Apr 05, 2019
A11 - Saturday Showdowns
Welcome to “Anthony’s Eleven,” your source for anything and everything leading up to Kentucky Derby 145 on May 4th 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 3 with an extensive analysis of every runner that steps into the gate for the most exciting two minutes in sports. On both May 3 and May 4, 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!
Anthony's Eleven (4/5/19)
|Anthony's Eleven (4/5/19)|
Three 100-point races across the country highlight what is traditionally the most action-packed weekend on the road to the Kentucky Derby. We’ll make stops in New York, Kentucky and California as 31 horses have been entered in the three-races combined. All will be contested at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Let’s start with theG2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct.
Tacitus may very well be trainer Bill Mott’s last man standing when it comes to this year’s Kentucky Derby. Just six weeks ago, Mott had Mucho, Hidden Scroll and Country House aimed at Louisville. Hidden Scroll faltered, Mucho will stick to one turn for now (he runs in the Bay Shore on the Wood Memorial undercard) and Country House is on the points bubble.
Those same six weeks ago, Tacitus was likely the least likely to be The Man in the Mott barn. He had run just twice, having finished fourth while attending the pace in a quick maiden heat at Belmont going 1 1/16 miles and a workmanlike win at Aqueduct in November maiden special weight race going a mile.
Tacitus, who’ll break from post 2, was thrown into the deep end of the pool for his seasonal bow in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby over a notoriously quirky racing surface in Oldsmar, Florida. Under regular rider Jose Ortiz and with Lasix for the first time, Tacitus found himself far back early behind fast fractions but put in a solid run from the beginning of the far turn and through the stretch to pass more than half the field inside of horses to win by over a length at almost 9-1.
Haikal put his three-race win streak on the line when he tries two turns for the first time from post 4 for Kiaran McLaughlin and regular rider Rajiv Maragh.
Beaten just a neck in his unveiling going seven furlongs last fall at Belmont, Haikal has won all three of his starts at the Big A. A maiden win going six furlongs in December set him up nicely for his tally in the Jimmy Winkfield eight weeks later when Maragh gave him a brilliant ride while taking advantage of a gold rail bias.
In the G3 Gotham last out, Haikal once again dropped out to the back of the pack but began picking it up earlier than usual, following Maragh’s instructions to pass some horses along the inside while approaching and on the far turn before they altered course to the middle of the track to run by the rest once the field straightened for home to win by a length.
Tax makes his second start of the year off of a two-month hiatus for trainer Danny Gargan. He’ll break from post 1 under Junior Alvarado.
If you’re getting a feeling of déjà vu, you should be. These were the exact same circumstances the last time Tax entered the gate in the G3 Withers. He was coming into that effort off of a solid third-place finish in the G2 Remsen in December.
Alvarado and Tax took advantage of a rail bias in the Withers and managed to sneak through in the stretch to hold off a resurging Not That Brady to win by a diminishing head.
Outshine makes his third start off of an eight month break for Todd Pletcher. After taking an allowance/optional claimer when blinkers were added going seven panels two starts back, Outshine raced in mid-pack of the T.B. Derby before fighting on for the last three-eighths of a mile to finish second. John Velazquez rides from post 10. Pletcher will also send out debut winner Overdeliver, who was second in the Pasco at Tampa Bay in his only other try, from post 6 with Kendrick Carmouche in the boot.
Hoffa’s Union makes his first start for Mark Casse after he was purchased after his 15-plus length debut tally in front-running fashion at Laurel going two turns where he earned a gawdy 95 Beyer speed figure. He’ll break from post 3 under Dylan Davis.
Jason Servis sends out both Final Jeopardy and Grumps Little Tots just a week removed from Maximum Security continuing his Cinderella-like march from maiden claimer to Louisville when he wired the field in the G1 Florida Derby last Saturday.
Final Jeopardy will break from post 5 under Manny Franco having won two of three starts, including an allowance optional claimer going a flat mile at Gulfstream last out while Grumps Little Tots broke his maiden in his fourth start over this surface last out. He’ll break from post 8 under Jose Lezcano. Both will be making their first starts against open stakes company and around two turns.
