Although they have significant graded earnings, there are several Kentucky Derby contenders who are flying well below the radar so far this year. Our graded earnings chart, posted for the first time today, reveals five horses in the top 24 that are in training but haven't raced yet in 2009, and four more in that group that finished fourth or worse in their most recent races. Of the top 44, there are 13 in these two categories.
Our core premise in the one-mile, grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes is that if Notonthesamepage breaks well, he's going to shoot for the lead, and almost all the others will struggle to, well, stay on the same page with him. The question thus becomes whether there's anything in the race that will overtake him.
Bet A Gray on Derby Day? If you're a Kentucky Derby bettor who likes patterns that have nothing to do with performance or pedigree--in other words, you believe in the Derby gods--look for a gray to win the Kentucky Derby this year. There is a definite cycle at work, and it's been happening every four years.
The Sam F. Davis Stakes was afforded well-deserved grade III status this year, but unfortunately, going in, the race has come up light. But we do see at least one potential star among the 11 entries. Only four of the entries have graded stakes experience, and from a combined six starts, they've been beaten 70 1/4 lengths.
Shaun Bridgmohan, who's been riding all three of the Steve Asmussen entries in the Risen Star--Dumar (Worth Watching), Soul Warrior (Worth Watching) and Uno Mas (Worth Watching)--has chosen to get on board Dumar, who's a 20-1 morning line.
With West Side Bernie and Beethoven parked outside in posts 10 and 11 going 1 1/8 mile in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, there is reason to look elsewhere for a winner despite the legitimate talents of each of those horses and their connections.
The major Breeders' Cup preps are in the books, so let's see if we can figure Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland, an outstanding competition for 3-year-old fillies on the turf. We'll keep it short and, we hope, sweet.
With three weeks to go before Breeders' Cup, it's another amazing weekend of racing. Let's take a look over and under the radar at five selected races and try to get some winners.
The weekend's major stakes schedule is like a seven-course dinner--a wide variety of dishes that will take over four hours to complete. And that doesn't count three "Win and You're In" races at Ascot. Let's hope the Picks digest well.
Just our opinion, but all extrinsic factors aside for the time being, it doesn't seem fair to dismiss Big Brown's accomplishments, however brief they may be, by saying his competition is weak.
Four new names entered the fray that's called the Road to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday with wins and placings in the grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and grade II Arkansas Derby. And with their good fortune, the dreams of others were dampened if not outright doused.
Can trainer Steve Asmussen pull off a Derby prep double on Saturday? He has a good shot with Pyro in the first leg, but what about the grade II Arkansas Derby?
It's time for the annual head-to-head matchup of Dick and Cheap Speed in the grade II Lane's End Stakes. This race almost always produces substantial payoffs.
Denis of Cork, at 8-1 in the morning line, is the Southwest pick.
Three of our top four quick picks for Saturday's grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland came out of a strong grade I race at Belmont Park. The key to this race might be whether any of these can dictate a moderate pace and stay on to win.
Friday's grade I Darley Alcibiades looks to be a solid prep for the Breeders' Cup Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Doug O'Neill, who's shipped in Grace Anatomy from California to face a dozen other 2-year-old fillies, might even say it's "fantastic".
Saturday's Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes at Belmont drew nine fillies and mares, almost all of which have a good chance to win the race.
This is the year of the Usual Suspects in the Kentucky Derby. Not in over a decade have so many horses highly regarded as 2-year-olds made it into the Derby field--and offered a chance for a Dual Qualfier to once again take the Roses.
In 49 of the last 52 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, the winner was either on the lead with an eighth of a mile to go in the race, within a length of the lead, or running second although more than a length off the leader at that point.
At TheDowneyProfile.com, we utilize thirteen factors more common to Kentucky Derby winners than non-winners, based on our 34-year study, in order to create an objective, weighted-factor predictor of Kentucky Derby success. One factor that we do not use is the "horse for the course" handicapping angle, the one that looks to horses that have run well at Churchill Downs.
The Coolmore Lexington affords an opportunity for two horses to overcome some recent bad luck. One has had bad racing luck, and the other's barn has had just plain bad luck. With a 3-1 morning line favorite, bettors will need all the luck they can get in this grade II race.
With a field of six likely for the Wood Memorial, will it turn into a match race between Any Given Saturday and Nobiz Like Shobiz? Things could get tricky here.
Sometimes you just have to believe what you see, and what Chelokee did in his last race made a believer out of me. He's the pick to upset in the Florida Derby.
