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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Deciphering the Draws

The Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby fields have been drawn and now the final stage of handicapping can begin.
First let’s start off with my initial reactions to the Oaks Draw. Dreaming of Julia, a filly with plenty of natural speed drew well in the now, 10 horse, field. She is outside of the main speed of Midnight Lucky and Beholder. Her stablemate, Unlimited Budget also has some speed, so it looks like she will get the perfect trip, stalking a solid pace.
Unlimited Budget, while next to the two main speed balls, still drew well. She is not a need the lead type, even though that is where she has been in her most recent starts. She will most likely apply pressure to the top pair or sit to Dreaming of Julia’s inside and stalk. Princess of Sylmar’s position won’t hurt her, as she likes to close. She can only benefit from a very likely speed duel.
The losers during the draw were Midnight Lucky and Beholder. Both are fillies who want the lead, both fillies who possess an overabundance of natural speed. If you own or train a horse like these two, a horse that needs the lead, is very fast, and is very competitive, this isn’t what you want to see. The two are likely to hook up in a speed duel and possible tire each other out. Another horse who, I think was unlucky, but to a lesser extent, was Closed Hatches.
Closed Hatches is a filly who likes to be in front as well. The fact that she drew away from the speed is a good thing. The fact that she will likely have a clear trip, with no dirt being kicked in her face is also a plus, however can she rate off the lead? If not she will have to be used in order to clear Unlimited Budget and Dreaming of Julia, if she can she will still be very wide on the first turn and possibly the second.
Overall it looks like the Todd Pletcher has a fantastic chance not just winning, but even taking second and third, if his fillies prove good enough. Others like Midnight Lucky and Beholder may have to work and prove their mettle if they are to pull off a win.
Now for the 139th Kentucky Derby. We all know the one post is the one everyone dreads, and it looks like the unlucky horse this year is Black Onyx. This one doesn’t have great tactical speed and is a mid-pack runner. He will be in and among the traffic early if he doesn’t break running or take back to avoid the crush coming from the gate.
Vyjack and Will Take Charge also didn’t fare too well. Will Take Charge likes to stalk while Vyjack likes to run about mid-pack. Both could get caught very wide throughout the entire race. While horses have come from the 20 post to win the Derby, the same cannot be said for 17. Neither has been very productive, and horses without tactical speed are at even more of a disadvantage this far out.
Goldencents and Oxbow also didn’t get very desirable posts. Drawing inside of the rest of the speed, especially when those horses are Verrazano, Falling Sky, and Itsmyluckyday is not something one hopes for. Both will have to be used and both will face a great deal of outside pressure.
Landing on the lucky side of the coin were all of Pletcher’s horses, once again. Verrazano likes to be on the outside of horses and he will be there, while not starting too far out. The final spot in the first gate means he’ll have some buffer room, meaning the chances of getting pinched are slim. If he breaks clean he should have a great trip. Revolutionary drew the three post, not normally one I would like, but he is a very agile horse, can come from anywhere, and with Calvin Borel riding, he’s right where he needs to be.
Itsmyluckyday also drew well, with the only speed to his outside being Verrazano and Falling Sky. The latter will want to go up on the lead and may try to clear him, but that shouldn’t be much of a bother, seeing as how Itsmyluckyday is normally content to sit and stalk. Verrazano does have speed, but will probably be content just to track Itsmyluckyday.
There is still handicapping left to be done, but at first glance I would go with Dreaming of Julia for the Oaks and either Verrazano or Itsmyluckyday in the Derby. Good Luck to you all and happy handicapping.


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Older Comments about Deciphering the Draws...

Lets hope we're all Lucky! These three followed by Goldencents, who I like very much. I will throw in Palice Malice as live long shot, esp if off track.
yukichan, we have the same top three, how cool is that
Same top pick yukichan :)
what horse will like a off track or even muddy ?
Posting here first, my selections: Derby- Itsmyluckyday, Verrazano, Revolutionary. Oaks: Love my Midnight Lucky, Dreaming of Julia (I think noses apart) Unlimited Budget.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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