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HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

2014 Kentucky Derby: The Santa Anita Derby Rewind

 

This past weekend at Santa Anita Park California Chrome stamped himself a force to be reckoned with, and this year’s 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite, as he demolished the field in the Santa Anita Derby. Heading into this race I thought he could win, and should win, but I did worry a little about him getting the distance and his opponent that I held in high regard, Candy Boy. He squashed both of those worries quickly as he blasted away in the stretch. Here’s my take on your winner, and the other key players moving forward…

California ChromeAfter overcoming a slight stumble at the start, and racing in tight the first hundred yards, he remain composed and went on to press a swift opening quarter while two wide around the first bend. The tempo slowed down a touch through the half and he enjoyed a nice pressing trip down the back stretch. Rounding the far turn he made his move on his own and took over with ease without being asked yet. Entering the stretch he took off under a hand ride and demolished the field while being geared down late. It was a truly awesome performance. He answered the distance question in my eyes and leaves California for Kentucky as a legit Derby favorite, and has a huge chance to be draped in roses on May 3rd.

HoppertunityIn my opinion, this may have been his most impressive race to date. He broke well and raced two wide into the first turn. Down the back stretch he enjoyed a nice trip stalking the pace from the inside. Rounding the turn he appeared to have some run left him and he just needed some room. Entering the stretch he was forced out a little wide by a tiring foe, and while never looking like a winner, he did finish well and gallop out strong. A lot is being made about his gallop out, and while he did fly past the winner during it, I feel that the winner was geared down before the race was even over so I am not putting too much stock into it. Heading into the Derby I feel he does indeed have a shot to win, but I am most likely using him underneath. I feel he is a cut below the top of the crop.

Candy BoyI was very high on Candy Boy entering this race. He looked impressive after winning the Robert B. Lewis and was on my radar as Kentucky Derby contender off that victory. While he was impressive that day, it has to be said he received a dream trip tucked inside behind the pace stalking and in a perfect spot to pounce. In hindsight, I feel I may have given him too much credit after the Lewis. In this race, he broke well, and like California Chrome, he was in tight at the start but recovered well to go up and press the pace while three wide into the first turn. Down the backstretch he received a perfect trip pressing the pace and loomed a major threat to win, it seemed. Rounding the turn though as California Chrome spurted away, and Gary Stevens started asking for his run, you just knew he was in big trouble. He proved no match for the top pair and had no excuse I saw. I am torn on him moving forward. On one hand, its only one race and maybe he needed one off the layoff. On the other hand, I was not impressed at all with this performance and maybe he wants no part of the distance. I think I am going to play it like this. If Stevens has another option for a Derby mount and he sticks here I will be more forgiving of this performance. But if he chooses the other charge, I will stay away. If I am not afforded that luxury I will see how he works up to the Derby and try to form a more solid opinion, but my gut is telling me I may have overvalued him to begin with. I am leaning towards limiting his use to underneath if at all in the Derby.

 

There are two horses I want out of this race. California Chrome answered the distance question with style, as he trounced this field. I eagerly wait to see how he trains up to the Derby. The other horse who is intriguing is Hoppertunity. He closed well enough, in my opinion, and I do not believe distance will be an issue with him. Whether he is talented enough is a question he must answer. As for Candy Boy, the jury is still out on him. I am not ready to lock in a solid opinion just yet. I want to see how he works up to the Derby and if Stevens stays on. I was very high on him, and I am not ready to banish him after one race. With that said, I really was disappointed with his performance. 

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: The Santa Anita Derby Rewind...

I wonder if California Crome has peaked too soon for the KD. Hoppertunity wasn't being asked for much in the stretch either. I like better his racing style for the KD. Maybe an exacta box with Wicked Strong would be a good bet. I don't think Candy Boy is at his best when he's too close to the lead.

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 Meet Michael Barry   

 

 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 

 

Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 

 

Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.

 

Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 

 

I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.