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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Handicapping Puzzle

Today's two main Derby preps appear to be light years apart, when looking at the talent that landed in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). The puzzle is how to figure out how this race will unfold, as we all know, "pace makes the race." The morning line favorite Pyro seems to be set up nicely here with the typically slower times on the polytrack and the lack of any real speed horse (that I can see). He will stretch out to nine furlongs for the first time and should have plenty of run in him late if the pace is slow. In studying what may unfold, I think I will be going the exotic route and playing an exacta with my top two choices, Cool Coal Man and Pyro over a few horses that have some interesting items of note in the PP's. I like CCM, who had a perfect stalking trip to win the FOY, who has beaten Court Vision, the top two Illinois Derby finishers, and has won at this distance twice. Underneath I like the following horses: Big Truck (nice workouts over the past month) and could be a factor late, Medjool (run all races on the synthetics and could be ready for a big effort), Miner's Claim (I like this horse a lot with improving beyers, won on synthetics, will also make a win bet on him) and finally Halo Najib (Gomez aboard, solid race last time out on the poly). Big Question Mark: Will Todd get shut out?

$1 EX PART WHEEL: 1,7 with 1,6,7,9,10, 11 (cost: $10)

Picks: 1- Cool Coal Man, 2 - Pyro, 3 - Big Truck

The $1M Arkansas Derby (G2) at Oaklawn has some big graded stakes money available to fourteen runners and could send up to three horses to the Derby with the size of the purse. I'm playing against west coast shipper Gayego (first time on dirt) and actually like all three Asmussen horses in the race. But will go with King's Silver Sun (improving beyers, familiar with track and has hit the board six of seven in lifetime races, pace could help). I also like My Pal Charlie with Julien up (improving beyers, looks to be out on the lead early) and Ablaze with Spirit, another Asmussen trainee (improving beyers and could be a factor late). Others that rate a look underneath in exotics: Z Fortune and Liberty Bull.

Picks: 1 - King's Silver Sun, 2 - My Pal Charlie, 3 - Ablaze with Spirit

Also running this afternoon is the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) which only landed seven horses and nothing exciting, but it will be shown live on ESPN's coverage today. Hey Byrn (8/5 ML favorite) needs to win to have any shot at the Derby. Too bad there are not more purse dollars at stake here as the competition would be much better than what's entered.



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