So pleased that handicapper Brian Nadeau has signed on for another year of previewing Derby preps and Triple Crown races. A veteran of the Saratoga Special, he handicaps regularly for Capital OTB TV in upstate New York and Horseplayer Now, and you’ll find him here on Twitter.
Welcome back to the Derby trail, and stay tuned for details on this year’s Brooklyn Backstretch charity league…
Fair Grounds: The Grade III, $200,000 Lecomte at 1-mile 70 yards (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)
#1 Lone Sailor (15-1): Stretch-running son of Majestic Warrior caught some tough fields as a 2-year-old and held relatively well, with the highlight being headed out in 2nd in Churchill Downs’ Street Sense in October. It’s worth noting, though, that that was a one-turn run, and his two-turn tries, albeit against tons tougher than he met that day, were a lot weaker. It’s nice for Amoss forge on, while picking a tough spot for this colt’s 3yo debut, but the blinkers going on will add more tactical speed, he drew perfectly and there’s enough pace to rally into as well; eligible to get a small share.
#2 Snapper Sinclair (20-1): Longshot did the turf thing in his last three starts at 2, including winning a pricey stakes at Kentucky Downs in September, but he will have to erase a total no-show when 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when last seen at Santa Anita in November. If nothing else, he’s bred for the main track, as dad City Zip swept Saratoga’s 2yo stakes back in the day, and it’s not like Asmussen, who runs three in here, to run them where they can’t win, but that distant 6th in his lone dirt start when making his career debut isn’t scaring anyone today; can’t see it.
#3 Wonder Gadot (6-1): Expected to scratch and run earlier on the card in the Silverbulletday.
#4 Analyze This Jet (30-1): Huge longshot had by far his best win on turf, and his lone dirt win came on a sloppy main track, so while a son of Overanalyze is bred for this, it looks like Eoff has him biting off way more than he can chew; easy toss.
#5 Kowboy Karma (6-1): Logical contender wasn’t beaten much when 4th in the GI Champagne at Belmont Park last fall, and the group ahead of him, including BC Juvenile hero Good Magic, was a salty one, so you have to think he’s a player in here for Jones, who also starts three. Son of Kodiak Kowboy isn’t necessarily bred for two turns, but this middle distance should be within his scope, though don’t overlook the fact he’s 2-for-2 at 6 furlongs or less and 0-for-3 going longer. Stalker drew well and will get some pace, but the gut says he’s just not this kind going this long; others rank a bit higher.
#6 Believe in Royalty (15-1): The second from Jones will need to bounce back from a dismal run in Remington Park’s Springboard Mile when last seen in December, and that was his two-turn debut too, which further clouds his form here. Son of Tapit is out of Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, so you know he’s bred to be a nice one, but up to this point his biggest win was in an optional-claimer at Laurel, so he’s got his work cut out for him. If he can improve on that last run, he’s in with a longshot exotics chance, but that’s a big if; tough to endorse.
#7 Night Strike (30-1): Huge bomber beat Oklahoma-bred stakes foes two-back at Remington but was well-beaten when 4th in the Springboard, so he’s up against it here. Son of 5k sire Liaison has proven to be a bargain for Calhoun, who rarely runs them over their heads, but he found one of those spots here; next.
#8 Zing Zang (15-1): Deep, deep closer is the second of the Asmussen’s and certainly put it all together last time, when he aired locally over maidens, which makes him one of only two in here to own a win over the track. The waters get a lot deeper today, but it’s obvious he likes it here, and the long stretch is perfect for this son of Tapit’s stretch-running style too. So, while a win may be a bit out of reach, there’s little doubt he’s going to pass a lot of them in the lane; could spice up the exotics.
#9 Zeke (15-1): Undefeated runner is a son of turf star Gio Ponti, who has surprisingly gotten dirt runners (think Drefong), so it’s not out of the question he can be a viable 3yo on the main track, even though that debut dirt win at Laurel was painfully slow. Versatile sort won locally on the turf last time to remain undefeated, and he showed he can run from off the pace, which will help today, as things look honest up front. Stidham is one of the more underrated trainers around, and he’s got some talent here to work with, but this group seems like a bit too much at this point; minor award may be his ceiling.
#10 Instilled Regard (4-1): The class invades from California off a big 3rd in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity, as he was beaten a half-length by a pair of Baffert heavyweights in Solomini and McKinzie, so right away you know he means business for Hollendorfer. And as a son of Arch, it’s no surprise he moved forward in a big way since stretching out to two turns, and his tactical speed will allow him to be placed anywhere today. And while shipping is never an easy proposition, you have to think he’s here for a reason, and with the exception of the chalk to his outside, the rest of these aren’t all that imposing on paper; looks good.
#11 Ciaran (30-1): Longshot aired sprinting for a tag on debut, then found winners and two turns way too tough here last month, so why he’s in here is a bit odd. Morley is having a strong meet and this son of Malibu Moon is bred for this, but his last says there’s no reason to think he can make a dent here; no thanks.
#12 Principe Guilherme (5-2): The chalk has impressed in both starts and clearly is the best of the Asmussen trio, especially since he owns a rousing win over the track and distance. Well-bred son of Tapit gets the acid test today, and the pick is going to prove a formidable challenge, but when you win by almost 12 over the track, you’re not supposed to be scared of anyone. If there’s a rub it’s the underlaid price and the fact that the front could bit a bit crowded today, plus he may be wide every step of the way, but there’s little doubt the path to the winner’s circle goes through this dude; rock solid.
#13 Prince Lucky (8-1): Stretch-out sprinter will tray two turns for the first time, but dad Corinthian got the trip, so there’s no reason to think this colt will come up wanting. The worry is the draw, as he’s been chasing going one-turn, which means he’ll be very close early going two, and that says he could be extremely wide into the first turn. The third of the Jones’ is a lot like stablemate ‘Karma, as he has displayed plenty of talent winning 3-of-4, but will have to step up if he wants to play with the top pair; demand fair value if he’s for you.
#14 Ebben (20-1): CD invader looked good drawing off in an optional claimer when last seen in November and takes the next logical step for Margolis, who is has enjoyed a lot of success here over the years. Son of Trappe Shot drew worst of all and will need to work out a trip, but his stalking gear should play out well, and he didn’t disgrace himself when 4th in the GIII Iroquois in his only other graded try. Obviously others rank higher, but the price will be right if you want to try and sneak him into your exotics; not impossible for a share.
#15 AE Trigger Warning (20-1): Son of Candy Ride (ARG) is mired on the AE list and will need a defection to start, not to mention he’ll need to improve several lengths to factor for Lezjerowicz, as those Turf Paradise runs leave him well behind these.
#10 Instilled Regard
#12 Principe Guilherme
#8 Zing Zang