Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM
A11 - Saturday Showdowns
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.
Anthony's Eleven (4/7/18)
|Anthony's Eleven (4/7/18)|
Three 100 Kentucky Derby points prep races in the span of an hour figure to answer a ton of questions as we’re now just around four weeks away from the 144th Run for The Roses. All at nine furlongs, the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York is set to go at 5:55PM ET followed by the G2 Blue Grass from Keeneland in Lexington Kentucky and the G1 Santa Anita Derby from Arcadia, California. We’ll start in my backyard in the City That Never Sleeps.
Enticed storms into the Wood Memorial off of a powerful win in the G3 Gotham over the course last time out in his second start of the season for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Last year Enticed won two of his three starts, including the G2 KJC at Churchill Downs in November, under Junior Alvarado.
When this season started, however, McLaughlin decided to make a rider change and put Joel Rosario up for his sophomore debut in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on February 3. Breaking from the rail as the 9-5 favorite, Enticed appeared poised to pounce approaching the far turn but went nowhere fast and toiled in fourth while beaten nearly 15 lengths.
In the Gotham, McLaughlin reunited Enticed with Alvarado and from their outside draw sat a wide trip that ultimately didn’t matter. Alvarado shook up his charge in the stretch and Enticed rolled to an easy score as his rider geared him down while crossing the line. He’ll break from post 5 as the 6-5 morning line favorite.
Vino Rosso couldn’t have been more disappointing in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby last out when he could do no better than fourth with the new pair of blinkers trainer Todd Pletcher added.
Perfect in both starts last season, Vino Rosso tried stakes company for the first time in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. Under regular rider John Velazquez, he raced between horses for most of the way, dropped back on the turn then came running late once he was outside of his competition.
Vino Rosso appeared ready to roll in the Tampa Bay Derby and was perfectly positioned going down the backside but didn’t run a step. We’ll see if a change in scenery and outside, post 9 draw help his cause on Saturday as his trainer and rider look to team up to win a major Kentucky Derby prep for the third consecutive week.
Firenze Fire is clearly the most accomplished runner in the field as he’s the lone G1 winner by way of his upset of the historic, prestigious Champagne at Belmont last fall for trainer Jason Servis. In all, he’s a three-time stakes winner. But they’ve all come around one turn, including his victory in the Jerome against a giant speed biased course two starts back.
In fact, Firenze Fire is winless in his two starts around two turns, with an abysmal effort in the Juvenile and a second-place finish two back in the G3 Withers. Last out in the Gotham, he failed to fire at home and trudged home fourth. Manny Franco rides from post 2.
Restoring Hope ships in for Bob Baffert off of a maiden score in his third try some two months ago at Santa Anita. Baffert, who took the blinkers off this colt last out, tried getting him into last Sunday’s G3 Sunland Derby but was excluded from the field. Flavien Prat rides from post 8.
Old Time Revival nearly punched his Derby ticket in the Gotham when he led the field into the stretch before settling for second. Trained by Ken Decker, he’s one just once from six starts and will be trying two turns for the first time. Jeremy Rose rides from post 4.
Trainer Mike Dilger will add blinkers to Evaluator in his first try since falling a nose short against New York-breds in the Damon Runyon last out over 11 weeks ago. Evaluator won his only other dirt start, the Sleepy Hollow against statebreds, last season at Belmont. Kendrick Carmouche rides from post 3.
King Zachary galloped as the 4-5 chalk at Gulfstream in his second start of the season and his first try around two turns. Robby Albarado rides for Dale Romans from post 7.
Heartfullofstars ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Phil D’Amato off of a maiden win in the slop going a mile. He drew the rail with Dylan Davis aboard.
Ridiculous longshot Catch Twenty Two rounds out the field from post 6 with Luis Reyes aboard for Naipaul Chatterpaul.
At Keeneland, Good Magic will look to rebound from a rusty-looking third place finish in the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream when he takes on a full field in the Blue Grass.
Trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic was second in both his debut and the Champagne before breaking his maiden in the B.C. Juvenile, a win that propelled him to year-end Eclipse honors.
