite it, Tom Amoss has retained recent perennial Churchill leader Corey Lanerie. Perhaps he gets clear sailing Saturday but the question remains whether he can get there fast enough. Post neutral.

5) GUN RUNNER 10-1 is certain to raise his game once again. He’s never taken a backward step on anyone’s performance figures. He will go forward but not likely far enough to snag the brass ring. He has all the tactical tools but his slower figures may be easier to reconcile than his greenness tendencies. Draw suits his tactical style extremely well.

6) MY MAN SAM 20-1 is in the conversation with Creator, Suddenbreakingnews and Mo Tom as the field’s best deep closer. The difference is that he is not as accomplished yet—the key word being yet. His pattern is straight forward, fairly competitive, but his inexperience is glaring. There likely is a Grade 1 title in his future but it is unlikely that will happen today. Post neither helps nor hinders.

is a late nominee owing to rapid, late development and super-stout pedigree. A multiple winner on turf and hero of the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface, he has yet to race on conventional dirt. This is a salty spot for a horse’s first encounter with stinging kick-back.

8) LANI 30-1
is the 12th horse since 2000 to prep for the Kentucky Derby in Dubai. The best finish any of his predecessors could muster was a fifth-place finish. From Dubai to Derby Also-Ran.

9) DESTIN 15-1 is a powerful finisher. Our own Energy Ratings tell us this much. On the Thoro-Graph scale, his Tampa Bay Derby qualifies as co-fastest in the race along with Exaggerator. The Tampa score was so fast that Todd Pletcher would dare not give him a third prep, opting instead to give him ample recovery time. In the modern era horses have not won off a six-week layoff, much less eight. But, seriously, does Todd ever suffer a bad draw?

10) WHITMORE 20-1 is puzzling. He has immense ability and justifiable trip excuses for not getting up to win any of his three Hot Springs preps. The switch to Derby-hot Victor Espinoza just might prove the difference for a gelding that is sending mixed messages. Must prove that he can finish up with the same midstretch intensity. Position can prove very beneficial given his style and dynamics.

11) EXAGGERATOR 8-1 has done more than enough to prove he’s not just a mud-lark, even his best figures were earned on wet tracks. Has been handled old school style, using his San Felipe middle move to sharpen him for his change-of-pace Santa Anita Derby tour de force. Always brings his game; a serious player. Draw gives Kent plenty of options.

12) TOM’S READY 30-1 is the kind of slower, sneaky longshot that has made trainer Dallas Stewart’s a money-factor darling and the colt’s preparation has mirrored that of his Derby predecessors. When finishing second in two of three Fair Grounds preps, he was unable to out-finish either Gun Runner or Mo Tom. This will be a whole lot tougher. Post neutral.

13) NYQUIST 3-1 is far from the “fastest” favorite in Derby history but is among the winningest. Consequently, he cannot be eliminated with certitude by any measure. He has done what he needed to do and merits extreme respect. Being handled brilliantly, his style suits Derby 142’s pace hungry dynamics. He may not be “the bet” but remains "the horse to beat.” Given the speed drawn to his outside, a sharp break may prove critical.

14) MOHAYMEN 10-1 in modern Arabic means dominance; in old Arabic closer to apologetic, submissive. So will we see the dominant Holy Bull/Fountain of Youth winner or submissive Florida Derby fourth? His only loss was contested on a greasy, wet track and he gave an uncharacteristically dull pre-race appearance. His attitude has improved big time in the bluegrass. Well drawn providing Junior Alvarado doesn't ride to beat one horse; he must beat them all.

15) OUTWORK 15-1 is ridiculed because his Wood triumph was accomplished in very slow time, including a godawful final furlong. When will all handicappers acknowledge he chased the fastest pace of all major preps, faster even than Danzing Candy’s Santa Anita Derby? It’s his relative inexperience, not talent, that’s the issue. Perfect draw as first horse in auxillary gate; Johnny has two favorites immediately to his left while drawing a bead on speedy Danzing Candy outside. Given dynamics, another excellent draw for Mr. Pletcher.

16) SHAGAF 20-1 has pleased the eye when he won his first three races. Deserves a pass for the Wood Memorial run on a wet surface he didn’t handle well, never showing his tactical ability and the long-striding colt had his momentum stopped on the far turn. He has trained over the Churchill surface like he owns it but performance figures are lacking. With tactical speed and a lengthy stride, outside draw is favorable.

17) MOR SPIRIT 12-1 has been brought along with an eerily similar profile to Silver Charm’s, the first of Bob Baffert’s four Derby wins. He enters this race off consecutive place finishes which were designed strictly as preps as was ridden that way. He’s has run fast enough to win this and is a likely trip-sitter, given preferred fast footing. Another tactical runner, Gary Stevens can watch the race develop before his eyes.

18) MAJESTO 30-1 has been unfairly maligned as a by-default second to Nyquist in the no-account Florida Derby. While both those aspects may prove to have merit, it doesn’t take into account this grand-looking individual has tremendous scope and legendary Venezuelan connections in trainer Gustavo Delgado and jockey Emisael Jaramillo, a legitimately elite rider. Superfecta price shot?

19) BRODY’S CAUSE 12-1 ran remarkably well to win the Blue Grass considering how remarkably bad he ran in Tampa. But once he returned to Keeneland he responded with a first rate Grade 1 score. Working very strongly at Churchill, where he broke maiden at 2 and goes third off the layup for Dale Romans, a profitable scenario. But his wide draw made his talk a whole lot tougher.

20) DANZING CANDY 15-1 has demonstrated his best game is on the engine speed and he seems incapable of doing it any other way. The Santa Anita Derby slop was deep and heavy. No horse could have withstood a 45 1/5 second half-mile and survived in that going. If he is to be a serious factor, all will know in a matter of strides away from the gate. Extreme outside may prove beneficial; his start potentially crucial to the dynamics of all.

21) LAOBAN—Also Eligible

22) CHERRY WINE—Also Eligible

See Friday's Feature Race Analysis for All Staff and Contributor selections

Written by John Pricci

Comments (15)


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