Dick Downey and Mike "Cheap Speed" Pearson renew their annual Dueling Picks for the Grade II Lane's End Stakes. It's time to have a little fun and maybe win some money along the way.
In this Rebel Stakes, will the two horses with big numbers and few races prevail? Or will the more veteran starters teach them a thing or two? Our money goes on Bob Holthus and Officer Rocket in a race set up for late runners.
For the second time in two races at Fair Grounds, Circular Quay has been made the morning line favorite. Last time he raced, we picked him fourth. This time, we select him to win the grade II Louisiana Derby.
Connections of one horse hope to celebrate his third birthday in the winner's circle after the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. That horse is Saint Paul.
The colt's workouts have been picture-perfect, he's drawn post 5, and Barclay Tagg is, dare I say it, confident. Nobiz Like Shobiz is all set to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
If four or five contenders start in the 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) off only two prior 3-year-old starts, history shows us it's been tried before--but not much, and with mixed success. Here are some hard statistics.
Hard Spun has four of a kind going into Monday's Southwest Stakes. We see a straight flush coming.
Any Given Saturday, a $1.1 million Keeneland yearling purchase, goes into the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs with one thing to prove--whether he's matured from his headstrong ways.
Saturday's a big day for the new connections of Lawrence the Roman, who will leave the gate the favorite in the Whirlaway Stakes.
Established star John Velazquez was booked to ride favored Circular Quay in the grade III Risen Star, but there's another star-quality jockey coming to New Orleans for this race who's getting less attention.
While it's always tempting and usually advisable to try to beat the favorite, the 2007 renewal of the grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park appears to be a race where what you see is what you get. And what you see is perhaps the best 3-year-old in America: Nobiz Like Shobiz.
What an odd grade III race the Sham is. There's a maiden coming in off a 13-day break, a horse that broke its maiden in its second and most recent start, a $7,000 horse with enough earnings already to assure it of a berth in the Kentucky Derby, a turf runner switching to the dirt, and an invader from New Mexico. Let's try to figure out what is and isn't a sham here.
Pace makes the race, but when it comes to big races, it doesn't hurt to study the trends, either. The Emirates Airline Distaff is no exception.
The turf at Churchill Downs on Breeders' Cup day should be firm--that is, if the long-range forecast holds up.
Some bits of Breeders' Cup XXIII trivia to throw in the conversation while you debate this year's fields.
How hard is it to handicap the Breeders' Cup? Well, it's hard. In fact, we've determined exactly how difficult each division is, using comparative analysis.
Deeds speak louder than words. In racing, sometimes it pays to take heed of what people do, not just what horses have done. So let's get right down to business and say that Nobiz Like Shobiz is going to win the Champage Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Saturday.
There are many fine Breeders' Cup World Championships prep races around the country this weekend, and two of them have been chosen for preview here: The Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (gr. I) and the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity Stakes (gr. I), both at Keeneland on Saturday.
The Triple Crown series is North American racing's richest tradition. So why all the doom and gloom? Last time I checked, there's a big race for 3-year-olds coming up Saturday. More....
The field for the grade II Peter Pan isn't too bad, but we view Sunriver as a standout in this race.
Figures don't lie. At the eighth pole in 48 of the last 51 Kentucky Derbys, the winner was either on the lead, within a length of the lead, or running second although more than a length off the leader.
One highly weighted part of the Downey Profile is the Beyer factor, which goes like this: The horse must run a Beyer speed figure of 100 or more in each of its final two Kentucky Derby preps. This year, following the 2005 Derby when not one starter had the Beyer factor, normalcy has returned.
If you're a Kentucky Derby handicapper, you've probably heard on occasion that early-born foals have an advantage when racing on the first Saturday in May. However, matters of record lead to the opposite conclusion.
Numerous events over the weekend changed the makeup of the potential field for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Ranked by earnings in graded stakes, which will determine the Derby field if more than 20 horses are entered, here is the latest contender list, including jockeys.
Even though the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) is 110 yards shorter than the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), the run to the first turn is the same distance. So who'll be running on the lead when they start turning left? And will speed hold up again?
With the defection of WELL SAID, an overflow field of 13 remains in the grade II Arkansas Derby. LAWYER RON is the 7-5 morning line favorite, and deservedly so.
Inside speed rules at Keeneland, and though we don't expect him to grab the lead at the outset, our choice to win the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) is the aptly-named Bluegrass Cat.
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