I couldn’t be happier that Brian Nadeau is back at Brooklyn Backstretch for year 11 to take us through this year’s road to the Triple Crown. In a few weeks, we’ll kick off our annual contest to raise money for racing non-profits. Stay tuned…
Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. Follow him on Twitter here.
We kick things off on Friday in Hot Springs…
Oaklawn Park: The $150,000 Smarty Jones at 1-mile (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)
Oaklawn Park’s immensely popular and en vogue winter meets opens with a modest renewal of the Smarty Jones, with several potential up-and-comers looking to start down the path to the Arkansas Derby in April.
There’s no doubt that two turns is a question mark for #6 GOLD STREET (5-1), who has never run past 6Fs, but this Asmussen-trained son of Street Boss is bred for the trip, has looked great pressing and winning easily in his last two, including the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, could shake out as the controlling speed here, and gets a big break with the short finish line at this trip as well. A perfect draw should suit Asmussen’s more fancied #2 SILVER PROSPECTOR (5-2), a Declaration of War colt who won Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) when last seen in November, but that was in the slop, and this is just a starting-off point, so he may not be fully cranked, though that still doesn’t mean he can’t win this. A possible lack of pace could hurt Asmussen’s third, #7 SHOPLIFTED (3-1), but he did show a bit more speed beating lesser in the pricey Springboard Mile last time, though it still might be best to make this Into Mischief colt prove it at an underlaid price. It looks like Casse has #8 LYNN’S MAP (6-1) on the improve, and there’s a lot of upside to this son of Liam’s Map, not to mention tactical speed, so if he can improve off the AOC win at FG last time, he has every right to crack the Asmussen trifecta, at what will be a nice price too.
#6 Gold Street
#2 Silver Prospector
#8 Lynn’s Map