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.
The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is restricted to 20 starters. If more than 20 horses are entered, total earnings in graded stakes determine the priority of starters. Link to an updated list of contenders by graded earnings, complete through racing of April 9.
With expected Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) contender Fast Parade taking a pass, things look even better for Brother Derek. But will he have it all his way?
While the morning line makes Cause to Believe the 5-2 favorite in Saturday's Illinois Derby (gr. II), we think he's more deserving than that.
A SUNRIVER, that is. The reasons for this top selection in the grade I Florida Derby are simple and to the point.
Saturday's edition of the grade II Lane's End Stakes will be the first ever run on Turfway Park's Polytrack. Horses have come in from all over the place--many of them with turf pedigrees--to try to earn graded money at this stop on the Kentucky Derby road. With this collision of talent, here's no telling what the pari-mutuel payoffs could be.
We think there is no reason to deviate from the trend of favorites winning races on this year's Road to the Kentucky Derby in Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). Coming into the race, Bluegrass Cat looks like he'll whip this field.
The Kentucky Derby picture may start looking somewhat muddled at some point, but so far this year, the Road to the Derby has been pretty clear-cut. Favorites won the San Rafael (gr. II), Holy Bull (gr. III), Sham (gr. III), San Vicente (gr. II), Whirlaway, Sam F. Davis, Southwest, Santa Catalina (gr. II), and the California Derby. The gravitational pull is so hard, a disqualification placed the favorite first in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II). The issue this weekend is whether we view the trend as our friend in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III). We'll take the contrarian view, if things develop as we think they will.
At TheDowneyProfile.com, we utilize 13 factors more common to Kentucky Derby winners than non-winners, based on our 33-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.
This race has it all. Worthy past performances. Terrific workout lines. High profile, solid connections. Quality breeding. From a handicapping perspective, there is good reason to swing for extra bases here, not just a single. From a talent perspective, there are several in here with a legitimate chance to win. Therefore, we can't go with the one who's getting the most attention, First Samurai, to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II).
Brother Derek is the consensus top-rated 3-year-old based in California. Yet, there are eight others of varying aptitude taking aim at him in Saturday's grade II Santa Catalina Stakes, including one shipping in from Louisiana via Texas. We deduce that connections of these rivals aren't taking it for granted that Brother Derek will win this race.
This year's top 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park are Lawyer Ron and Music School. Lawyer Ron is the Downey Profile pick to win Saturday's Southwest Stakes, but another important issue is whether Music School will show improvement in his second outing this year, and if so, how much.
This year's top 3-year-old at Oaklawn Park is Lawyer Ron, and he's our choice to win Monday's Southwest Stakes. A more difficult issue, at least as far as we're concerned, is what will round out the board.
Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs has long been a traditional prep race for the grade III Tampa Bay Derby, but this year's 26th running holds importance in its own right. No less than Bluegrass Cat and Hesanoldsalt ship up from South Florida to test the waters against 10 others, many of whom are worthy foes.
Achilles of Troy will be an overwhelming favorite in Saturday's $65,000 Whirlaway Stakes, but will he win the race? There are two indications that he might be vulnerable. Regardless of the outcome, the race doesn't have significant Kentucky Derby implications, since there are no graded earnings at stake.
Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita has taken on new importance since achieving grade III status for the first time this year. Despite that, the race doesn't fit into the plans of many California connections with stakes plans down the road. It's drawn only six entries, and two of those have emerged from the claiming ranks.
Kentucky Derby Future Wager 1, open Thursday through Sunday, is a tough bet. One thing to consider in this wager is, as with any bet, value. To that end, the morning lines of Future Wager 1 individual entries were compared with betting lines offered on two internet betting outlets prior to the opening of the pool.
According to Bob Baffert, the toll of the Triple Crown Trail usually manifests itself about a week after the Preakness. There is no sign that the Trail has taken a toll on Smarty Jones.
You can sometimes be too smart for your own good.
As things appear on Thursday, April 22, five DQ's stand to enter the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 130, marking a substantial swing of the pendulum. Last year's Derby had no DQ's in the field.
Despite his local success, [Stewart] Elliott hasn't exactly been a household name outside of Philadelphia. Yet he is going to ride the most consistent horse in Kentucky Derby 130, the six-for-six Smarty Jones, who will attempt to become the first undefeated Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.
This race could be renamed the Coolmore Lexington Bettors' Paradise Stakes, with 14 entered and the morning line favorite at 4-1.
Kentucky Derby entries listed in order of graded stakes earnings.
Our choice to win the Grade I Wood Memorial is VALUE PLUS. This strapping, gray colt is versatile, fast and has the breeding to get the 1 1/8 mile distance. In last year's Wood, Funny Cide and Empire Maker were prominent throughout the race. We believe that early prominence will dominate this year's running as well.
The grade II Arkansas Derby runs this Saturday at Oaklawn. SMARTY JONES will win and up his record to six for six. He will win by multiple lengths. His time for the 1 1/8 mile race will be under 1:49, and he will quiet all doubts as to his status as a serious Derby contender.
A quick quiz. How many of the starters in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes won the last time out? The answer: two, Limehouse and California shipper Preachinatthebar. In fact, LIMEHOUSE has won his last two. We pick him to run his streak to three in Saturday's Blue Grass.
Here are the top 35 three-year-olds in graded stakes earnings.
The question in the 67th Santa Anita Derby, with Lion Heart going to Lexington to run in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes instead of here, is who will go to the lead.
The Grade II Illinois Derby looks like an orchestra with no conductor, as the morning line odds indicate.
In the past few years, much discussion has centered around the chances of a "lightly-raced horse" winning the Kentucky Derby. But in fact, the talk has not come to much fruition. Truth holds eternal, and although there are exceptions to every rule, the truth is that it still takes seasoning and experience to win the Kentucky Derby the vast majority of the time.
By Dick Downey -- The $500,000 WinStar Derby sees the sponsor's own VICTORY LIGHT shipping in from Payson Park in Florida, and Pat Day comes along for the ride.
Although we're fascinated with numbers at TheDowneyProfile.com, we are not into numerology. However, it doesn't take much imagination to conjure up a projected field of 13 in Kentucky Derby 130.
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