AQU 8 - GIII Bay Shore S. - I picked Financial Mogul in the GIII Gotham S. as part of the Twinspires.com Road to the Kentucky Derby showdown, and mentioned (click here) after his even fourth-place finish that I thought he might appreciate a cut-back in distance. He gets it here, and should offer plenty of value. The dark bay romped by 5 1/2 lengths at Saratoga last time he tried seven panels, and he shows some quick works since the Gotham. I’ll also use Favorite Tale, who has crushed weaker competition at Parx in all three of his previous outings and could get a bit disrespected here; and another turn-back in The Admiral--his sprint debut and seven-furlong maiden breaker two back were both solid. I’m against favorite Kobe’s Back--he’s just way too obvious and inconsistent. Play: Win on #3 Financial Mogul (8-1), also using #6 Favorite Tale and #7 The Admiral in exotics.
AQU 11 - GI Carter H. - I love Clearly Now here. He was plagued by tough trips last season, including when finishing a very good second over track and trip 12 months ago in the Bay Shore. He showed what he could do with a better trip when he took Belmont’s GIII Bold Ruler H. with a 109 Beyer Speed Figure two back, but nearly went down after clipping heels on the turn in the GI Cigar Mile before settling for a solid fifth all things considered. Seven furlongs is probably Clearly Now’s ideal distance, and I look for him to sit just off the speed before pouncing. I’ll also hope to be alive in the pick four to last year’s Carter runner-up Sahara Sky as well as GI Malibu runner-up Central Banker. Play: (Large) Win on #2 Clearly Now (5-1), also using #1 Central Banker and #6 Sahara Sky in exotics.
SA 4 - MSW, 3yo, 6 1/2fT - I have a feeling that first-time starter Designated can run a bit. The Pam and Marty Wygod homebred is out of a mare who had some speed on the track before dropping talented sprinter Idiot Proof, a debut winner, Grade I winner on synth, Grade III winner on dirt and second in both the 2007 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint and 2008 G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. He also finished second in a Del Mar turf sprint stakes try. Another half-brother also won his debut and did most of his work in synthetic sprints. By a top turf (and overall) sire in Smart Strike, Designated shows some strong works up at Golden Gate for Jedd Josephson. Josephson has excellent numbers in two relevant categories. He’s two-for-four when shipping down to Santa Anita, including a 13-1 stakes upset down the hill here in 2011 and third with a 17-1 shot in an optional claimer a couple of weeks ago. Josephson also has very strong debut numbers--he’s 17% with a $3.75 ROI from a large sample size over the past five seasons (stats courtesy DRF Formulator). Included in those debut winners is last year’s champion juvenile Shared Belief, who Josephson unveiled for the Wygods up at Golden Gate in October before he was sold privately. Play: Win on #6 Designated (8-1), exacta box with #5 Footstepsinbronze.
SA 7 - GIII Providencia S. - Favorites Diversy Harbor and Nashoba’s Gold are both talented fillies with tons of upside, but it’s hard not to take a shot against them here considering the much different pace scenario they’ll face this time from when they ran one-two in the China Doll S. last out. The pace was very hotly contested in that one-mile affair, but there’s only one confirmed front-runner signed on here: One More. One More graduated against $75,000 maiden claimers two back over a mile of this turf course, and set a relatively unpressured pace last time to annex a course-and-distance (1 1/8 miles) allowance Mar. 13. She certainly didn’t have the toughest of trips that day, but I liked how she finished and think she’s a little better than the speed figure gap between her and the top two choices would suggest. Now, besides a win bet on One More, playing this race could get a little tricky. I’ll definitely use One More and the chalks in horizontal wagers, but I’ll also try to get some bombs into the trifecta. Longshots Full Ransom and Savings Account could find themselves closer to a slow pace this time and at least one of them could hit the board. So I’ll play 10 w/ 4,5,6,8 w/ 4,5,6,8, and 4,8 w/ 10 w/ 4,5,6,8. I’ll also play a 4,8 w/ 4,8 w/ 10 w/ 5,6 superfecta (not sure there’s much point in playing a 4,8 w/ 4,8 w/ 10 TRI). Play: Win on #10 One More (6-1) and the exotics outlined above.
KEE 9 - GI Ashland S. - I’m not expecting the 15-1 she is on the morning line, but Rosalind has a big shot in here. The Ken McPeek trainee was a late-charging second in the GI Darley Alcibiades over this track and trip in October, and put in a similar run to be third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies the following month. Fourth with a wide journey in the GI Hollywood Starlet, she had some excuses when third on seasonal debut behind last Saturday’s GII Gulfstream Park Oaks winner In Tune at Gulfstream Feb. 27. Steadied pretty significantly early, Rosalind was caught behind a slow pace over a track that favored speed for much of the meet. She’ll get tons of pace this time, returns to a synthetic strip, and sports a local bullet work. I expect her to have a say at decent odds. Play: Win on #8 Rosalind (15-1).
OP 9 - GIII Fantasy S. - I like two horses here and I’m going to try to get both of them on the board. I have to give Kiss Moon one more chance to run back to her excellent allowance score here Jan. 11—she set a very hot pace that day, but kept right on going to win by 9 1/2 lengths. A puzzling seventh as the favorite in the Martha Washington S. after that, Kiss Moon showed a little more life to be fourth behind a few of these rivals in the roughly run GIII Honeybee S. I’m not sure why Kiss Moon hasn’t been closer to the lead in her last two, but I expect she’ll be hard-sent this time—she adds blinkers and sports two quick works in the interim. Mufajaah returns on short rest since taking her second straight Mar. 23. She just has the look of a really talented horse—she won at will last out and there’s no reason she can’t handle the step up in class. I’m curious to see how hard they bet her. Play: Win on #5 Kiss Moon (12-1), exacta box with #4 Mufajaah. Trifectas 4,5 w/ ALL w/ 4,5.
See Saturday's TDN for this week's installment of the Twinspires.com Road to the Kentucky Derby Showdown with Brian and Steve Sherack's picks for the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby. Follow Brian on twitter @BDiDonatoTDN