HALLANDALE BEACH, March 19, 2021 — C’mon Jack, don’t you think 40 points will get you into the Derby starting gate, even if you started at zero? We do, that’s the advantage of top efforts in the major preps run at a distance of at least nine furlongs.
We said in year one, and we reiterate here: We love the Kentucky Derby points system, one of two things that Churchill Downs gets right. The other is allowing its Fair Grounds property to draw races a week in advance.
At least the industry has one track that thinks of the customer–and its own publicist–first. Horsemen no longer can sustain the “too many things can go wrong” argument, not with laughably lenient scratch policies in effect virtually everywhere.
Make Betting Horses Great Again
Wish I could report that the extra time has made putting together a winning bet strategy easier–it was nice having another hour or two for all the video work–but the Louisiana Derby, at 1-3/16s miles, is not as cut and dry as it would appear at first blush.
Here’s a look at the field for tomorrow’s 14th and final from New Orleans, scheduled for 6:44 pm, EDT, in post order with early line odds:
1-STARRININMYDREAMS (20-1) Harry Hernandez spent the first half mile of the Risen Star comebacker fighting the Super Saver colt–a virtual run-off into the first turn. He finally settled with ground saving position but was steadied mid-far turn, Hernandez taking care of the colt for the final 3/16s of a mile. Too fresh and not fit won’t be an issue here. Dallas Stewart came back in nine days for his first drill, three more thereafter, including a bullet and near-bullet five-eighths. Luis Saez and the pole promises a much improved performance The issue is the competition.
2-RIGHTANDJUST (20-1) set a pressured Risen Star pace throughout and stayed fairly well considering he was fourth by four in midstretch, and lost the whole thing by 7-3/4s. Moves in from post 11 to slip #2, and his five furlongs in 59 3/5 MAR 13 was the fastest work on the page. Colby Hernandez replaces Mitch Murrill and we don’t know what that means but the best of the Risen Star group is back, and we think we know what that means.
3-RUN CLASSIC (12-1) After a tough trip in a rapidly run six-furlong debut, he broke maiden going 1-1/16 miles 27 days later in eye-pleasing fashion. A $475,000 two-year-old Runhappy colt is about four-times the sire’s average and we can see why. He’s big, athletic, long-striding, and is fast once he gets going. As stated, we loved his race and this test is very tough but not impossible. Brian Hernandez on a return call for Bret Calhoun, who is profitable off a maiden win and going long. Intriguing at a price.
4-PROXY (7-2) Godolphin-bred Tapit colt showed good energy distribution as the Risen Star runnerup despite some trouble and a very wide rally, but he ran on as if the extra sixteenth should only help his long, late stride. We thought he might have lost some focus and it appears that Michael Stidham and Johnny V. agree, as shades are added today. He worked a bullet half-mile for this, presumably with them, on FEB 26 and has a long pedigree on both sides of the family tree. Major player.
5-HOT ROD CHARLIE (3-1) Doug O’Neill is on the sidelines but long-time assistant Leandro Mora is the program trainer (that’s why USADA is needed). Anyway, this is a good colt who was an excellent second to Essential Quality after forcing the stretch issue in the BC Juvenile, and a very game between-rivals third throughout the Robert B Lewis stretch run, beaten a neck for all of it in a promising three-year-old return. Joel Rosario takes the re-ride as the SoCal connections apparently have decided “we’ll run wherever Bullet Bob doesn’t.”
6-MANDALOUN (8-5) Speaking of blinkers, he responded beautiful to his new eyewear in the Risen Star, atoning for a disappointing third in his Lecomte comebacker. Enjoyed a perfect stalking three-wide-and-pounce trip behind the speed and won a bit more handily than the winning margin suggests. Juddmonte homebred has worked thrice since the Risen Star, including a bullet and near-bullet. Flo the Jock likely can work out another good stalking trip. He’s never taken a backward step and is unlikely to start now.
7-MIDNIGHT BOURBON (5-1) did almost all the dirty work in the Risen Star, keeping the speed honest, withstood mid-turn pressure, engaged in a protracted stretch battle and didn’t tire until the very final strides. Also showing excellent energy distribution, Steve Asmussen is very effective in LAY-3 scenarios, he’s worked thrice and on schedule since returning only nine days after the Risen Star. Joe Talamo has been in the boot for his last two starts, including the Lecomte victory. Might slip through the pari-mutuel cracks.
8 – O BESOS (15-1) There will be a tendency to dismiss this guy out of hand and while his task is monumental, he is a nice colt that should win something important down the road. He went into the Risen Star off three career sprints, lost valuable ground on both turns, but showed great courage to finish fourth despite racing greenly. Would consider for the bottom of super-exotics but was hurt by the draw and today’s dynamics.
LOUISIANA DERBY BETTING GRID
DESERVING FAVORITE: Mandaloun (8-5)
VALUE BET: Proxy (7-2) to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 220.127.116.11. Exacta Key-Box: 4 // 5.6.7. Superfecta Wheel: 18.104.22.168 // 22.214.171.124. // 126.96.36.199.6.7 // 188.8.131.52.6.7
Betting Grids for the five preceding stakes (an estimated $750,000 All-Stakes Late Pick Five begins with Race 10) will be available at johnpricci.com via PayPal for $4 total. If interested, you will be emailed the betting grids for Fair Grounds Saturday, beginning with Race 9, by 10 AM, EDT. PayPal address: [email protected]