HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, April 29, 2022 — First, we are going to supply our Top Five Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Contenders in Sunday’s column.
If you are a regular in these parts, you can probably guess who they are going to be right now.
Fortunately, the post position draw for both races is Monday, so there very likely are to be adjustments made based on pace and race flow projections.
And you can’t do that without knowing the starting position of 14 fillies and 20 colts clashing in Louisville next weekend.
The unknown variable is weather–it always is–and I’ve seen conflicting reports, from rain to predicted short, spring storms. Either way. it’s 50-50 at this posting.
Due to events beyond our control, we will be unable to make last-minute adjustments for the Oaks. We are scheduled for oral surgery on Wednesday, and it will be a two-day process. I have no idea what to expect.
I literally might need a wakeup call at post time for the Oaks and can promise no last minute adjustments. It would be shocking if it weren’t one of the Big Four, anyway.
However, by Friday evening, post-Run for the Lilies, we can make last minute adjustments for the Derby, acknowledging any notable late developments.
The post draw is scheduled to take place Monday at 2 pm. Check your local bat channels for the latest information on where you can find the program.
As if things were not hectic enough, this computer is going in for much needed service Friday am. When it will be ready for pickup is anyone’s guess. So there’s that, too.
Hey, we’re not playing Johnny Derby Downer here, just passing on some basic 411.
We will return later today, or early tomorrow, with value plays from major races run at Belmont, Churchill and Santa Anita on Saturday.
Per the usual time table, our daily Going Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Today trip tips, for lack of a better phrase, will be available early to mid-afternoon a day in advance–that being this afternoon.
No one promised me a rose garden, although it would be timely given the events scheduled for the first weekend in May.
Now, if you’ll excuse, I need to give my laptop a lift to the computer hospital.
Computer Update: The HP is dead; long live Dell. But will have neither again for two to three days. Aarrrrgh!
Elusive Quality Stakes Race 9
Gambling more on faith in the connections than anything else because Toro Strike (6-1) was terrible in his U.S. debut going 5-1/2 furlongs at the Fair Grounds over what appeared to be a hard surface. Must have come as quite a shock to Luis Saez and Todd Pletcher.
After showing good zip from the gate and making a nice run to challenge at the turn, he completely stopped trying in the final furlong. It was pretty. If he needed the run, then he needed very badly.
But after returning to the Palm Beach Downs training center, a month later he started working on schedule, and brilliantly, including three bullets, one uncommonly fast after those demanding grounds.
‘Toro’ left Florida for New York, had a soft Belmont Park breeze, a lung opener, and shows up going seven-eighths. Three of his four lifetime wins came at this trip. You don’t name Irad unless you’re serious.
MOST ROBABLE WINNER: Value Proposition (3-1)
THE VALUE BET: Toro Strike to win at 4-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Three horse exacta box, the two named above plus Therapist (5-1), back at his preferred course and trip and picking up Rosario.
Roxelana Overnight Stakes Race 9
It’s difficult for linemakers not to make an undefeated horse anything but the favorite. Caribbean Caper is 5-fr-5 lifetime, “Little Al” Stall trains. What’s not to like? An early line of 8-5 off a 217-day layup.
Not that her story is so much different from Bayerness (5-2), except there are a few more things to like. For one Cherie DeVaux.
Not that she has a reputation with bringing layups back wound tightly but we don’t bet against trainers amid a career year, the case here. But wait, there’s more.
For one, her (3) 2-1-0 slate at the trip, a 2-for-4 record at Churchill. Thoro-Graph figures that improved incrementally at the end of her four-year-old season.
Finally, Luis Saez has the call and her recent 47 3/5 breeze was 7th fastest of 114 peers to work during that week.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Bayerness
THE VALUE BET: Bayerness to win at 2-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta box with the favorite and with Club Car (5-2)
SANTA ANITA PARK
Late scratches notwithstanding, a total of 25 horses will be racing in four graded stakes for an aggregate $725,000 in purse money. Show of hands please: How many players are shocked by this development?
Sadly, it reflects the state of the game in the modern era on virtually every circuit not named Kentucky. And, unfortunately, quality has not necessarily replaced quantity.
G3 KONA GOLD Race 4
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Brickyard Ride (6-5) looms the Lone F
THE VALUE PLAY: Not here
EXOTICA: (see the value play)
G2 CALIFORNIAN Race 6
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Express Train (4-5) is one classy choo choo
THE VALUE PLAY: Not here, either
EXOTICA: Cold exacta Express Train over forward-looking, fast-working Holden the Lute (12-1)
G2 SANTA MARGARITA Race 10
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Miss Bigly (5-2) has proven consistently fastest and competitive in better company
THE VALUE PLAY: Park Avenue (4-1) is proven at the trip, barn profitable going turf to dirt (23%) and drilled with purpose since her last. Taking her at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta part wheels with the two fillies above keying the ticket with each other and adding classy Varda (4-1) and price shots Midnight Jamboree (8-1) and SA-loving Bye Bye Birdie (12-1) second and third
G2 CHARLES WHITTINGHAM Race 11
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Beyond Brilliant (9-5) was beaten one length in the G1 Kilroe Mile last out. Highly likely to shake loose but winless at SA and unknown quantity at the trip
THE VALUE PLAY: Dicey Mo Chara (4-1) exits live race with very solid blowout and good spacing for this. Betting to win at 5-2 or greater.
EXOTICA: Key-boxing exactas, ‘Dicey’ with the favorite and the sharp, consistent Gold Phoenix (6-1)
this is a live column and will be updated throughout the weekend