…That is the attraction on the East Coast Saturday, when sophomores of both sexes will race for money and a chance to win a brass ring to the big dances of May.
Grabbing the headlines for Kentucky Derby contenders is the Tampa Bay Derby which has drawn a deeper field than New York’s Gotham and, of greater significance, is contested around a second turn, just like Santa Anita’s San Felipe later in the day.
But their filly race, the Florida Oaks, in recent years has been contested on turf and while it’s a much better wagering product than it used to be, it is unlikely to shed major light on the Kentucky Oaks.
Further, even if it were, Aqueduct’s Busher is compelling because it marks the seasonal debut of Lake Avenue, as filly who raised her game to the graded level when she won the nine-furlong Demoiselle most impressively in her juvenile filly.
She won’t be fully cranked but perhaps is talented, classy and tight enough to beat her rivals at 80 or 90 percent. That, of course, remains to be seen. A win would take the pressure off her second start this year having earned enough points taking the Busher.
The horses shipping to Gotham from South Florida are a talented bunch. Attachment Rate has been a revelation and may take some of the sting out of Dennis’ Moment’s Fountain flop for trainer Dale Romans.
Mischievious Alex is 2-for-2 since adding blinkers and was an uber sharp winner of the seven furlong G3 Swale, winning by seven geared down lengths after overcoming a rough start.
Untitled, second at Tampa Bay last out, gets away from the well regarded Gouveneur Morris and turning back to a flat mile from an outside post might be just what Mark Casse hs been looking for this year–a win.
The stakes winning locals appear to have more to prove than their sun-baked rivals, then Aqueduct’s surface in winter a more demanding than the Hallandale highway.
That’s why they run the races.
The Tampa Bay Derby is the headliner on this side of the country and deservedly so.
In ascending order, Spa City has been brought along slowly by Kiaran McLaughlin, finishing second to the talented Caracaro before breaking maiden going nine furlongs, his two turn debut. McLaughlin has a bit of unfinished business before he trades one condition book in for many others.
Everyone knows Chance It’s story and that of his young training phenom, Saffie Joseph Jr. and Sole Volente is one half of the Biancone resurrection story along with Fountain of Youth winner Ete Indien. And, of course, ‘Sole’ owns the important win over the track, taking the Sam F. Davis in high style.
Todd Pletcher, of course, has won this race five times. He runs three in here, trying to learn just what he has, and the best of those could be Market Analysis, who broke maiden at seven furlongs on debut as the 13-10 favorite at the direct expense of Attachment Rate. No telling how good.
We’ll get into the handicapping X’s and O’s before Saturday, including Santa Anita’s San Felipe before the betting begins Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the winners of the races we mentioned didn’t come from those briefly profiled here.
My mouth; God’s ears?