Do you play the horses with your heart or your mind? Today, I chose the latter—much to my regret. First, in the Excelsior at Aqueduct, Maggi Moss’s Temporary Saint wired the field, paying $24.20 for the win—I’m a huge fan of Ms. Moss and usually bet her horses, but passed in this instance for the old warrior Malibu Moonshine who I thought looked primed (and who “rewarded” me by finishing next to last). Then, my January Derby pick Tale of Ekati defeated a leg-weary War Pass in the Wood Memorial, with a $19.00 win payout; Court Vision got third. Hey, I still have my Derby Futures Pool 1 wager on him, at 33-1, so you go Ekati!
In the Oaklawn Handicap, Tiago ($8.80) finally put it together and defeated Heatseeker by a head—just when I (and others) have given up on betting Giacomo’s little brother.
I am pleased my Oaks favorite Bsharpsonata ($5.60) narrowly lost to Little Belle ($34.20) in the Ashland—Proud Spell finished 2-1/2 lengths back in third, while Country Star could manage only a distant fifth. I think Bsharpsonata is an even better choice now for the Oaks—she came in with a four-stakes race win streak, so now that pressure is off. This was her first try on Polytrack—and she’s now run well as dirt, turf and artificial, and every condition from fast, firm, sloppy and yielding. Come Oaks day, no matter what the weather, she should be a major factor—gritty, tough filly. Love her!
Longshot Presious Passion ($42.60) shocked winning wire-to-wire in the Pan American; Drilling for Oil and Interpatation filled out the trifecta, with my 10-1 pick French Vintage just a neck back in fourth. Unfortunately, the even-money favorite Fracas was vanned off after faltering around the final turn and finishing well back in seventh.
Once again the Illinois Derby proved to be a graveyard for potential Derby runners—Denis of Cork and Atoned showed nothing, and Z Humor only managed a distant third. Golden Spikes ($6.80) battled the eventual winner Recapturetheglory ($33.80) for most of the race, but gave up late finishing second. I don’t expect any of these horses to be a factor come the first Saturday in May.
The best three-year-old Derby prep was definitely the Santa Anita Derby. Colonel John’s victory impressed me tremendously and, despite running solely on the artificial surface, this son of Tiznow should be a major force. Bob Black Jack keeps the surprising the hell out of me! On the lead from the gate with Coast Guard today, you just keep expecting him to fold—but he doesn’t! In fact, as good as Colonel John closed, Bob Black Jack gamely hung in there.
A new, updated list of Derby favorites from me shortly…