Rating the Preps: Slow Mo-tion Writer vs. Optical Illusion Felipe

Rating the Preps: Slow Mo-tion Writer vs. Optical Illusion Felipe
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The first four furlongs of the Timely Writer were run in “Slow MO-tion” as Uncle Mo merely toyed with this field of Derby wannabes before exploding with a burst of speed in the final two furlongs (and continuing in the gallop out).  This turned into nothing more than a public workout that served it’s purpose of taking the moss off the “Mo” as he prepares for his next race which will be in the Florida Derby, if Pletcher has his way, or the Wood Memorial which is owner Mike Repole’s preference.  Unfortunately, no matter where he goes, the competition will run scared leaving a small field.  His only real test will have to wait until when the gates open in the Kentucky Derby.


The prep of the weekend honors has to go to the San Felipe at Santa Anita.  A full field produced the fastest early pace in a prep race to date which left the early battlers completely spent as they were eased in the end.  Alonso Quinonez wisely held Premier Pegasus in reserve until the “all clear” was given at the mid-turn.  At that point, PrePeg got to work picking up the pieces and then some.  Taking nothing away from the winner, the late move was visually deceptive in that the front runners were falling back as fast as Premier Pegasus was moving forward.  His BRIS pace and final speed ratings earned in this race (First Call = 89; Second Call = 98; Late Pace = 98; Final 100) would put him among the second tier contenders in a typical Derby field.  It will be very interesting to see how much he moves up in the Santa Anita Derby.  If he does, we have a legitimate Derby win contender on our hands. 


Comma To The Top ran an impressive race in that he was involved in the white hot pace but clearly finished best of all the front runners.  Afraid this effort was probably a top for the season and not sure he can move forward off what had to be an energy zapper.  Jaycito was a disappointment, in my opinion.  With that wicked pace, he should have been really rolling in the stretch.  Unlike Comma To The Top, he has plenty of room to move forward in the Santa Anita Derby.


What can you say about the Tampa Bay Derby other than it doesn’t deserve much consideration and receives a big down grade from HRN.  Brethren looked weak and Free Entry never showed up leaving the door open for two bombers to complete the exacta.  If any of these go in the Kentucky Derby, none will finish in the top half of the field.


Alright let’s take a closer look at these preps and update our quality rating:




Beyer Speed Rating: 89

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 94; Second Call = 104; Final = 104

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 54; Second Call =   65;  Final = 95

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: None

Impressive Effort: None

HRN Pre-Race Grade = C-

HRN Post-Race Grade = B

Notes:  Essentially Uncle Mo gets the “B” rating for what turned out to be a public workout.  What impressed me most is that his BRIS Late Pace figure came back as a 125.  You might see a couple of horses each year that can produce that kind of number.  Really hoping he can get tested in the Wood/Florida Derby but afraid the Derby will be his next real test.


Santa Anita – G2 SAN FELIPE 1 1/16 Miles Dirt

Winner: Premier Pegasus (RANKED #4 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)

Beyer Speed Rating: 96

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 94; Second Call = 104; Final = 104

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 105; Second Call = 107; Final = 100

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: None

Impressive Effort: Comma To The Top

HRN Pre-Race Grade = B+

HRN Post-Race Grade = B+

Notes: There has not been a Derby prep to date that was run faster early.  That pace was white hot and closers naturally picked up the top three spots.  Premier Pegasus was wisely reserved early before making a powerful move from mid-turn to mid-stretch and was clearly the best though a bit of optical illusion was at play.  Comma To The Top actually put in the most impressive effort having finished best of all the front runners after being a part of the suicidal pace.  Does he have anything left after that effort?


Tampa Bay – G2 TAMPA BAY DERBY 1 1/16 Miles Dirt


Beyer Speed Rating: 83

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 94; Second Call = 104; Final = 100

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 81; Second Call = 89;   Final = 95

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: None

Impressive Effort: None

HRN Pre-Race Grade = C+

HRN Post-Race Grade = D+

Notes:  Brethren and Free Entry disappointed big time leaving the door wide open for two bombers to complete the Exacta.  None of these will be in the gate at Churchill Downs on the first day in May (unless it’s on the Derby undercard!).  Will be interesting to see where Brethren goes next.  One of the least impressive preps of the year.




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Check back on Friday when we preview the G2 Rebel and the face off between The Factor and Sway Away, the one-two finishers ahead of Premier Pegasus in the San Vincente.






About Me

Mike has been a passionate horseracing fan for over 30 years. He received his “handicapping education” through countless hours of deciphering the mystery that is embedded in every race. It was the tough beats at the window, however, that propelled him to never make the same mistake twice (well, maybe three times).

As Managing Partner of Horse Racing Nation, Mike serves as investor, business advisor, staff handicapper and developer of handicapping content.

Handicapping the Derby has always been one of Mike's favorite endeavors.  He spends weeks compiling notes, speed figures and analysis in preparation for the big race.  In 2010, his HRN pals pushed him into packaging his time-tested methods into what became the 2010 Kentucky Derby Super Screener, an e-book that became extremely popular with HRN readers and was downloaded over 3,000 times.   

In preparation for the 2011 Derby, Mike will be "Rating the Preps" each weekend on the Derby trail.  The goal will be to build a good picture for which prep races are most likely to produce the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.   

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