Not That Brady took the Damon Runyon against fellow New York breds to conclude his juvenile season before just missing after a stutter-step start in the Withers. He failed to fire in the Gotham when he was eased through the stretch. ReyLu Gutierrez rides for Rudy Rodriguez from post 7.
Joevia broke his maiden first out last July then just missed in the Jimmy Winkfield in his first start off of a seven-month layoff when Haikal nabbed him late. Last out, he was second in the Private Terms at Laurel in his first try around two turns. Nik Juarez rides for Greg Sacco from post 11.
Math Wizard ships up from Florida for Saffie Joseph, Jr. off of a second-place finish as the favorite in a starter/optional claimer going a mile. Like Maximum Security, Math Wizard broke his maiden in a $16K claimer. This will be his stakes and two turn debut. Eric Cancel rides from post 9.
At Keeneland, Vekoma has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 14-horse,G2 Blue Grass for trainer George Weaver and will have the services of Javier Castellano for the first time when he breaks from post 2.
Vekoma was perfect in his two starts last year. After breaking his maiden at Belmont on debut, stopping the clock for six furlongs in a sparkling 1:08 4/5, Vekoma stretched out nicely to take the one mile, G3 Nashua at Aqueduct on Breeders’ Cup weekend. He won both starts in identical fashion, sitting just off of the early pace before making the lead off of the far turn.
After a four-month break, Vekoma returned in the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in what would be his first start around two turns. Not as close to the pace as he was as a juvenile, Vekoma began to move into contention at the halfway point of the race but never really threatened and finished third, almost three lengths behind the top two finishers. He’ll stretch out to nine furlongs in here.
Signalman returns to Kentucky for his second start of the season having finished seventh in the Fountain of Youth most recently for Ken McPeek. Between the historic speed-favoring profile and short stretch run going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream, many found it a curious starting point of the season for Signalman.
Last season, Signalman hit the board in all five starts, including a second in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, a game third-place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from post 13 and a an off-the-pace tally against the bias over a sloppy Churchill strip in the G2 KJC. Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides from post 3.
Win Win Win closed to get the show dough in the T.B. Derby last out, his first try in graded stakes company and around two turns for Mike Trombetta. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides from post 8.
Win Win Win began his career taking three of four against sprinters, including the seven-furlong Pasco at Tampa by over seven lengths in track record time. Trombetta inexplicably made a rider change to Ortiz last out after Julien Pimentel did nothing wrong on the colt in his first four tries.
Somelikeithotbrown hasn’t raced on dirt since facing fellow New York breds in his sprint debut in the slop at Saratoga last summer. And while he was off the board that day, he’s been in the trifecta in his six starts since over synthetic and on turf for trainer Mike Maker.
After finishing a solid third when beaten less than a length in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Maker gave Somelikeithotbrown a bit of a break and took him to Turfway for their winter stakes. He easily won the Battaglia Memorial in his first start off of a three-plus month layoff then took them virtually gate-to-wire in the G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks most recently, earning 20 points in the process. He’ll break from the rail under Tyler Gaffalione.
Casse will be represented by Dream Maker from post 6 and Sir Winston from post 9. Dream Maker has won two of his five starts against maidens and allowance horses but has finished off the board in his three graded stakes starts, including the T.B. Derby most recently. Florent Geroux rides.
Sir Winston is a stakes winner on the synthetic track at Woodbine but is winless in three dirt starts. He has made up ground late in his last two when he was fourth in the Withers off of a three month break and last out in the T.B. Derby when he was beaten just four lengths. Julien Leparoux.
So Alive makes his first start since a bit of a rough start in the G3 Sam F Davis at Tampa where he finished a well beaten third for Pletcher. A half-brother to last year’s Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso, So Alive won two of his first three starts. Luis Saez rides from post 11.
Market King set the pace before finishing a well-beaten third in the Omaha Beach division of the Rebel and has one just once in eight starts for D. Wayne Lukas. Jon Court rides from post 4.
