Applebee: Closer Look – Ky Derby and Turf Classic 5.6.23
Happy Derby Day!
This is a particularly good betting card highlighted by wide open editions of the Turf Classic and the Kentucky Derby. All three Derby Also Eligibles have drawn in due to scratches in the main body. As we learned last year – don’t discount them. If they are live runners they can be dangerous from the outside.
Race 11- The Turf Classic – Grade I
One Mile and One Furlong on the Turf for Four Year Olds and Upward
- Ocean Atlantique: Front running Mike Maker trainee tries graded stakes company in North America for the first time after two wins from three starts this year on the synthetic. Figs on the turf are competitive but will need to be sent from this inside post and won’t get an uncontested lead. Couldn’t keep up with Wolfie’s Dynaghost last time. Passing.
- Master Piece: SCRATCHED as trainer Saffie Joseph has been suspended by Churchill Downs in the wake of the unexplained deaths of two horses in his barn.
- Wolfie’s Dynaghost: Five year old is in excellent form and has won both of his starts this year and had a nice front end score in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park on the synth (101 Beyer). Tries Grade 1 company for the first time today. Should be up on the pace. Will have competition for the lead. Don’t care for the setup. Not today.
- Steady On: Another one who likes to be up to the pace will likely press it from the second flight. Hasn’t tried nine furlongs before but comes off two nice efforts at Gulfstream and won the Appleton last out (97 Beyer). Possible piece of the pie.
- Up to the Mark: Didn’t show much in his first five starts for Pletcher who then moved him to the turf and what a difference that made. He promptly won two races and then was a decent third last out in the Makers Mark Mile (96 Beyer). Hits the board.
- Earls Rock: Steady performer for Phil D’Amato who has been running at shorter distances primarily on the west coast. Should get a nice stalking trip. Faces some tough ones today.
- Hong Kong Harry: Didn’t fire last item in the Frank Kilroe Stakes off a four month layoff (95 Beyer). Can press the pace and then kick on late. Has two wins at today’s nine furlong distance. Best running has come at DelMar. Player.
- Santin: Last out he wasn’t able to close the gap with Wolfie’s Dynaghost finishing fourth after a significant stumble at the start (89 Beyer) on the synth at Turfway. Two wins in two starts over this course including in the Arlington Million last year. Is a versatile runner who can attend the pace or close late. Will need to regain his form for compete today. Fade.
- Spooky Channel: Has won two of three starts since coming back of a year long layoff. Won the Muniz Classic last out at Fairgrounds (100 Beyer) where he sat off the pace and came rolling down the middle of the track to wear down the leader. Two back in the John Connally Stakes at Sam Houston he was well positioned but was outrun in the final furlong. Versatile runner who can attend the pace or close from deep. Rosario in the irons again. The Pick.
- Bye Bye Melvin: His first start since last November when he finished ninth after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He’ll be on the pace – but may not be fast enough to keep with a couple of the other runners. Race flow doesn’t suit.
Race 12 – The Kentucky Derby – Grade I
One Mile and a Quarter on the Dirt For Three Year Olds
This is a wide open rendition of the Derby – you can make a decent case for half the field. While Rich Strike did upset the apple cart last year coming from the back – being up near the pace has been the best place to be in recent renditions.
- Hit Show: Game second place finish in the Wood (93 Beyer) where he battled between horses down the stretch after getting a wide trip. Two back he won the Withers (91 Beyer) where he drew off in the final eighth. Needs a fig boost to contend. He’s a fighter. Lean against.
- Verifying: Cox trained Justify colt gave Tapit Trice all he could handle in the Blue Grass (99 Beyer) after sitting in the pocket off the leader. Didn’t care for the off going in the Rebel two back. Expect him to be sent from this inside post to ensure he doesn’t get shuffled back. Can he get 10 panels? Come and catch me.
- Two Phil’s: Freaked on the polytrack last out at Turfway earning a 101 Beyer in the Jeff Ruby field. He had not shown anything like that in seven previous starts on dirt although he hit the board in both the Risen Star and Lecomte. Has a win over the track – albeit on the slop. Not convinced.
- Confidence Game: Was last seen winning the Rebel Stakes back in February with a 94 Beyer over a sloppy sealed track. Has two wins over this surface. Tough to come back off of a seventy day layoff and his dry track form is nowhere near what is needed today. Know him early.
- Tapit Trice: Pletcher trainee has won four in a row including the Tampa Bay Derby and the Bluegrass last out (99 Beyer). Has good tactical speed and can finish off a race but had to be hard ridden mid-race by Saez to get into contention in the last two wins. Not totally convinced at a short price. No winner of the Blue Grass has won the Derby since 1991. Will need a trip.
