Welcome to “Anthony’s Eleven,” your source for anything and everything leading up to Kentucky Derby 144 on May 5th 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 4th with an extensive analysis of every runner that steps into the gate for the most exciting two minutes in sports. On both May 4th and May 5th, 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. Click here!
Welcome back to another season of “Anthony’s Eleven” here at VegasInsider.com. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this here for over a decade!!!
For those of you familiar with what goes on in this space, thanks for reading all of these years and we’re excited to have you back. For you first timers, welcome, you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for everything and anything concerning the Kentucky Derby.
They’ll be an actual “Eleven” posted this week. I just like to get the first round of preps completed first. And we’ll do that this weekend with the first 50-point race, the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds on Saturday and the final 10-point race, the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn on Monday. Both will be contested at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. We’ll start in the bayou.
Instilled Regard ships back to the Fair Grounds from his Santa Anita base for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer after swooping in to capture the G3 LeComte over the course last out.
Instilled Regard broke his maiden in his third attempt but first going around two turns at Santa Anita three starts back before being elevated to second from third in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity after some bumping through the stretch where he was between horses and arguably took the worst of it.
Last out, in his first start under one of the newest Hall of Famers, Javier Castellano, Instilled regard was kept clear of trouble, camped outside the front runners before making a strong move on the turn that resulted in an almost four length victory. He’s trained well back in California for this and will break from post 5.
As is the case almost every year around this time, trainer Todd Pletcher has the extremely enviable task of splitting up his bevy of Derby hopefuls. Noble Indy has drawn the Fair Grounds straw.
After breaking his maiden in impressive fashion going seven furlongs in a sparkling 1:22 at Gulfstream in his debut, he stretched out over that surface to defeat the highly regarded Mississippi in an allowance/optional claimer last out. Noble Indy edged away from his rival in the latter stages after hounding him the entire way and looked well within himself doing so under his Hall of Fame pilot John Velazquez. They’ll break from post 2.
Principe Guilherme suffered his first defeat in the LeComte after turning heads with blowout scores in his debut at Churchill going seven furlongs and in his local debut against allowance/optional claiming rivals for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. His trip in the LeComte under regular rider Florent Geroux was less than ideal as he was wide on both turns after breaking from post 10 and was bumped midway down the backstretch as the 6-5 favorite. He may be destined for another wide trip as he’ll break from post 9 in here. It’s worth noting that he’s been cross-entered in the Southwest but all signs point to him running in here.
Principe Guilherme battled and beat stablemate Snapper Sinclair for the runner-up spot in the LeComte and the latter is hoping to turn the tables in here with “The Biscuit,” Adam Beschizza aboard again from post 4. A stakes winner on turf as a juvenile, Snapper Sinclair returned to the races for the first time since being an also-ran in the G1 Breeders; Cup Juvenile Turf and to dirt for the first time since his debut at Belmont last summer. He was forwardly placed throughout the LeComte and stayed on well for the show-dough after making the lead on the far turn.
Bravazo ships in from Oaklawn having taken an entry level allowance/optional claimer narrowly in his three-year-old debut for his Hall of Fame connections of D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens. Second in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity last fall, Lukas opted to skip the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and ran Bravazo in the Street Sense where he finished third before closing out the season with an off-the-board effort in the G2 KJC. He’ll break from post 7.
High North makes his sophomore debut for leading trainer at the Fair Grounds, Brad Cox. Last season, High North finished behind Good Magic and Avery Island in a pair of maiden races in New York before breaking his maiden in his two-turn debut at Keeneland. When last seen in the KJC at Churchill he finished well to complete the superfecta after encountering some trouble on the first turn where he was shuffled far back early. Corey Lanerie rides from post 1.
Givemeaminit didn’t break his maiden until last out in his seventh start when trainer Dallas Stewart but that didn’t stop him from competing with the top juveniles in 2017. Third beaten just a neck in the G1 Hopeful after a second-place finish in his debut, Givemeaminit was fourth in the B.C. Juvenile and also tried his hand in the Breeders’ Futurity and KJC. Shaun Bridgmohan rides from post 3.
Supreme Aura tries a route and stakes company for the first time for the potent Fair Grounds combo of trainer Mike Stidham and jockey Joe Bravo, who’ve teamed up to win with more than a third of their runners down the bayou. Supreme Aura rolled to an easy maiden tally at Delaware in his August debut then put in a similar run to take an entry level allowance/optional claimer off of a near five-month layoff most recently. He’ll break from post 6.
Lukas may also send out recent Oaklawn maiden claiming winner Kentucky Club from post 8 with Jimmy Graham aboard. He has been cross-entered in the Southwest. Ebben was off-the-board in the LeComte for trainer Steve Margolis in his seasonal bow after winning twice from six tries last season. Gabe Saez rides from outside post 10.
