Santa Anita: The GII, $400,000 San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)
by Brian Nadeau
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.
#1 Fort McHenry (20-1): Former Pletcher charge was purchased privately after the weak third in an Aqueduct AOC last time and transferred to O’Neill while shipping across the country in the hopes of finding the sharp form that netted him a romping two-turn MSW win at Gulfstream Park West in November, though that win seems like a lifetime ago after the last two for this son of Tapit; easy toss.
#2 Honor A.P. (4-1): The first of a quartet of top prospects made a lot of friends with a fast MSW win here going two turns when last seen in October and will now try and show that he’s grown up and matured into a top 3-year-old for Shirreffs, who certainly knows what to do with one of those. Versatile son of Honor Code emulated his sire when he closed from the clouds to be second sprinting on debut then wired in his MSW win, and without a ton of real speed signed on here, you can expect Smith to be aggressive and put this colt’s fresh speed on the engine. And sure, he’s spotting a ton of experience to the favorites here, and recency, too, but talent has a way of evening all of that out, and those recent works sure do whisper ready; expecting a huge run.
#3 Wrecking Crew (12-1): Sky Kingdom ridgling makes his 3yo debut after a decent freshman campaign that was highlighted by a surprising third to rival Storm the Court in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over the track and distance, though that race has been heavily scrutinized as a lot more the exception than the rule. The distant last-of-four behind one of today’s heavyweights Thousand Words in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity when last seen in December makes him tough to like here, so while the last two works were sharp and Miller is, too, this seems like a real reach; needs a major turnaround.
#4 Authentic (6-5): The first of the two-headed monster for Baffert is undefeated and untested in two starts, which includes a two-turn win here in the GIII Sham in January, when he set a slow pace early and streaked home through the stretch for a dominant win. Pace player looks like yet another talented son of Into Mischief, though the waters get deeper today and he won’t be walking on a slow pace like last time, so there are some hurdles. The post works here, as he’s outside ‘A.P., but at this short price, while facing tougher, let’s try to beat him; playing against.
#5 Thousand Words (9-5): The second from Baffert is also undefeated, but he’s had to earn it in his three wins, as he scored by a neck at LRC and was a grinding winner of the GIII Robert Lewis over the track and distance in February. The stalking/pressing style this son of Pioneerof the Nile brings to the table is a big plus here, as Prat can gauge things to his inside and act accordingly, which likely means moving at the leaders entering the far turn. The margin for error here is a slim one, but he’s proven that he can win a fight, which gives him a big edge on his two biggest challengers; tepid call.
#6 Storm the Court (5-1): Reigning 2-year-old champion shocked the world when he won the Juvenile at 45-1 but couldn’t back it up in his seasonal bow in the local GII San Vicente sprinting last month when he chased a hot pace and finished a close fourth to Baffert hotshot Nadal. Of course, that was just a means to an end, and Eurton got his prep and can move forward now, so you’re allowed to think you’ll see a tighter package today. The worry is his claim to fame came in a weak race where the favorite (Dennis’ Moment) was eliminated at the start and has since proven he might be highly suspect anyway, so to think he can beat the big guns today seems like a bit of a reach; tread very lightly here.
#7 Swagsational (50-1): Giant longshot won the Turf Paradise Derby, which was timed with a sun dial, to make it three straight for Lawrence, but that streak will come to an abrupt end today for this Gallant Son gelding; no chance.
#5 Thousand Words
#2 Honor A.P.
#6 Storm the Court