Saturday, May 07, 2011
Just WinWinWin, Baby
SARATOGA SPRINGS, May 6, 2011--With protem Derby favorite safely secure inside the Todd Pletcher shed, his racing career shrouded by a shadow of doubt at this point, 19 three-year-olds will go postward when “that song” is played at Churchill Downs Saturday at 6:14 tomorrow afternoon, with post time for Kentucky Derby 137 scheduled for 6:26 p.m.
In a field where all the competitors have warts, it will be Archarcharch who leads them home. All have issues but not so Archarcharch whose only knock in our view--and it’s a significant one--is his rail post position.
The following is a look at some of the major contenders with a chance to win today’s roses run. A suggested wagering matrix is posted in today’s Feature Race Analysis.
Included in parenthesis on our not-so-short list is my projected odds line relative to its chances to win. The prices also should be considered suggested odds minimums for straight wagering.
With the exception of a speed duel on a wet track, the preparation and development of Archarcharch (6-1) has been textbook. His performance figures on the Equiform scale never have taken a backward step, the wet-track hiccup notwithstanding.
What’s most impressive about his figure line is that the improvement has been incremental, and neither is he overly developed, going from a 70-½ final-figure debut to his 76-¼ in winning the Arkansas Derby.
Further, Archarcharch boasts a sparkling five-furlong breeze by all accounts and veteran handicappers love the old-school move of trainer Jinks Fires who brought him back for a speed blowout four days later.
As stated, the only knock against him is the pole. What the rider needs to avoid is becoming a Lookin At Lucky sandwich between the speed horses who will be angling in to save ground and the fence.
Take him back, Mr, Court, take him back! Then do your best impression of your good friend, Calvin Borel.
Nehro (7-1) has come to hand quickly as his figures indicate. The worry is that it might have been too much, too soon. But these are spring 3-year-olds when any big leaps forward are not only possible but probable.
Either Steve Asmussen is a genius having Nehro walk the shedrow in mid-week to pump up the colt’s energy level, or he had to, owing to his possibly going the wrong way as post time draws near. Unfortunately, the only time we’ll know for sure is what happens on Saturday afternoon. The Derby will be his third start in 42 days.
Dialed In (7-1) has not really developed on the Equiform scale from his winning 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull. There were extenuating circumstances in his second start given a laughably slow pace going two turns for the first time against elders.
Further, he was forced to race in close quarters between rivals a significant way. He finished the way you’d like to see a colt finish, especially if the intended target is a million-dollar Grade 1 five weeks later.
He won the Florida Derby, of course, coming from far behind a moderately sensible pace, again showing his electric turn of foot and finishing kick. He will improve with the added distance but would be hindered by a wet surface should that be the case.
Dialed In will run his race. Will it be enough? Even if it is, he looms an underlay.
Mucho Macho Man (12-1), the feel good story of Derby 137, has more than sentiment on his side. He never fails to fire, appears to be circling back to his 2-year-old top figure in the Remsen, is training very well and drew a perfect position.
But there is, of course, the matter of a six-week layoff, which means he has nearly six decades of history working against him. But, Ice Box nearly did it, so why not? The Macho Man is well named; tough, very honest, almost always certain to give his all.
Midnight Interlude (12-1) and Soldat (12-1) are wildcards. Midnight Interlude’s Santa Anita Derby was a big leap forward, but the fact he was in a drive a long way and is light on experience works against his obvious talent. And, of course, the 1882 Apollo thing.
Soldat is a tough read, his Florida Derby, when he was a victim of a tardy beginning, being that bad. But he is reported to be training well and is a must-use if the track comes up wet. That decision will come at game time.
Santiva (20-1) looms best of the extreme longshots. He was very good while needing his season’s debut in the Risen Star behind the Macho Man, then never had a chance to show anything near his best at Keeneland given the nature of his horrendous trip in the Blue Grass.
The concern is whether two races--more like one and a half preps--will be enough. But he is expected to rebound on a surface over which he won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last fall. He is the price shot to win Derby 137 at anything north of 20-1.
At this point, we’re considering Pants On Fire and Shackleford to complete any exotic wagers.
Happy Birthday, Thoroughbred Fans!
Accompanying Photo Gallery to "Racing to the Kentucky Derby".