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Final Preps set for Saturday

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Anthony's Eleven (4/5/14)

Welcome to “Anthony’s Eleven,” your source for anything and everything leading up to Kentucky Derby 140 on May 3rd 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 on VegasInsider.com, culminating on Friday, May 2nd with an extensive analysis of every runner that steps into the gate for the most exciting two minutes in sports. On both May 2nd and May 3rd, 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. 

Breakdown
Rank Horse Jockey Trainer Next Race Derby Points
1 Wicked Strong Rajiv Maragh Jimmy Jerkens Kentucky Derby (5/3 at CD) 102
2 Tapiture Joel Rosario Steve Asmussen Arkansas Derby (4/12 at OP) 42
3 Cairo Prince Luis Saez Kiaran McLaughlin Kentucky Derby (5/3 at CD) 24
4 Commissioner John Velazquez Todd Pletcher Arkansas Derby (4/12 at OP) 10
5 Hoppertunity Mike Smith Bob Baffert Santa Anita Derby (4/5 at SA) 95
6 Conquest Titan Calvin Borel Mark Casse Arkansas Derby (4/12 at OP) 9
7 Vicar's in Trouble Rosie Napravnik Mike Maker Kentucky Derby (5/3 at CD) 120
8 Ride On Curlin Jon Court Billy Gowan Arkansas Derby (4/12 at OP) 15
9 Bobby's Kitten Javier Castellano Chad Brown Blue Grass (4/12 at KEE) 0
10 Constitution Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher Kentucky Derby (5/3 at CD) 100
11 Uncle Sigh Corey Nakatani Gary Contessa Kentucky Derby (5/3 at CD) 24


The last of the 100 point Kentucky Derby prep races are upon us as Keeneland will host the G1 Blue Grass while Oaklawn Park with feature the G1 Arkansas Derby this Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky and Hot Springs, Arkansas, respectively. We will start in the land of razorbacks.
 
A field of 8 will go post ward in the 1 1/8 miles event on the main track with a purse of $1 million. Originally a field of nine, Knock Em Flat will scratch and run earlier on the card in the Northern Spur.
 
As for the Arkansas Derby, no less than five of the eight remaining have their sights set on Louisville but with the way the points system works, I don’t see a way from all of them to get in. Combine that with horses on the bubble points wise, like CAIRO PRINCE and UNCLE SIGH, and this easily becomes the most important prep thus far.
 
Points wise, TAPITURE is already in the Derby. But trainer Steve Asmussen has decided enough is enough and makes a huge rider change from Ricardo Santana to Joel Rosario for this.
 
Tapiture returned earlier this year with a big win in the G3 Southwest before settling for second in the G2 Rebel last out behind HOPPERTUNITY when Santana was essentially bullied by a trio of far more experienced and accomplished riders. Tapiture was stuck along the inside and behind horses and never really had an honest run through the lane. I certainly don’t see that happening with Rosario aboard in here. They’ll break from post 2.
 
Another receiving a rider change in here is RIDE ON CURLIN who goes from three time Derby winner Kent Desormeaux to Jon Court in a move I just don’t understand. Sure, Desormeaux could have been a bit more aggressive in the early running last out and should have taken advantage of what seemed to be a course playing towards speed but that really wasn’t trainer Billy Gowan’s game plan.
 
Through the stretch when all the pin-balling occurred, I for one thought Desormeaux did just fine but such is life. Ride On Curlin, for me, has been one of the more frustrating horses on the trail this year because I think he has a ton of ability. Maybe this is the spot in which it truly comes out. He’ll break from post 3.
Strong Mandate will make his third start off of a layoff for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and is another who gets a rider switch as he’ll be ridden by Luis Saez after Rosario rode him in his first two starts of the year.
 
Fourth in the Rebel, I feel like he was the one who wanted it least that day and was the one most reluctant to get into the dogfight that was the final quarter of a mile. I also have suspected this one would have some distance limitations and feel they showed in the stretch of the Rebel. He’ll break from post 8.
 
