Friday, February 27, 2009

February 28th Derby Preps

Back after a week off from the Derby trail, there are two preps of interest this week. From Gulfstream Park in Florida is the Fountain of Youth S. (gr. II), and from Santa Anita in California the Grade III Sham S. is on tap. The Fountain of Youth features Hutcheson Stakes (g. II) winner Capt. Candyman Can, and a few sprinters that posted eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures in their prior starts. In the Sham, leading west coast contender The Pamplemousse preps for a likely start in the Santa Anita Derby in April.

Fountain of Youth (g. II) Preview

The 2009 edition of the Fountain of Youth Stakes will be run at one mile instead of the recent 1 1/8 mile distance, and this could play a huge factor in the outcome of the race. The one-turn mile on Gulfstream's speed favoring main track attracted twelve entrants despite a $100,000 reduction in purse monies from 2008.
Recent stakes winning sprinters #3 Notonthesamepage, #10 Taqarub , and #12 This Ones for Phil look to stretch out their blazing speed to 8 furlongs and try to get into the thick of the Derby hunt. This Ones for Phil comes in after a ludicrous 116 Beyer figure in the 6F Sunshine Millions Dash in his first start for trainer Rick Dutrow, who won last year's Kentucky Derby with Big Brown. The 116 was 40 points higher than his prior pre-Rick race, quite an improvement for only a 2 month hiatus, and good enough to make him the 3/1 ML favorite. He has won at the distance, a pedestrian 1:41 1/5 in September in a minor stakes race. He seems likely to bounce, or be compromised by the pace in this one.
Notonthesamepage just missed a track record for 6F at Gulfstream in the Spectacular Bid Stakes last month clocking in at 1:08 2/5, but ran poorly in two Grade 1's last fall. Taqarub was impressive winning the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct but has never run farther than 6 furlongs. His pedigree suggests the distance won't be a problem, and he may excel on the lawn in the future as his dam is a 1/2 sister to Breeders Cup Filly & Mare winner Soaring Softly, but this seems like an awfully tough spot for him.
#9 Capt. Candyman Can is a logical contender after winning the Hutcheson in his last race, also at Gulfstream Park. He also won the Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill last November at this mile distance. #8 Break Water Edison by Lemon Drop Kid out of a stakes winning dam won the Grade III Nashua two back, but ran poorly in the Hutcheson. He seems suited for routing and closed sharpy in his stakes win and offers great value at 15/1. #1 Bee Cee Cee and #6 Rocketing Returns also exit the Hutcheson but both look to be a second tier sprinters. #6 Beethoven didn't run well in the Holy Bull (gr. III) but has won a Grade II route last November. #2 Theregoesjojo recently won an Allowance at Gulfstream and the connections of Desormeaux/McPeek are firing at 33% in the past 60 days (in 51 starts). He should be able to stalk the pace and close, but his class is the question. #4 Take the Points is expected to scratch.
The Pick
I think there'll be a ton of pace, but I also think the winner will have to be coming from just off the pace, and not too far back. #9 Capt. Candyman Can really fits that profile as does #7 Beethoven and #8 Break Water Edison but I'm going to go with the latter as the pick as John Kimmel adds blinkers which I think will help him stay alert.
The Bet
I'm 0-fer the blog so far betting so I hope I can change my luck.
$10 Win/Place #8 - $20 total
$2 Exacta 7,8 with 2,7,8,9 - $16 total
Sham Stakes (gr. III) Preview
The Sham may offer the chance for a newcomer to spring on the west coast scene but more than likely it'll be a tune-up for Grade III winner The Pamplemousse. The only two other multi-winners are #2 Smart Bid and #12 Take the Points. Smart Bid by Smart Strike out of a Danzig mare won on the turf in his last start with Rafael Bejarano and looks for three in a row. Take the Points was cross entered in the Fountain of Youth but trainer Todd Pletcher opts to ship him in to the Sham in a somewhat softer spot. But a cross-country flight only a few days prior to the race may weigh on the up and coming colt.

Two-time Sham Stakes winner Bob Baffert sends out #9 Ventana off a fourth placed finish in the San Vincente (gr. II), but the chestnut colt by Toccet doesn't appear to like the synthetic surface. #7 Mr. Hot Stuff comes in off a fast maiden victory at a mile at Santa Anita in his last. He's a full brother to 2006 Sham winner Bob and John, also trained by Eoin Harty, and owned by WinStar Farms LLC. He finished well back of The Pamplemousse in December, but could be turning the corner.
#8 Bourbon Bay looks to translate his stakes placings on turf to the Pro-Ride main track.

The Pick

If The Pamplemousse doesn't fire, I think Smart Bid will win, but I don't expect him to run poorly.

The Bet

Odds will be too low for a straight bet, so I think exotics are the way to play it, though I don't think this is a good betting race.

$5 Exacta #5 with 2, 9

1 comment:

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