Did we see the next Kentucky Derby winner in action on Saturday?
The Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano remained undefeated with his win in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, and the betting favorite for Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager figures to head to Louisville next month still the favorite.
The colt won the Wood by ¾ of a length, stopping the time for 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.27, not exactly a snappy time. Now, part of that final time may be the result of a rather moderate early pace.
It was a solid effort but certainly there was no “wow” factor that many were expecting. I actually was impressed by the late running Normandy Invasion, who showed in his runner up finish that he is indeed a top Derby candidate and has the look of a runner that will get 1 ¼ miles.
In the Santa Anita Derby I thought the Bob Baffert trained Super Ninety Nine was going to bounce back after a subpar effort in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, but he gave in pretty quickly after setting the early fractions, weakening to finish a distant third.
Goldencents bounced back off a fourth in the San Felipe (G2) to pull off the upset as the fifth choice in the Santa Anita Derby, paying $15.00.
The Baffert trained Flashback had every opportunity to get by the winner in the stretch and could not do it, checking in 1 ¼ lengths back of the winner.
The winner is trained by Doug O’Neill, who saddled last year’s Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Last year the mainstream sports world was introduced to little known jockey Mario Gutierrez, and this year it will be Kevin Krigger.
I am leaning toward thinking we did not see the future Derby winner in action on Saturday, which means I am very much anticipating next Saturday’s final two major Derby preps.
We have the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the Blue Grass at Keeneland on tap.
My Best Plays Report for Sunday features my selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Keeneland.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Clm $20,000B (12:50 ET) 2 Shankopotamus 3-1 7 Star of Sarava 7-2 3 Springcourt 4-1 1 Artie Luvsto Party / 1a Adirondack Express 5-1
Analysis: Shankopotamus set the early fractions and could not hold on in the final furlong last out, weakening to finish third against $35,000 non-winners of three or a race since January 1. The gelding caught a tiring track that was playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. Two back on the inner track he weakened to finish fifth behind repeat winner Awesome Village, who came back to win the state bred Compelling Word in his next outing on March 21. The Rice runner owns solid early and mid pace numbers and his last pair of speed figs fit well in this spot.
Star of Sarava makes his first start since last summer at Calder where he pressed the early pace and weakened to finish fourth against Alw-2L foes. The winner of that race was Mucho Mas Macho, who came back to win the Needles in his next start and also won the Ft Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park in January. He lands with the Parisella barn and drops in for a tag here. The barn is 1 for 12 dating back five years with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff.
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,4,7
Analysis: Katie Malone returns from Florida where last out the filly was off a beat slow came with a good late rally was bumped at the 1/8 pole and finished up well, winning the place spot in a photo. The filly was making her first start against winners after breaking her maiden three months prior here on the grass. She was claimed out of her last start by the Klesaris barn that is showing a 1 for 11 mark first off the claim. Going back five years the barn has hit at a 16% clip first off the claim. He is back with state breds here.
Bourbon Twist was a god looking maiden winner in her debut last summer at the Spa and has been on the shelf since that outing. She comes back here for the Chad Brown barn that is 37% winners with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. She has been working at Palm Meadows and should be fit and ready to go here facing a below average group of state breds.
WIN: #10 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 7,10 / 2,3,7,10
TRI: 7,10 / 2,3,7,10 / 2,3,5,7,10
Analysis: Adriani was beaten just a neck last out at this level in a tough beat and looks well spotted here after not making it into the field yesterday in the Ashland (G1). The filly drew a tough post last out at Gulfstream Park and came with a four wide bid and put in a winning effort The draw here is not much better but she looks headed in the right direction form wise for the Fawkes barn.
Gustavia was the beaten chalk last out in her first trip against winners. The filly tracked the early pace, made a good middle move and had the lead heading for home but did not have enough finish late, weakening to finish fourth. The cut back in distance here should suit this Chad Brown trainee. She has the pedigree to be a nice one, out of the stakes winner Summer Rainbow ($246,417) who has dropped one other winner, stakes winner Hard Mystery ($179,833).
WIN: #10 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 5,10 / 3,5,10,11
TRI: 5,10 / 3,5,10,11 / 3,4,5,10,11
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
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 succes 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 daily with top picks from Belmont or Keeneland. You can also 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. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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