Brian Nadeau is back this year to offer insight and analysis on this year’s road to the Kentucky Derby. A handicapper at Horseplayer Now and Capital OTB, he’ll analyze every official Derby points race and the three Triple Crown races, back at Brooklyn Backstretch for the sixth year.
Oaklawn Park: The $900,000 GII Rebel at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)
#1 Silver Bullion (30-1): Decisive longshot starts as one of the lighter raced runners in the field and makes his stakes debut after running a slow second in a local optional-claimer in his two-turn debut, so needless to say he’s way, way out of his element here. Son of Pioneerof the Nile does have upside for Lukas, who has built his legend in part by winning these kinds of races with this kind of horse, but this one doesn’t figure to add to the lore; needs way softer to threaten.
#2 Uncontested (10-1): Talented runner won the local Smarty Jones two-back in the slop when he freaked on the lead, then was exposed last month in the local prep, when he popped and stopped badly in the GIII Southwest. Son of Tiz Wonderful forges on for Catalano, but he looks like he’s a need-the- lead type, and while he’s probably going to make the front here, largely because of this draw, there’s a ton of talented, legitimate speedsters to his outside, which is going to make for a long day at the office for this colt; pace player, nothing more.
#3 Sonneteer (30-1): The lone maiden in the field is looking way up at all of these, as not only has he never won a race, but he’s never run remotely fast enough, either, so it’s quite presumptuous to think it’s happening today in start number nine. If nothing else, it’s a positive that Desormeaux decides to ship in from Santa Anita, and this son of Midnight Lute does have a stalking/closing style that fits the speedy race flow, but that’s not close to enough to enable him to threaten this salty group; easy toss.
#4 Petrov (9-2): Logical contender stalked Uncontested last time in the Southwest, made first run off the far turn, then beat everyone but the winner One Liner, and since he’s not back today, that makes this son of Flatter that much more of a threat for Moquett. Tactical runner is going to trip out nicely, as not only did he draw perfectly, but he can sit just off the speed and get first run on the stalker/closers, much like he did last time, so while he needs to find a bit more stretch stamina, the price will be right and you know he likes the local oval too; can’t fault anyone looking this way.
#5 Untrapped (8-1): Fair Grounds invader is one of two in here for Asmussen, and is arguably the most interesting entrant, as he was a sharp second last time in their GII Risen Star, yet now ships out of town for this, when he obviously would have been a major player in their GII Louisiana Derby next weekend. So, if you’re handicapping that angle, you could surmise that this Trappe Shot colt is kicking the barn down and needs to run, and anyone who saw the race in New Orleans, which was his first two-turn start over a fast track, knows there’s a ton of talent here, and he should trip out beautifully from close range too; tepid call in a real scramble.
#6 Malagacy (4-1): Dangerous newcomer has run off the screen in a pair of Gulfstream Park sprint starts for Pletcher and now ships in to see where he stands on the national landscape for a barn that already won the Southwest with One Liner, and there’s little doubt this runner was much more impressive (and faster) in Florida, so he’s going to certainly make his presence felt. Son of Shackleford figures to be on or pressing what looks like a hot pace, as he’s never run past 6 1/2 furlongs and could be a bit keen, though One Liner had to jump the same hurdles and did it with aplomb, for a barn that rarely spots them incorrectly, so while a win is anyone’s guess, and there are some issues, there’s little doubt the rest of them will know he’s in here; tough to ignore.
#7 American Anthem (2-1): The most inexperienced member of the field could go favored for Baffert, as not only is he long on talent and just missed to GI winner Gormley in the GIII Sham in the slop at Santa Anita in January, but he starts for a barn that routinely heads to Hot Springs to win their 3-year-old races in bushels, which only adds to his appeal. But there are a few rubs, too, most notably the fact that Gormley bombed last weekend in the GII San Felipe at SA and that this son of Bodemeister is yet another who wants to hear his feet rattle and mix it up on the lead, so while this outside attack post will aid his chances, taking a short price with a very negative race flow isn’t ideal; willing to make him prove it.
#8 Silver Dust (15-1): Tricky read was the pick in the Rebel but didn’t really do a lot of running while passing a few late to be fourth in what was his seasonal debut, first start in a stakes and first versus winners, too, so you are allowed to be a bit forgiving, especially since he didn’t have the smoothest of trips, either. On the face of it, this son of Tapit will have to run a lot better to threaten, but his closing style certainly fits, he should be much tighter today, and he’ll relish the race flow, too. Morse said he’s going great guns, and those recent works say the same, so you have to think he’s putting his best foot forward in here; expecting much better.
#9 Appalachian Gem (30-1): Recent track and distance maiden winner steps way up after a breakthrough win for Van Berg, and while this son of Gemologist is no doubt improving, this is a tall order to be sure. On the plus side, he will be a huge price, does obviously like it here and is improving, and probably has another forward move in him, too, but this is too much, too soon; worth remembering for down the road.
#10 Royal Mo (9-2): California runner impressed when drubbing four others on the lead in fast time in SA’s GIII Robert Lewis in February but meets sizably better today and will really have to earn it, especially since he drew poorly and his two wins have come on the lead. Uncle Mo colt certainly is by the right sire, and you don’t see Shirreffs ship too often, so that’s a positive, too, but he’s getting the acid test and then some today, while taking all the worst of it with this draw and all the other speed to his inside; playing against.
#11 Lookin At Lee (15-1): The second from Asmussen is a deep, deep closer who was a distant third in the Southwest, some 8 1/4 lengths behind Petrov, and while his running style is the type you want in here, he’s got no speed at all, which is why he’s usually relegated to a minor award. Long-striding son of Lookin At Lucky won’t mind this wide draw, since he’s simply going to take a left turn out of the gate, but even though they’ll be flying up front and he could improve second-off the layoff, it’s tough to think he can garner more than a minor award, since this group is eons tougher than the ones he just faced; underneath, if at all.
#8 Silver Dust