Saturday, March 14, 2009

Prep Race Superfecta - 3/14

Big day of prep races around the country including many of the top Derby contenders. Out west at Santa Anita, Pioneerof the Nile appears to be an overwhelming favorite in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), while another colt we profiled on March 3rd, Friesan Fire enters the contentious Louisiana Derby (gr. II). The Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) drew 11, while Old Fashioned heads the field in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II).

Tampa Bay Derby: I think this is a wide open contest with no clear favorite as the M/L 3/1 choice is maiden winner #4 Hello Broadway who finished 2nd in the Hutcheson (gr. II) behind Capt. Candymany Can who didn't fire in the Fountain of Youth. #8 General Quarters surprised in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) and has been an astute claim for $20,000 out of his maiden race last May. He's traded wins with #2 Musket Man, who took the 7F Pasco S. in January. #9 Bear's Rocket by Lion Heart looks to apply pressure to the pace and follow-up his nice 2nd in the Holy Bull. #5 Warrior's Reward is making only his 3rd start but ran 2nd to Dunkirk in an Allowance last out. The Pick: #8 General Quarters over #5 Warrior's Reward and #2 Musket Man.

Louisiana Derby: Most lucrative of today's preps, this $600k race drew 10 including Friesan Fire, winner of two stakes at the Fair Grounds already this meet. He's beaten many of the other contenders, including Flying Pegasus, Uno Mas, and Patena in his past few races. #8 Papa Clem is an intriguing prospect as he finished 2nd to San Felipe favorite Pioneerof the Nile in the Robert Lewis (gr. II) in his last and looks to repeat what the show horse in that race, I Want Revenge did in winning the Gotham; shipping eastward and running on conventional dirt. Bejarano is travelling, and being by Smart Strike, he should like the surface and distance. #4 Terrain could be live off the bench for Albert Stall, Jr. The Pick: #8 Papa Clem over #9 Friesan Fire. #4 is a live longshot.

The Rebel Stakes: #1 Old Fashioned is listed amongst the top of many Derby lists, and rightly so given his perfect 4 for 4 record including the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) last out. He hasn't been tested since his maiden victory last October and likely will be odds-on. #8 is the only other stakes winner in the field but was handily beaten by Old Fashioned in the Southwest. #5 Wise Kid likes Oaklawn (3-2-1-0), and has a wonderful pedigree by Lemon Drop Kid out of the family of Chief's Crown. #7 Captain Cherokee is an improving colt who ships in for Steve Asmussen from the Fair Grounds. #2 Hamazing Destiny blitzed a maiden field by 10 1/2 in his debut, but the D. Wayne Lukas entry may have distance limitations. The Pick: #1 Old Fashioned over #5 Wise Kid.

San Felipe Stakes: I don't think Pioneerof the Nile will have too much trouble unless he's not too cranked up for this one, but he did work very well this week 58 4/5 for 5F. At 2/5 M/L I don't like this as a betting race, but Pioneer should win easily.

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