G1 Wood Memorial:
In anticipation of an off-track at Aqueduct on Saturday, I had drafted an entirely different analysis of this race late last night—I’m glad I held off because the track is posted as “fast” and I have reconsidered my selections. I’m taking a leap of faith and backing War Pass here to regain his form—admittedly with some trepidation. That doesn’t mean I think he will win, though. The Toddster has Eibar Coa on Texas Wildcatter and they are clicking at a 62% win percent in the last 60 days. If it was an off-track, I would give him a bit more of a chance, but I still think he will be there in the end. I’m not pleased that Barclay Tagg is already making excuses for Tale of Ekati, so I’m pegging Court Vision to win. Not only did he win the G2 Remsen over this distance and this track last November, but Bill Mott got Garrett Gomez to choose to ride him over G1 Santa Anita Derby favorite Colonel John. I think that says a lot.
G1 Santa Anita Derby:
It’s hard to ignore Colonel John who has finished either first or second in all five career starts, losing once by 1-1/4 lengths and once by ½ length. He’s bred to run all day (by Tiznow out of a Turkoman mare) and already won the G3 Sham at this distance. His workouts have been phenomenal so hard to bet against. The second-place finisher in the Sham, El Gato Malo is a real threat here too, but I’m pegging the Broken Vow colt Polonius to carry his turf form to the all-weather surface and surprise at a price.
G2 Illinois Derby (Hawthorne):
The Toddster’s Atoned should improve nicely in his 2nd start off the layoff; his G3 Tampa Bay Derby run was excellent, only caught at the wire by Big Truck. He finished just a neck behind Court Vision at this distance in last year’s G2 Remsen so hopefully he can get the distance. Golden Spike’s early speed may allow him to take this wire-to-wire; he’s definitely bred to get the distance. Undefeated Denis of Cork hasn’t faced much yet in his career—this will be a pretty obvious litmus test.
G3 Excelsior Handicap (Aqueduct):
Nite Lite is on a four-race win streak, but enters graded stakes company for the first time today—he looks to go off at short odds so I’ll take my chances here with the veteran Malibu Moonshine with Mario Pino up—his Stymie Handicap win was impressive and he’s been working well this past month. Naughty New Yorker finished second in last year’s Excelsior and likes the distance.
G3 Pan American (Gulfstream):
French Vintage by Mecke (by Maudlin, by Foolish Pleasure)—what more can I say? Sentimental pick that is not beyond realm of possibility; finished nicely last out, only 1-1/2 closing lengths behind Stream of Gold in G2 Mac Diarmida. Dave—who names a race horse “Dave”? That’s just stupid (unless your name is Dave). Still, love, love, love Anna Napravnik—you go girl! Fracas has been working well for Tagg and has done well in Europe and last out on yielding turf—question is will he like the firmer footing?