In his first start in four months last out, Good Magic sat third behind eventual one-two finishers Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power on a speed biased racetrack but never truly threatened and raced evenly throughout his 2018 debut. He’ll need to improve to not only get a piece of this but to prove he deserves to move forward on the Trail and will break from post 10 with Jose Ortiz.
Free Drop Billy returns to the scene of his biggest tally having won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity last fall for trainer Dale Romans. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard for the first time from post 9.
Since that daylight score that made him the only other G1 winner in the field besides Good Magic, Free Drop Billy ran poorly in the Juvenile before returning this year to finish a good second when he was no match for the streaking Audible in the Holy Bull.
Last out, Romans shipped him to N.Y. and cut Free Drop Billy back to a one-mile in the Gotham and the tactic didn’t seem to work the way it did for Enticed. “Billy” sat a similar trip to the one Enticed sat but didn’t kick when the field turned for home.
Romans will also give Tiz Mischief another crack at punching his ticket to Louisville in here. A hard-charging second in the KJC to wrap up 2017, Tiz Mischief was third in the Holy Bull before offering little in the Tampa Bay Derby. Corey Lanerie rides from post 8.
Flameaway has done little wrong in his career. He’s won five of his eight starts, with wins coming on a fast track, wet tracks synthetic track and the turf, with four of wins coming against stakes company.
Trained by Mark Casse, Flameaway won the off-the-turf G3 Bourbon in the slop over this course last year before starting this season with back to back wins on turf in the Kitten’s Joy and an upset, gate-to-wire score in the Sam F. Davis at over 10-1.
Last out in the Tampa Bay Derby, Flameaway was taken off the pace by his rider Jose Lezcano and closed nicely to grab the place money after a not-so ideal trip. He’ll break from post 11.
Casse will also saddle longshot Determinant, a son of Tapit who he scratched out of Friday’s Transylvania on turf, for his dirt debut. Tyler Gaffalione is named to ride from post 14. Determinant was able to draw in from AE list when it was announced that Quip will scratch and wait for the Arkansas Derby.
Kanthaka ships in from California for Jerry Hollendorfer off of a third-place finish in the G2 San Felipe where he stumbled at the start. After breaking his maiden on opening day at Santa Anita going seven furlongs, Kanthaka took advantage of a massive pace collapse in the G2 San Vicente at the same distance and blew the doors off the field of six by almost four lengths. Julien Leparoux rides post 4.
G1 Hopeful winner Sporting Chance gets another try around two turns for D. Wayne Lukas. Coming off of a near six-month layoff, Sporting Chance finished third in his two-turn debut, the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn before a fifth-place finish in the G2 Rebel over the same course where he received a less than stellar trip. Luis Saez rides from post 2.
Marconi takes his show on the road for the second consecutive start for Pletcher off of an off-the-board finish in the Fountain of Youth where his running style was completely against the grain. He broke his maiden at Aqueduct three tries back before finishing third in the G3 Withers at the Big A. Owned by Coolmore, they’re sending Ryan Moore in to ride their $2 million colt from post 5.
Blended Citizen is winless in three tries over conventional dirt but did capture the G3 Jeff Ruby at Turfway Park last out when adding blinkers for the first time. Kyle Frey rides for Doug O’Neill from post 6. O’Neill will also send out third place Ruby finisher Arawak for the first time since getting the colt after his last start. He’ll get the blinkers put back on and a rider switch to Fernando de la Cruz from post 13.
Zing Zang has finished off-the-board in his last three, all graded stakes points preps, for trainer Steve Asmussen. Shaun Bridgmohan rides from the rail. California Night won two of his three starts, both on the front end and will be trying two turns for the first time for Mike Maker. Gaffalione is also named to ride here from post 3.
Gotta Go won the Street Sense at Churchill last season before getting into a ton of trouble in the KJC for Ian Wilkes. This season, he was a solid second in the G2 Swale before a non-effort on the Fountain of Youth. Chris Landeros rides from post 7. Machismo may scratch and reroute to Arkansas Derby as well. He was fourth in the Fountain of Youth after breaking his maiden by a pole. Jake Radosevich would ride from post 12 for Anthony Quartarolo.
