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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Derby Prep Races, Saturday, March 17

1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby (G3) $300,000, Tampa Bay

Any Given Saturday is the proven three-year-old talent here; Street Sense has not run since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and I am convinced the “golden rail” there distorted his potential as a Derby horse. Delightful Kiss may surprise, with consistently strong workouts and coming off change-over from turf…I see him as a strong late runner who may pass those fading if fast pace established early, probably by All I Can Get and Most Distinguished. Any Given Saturday, with Delightful Kiss closing hard.

1 1/16 mile San Felipe Stakes (G2) $250,000, Santa Anita

I really like Air Commander here. He has run routes all year with good results (2 wins and 1 place), and his workouts are very impressive. Everyone is talking about Cobalt Blue, but two points: (1) he has never run a route; and (2) top jock Garrett Gomez, who rode him to victory in his last race, has chosen to ride Air Commander. ‘Nuf said! I am also not sold on Pletcher’s Grapelli, though I do think he may be in the money. The sleeper in this field may be Level Red who should go out to the lead with Dee Rain and Air Commander, and those three will dictate the pace early. Level Red and Air Commander dual it out until the final furlong, when Air Commander pulls ahead for the win.

1 1/16 mile Rebel Stakes (G3) $300,000, Oaklawn

Officer Rocket takes this one, over Teuflesberg and Curlin. I am not sold on Flying First Class, although I love Edgar Prado, and if anyone can work a miracle with this horse, it would be him. However, John Jacinto is bumped off him and lands on Xchanger…not bad. Flying First Class may go right for the lead, along with Teuflesberg and Curlin, but Officer Rocket blows by them in the stretch.