Lucky Lee won a pair of races at Parx going a mile to wrap up his juvenile season before finishing last in the Withers. Chris Landeros rides from post 10 for John Servis.
Admire and Moonster will represent trainer Dale Romans in the Blue Grass. Admire broke his maiden in his second try over a sloppy track at Churchill last fall before returning to finish fifth in the Withers and seventh in the T.B. Derby. He’ll break from post 7 under Robby Albarado. Moonster will break from post 13 under John McKee off of a third-place finish in the Jeff Ruby. He’s won just one of his eight starts.
Trainer Dallas Stewart send out a pair of longshots, Chess Chief and Aquadini. Chess Chief broke his maiden last out in his first start around two turns off of four sprints to start his career. Paco Lopez rides from post 5. Aquadini broke his maiden two starts back from off the pace before trying to take an allowance/optional claimer gate-to-wire before settling for second most recently. Corey Lanerie rides from post 14.
Parsimony, winless in eight starts and most recently eighth in one of the divisions of the Rebel at Oaklawn, will break from post 12 under Mario Gutierrez for trainer Doug O’Neill.
At Santa Anita, a field of six, led by the Bob Baffert trained duo of Game Winner and Roadster figure to get the bulk of the attention and action on the tote when they face four other foes in theG1 Santa Anita Derby.
Undefeated last season, one in which Game Winner won four G1s including, the American Pharoah over this course and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as well the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Two-Year-Old, he returned from a four-plus month break in one of the divisions of the G2 Rebel at Oaklawn last out.
Under regular rider Joel Rosario, Game Winner raced wide in his return but appeared poised to take down his fifth consecutive score. He ranged up to the leader, Omaha Beach, and after a deep-stretch tussle fell a hose short on the bob. It may be worth noting that he never managed to pass the winner beyond the wire during the gallop out. He’ll break from post 6.
Roadster made his return from a six-month layoff a winning one when he captured an allowance/optional claimer in his first start around two turns at a mile.
Last year, Roadster was anointed one of the “ones” after demolishing a group of maidens at Del Mar in his debut but went to the sidelines after a third-place finish behind Game Winner in the G1 Del Mar Futurity. Mike Smith rides from the rail.
Another juvenile who was all the rage in SoCal last season was Instagrand. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, he debuted to win at Los Alamitos by 10 lengths and followed that up with an even more powerful effort in the G2 Best Pal at Del Mar, a race he won by over 10 lengths.
Following that tally, Instagrand was sent to the sidelines. His owner proclaimed that there was nothing wrong with him but that he had ideas as to how to keep Instagrand around for a while, and that the Derby wasn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all.
Instagrand returned in the Gotham and immediately taken out of his element when he couldn’t make the lead and was forced to pass horses for the first time. He made what appeared to be a winning move when the field turned for home but he ran out of steam in the stretch and settled for third as the even money favorite. Flavien Prat rides for the first time from post 5.
Nolo Contesto broke his maiden in his second start and first around two turns back in January before finishing second to Roadster last out. He was scratched by trainer John Sadler earlier in the meet out of the Robert Lewis so he’s looking for his first points on the Derby Trail. He’ll break from post three under new rider Joe Talamo.
Hollendorfer will also send out two-time turf winner More Ice. He’ll break from post 2 under Geovanni Franco. Third in his lone start on third in his debut, he finished third in his last two, the Eddie Logan on turf and the El Camino Real Derby over the synthetic course at Golden Gate.
Synthesis, once a winner from nine starts, will make his first start for George Papaprodromou under Rafael Bejarano from post 4.
Prep Play of the Day
Bet $60 to win on Tacitus in the Wood Memorial, $20 to win on Sir Winston in the Blue Grass, and a $20 exacta part-wheel using Game Winner over both Nolo Contesto and More Ice in the SA Derby. Total bets are $120. Good luck!!!!!
Bankroll: Plus $15
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 the co-host of Talking Horses and a backup racetrack announcer. Follow him on Twitter @thebigastabile