Brian Nadeau’s (Longer) Road to the Triple Crown

Churchill Downs: The GIII, $150,000 Matt Winn 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.

Maxfield and José Ortiz at Keeneland, winning the G1 Breeders’ Futurity. Keeneland photo.

We promised you a preview of a 3-year-old race at Churchill Downs in May, so you can’t say we didn’t deliver. Sure, it’s not the one we expected and/or hoped for, is three weeks later on the calendar, too, and is worth about 20 times less than the Kentucky Derby, not to mention that it has about 726 times less prestige, but we all know things could be a lot worse in the world we’re living in, and we should feel fortunate with what we do have, so let’s take a look at a Matt Winn that could be darn close to an automatic qualifier for the September 5 Derby.

This year’s Winn is as much about May 23 as it is about September 5, which is why #6 NY TRAFFIC (10-1) gets the upset call, as he’s in form; gets a big jock switch to Lopez, who will have this New York-bred son of Cross Traffic on the lead and potentially loose; and has plenty of foundation under him off a pair of very sharp longer graded tries at Fair Grounds this winter for Joseph. Clearly #10 MAXFIELD (5-2) is the horse to beat, and the most exciting member of the field, but this is simply a starting off point for this undefeated son of Street Sense, who was last seen romping in the GI Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, and it’s highly unlikely Walsh has him anywhere close to cranked for this minor stakes in May, when there’s a much, much bigger one here in three and a half months, so at a very short price, today is the day to try and beat him. The acid test comes for #2 PNEUMATIC (4-1), who has impressed in winning his two career starts at Oaklawn Park for Asmussen, and without a ton of early pace entered, this Uncle Mo colt should take advantage of a good draw and be close to ‘Traffic, which will have him in the right spot off the far turn when he’s asked the question of whether or not he’s this kind. While #1 MYSTIC GUIDE (15-1), the “other” Godolphin, doesn’t have the hype of the more heralded Maxfield, that MSW win at FG last time was a beauty, in what was his two-turn debut, too, and this homebred son of Ghostzapper has a big pedigree and is in expert hands with Stidham calling the shots, so if you’re looking for a price to spice it up, not to mention a colt with a ton of upside, here’s your hero. 

Selections:

#6 Ny Traffic

#10 Maxfield

#2 Pneumatic

#1 Mystic Guide

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