Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kentucky Oaks Day Analysis

GI Kentucky Oaks - Obviously, any discussion of this race has to start with Dreaming of Julia,
whose 21 3/4-length romp in the Gulfstream Park Oaks last time came from pretty much nowhere--she’s always been decent, but that was otherworldly. I’m going to go out on a limb and say she that if she runs back to that race, she’ll probably have a say. I’m not expecting her to, however. That performance was so anomalous that I’m inclined to cross it out completely, which makes her look more like a fringe contender who might have too much early speed in a race that looks poised for a meltdown. Also note that Pletcher trainees who run huge at Gulfstream often flop elsewhere in their subsequent starts. She’ll be nowhere on my tickets at what has to be a much lower price than her 3-1 morning line (Right? If she wins and pays $8, we should probably all feel a little stupid)...
   Speaking of a meltdown, Silsita, Midnight Lucky, Beholder and Rose to Gold are all tosses for me because they’re too quick early and/or seem to have distance concerns.
    Notice that I didn’t mention Close Hatches, who has been on the lead in her last two--she’s my pick. The theory with her is that she only set the pace in those spots because she was more talented than her competition. She didn’t really look like she was freewheeling out there in either race--she was rating very kindly, but just happened to have nobody to run with. The Juddmonte colorbearer is likely to find herself much farther back this time, especially with the 10 post. She was well out of it in her smashing seven-panel debut (which immediately reminded me of Royal Delta’s unveiling), and I see no reason to expect Joel Rosario to send for the lead or to think she’ll drag her way up there. You could certainly find fault with how easy her last two trips have been, and she hasn’t run particularly fast yet, but the Bill Mott trainee has made an excellent impression since arriving in Kentucky and still appears to have tons of upside. She’s clearly the value.
    In the pick four and other exotics, I’ll also use the obvious Unlimited Budget and Pure Fun, who has been a disappointment in 2013, but may wake back up returning to Churchill. I’ll also toss in a tiny bit of Seaneen Girl underneath. She has a win over the track and could clunk up for third. 
Close Hatches                                       David Alcosser      
Undercard Thoughts:
Race 4 - Alw/OC, 7f - If the field stays intact, there should be enough pace to set up Devious d’Oro. She flew home to score on debut going six furlongs at Oaklawn Feb. 24, and had a tough trip when stretched out Apr. 13. She practically blew the first turn while traveling in last and had a bit of traffic trouble in the lane before running on for third. I’m thinking she might show a better kick cutting back despite a pretty stout pedigree, and is unlikely to take much action.

Race 5 - Msw, 9fT - Strike Charmer at anywhere near her 10-1 morning line would be an absolute gift. The daughter of turf stakes winner Cat Charmer (Storm Cat) (a half-sister herself to Derby third-place finisher Impeachment) didn’t show much early in her Keeneland debut, but came flying in the lane while weaving through traffic to be third. She covered her final quarter in :22.35, more than a full second faster than winner Praia, who’s entered in the Edgewood.

Race 6 - GII La Troienne S. - I don’t have a particularly strong opinion here, but I could see playing a pick three or something using only Authenticity and More Chocolate. Their last-out speed figures are pretty comparable to those earned by On Fire Baby and Believe You Can. The latter might go off at odds-on considering she took the Oaks here a year ago and because perpetually overbet Rosie Napravnik is aboard.

Race 7 - Edgewood S. - What a tough race--would like to have as much coverage as possible. The horse that interests me the most is Adriani, who has had two very tough trips since joining the David Fawkes barn. She chased a quick pace four wide two back at Gulfstream, only to fall a neck short to subsequent GIII Appalachian S. winner Unbelievable Dream. According to Trakus data, Adriani covered 14 feet (about 1.6 lengths) more than the winner that day, and Unbelievable Dream covered a ton more ground than almost everybody else. Third that day was Emotional Kitten, who came back to nip Adriani by a nose last time going this distance at Keeneland. Again, though, Adriani had a major excuse--she pressed crazy opening splits of :22.68 and :47.16. There’s other pace in here, and Joe Rocco Jr. will have to work out a trip from the 11 hole, but Adriani is a whole lot better than she looks at first glance and has to be double-digit odds.

Race 8 - GIII Eight Belles - Yet another brutally tough race with plenty of longshot potential... Morning line favorite Calistoga can obviously win, but she’ll have to contend with the 14 hole and plenty of other pace. There are a few turnbacks who have to be included, most notably So Many Ways, winner of the GI Spinaway S. at this trip last year. For a potential longshot win bet candidate, I like Gold Medal Dancer. She put in a very impressive stretch run at Oaklawn last time to increase her career record to two-for-two. The stablemate and paternal sibling to the aforementioned Devious d’Oro figures to be flying late.

Race 9 - GII Alysheba S. - Maybe he’s hopeless, but I’m taking a small flyer on Right to Vote, whose close defeat at 37-1 first out at Saratoga in 2011 still haunts me. I’m keying in on one race of his as maybe a clue that he can surprise. He was 47-1 in the GII Peter Pan S. last May, but stayed on for second while setting very hot splits behind Mark Valeski, who recently finished second in the GII New Orleans S. and would have been a contender here. Right to Vote earned a 94 Beyer for that effort--considering his trip that day, the potential for improvement from then ,stretching back out and the fact that he gets first-time Lasix on the owner/trainer change here, he may be capable of running a competitive figure at a gigantic price.

Race 10 - GII American Turf S. - Obviously War Dancer would offer value at 6-1 off his crazy run last time, but there’s no way he goes off at that price. I’ll be betting Joelito, who was very sharp in his maiden-breaking turf debut last out. He should get first run on some of the shorter-priced runners in here, and it’s interesting that red-hot Joel Rosario takes the call when he rode 4-1 morning line Admiral Kitten last time and 8-1 shot Fire Guard in his last three. Rosario last piloted Joelito when he split Den’s Legacy and Ive Struck a Nerve sprinting at Del Mar in August.

Race 12 - Msw, 7f - Likely favorite Double Gelato exits a very weak maiden race and trainer Rusty Arnold is two-for-33 (6%) with a $0.57 ROI with his second-time-starting maidens in dirt sprints over the past five years (courtesy DRF Formulator), so there’s value to be had elsewhere. Assuming I’m not broke at this point, I’ll try Greek Life. She showed late interest in her six-furlong unveiling at Fair Grounds Mar. 30, and conditioner Steve Margolis’ numbers in the same category mentioned above for Arnold are much better--he hits at a 28% clip with a $2.16 ROI (Margolis also has Delilahjane here making her second start as well). Greek Life is the first foal out of a stakes-winning mare who was two-for-two at seven panels, including once over this strip.

Good luck Friday, and check back here for Saturday undercard thoughts or in Friday's newsletter for Derby analysis from myself and the "Road to the Derby Showdown" champ himself, Steve Sherack.


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