Bayern ships on for trainer Bob Baffert who opted to keep Hoppertunity home for last Saturday’s G1 Santa Anita Derby (he was second) and send this colt, a perfect two for two so far in his career, in his stead.
 
After breaking his maiden going seven furlongs, Bayern won an entry level allowance/optional claimer in his last start by the length of the stretch back in mid-February but hasn’t been seen since. A foot issue has kept him from making his stakes debut until now. Gary Stevens takes his usual seat aboard Bayern from post 7.
 
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by both Commissioner and Danza in here. Two for five so far, Commissioner has made all five of his starts around two turns and is bred to run all day. He won an entry level allowance contest over the well-meant Top Billing to start the year then did little running in the G2 Fountain of Youth over a speed biased racecourse at Gulfstream.
 
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Last out, with blinkers on for the first time, Commissioner broke a bit awkwardly in the G3 Sunland Park Derby and looked hopelessly beaten down the backside but made up plenty of ground late to finish third behind the Baffert pair of Chitu and Midnight Hawk. An improving type, Mike Smith will ride for the first time from post 5.
 
Stablemate Danza will break from the rail with Joe Bravo in what will be his two-turn debut. After breaking his maiden in his debut, Danza missed taking the G2 Saratoga Special by just half a length when third then didn’t run until his third place finish in an entry level allowance contest going seven panels in the beginning of March.
 
CONQUEST TITAN will be making his eighth start over his seventh different surface and get the services or Calvin Borel for the first time. Second in the G3 Holy Bull behind Cairo Prince to start the year, Conquest Titan had an awkward trip when fourth in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby last out when fourth as the 5-2 favorite. He’ll break from post 6 for trainer Mark Casse.
 
Casse will also send out Thundergram with Norberto Arroyo from post 4. Just one for six in his career, Thundergram will sport blinkers for the first time.
 
In Kentucky, the G1 Blue Grass will be run over Polytrack for the final time as Keeneland will rip up the surface and replace it with conventional dirt in time for their fall meet in October.
 
In past years, it’s become somewhat of an indifferent prep in my opinion as it’s hard to get a gauge on what these synthetic horses will do going forward in the Derby should they continue on that path. The same can be said this year as a field of fourteen and an also-eligible have been entered for the 1 1/8 miles event.
 
The biggest difference between this years’ renewal and ones of the past several years is that the connections of BOBBY’S KITTEN have said the Blue Grass would be the final prep for their could ever since he finished third last autumn in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Yes I said TURF and this in fact will be his first start over any other surface besides turf which means if he gets enough Derby points with a first or second place finish in here, he’ll be making his conventional dirt debut in the Kentucky Derby.
 
Trained by Chad Brown, Bobby’s Kitten has won three of five career starts, including his seasonal bow last out in an allowance contest at Tampa Bay Downs. He’ll break from post 5 under regular rider Javier Castellano. As for the rest of these, it’s pretty much a “let the chips fall where they may scenario.” And while I’m sure some connections had this race in mind for a while, no one was as adamant or as vocal about it as the connections of Bobby’s Kitten so we’re just gonna go horse by horse from the rail out from here on in.
 
Asserting Bear closed to finish fourth in the G3 Spiral last out in just his second start of the year and third in his career over a synthetic surface. In fact, it was the only time over a synthetic surface that he finished out of the trifecta. He was first and second in a pair of restricted stakes at Woodbine to close out his juvenile season for trainer Reade Baker who reaches out for jockey Emma Wilson.
 
Extrasexyhippzster had a two race win streak snapped in the G3 Gotham last out, a race he went into as the “now” horse. He was never involved that day for trainer Mike Trombetta and managed to beat just one horse. He sports a pair of sharp works over this course for this and will have regular rider Julien Pimentel aboard.
 
Pablo Del Monte lit Keeneland on proverbial fire as a two-year-old, winning once in the spring and once in the fall by daylight margins but has failed to duplicate either performance on dirt or turf in his last three starts. Fourth in the Gulfstream Park Derby two starts back, he finished third in the G3 Hutcheson last out behind Wildcat Red and will be making his first start around two turns on the Polytrack for his trainer Wesley Ward. Victor Espinoza comes in from California to ride.
 
