G2 Commonwealth Stakes (Keeneland):
Doppiois ultra-consistent and game every time out. His trainer Carla Gaines is brilliant and under-utilized. So owners: GIVE HER YOUR DERBY CONTENDERS! Graham Motion's Rebellion going well to close for second in last year's G3 Phoenix S. over this course. Yet another Cali invader Storm Military tries artificial surface after tearing up turf—nice results in US but still no wins in graded company.
G1 Blue Grass Stakes (Keeneland):
Over the past 10 years, what Kentucky Derby winner has previously won the Blue Grass? None! In 2003, Peace Rules finished third in the Derby, and 1999’s Blue Grass winner Menifee finished second to Charismatic. You have to go back to 1991—Strike the Gold—to find the Derby winner coming out of the Blue Grass. My point? This race will be won by a horse that has already won over the artificial stuff or turf, and serve only as a tune-up (or for graded earnings) by the others—Pyro, Visionaire, Big Truck, and Cool Coal Man. That’s not to say they won’t race well or even gets some top money—in fact, Pyro and Visionaire both have some grassy pedigree, so I expect both to do well. I’m thinking major longshot here for the win—either Medjool who has been running against top horses in California (Colonel John, Coast Guard, Yankee Bravo) on the artificial and gets a little better post than in the Lane’s End, or Halo Najib who has also been knocking heads with good horses and comes in off good effort in Lane’s End.
G2 Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn):
I’m sticking with King’s Silver Son here—after bouncing through the maiden ranks last year against good horses, he finished extremely well for second in the G2 Rebel here, and, by Mizzen Mast out of a Dynaformer mare, he is bred to love the greater distance. Love the 4 post position too! My Pal Charlie surprised with second to Pyro in Louisiana Derby—he won’t surprise me here. Liberty Bull took the Smarty Jones here in January and the WinStar Derby at Sunland last out…wouldn’t be surprised with good showing by him.
G3 Holy Bull (Gulfstream):
Question is can Hey Byrn rebound from Florida Derby just two weeks ago? I say no, and peg Bill Kaplan’s Dream Maestro for the upset here; he’s been ultra-consistent, yet improving each outing. Same thing true for Famous Patriot, whose had a little more time off; he should be primed.