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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Crop, Bad Crop

This is the time of the year after the first set of Derby preps where you'd typically start hearing what a bad crop of 3-year old colts we have to work with as we head towards the Kentucky Derby in Louisville in eight short weeks.

Personally, I think we have a pretty solid group of colts, wherein the top three finishers in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile are leading the charges in New York, Florida and California. With the final prep races still a few weeks away, I'm digging Union Rags as the horse to beat. Now the question is, can this crop of 3-year olds avoid the injuries that have plagued our sport before the big day. In just the last three years we've lost such hopefuls as Eskendereya, I Want Revenge, Uncle Mo, Premier Pegasus and that funny-named horse that was named after a grapefruit (The Pamplemousse).

I haven't started to do my homework yet, but in the next few weeks we'll have our Derby Space Sheet 3.0 up and running and the analysis will start. The Juvenile champ Hansen ran a big race in the Gotham last weekend, and points toward the Wood Memorial on April 7 at Aqueduct when racing returns to the main track at the Big A. Show finisher in the Juvenile, Creative Cause, made a nice wide move to move past a game Bodemeister (just can't get into that horse) in the stretch, to become California's top hope to challenge at Churchill.

A race you won't want to miss tomorrow is the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream. The race features the fourth place finisher from that BC Juvenile race, Dullahan (2-1 ML), who looks to take the same route as Paddy O'Prado used to get to the Derby via the Palm Beach and the Blue Grass. The morning line favorite Howe Great (8-5) will challenge the Dale Romans-trained Dullahan in Race 7 tomorrow in Hallandale Beach.

I've been really sticking to a wagering strategy where I'm picking my spots this winter. I've been fortunate in playing only a race or two each weekend and not pissing away money on low level claimers or races that don't make any sense to wager on (like almost every race at Aqueduct where favorites are winning at an all-time record clip). I had a nice score at Santa Anita hitting a Pick 3 into the Big Cap for $355 on a measly $12 ticket thanks to Willyconker (IRE).

Only made one wager today, playing the Hard Spun colt Midnight Transfer across the board in the San Felipe. He finished third ($6.00 to show) and we broke even. He made a nice move to the inside of Bodemeister and I thought he was ready to explode like his sire used to, but he evened out on the rail in the stretch drive. Regardless, I was impressed by his effort at 12-1 (up from a 6-1 morning line).

Next weekend we have the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn, which should have a terrific field with hopefuls Secret Circle, Gemologist and Sabercat all pointing to this race. Time to start working on my Derby Dozen for Volume III of the Wireplayers tri-weekly poll.

Buckle your seat belts, this could be a fabulous year on the Triple Crown trail.



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