Out at the Great Race Place, the recent news that McKinzie is off the Trail may be depriving us of the rematch from the G2 San Felipe we all wanted to see with Bolt d’Oro but we may in fact be getting an even better battle as McKinzie’s stablemate Justify will take his place in the starting gate of the G1 Santa Anita Derby.
Trained by Baffert, Justify thrust himself into the Derby picture with a dazzling debut score going seven furlongs over the local course in gate-to-wire fashion, stopping the clock in 1:21 4/5 as the 1-2 favorite
Three weeks later, Baffert reconsidered a run in the Sunland Derby and entered Justify in an entry level allowance/optional claimer going a mile over a muddy track. Under new rider Mike Smith, Justify rated while well off the rail, swallowed the leaders approaching the turn then cruised to an over six-length tally while under a hand ride.
Baffert said Justify would make his stakes debut in the G1 Arkansas Derby next weekend against the undefeated, fellow possible Apollo Curse-breaker Magnum Moon at Oaklawn Park. But when McKinzie went bad he decided to keep Justify home and run him in here. He’s been installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite from post 6.
Bolt d’Oro will look to continue his march to Louisville and keep his Santa Anita record perfect as the 6-5 second choice on the morning line for trainer Mick Ruis and rider Javier Castellano from post 3.
Bolt d’Oro was a multiple G1 winner last year, taking both the Del Mar Futurity and Front Runner, before a tough trip third in the Juvenile ended his juvenile season and ultimately his championship dreams.
After a pulled muscle caused him to miss his intended return in the San Vicente, Ruis switched riders to Castellano and targeted the San Felipe. Sitting behind the action early on last out, Bolt d’Oro made what appeared to be a winning move on the turn and bumped McKinzie as he went by him. The incident seemed to reengage McKinzie, who drifted several times during the stretch but got back in front to win by a head.
A lengthy inquiry resulted in the stewards disqualifying McKinzie from first and awarding “The Bolt Show” the victory. The stewards said the incident on the turn did not clearly identify the instigator but the stretch incidents were conclusive. Regardless of the outcome, one would think Bolt ‘d Oro got a lot out of that effort, both physically and mentally, and should be ready for battle on Saturday.
When the winter began, Instilled Regard was at the top of nearly every Derby list that exists. Three months later, he’s the forgotten colt. Hollendorfer hopes a rider change to Joel Rosario will get his charge going again.
After being placed second in a roughly run G1 Los Alamitos Futurity at the end of 2017, Instilled Regard shipped in and won the G3 LeComte at the Fair Grounds with a powerful off-the-pace move in January. Last out, perfectly positioned behind a pair of longshots, Instilled Regard failed to fire when the running began off the far turn and settled for a disappointing fourth place finish in the G2 Risen Star.
In his defense, Instilled Regard was up against a heavily speed biased racetrack and third-place finisher Noble Indy was gutsy in taking the G2 Louisiana Derby two weeks back. He’ll need to step up his game against the top two and will break from post 1.
Core Beliefs makes his stakes debut off of his third-out maiden victory when tackling two turns for the first time. Trainer Peter Eurton took the blinkers off for the first time last out when Core Beliefs counterintuitively when gate-to-wire. Tyler Baze rides from post 7.
Pepe Tomo has won just once in four starts and finished third behind Justify most recently when trainer Victor Garcia added blinkers. He’ll break from post 5 under Victor Espinoza.
A pair of maidens, Orbit Rain, another trained by Ruis with Brice Blanc aboard will break from post 2 while Jimmy Chila will leave from post 4 under Mario Gutierrez for Doug O’Neill, round out the field of seven.
Prep Play of the Day
Let’s make a $60 three-horse win parlay this Saturday using Enticed in the Wood Memorial, Free Drop Billy in the Blue Grass and Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby. If one of the first two lose, bet $100 to win on Bolt d’Oro. Good luck!!!!
Bankroll: plus $678
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 201 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