See? I wasn’t making up all that stuff about a site renovation. If you hate it, blame me; if you like it, all credit goes to the designer, who has spent uncountable hours on the revision. I can’t thank her enough, and if she lets me, I’ll thank her by name.
Back home in Brooklyn after logging nearly 3,000 miles on the old VW–regular posting to resume this weekend, with a significant Derby prep in our own backyard, and tales from other tracks to recount. But first: Brian checks out the Santa Anita Derby.
Don’t forget to activate your power horses!
California’s last stop before the Kentucky Derby brings forth a solid crew for the GI Santa Anita Derby, led by Future Book Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky, who looked the part in his comeback with an impressive win in Oaklawn Park’s GII Rebel last month. Those looking to beat the favorite have options, though it won’t be easy. Let’s take a look.
Santa Anita: The Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles
1. Posse Power: Decent run in his graded stakes debut up north at GG in the GIII El Camino Real Derby, but that’s not the type of effort that will put a scare in anyone here. At least he drew well for his first foray at the Great Race Place, but this is a mighty tough spot to make waves in a GI; longshot.
2. Thomas Baines: Dropped down and scored in an optional claimer over the track and now with that confidence boost, it’s back to tackle the big guns. The problem is that he’s been shooting blanks in his stakes tries and this is a much saltier spot than he’s ever faced; passing.
3. Who’s Up: Makes his first start since winning the GIII Generous on the lawn last November, so not only is he trying two turns on the main for the first time, he’s doing it off a four-month layoff. On his best day he’s got the tactical speed to be in the mix early, but it’s tough to imagine that he’s putting his best foot forward today; tab for next time.
4. Sidney’s Candy: They let him walk in the GII San Felipe with the hopes that he’d come back to the pack, but instead he turned his first two-turn test into a front-running score under a masterful ride by the kid Talamo. Well, there’s a good chance that he makes the point again and gets to dictate how these 9F’s are going to be run. Sure, there are a few others with some speed, but you know this guy wants the lead, and with this inside draw, he figures to get it; catch him to cash.
5. Setsuko: Decent move in the GIII Sham last month, but he was never really a threat to the winner and today’s rival Alphie’s Bet, and it’s not like that guy is one of the choices here, so you have to wonder where that puts this colt. The Sham was at 9F’s, so that is a positive, but that’s about where his attributes end; needs softer.
6. Caracortado: Had his perfect record snapped in the San Felipe, but it’s not like he was disgraced in that third place run. The question is: Where does that loss put him today? He’s got to tackle ‘Sidney’s again and that guy named ‘Lucky as well, so you kind of think that at best, he’s third best. Figures to stalk and pounce, as always; just not sure it’s working this time around. Worth trying to get out of the exotics.
7. Lookin At Lucky: He’s not at the top of my list, but I’d be really hard-headed if I didn’t say that his Rebel was a definitive performance; he ran up on horses on the backstretch, had to alter course around the turn and then easily took command and held off Noble’s Promise to score by a head with blinkers on for the first time. Back to his home base and rates a deserving favorite, but don’t forget, he’s coming off a tough race and has the Derby as his main goal in mind, so there’s a chance that not every screw is tightened. If you want to take the point of view that he’s worth trying to beat at 4-5 in a 10-horse field, it’s OK by me, but there’s little doubt that the path to the winner’s circle goes through this guy; imposing.
8. Cardiff Giant: He’s the West’s version of Turf Melody, having been about every place on the map but Wally World, but for all his efforts he’s just gotten a few nibbles of the cake. ‘Lucky beat him up pretty good in the Rebel, and we’ve already mentioned that he’s not the only toughie at this fight, so it looks like another long day at the office for this tough dude; minor award seems to be his ceiling.
9. Skipshot: For all those looking to beat Sidney’s Candy, this is your hero right here. He’s got sub: 46 speed showing in his PP’s, so you know he can be a hindrance early. The problem is that in his first two-turn start at GG, he stalked a pedestrian half-mile before nosing it out at the line, so you kind of get the impression that they aren’t too convinced that he can get this trip while on the lead. So if he’s not bothering ‘Sidney’s early, then it’s not likely he’s running him or ‘Lucky down late either; in deep.
10. Alphie’s Bet: Sure looked good winning the Sham with a powerful late burst, but that was by far the weakest of the SA preps for today’s assignment. At least you know the 9F’s will pose no problems, and if they somehow get a bit hot and bothered early and ‘Lucky wants to engage on the turn, then maybe, just maybe, this guy can scare them in the lane once again; late threat if at all.
7. Lookin At Lucky
4. Sidney’s Candy