Did Todd Pletcher have a good day? Yes and no. His horses did well enough in the three Derby preps, but only one actually won. He also had one second and two third place finishes. For most trainers, that would be fabulous, but…
His most brilliant move, I think, was sending Cowtown Cat to Hawthorne. In the Illinois Derby, Cowtown Cat (7-2) and Catman Running took the early lead, and held it the entire way. 24-1 long shot Reporting for Duty placed, just ahead of Ken McPeek’s Bold Start, following by 12-1 Sacrifice Bunt and Catman Running (of whom I had expected more). Even money favorite Cobalt Blue tried to make a move coming around the final turn, but couldn’t pass Cowtown Cat and, in fact, faded badly, finishing seventh of nine. Good pay out on Cowtown Cat ($9.00, $5.20, $4.60)! Makes me wish I had actually placed a bet :) The $300,000 winner’s share for this race gives Cowtown Cat graded earnings of $437,253, and he looks to be a shoe-in for the Derby field.
In the Wood Memorial, Barclay Tagg’s Nobiz Like Shobiz hung on to beat a surging 18-1 Sightseeing, with Pletcher’s Any Given Saturday finishing third. Summer Doldrums was out of the money, and probably out of the Derby, earning only $37,500 for fourth. As much as I dislike the “mega training stable” approach of Todd Pletcher, the more I have greater appreciation for classy trainers like Barclay Tagg and Bill Mott. I will definitely look for their horses more often. Nobiz Like Shobiz now has $778,500 in graded earnings, and Pletcher has indicated that he will send Any Given Saturday onward to the Derby; he earned $75,000 for finishing third, bringing his total to $177,969. Apparently, Sightseeing will skip the Derby and gear towards a summer campaign, beginning with the Preakness [drf]
My co-favorite race of the day was the Santa Anita Derby. I was shocked that Level Red’s price went up from the morning line 5-1, to 17-1, but apparently, it was valid. It was Sam P. and Black Seventeen who went to the early lead, with Liquidity and King of the Roxy, and Level Red in fifth. However, Tiago (at 25-1) came roaring up the stretch and won going away! I love this horse! He paid $60.60, $23.80, $10.00). Again, I wish I had actually placed a bet! King of the Roxy was second, followed by Sam P., and just out of the money was Liquidity. Level Red made a move as they entered the final turn, but had nothing and finished dead last. With the $450,000 winner’s prize money, Tiago probably has earned enough to enter the Derby…here’s hoping he does! And will Sam P. have enough graded earnings? With the $90,000 for third, he now has only $146,500.
My other favorite race was actually for three-year-old fillies. In the Ashland Stakes, my girl Christmas Kid (9-1) hung on to beat 3-5 favorite Octave, with 54-1 long shot Dawn After Dawn coming in third, and High Again (with Julien Leparoux up) just out of the money. Makes my early Oaks wager on Christmas Kid (at 50-1!) look brilliant! Love her! And Pletcher dominance foiled again!
Finally (and please don’t let this little bit of bragging curse me! Knock on wood, spit spit), after two days, I am number 19 in Keeneland’s spring handicapping contest :)