Over at Oaklawn, the Southwest has become a President’s Day staple over the past few years and this renewal figures to be one of the most interesting yet. 11 were entered on Friday but it appears at least one or two will come out of the field by Monday.
One who has been awaiting this spot is the lone G1 winner in the field, Hopeful victor Sporting Chance from the Lukas barn.
Second in his debut last June at Churchill, Sporting Chance broke his maiden in his second start, taking a Saratoga maiden event in gate-to-wire fashion on opening weekend before sitting just off the pace and ducking out in the stretch in the seven-furlong Hopeful, a race he eventually won by a neck while surviving an inquiry.
A knee chip sent Sporting Chance to the sidelines, forcing him to miss all of the fall stakes, including the B.C. Juvenile. He returned to the worktab in early January and hasn’t missed a beat since. This will be his first start around two turns and he’ll have regular rider Luis Saez, the leading rider at the current Gulfstream Park meet, in the irons. They’ll break from post 2.
Mourinho shipped in to Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert for his sophomore debut and made quick work of just four others in the Smarty Jones last out, his first two turn try.
Mourinho broke his maiden at first asking at Santa Anita over a field that included Instilled Regard then finished second in a pair of SoCal stakes, including the G3 Bob Hope in his final start of 2017, a little over two-months before his latest romp. Drayden Van Dyke has the call from post 3.
Asmussen figures to saddle three runners in the Southwest, led by Smarty Jones runner-up Combatant with Ricardo Santana, Jr. in the boot. After breaking his maiden going a mile at Churchill in late October, Combatant finished second in the Springboard Mile at Remington before a similar run in the Smarty Jones. He’ll break from post 9.
Retirement Fund is a perfect two-for-two to start his career, taking both a maiden special weight affair and an entry level allowance/optional claimer at the Fair Grounds in gate-to-wire fashion from a pair of rail draws under Shaun Bridgmohan. He gets a little post relief and will break from post 6.
Zing Zang came from the clouds to break his maiden two starts back in his third try and first at the Fair Grounds before making up a bunch of ground in a sneaky-good fourth place finish in the LeComte. Corey Lanerie rides from post 7.
Seven Trumpets tries two turns for the first time off of a solid effort in the one-mile Jerome at Aqueduct where he finished second to G1 Champagne winner Firenze Fire. As a juvenile, Seven Trumpets won both of his starts after failing to fire as the even money favorite in his Ellis Park debut last summer for trainer Dale Romans. Robby Albarado, his pilot in both of his victories, rides from post 5.
Road to Damascus finished fourth in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream for Pletcher before stretching out to capture a maiden special weight even at Tampa Bay Downs. Velazquez rides from post 4.
My Boy Jack broke his maiden last season in the Zuma Beach on the Del Mar Turf and returned to dirt for the first time since his off-the-board debut when he was a well beaten third in the G3 Sham at Santa Anita most recently in his first start this year. Trainer Keith Desormeaux will give his brother, Hall of Famer Kent, a leg up from the rail.
Fellow Hall of Famer Gary Stevens will pilot Ezmosh from the outside draw for Cox. Ezmosh won once in five tries last season and finished second behind Bravazo, beaten just a neck, after setting the pace in his seasonal bow.
Prep Play of the Day
I think Steve Asmussen is going to have an awesome President’s Day weekend!! Play $30 to win on Principe Guilherme in the Risen Star and $30 to win on Retirement Fund in the Southwest. Total cost is $60. Good luck!!!!
Anthony “the Big A” Stabile can be heard regularly on the Horse Racing Radio Network from 3-6PM ET on Wednesday and 3-7PM ET Thursday and Friday. Tune in on Sirius 219, XM 206 or streaming live at horseracingradio.net. He also is a contributor on NYRA-TV as a guest on Talking Horses. Follow him on Twitter @thebigastabile
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year-round as well as covering the biggest events including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup. A professional handicapper and horseplayers for more than three decades, no handicapper in the industry works harder and been more successful in bringing horseplayers analysis that produces profits at the track! ike has owned racehorses and knows the racetrack from the backstretch to the finish line. Mike is in his second decade of producing great results for the readers of Vegas Insider. Among his scores in the Kentucky Derby include winning with his top pick Animal Kingdom who paid $43.80 in 2011 and Super Saver at $18.00 in 2010. While favorites have dominated the Run for the Roses in recent years, Mike’s full card analysis for every race on each card is always looking for value for horseplayers looking to pad their wagering bankroll. Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card each day. Check out Mike’s daily column At the Gate where he offers up free selections and live longshots. Join Mike daily with top picks from Aqueduct or grab winners in the Weekend Best Plays Report in the horse racing Multi-Track package. Want more action? Sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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