Brian’s Derby Preps: The Lane’s End and the Sunland Derby

If you’re reading this before noon, don’t forget to active your power horses in your Road to the Roses stable!

And we’re going to give this update thing another try this weekend, so it’s possible that the site will be down beginning Saturday afternoon for a couple of days.

Good luck and safe trips to all — Teresa

Turfway Park: The Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes at 1 1/8 miles

NORTHERN GIANT was thrown to the wolves in the GII Risen Star after just a maiden win, yet fought on admirably through the lane and was gaining on winner Discreetly Mine late; working beautifully and should sit a dream trip just off the pace. DOUBLES PARTNER enters off a solid turf win over Lentenor and next-out winner St. Eligius, and should be a factor throughout; seems to be putting things together at the right time. DEAN’S KITTEN has some solid turf credentials and gets bonus points for being battled tested in several stakes; rates as a serious stretch danger.

Selections:

7. Northern Giant
2. Doubles Partner
9. Dean’s Kitten

Sunland Park: The Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Derby at 1 1/8 miles

What a difference the words “Grade III stakes” make in the grand scheme of things, eh? After years of trying to gain the ever-important graded stakes status, the folks at Sunland got their wish last when this pricey Derby prep was upgraded last fall. Of course, they owe a big debt of gratitude to that gelding named Mine That Bird, who finished fourth in the race last year. The result is that a trio of talented out of town shippers showed up looking to get one last prep for the Run for the Roses. Let’s take a look.

1. Storming Saint: DQ’d up to first in the local prep, the Borderland Derby, but meets a much, much tougher cast today, so he’ll need to improve quite a bit to factor. That was just his first start of the year, so improvement could be in the cards, but even so, he seems up against it; tough sledding for the local hope.

2. Nacho Friend: Just loved his return in the Gotham, which marked his first start since July and first start over 6 furlongs. He chased a quick pace 4-wide, moved to the lead on the far turn and then tired late behind a good-looking winner. Go watch it again and you’ll see him re-break when he was passed for second, and that tenacity is tough to come by. Figures to improve a ton off that run, is bred to get this trip, has been here for two weeks and even sports a local breeze; like his chances to pull the minor surprise.

3. Conveyance: The heavy favorite is undefeated in four career starts and looked good wiring the Southwest over solid Derby threat Dublin, so you know they’ll need their running shoes on to beat this guy. Figures to be on the lead as far as he can take them, but this is his first try at 9F’s and he does meet a few speedy rivals that could compromise his front-end chances. He’s also got more than enough earnings to make the Derby, so it’s doubtful they want to empty the tank, though it’s clear that the race goes through this gutsy gray; rock solid.

4. McKenna’s Justice: Beaten a pole in the Borderland and his lone win came sprinting on the turf last July at Lone Star, so there’s little to get excited about in this corner; deserving longshot.

5. Endorsement: WinStar charge just broke his maiden on the front end but will assuredly return to his stalking tactics with Conveyance in the field. His two starts with blinkers at two turns have been very solid, but he’ll need to improve several lengths to get involved; respect his connections but passing.

6. Classical Slew: So. Cal sprinter stretches out and tries two turns and conventional dirt for the first time, and based on his sprint races, he very well could be involved in the early pace. Chased Sidney’s Candy home in the GIII San Vicente and we saw how good that guy looked winning the San Felipe a few weeks back, so you know he’s keeping good company. Not crazy about his win chances, but he may hold the key for those looking to beat the favorite; watching this time around.

7. Fog Alert: Made a premature move to get the lead in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate before fading late behind Lane’s End runner Connemara, so it might be prudent to see how that guy fares on Saturday. Tries the main track for the first time, and though he does get a local jockey, he seems like a fringe player at best; minor award is likely his ceiling.

8. Guiltbyassociation: Struggled in a fifth-place run in the Borderland, though that was his first two-turn start on the main track. His lone career win came sprinting here at 6F’s and it’s probably best to wait until he returns to the one-turn gig; passing.

9. Tempted To Tapit: Not sure what to make of his second in the Risen Star, as the top four finishers essentially ran around the track in order for the last 5F’s. Still, when you go from a maiden romp over Aqueduct’s inner dirt to a GII at the FG, it’s a big deal to run second no matter how you did it. They elected to take back that day, but with this draw and his natural speed, it’s easy to see him going to battle Conveyance early and often. Talented and seemingly on the improve, but the race flow looks like it’s going against him today; willing to let him beat me.

Selections:

2. Nacho Friend
3. Conveyance
9. Tempted To Tapit

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