Welcome to "Anthony's Eleven," your source for anything and everything leading up to Kentucky Derby 139 on May 4 at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In the coming weeks, Anthony Stabile, best known for picking 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide at odds of over 12-1, will break down the top contenders for this years Run for the Roses, exclusively on VegasInsider.com, culminating on Friday, May 3th with an extensive analysis of every runner that steps into the gate for the most exciting two minutes in sports. On both May 3rd and May 4th, Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day, you'll be able to purchase Stabile's Pick Packs, full of selections and plays for two of racings' most exciting days of the year.
Pool 3 Odds
Wood Memorial (4/6 at Aqu)
Florida Derby (5/4 at CD)
Wood Memorial (4/6 at Aqu)
Blue Grass (4/13 at Kee)
Wood Memorial (4/6 at Aqu)
D Wayne Lukas
Arkansas Derby (4/13 at OP)
Kentucky Derby (5/4 at CD)
Once again, eleven has turned into seven. I'm sorry if you feel cheated but I wasn't thrilled with any of the performances last week behind the winners of the major preps save my selection Departing in the G2 Louisiana Derby who was a tough trip third. Unfortunately, he probably won't make the Derby due to a lack of points. Such is life.
Hopefully, a few will deem themselves worthy of expanding the list to its rightful size next week. If it happens it'll be on one coast or the other as Aqueduct in New York and Santa Anita in California are the two stops on the Derby Trail this weekend. Let's start in the Big Apple.
Ten sophomores are set to contest the $1 million G1 Wood Memorial going 1 1/8 miles over the main track at Aqueduct, led by the pro-tem division leader VERRAZANO.
A perfect three for three, Verrazano burst on the scene with an eye-popping maiden score going 6 ½ furlongs before delivering an even more breathtaking performance in an entry level allowance contest going a mile, winning by 16 ¼ lengths while stopping the clock in a sharp 1:34 4/5. Interestingly enough, though it wasn't visually as impressive as his first two races, Verrazano's effort last out may have been his most telling to date.
Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to make the G2 Tampa Bay Derby his colts' stakes and two turn debut. Notorious for being a quirky surface, plenty of horses have put in abysmal efforts at Tampa Bay Downs which have left many a trainer scratching their heads. Thankfully for Pletcher, Verrazano didn't give him a similar fit.
Breaking a tad awkwardly, Verrazano made his way to the lead and controlled the pace throughout, winning by three easy lengths. Not only was he able to overcome the surface and bobble at the break, I am of the belief that he didn't really care for the track and that he won on class and ability. Regular rider John Velazquez has the call from post 8.
After being on or close to the lead in his first three starts under Cornelio Velasquez, Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of VYJACK, replaced Velasquez with Joel Rosario last out in the G3 Gotham and had to be as stunned as the next guy when Vyjack had just once horse beaten going into the first turn.
Rosario knew what he had under him though and Vyjack stormed down the center of the track to win going away while running his record to a perfect four for four. Prior to his Gotham score, Vyjack eked out a tough victory in the G2 Jerome in which he was rank and appeared tough to handle in the early going.
It would appear that in the Wood Memorial, Vyjack would have to be a bit closer to the pace when you consider the fact that Verrazano has an abundance of speed and you wouldn't want him to get away with it easy on the front end.
After a pair of questionable rides (and I'm being nice) trainer Chad Brown has reached out for Javier Castellano to try and get his charge NORMANDY INVASION a clean trip and perhaps a ticket to Louisville as well. As a juvenile, Normandy Invasion broke his maiden at second asking when stretching out to a mile before coming from last to miss by just a nose in the G2 Remsen over this course over what was a giant speed biased race track.
In his first start this year, the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds, Normandy Invasion was in another area code once again and closed well while seven wide to miss by 1 ½ lengths while finishing fifth. Left with no room for error, Normandy Invasion will likely need to finish in the exacta to earn enough points to run in the Derby. He'll break from post 2.
After failing to find the winners' circle in his first five starts, Mr Palmer is looking for the hat trick in the Wood Memorial for his trainer Bill Mott. The addition of blinkers certainly has seemed to help as he finished third to Frac Daddy then second to Long River, both considered to be colts with promise, late last year with blinkers before breaking his maiden over the inner track at the Big A and winning the Private Terms at Laurel last out under regular rider Junior Alvarado. He'll break from post 6.