Harry’s Holiday seems to have found a home on the synthetic tracks having hit the board in his last three starts, all Turfway Park stakes, after winning two of his four career starts on conventional dirt against cheaper. After taking  a minor sprint stakes, Harry’s Holiday was third in the Battaglia behind runaway winner Solitary Ranger before just missing in the Spiral last out after making the lead on the far turn. Rosie Napravnik returns for trainer Mike Maker.
 
Coltimus Prime tried the dirt in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby last out and raced horribly, finishing ninth while beaten over 25 lengths. His synthetic races are much better, especially that second place finish by just a neck in the Display at Woodbine late last season. Alan Garcia rides for trainer Justin Nixon.
 
Casiguapo has raced just once this year when he was off the board in an allowance contest when equipped with blinkers for the first time over two months ago but was second in the G1 Hopeful and G3 Delta Jackpot last year and worked really fast over this surface in preparation for this. Rajiv Maragh rides for trainer Mario Morales.
 
Dance With Fate ships in from California for trainer Peter Eurton off of a tough second place finish at the hands of Tamarando in the G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate nearly two months ago. Second in both the G1 Del Mar Futurity on synthetic and G1 Front Runner on conventional dirt last year, Dance With Fate returned to the races with a turf win to start the year before his last start. Corey Nakatani rides.
 
Big Bazinga was the “wiseguy” horse of the Spiral from his inside post but really never fired and raced evenly to finish fifth, beaten less than three lengths. Trained by Katerina Vassilieva, B.J. Hernandez Jr. will ride for the first time. Big Bazinga should benefit from some post relief.
 
So Lonesome adds blinkers and switches to Polytrack for trainer Tom Bush coming off of a lackluster effort in the G3 Palm Beach on turf at Gulfstream, his first start of the year. So Lonesome’s two career wins have come against fellow New York breds. Joe Rocco, Jr. has the mount.
 
Coastline finished third in that three horse Spiral photo won by We Miss Artie and won his other Polytrack start last fall right here at Keeneland. Earlier this season, Coastline was third and fourth for his trainer Mark Casse in a pair of Oaklawn Park stakes, the Smarty Jones and G3 Southwest. Stewart Elliott has the call.
 
Vinceremos was victorious by a nose in the G3 Sam F Davis two back before finishing second after an odd trip in the Tampa Bay Derby for Pletcher. First or second in all four of his starts thus far Vinceremos will be trying a synthetic surface for the first time and will need a new rider as Edgar Prado will miss about a month after a training accident this past Thursday at Keeneland. I suspect Irad Ortiz, Jr. who is in town to ride some other stakes on Saturday or Julien Leparoux will ride.
 
Medal Count got up in the final strides to take the off-the-turf, G3 Transylvania at Keeneland just eight days ago and is wheeled right back by trainer Dale Romans to try and get into the Derby. Hopes have always been high for this guy as he tried the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in just his third career start last year and was fifth in the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream this year. Robby Albarado rides.
 
Gala Award just missed in his debut and has won two straight since, all on turf, including the Palm Beach in his latest for Pletcher. Impeccably bred, Gala Award should have little problem with the surface switch but did get the worst of it at the draw. John Velazquez rides again.
 
Another Pletcher runner, Divine Oath, is on the AE list and would need a scratch to get in. Divine Oath is two for two in his career with both victories coming on the turf. Julien Leparoux is named to ride.
 
Prep Play of the Day

Wicked Strong almost made us solvent last week and if it hadn’t been for a gutsy effort by Samraat we’d have hit the exacta. But we did get the win bet home so we can’t complain too much. As for this week, that Arkansas Derby is some prep. We’ll try and make some money by getting Bayern out of the number. Bet $50 to win on Tapiture then make a $2 exacta box/$1 trifecta box using Tapiture, Ride On Curlin, Commissioner and Conquest Titan. Total cost is $98. Good luck!!!!

Bankroll: minus $4

  
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