- Kingsbarns: Three for three in his short career for Pletcher and took the field gate to wire in the Louisiana Derby while getting an easy uncontested pace (95 Beyer). A step forward from that effort makes him a contender. Lacks foundation with only three career starts. Don’t think so.
- Reincarnate: Had consecutive thirds in his two starts for Tim Yakteen after transferring from Baffert last winter. Looked promising in winning the Sham (95 Beyer) back in December. Doesn’t appear to be progressing although there was trouble and he caught a sloppy track in the Rebel. Passing.
- Mage: Was fourth in the Fountain of Youth (88 Beyer) where he had a bit of a tough trip but came back to place behind Forte in the Florida Derby (94 Beyer). He broke slow in the Florida Derby, got the lead at the quarter pole, but was collared by Forte. Has room to improve but will need to be better out of the gate. Slow work on April 28 – going 6F in 1:16.4. Possible slice.
- Skinner: Ran a close third behind Practical Move in the Santa Anita Derby (99 Beyer). Game horse who will run through the finish line but has been a touch below the best he has faced. Has only won once in six starts. Should be coming late. Underside of exotics.
- Practical Move: SCRATCHED due to a temperature.
- Disarm: Has hit the board in all five career starts but has only won a maiden race. Stalk and pounce type has paired up Beyer tops in his last two starts (90). Small chance to pick up a piece.
- Jace’s Road: Chased Kingsbarns in the Louisiana Derby but to no avail (85 Beyer). Only stakes win was on the lead and he should be on the gas from the gate. Likely to get cooked.
- Sun Thunder: Long shot runner for McPeek who best effort was in the Risen Star where he closed into a hot pace finishing a length behind Angel of Empire (89 Beyer). Next starts were so-so but didn’t get the pace setup. Blinkers ON. Possible underneath play in a Superfecta.
- Angel of Empire: Brad Cox trained colt won both the Risen Star at Fairgrounds and the Arkansas Derby (94 Beyer) this Spring. Very impressive at Oaklawn where he inhaled the field on the turn and kicked away for an easy open length win. Shows a steady progression and he’s tactical enough to not totally drop out of it early. Using.
- Forte: Two for two this year as he easily handled the Fountain of Youth field (98 Beyer) and overcame an outside post to grind away a win in the Florida Derby (95 Beyer). Two year old champ hasn’t done anything wrong for Pletcher – but he does not appear to be on the improve. Wants a stalking trip and has the tactical speed to get it. Only two of the past twenty-one Juvenile Champs then won the Derby. Nyquist was the most recent in 2015. Gets a piece.
- Raise Cain: Won the Gotham over a muddy track going the flat mile two back but was no match for Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass where he passed tired horses. Will be coming late. Beyer top is 90. Needs to be much faster. Looking elsewhere.
- Derma Sotogake: Impressive win last out in the UAE Derby. Beyer does not make official figs for Meydan – but Andy Beyer has indicated that it was comparable if not faster to Mendelssohn’s 106 fig from 2018’s UAE Derby. Craig Milkowski of USTimeform indicated that he believed Derma ran about a minimum of a 121 on their scale and that was a conservative estimate. There is typically about a 20 point difference between USTimeform and Beyer figs. This Mind Your Biscuits sired colt can rate or win from up front. He draws nicely outside and can find his spot. The Japanese have made their mark in the Breeders’ Cup and in various big international races, is the Derby next? Yes – this is the year. He is simply the fastest horse and can get a favorable position. The Pick.
- Rocket Can: Won the Holy Bull (82 Beyer) three back but then was no match for Forte in the Fountain of Youth (91 Beyer). Versatile runner has shown he knows how to find the wire but will need to be faster. Last out he was a good fourth behind Angel of Empire and Reincarnate after a wide trip in the Arkansas Derby. Blinkers ON. Hard to see it.
- Lord Miles: SCRATCHED as trainer Saffie Joseph has been suspended by Churchill Downs in the wake of the unexplained deaths of two horses in his barn.
- Continuar: SCRATCHED by his connections due to concerns with his fitness levels.
- Cyclone Mischief: Draws in. Finished behind several of these in all three stakes starts this year. Decent third place finish in the Florida Derby last out. Likely to get hung wide as he is likely to be sent but isn’t the fastest horse in the gate. You’ll get a price. Not interested.
- Mandarin Hero: Draws in. Japanese runner has finished in the exacta in all six career starts with four wins and the two close seconds. Last out in the Santa Anita Derby he battled Practical Move the length of the stretch and lost a head bob at the wire (100 Beyer). He is dangerous with a strong finishing run. Exacta player.
- King Russell: Draws in. A surprise second in the Arkansas Derby at 59-1 where he picked up the pieces behind Angel of Empire. Would need to get a lot faster. Passing.