Elnaawi is getting some attention leading up to the Wood as a bit of a "wiseguy" horse. After breaking his maiden in his second start and first around two turns, Elnaawi was bothered at the start of the Gotham then had an outside trip to nowhere before running on through the stretch to finish third. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin switches to Eddie Castro for this. Elnaawi will break from post 4.
Always In a Tiz will add blinkers for this, his first start since an off the board finish in the G3 Southwest back on Presidents' Day at Oaklawn. Trained by Dom Schettino, Always In a Tiz broke his maiden in his debut on Labor Day at Saratoga but is winless in three starts since. Calvin Borel ships in to ride from post 7.
Trainer Tom Albertrani will send out a pair of longshots who'll each be sporting Lasix for the first time in Quinzieme Monarque and Freedom Child. Quinzieme Monarque finished fourth in the slop in the second start of his career and fourth again in the Remsen last year. Sprinkled between those starts are four turf tries, a maiden score at Belmont along with three other fourth place finishes in races such as the G3 Pilgrim and the G3 Palm Beach, his most recent effort. Irad Ortiz rides from post 2. Freedom Child broke his maiden in his fourth start last out at Gulfstream. Elvis Trujillo rides from post 10.
Surprise entrant Chrisandthecapper will break from the rail under Jose Lezcano for trainer Jason Servis coming off a daylight maiden score going six furlongs, the furthest distance he's raced at in his four race career. Go Get the Basil fell a nose short of his fourth consecutive score in an entry level allowance/optional claimer last out after winning three in a row against much lesser and New York breds. Jose Ortiz has the call from post 9 for trainer Rick Violette.
Out at Santa Anita, the scratch of Hear the Ghost has left a field of eight to contest the G1 $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Hear the Ghost, coming off an upset score in the G2 San Felipe last out, figured to be one of if not THE favorite but instead will be given four months off.
A speed duel that developed in the first half of the San Felipe was a big factor in Hear the Ghost winning the race and both participants of that speed duel are back in here. Flashback got the worst of it at the draw again as he'll break from the rail under new rider Garrett Gomez.
After breaking his maiden and winning the G2 Bob Lewis in his first two starts, Flashback duked it out something fierce with Goldencents on the front end last out before both tired late. Flashback gamely held second but it wasn't enough to convince his trainer that a rider change wasn't needed. With a guy like Gomez now on his back, you'd have to think that a change in tactics may be in store for this.
Goldencents was looking for the hat trick last out in his first start in over two months when he got cooked up in that speed duel. Before the San Felipe, Goldencents won the G3 Delta Jackpot to conclude his juvenile season before winning the G3 Sham in his first start of this season from just off the pace. Kevin Krigger rides for Doug O'Neill from post 4.
Flashback isn't Baffert's only S.A. Derby runner. In fact, he has two others in the returning Power Broker and Super Ninety Nine. When last seen, Power Broker was getting a brutal trip in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile where he wound up fifth beaten just six lengths. Two back in the G1 Front Runner, Power broker broke his maiden in his fourth start winning by 6 ½ resounding lengths in what was his conventional dirt debut. Rafael Bejarano rides from post 2.
Just a month ago, Super Ninety Nine was close to the top of almost every Derby list after blowout scores in a Santa Anita allowance contest and the Southwest, a race he won by over 11 lengths. But a flop in the G2 Rebel as the 6-5 chalk has almost made him an afterthought but I'm sure a solid showing in here would turn that thought process around. Martin Garcia rides from post 5.
Tiz a Minister, Summer Exclusive, Storm Fighter and Dirty Swagg round out the field.
Prep Play of the Day
Needed Departing to get through in the Louisiana Derby like roses need rain but BJ Hernandez rode like a real bum, got him stuck in traffic for over a quarter of a mile and could only manage third. Thankfully, Orb had already made us winners on the day. Made $93 on the day. This week, in the Wood Memorial, play a $20 exacta part wheel using Verrazano over Elnaawi and Mr Palmer. Make a $1 tri part wheel using Verrazano over Elnaawi and Mr Palmer over All. Make a $1 superfecta key using Verrazano over Normandy Invasion, Elnaawi, Vyjack and Mr Palmer. Total best cost $80. Good luck!!!
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past success in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike each day with daily picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs or you can get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis. Join Jerry everyday with daily picks from
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