Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
On Saturday (Jan. 25th), top billing as far as Derby preps go to the $400k Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. More on that one later, but at Laurel Park, eight (8) three-year-olds will battle in the $100k Miracle Wood Stakes run at a distance of one mile, is Race 6 on the nine race card.
Todd Pletcher ships in Master Lightning (#6; 8-1 M/L) who has proven in three G2 events that he’s not up to that level of competition, finishing no better than 5th while losing by a combined 26¾ lengths in those races.
Laurel Park Morning Line oddsmaker Keith Fuestle gave the slight nod to #2 – Extrasexyhippzter (5-2), winner of the Don Rickles at The Big A who previously got beat (4th) in the Marylander by #1 - Joint Custody (3-1) and #7 - Jessethemarine (7-2), who ran 1-2 respectively.
HOW I SEE IT: With temperatures in the teens all week, but forecast for near freezing on Saturday, the track will be hard as a rock which favors early speed, and there is plenty of it in here. Expect the trio of Joint Custody, Extrasexyzhippster and #8 - Germaniac (6-1) to be gunning on the front end, with Master Lightning, Jessethemarine #3- Mr. Rover (8-1) and with blinkers added #5 - Fleet Gold Digger (20-1) to be tucked in behind, leaving #4 - Undertaker (10-1) to have the best view from the rear. I’ll bank on the speed bias to disappear by Post Time and Jessethemarine turning the tables on Joint Custody, benefiting from the extra furlong.
THE PLAY: $10 WPS #7 and $2 Exacta Box 1-6-7
Onto the Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes, contested at a distance of 1 1/16th miles, scheduled Post Time for this Derby point system event is 5:03pm (EST). Based on the Morning Line odds, this is a wide open affair.
Last year, Starlight Racing had the 4-5 Morning Line (M/L) favorite and two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby. Remember him?! This year Starlight has entered program 4th choice #11 - Intense Holiday (6-1) whose daddy, Harlan’s Holiday, placed in this race in 2002.
The 3-1 Morning Line (M/L) favorite is #7 – Cairo Prince. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee lost a headbob decision to Honor Code in the G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30th, the only blemish on his 3 race career. Ironically, his dam (Holy Bubbette) sire was Holy Bull.
This event will certainly be a reality check for connections who believe they have a top contender for the 140th Kentucky Derby. Here’s how they’ll break in hopes of taking down Cairo Prince…
#1 - Coup de Grace (4-1) 2 for 2; Johnny V. will try to coax him from gate-to-wire.
#2 – Financial Mogul (10-1) gets no respect after runner-up to Cairo Prince in G2 Nashua.
#3 – Best Plan Yet (20-1) throw out GP Derby?!
#4 - Almost Famous (8-1) a win will guarantee fame.
#5 – Our Caravan (15-1) won debut as 35-1 longshot; over his head in here?
#6 – Mr Speaker (5-1) initial dirt try after 4 turf outings; has worked well on dirt.
#8 - Wicked Strong (8-1) Did JC pick this one or get bumped off #1 by Johnny V.?
#9 – Conquest Titan (12-1) seems to be the “Wise Guy” pick on social media.
#10 – Big Bazinga (20-1) nice work tab after disastrous G3 Delta Jackpot effort.
#11 – Intense Holiday (6-1) outside post is a killer here.
HOW I SEE IT: This race shapes up to be the most competitive of the early 2014 Kentucky Derby preps so far. Seven of the eleven starters have already competed in a graded stakes, nine runners have gone 8½ furlongs or further previously, while only five are still eligible for a N1X race.
Look for Coup de Grace, Almost Famous and two of the three far outside contestants rushing to the lead as the first turn comes up quickly. Best Plan Yet, Mr Speaker, Cairo Prince and Wicked Strong will be bunched in the second flight while Financial Mogul and Our Caravan settle in the rear.
The stretch run might resemble a backyard brawl as the leg weary and late runners (figuratively) collide. The winner may prove not to be the best moving forward, but more of a survivor on this day, collecting 10 Derby points and roughly $240k for his connections. Appropriately, Financial Mogul will pull the upset, while Mr Speaker and Cairo Prince settle for the minor awards and points.
THE PLAY: $10 WPS #2 and $2 Exacta Box 2-6-7
For the entire list of Derby “point system” races, click HERE.
Recapping my previous blog posted selections at Laurel Park selections from Saturday, January 18th had 4 winners from 9 races (2 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $37.20 (1st race), $3.00(2nd), $18.00 (3rd) and $4.80 (8th).
The BEST BET of the Day (2: 0-0-2) Speightful Kiss (6th race: 4-1 M/L; 4-1 PT) was outrun early, made a strong move on the turn, challenging the eventual winner from the head of the stretch to the wire, losing by ¾ of a length, yet only good enough for 3rd paying $3.60 to SHOW.
The LONGSHOT PICK (1: 1-1-0) Spicy Salsa (1st race: 5-1 M/L; 4-1 PT) was quick from the gate, poised to steal the race on the front end was caught in the final furlong, having to settle for second, returning $4.60 to PLACE and $3.20 to SHOW.
Selections for Saturday, Jan. 25th at Laurel Park posted below are based on a FAST dirt track as the forecast calls for sunny skies with no chance of precipitation. Selections posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.
1st race – $8,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Diski Dance (6-5)
#4 – Bellagio (9-2)
#2 – Forest Justice (5-1)
2nd race – $7,500 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. & up – One mile
#5 – Torchrunner (2-1)
#2 – Greek Thunder (7-5)
#6 – Sleep Like a Rock (15-1)
3rd race – $15,000 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#4 – Cheops (9-2)
#2 – Pushin’ On (5-2)
#3 – It’s My Perogative (8-1)
4th race – $100,000 Wide Country Stakes for 3 y.o. fillies – 7 furlongs
#5 – Taris (4-5)
#4 – Steady N Love (15-1)
#2 – New Zone (5-1)
5th race – $40,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#5 – Shaka Sign (5-1)
#6 – Prospector’s Heart (6-1)
#9 – Center On the Moon (7-2)
6th race – $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes for 3 y.o. – One mile
#7 – Jessethemarine (7-2) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – Joint Custody (3-1)
#6 – Master Lightning (8-1)
7th race – $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
#5 – Javerre (6-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#4 – Mail (8-5)
#2 – Indian Jones (7-2)
8th race – $100,000 What a Summer Stakes for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#2 – She’s Ordained (5-2)
#3 – More Than a Cruise (15-1)
#6 – Vicki’s Dancer (12-1)
9th race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 7 furlongs
#4 – Lady Terp (5-2)
#9 – Bond of Love (6-1)
#3 – Midian (2-1)