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Head Heart & Hooves

Very Quick Derby Thoughts

Orb FoY 615 X 400
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I like OXBOW.  I think he can be useful in the future, but I see him in the bottom 10 here.  He's drawn the de facto rail and looks to me like he may find some trouble as he's been pulling his head around and drifting out at the turn in workouts.  To be honest, none of the Oaklawn horses really do it for me this year.  Oxbow could be ready for a well-deserved break after this one.

GIANT FINISH would be a giant surprise.  His lone dirt win was a state bred OC on the inner track at Aqueduct.

I have never been a fan of PALACE MALICE, so I'm not going to make a case for him now.  He was thumped by good horses in the Louisiana Derby and now will wear blinkers for the first time.  No thank you.

LINES OF BATTLE will not end the drought.

FALLING SKY will never, ever win a 10f race.  He is a nice horse, but this is a pipe dream.

CHARMING KITTEN: I am sick of these Ramsey Kittens.

WILL TAKE CHARGE takes a very curious path here.  20-1 seems low.  His lone race on an off track was also the worst of his career.

People seem to like FRAC DADDY.  I am not one of them.

VYJACK is a good, steady horse, but we all know where he's drawn.  I could see him in the 5-9 range, but that's it.  I hope for a long, solid career from this gritty gelding, however.

On (or off) the Fence:

NORMANDY INVASION is a horse I have liked all year.  Despite being by Tapit, he does have other breeding qualities which suggest he can get 10 furlongs.  He is slight of build, however, and his running style ensures he will have to deal with traffic.  While they may be trying to keep him closer to the pace, if I were backing him and waiting for him to get the extra distance he so seems to crave, I would let him do his own thing.  We will see where he is positioned, but at this point I will play him to get third or fourth at best.

OVERANALYZE has a serious every-other pattern and right now we're on the other.  He has run in 6 graded stakes in a row, though, and has never been disgraced, but he has not beaten any horses that I particularly like during that stretch.

ITSMYLUCKYDAY:  I was ready to hand him the roses in January, but now it's may.  He looks to me like a damn nice middle distance horse, but as his buzz increases, so does my feeling that he will not factor.  I can't see him running better than he did in the Holy Bull, and he will need to to win here.


Useful Underneath-Types:

There is much love for MYLUTE, and although I like Revolutionary and Departing a great deal, I can't say the same for this one.  However, he is poised to make his third start off a layoff and should have his best run today.  That could be good enough for a piece.

GOLDEN SOUL has generally been gaining in his races, he's been pointed here for a while, and he is truly bred to run long.  As those in here who are not collapse in the final furlong, I think Golden Soul could collect some garbage and cap a nice tri- or superfecta.

JAVA'S WAR has been on my watch list for a while.  He is bred to run longer than most of these horses, and while one could certainly knock his talent to a degree, he will be doing his best running when most horses are not.

Odds-Dependent Types:

I have been down on the following two horses all year, but as their odds go up, I begin taking a longer look.

I truly don't see GOLDENCENTS winning, but I think he will be in the vanguard turning for home.  He's a borderline underneath-type, but it's not his fault they can't fill stakes races in California.  I think his races have been better than he is given credit for and I could certainly see him being a major factor at what may be a decent price.

As for VERRAZANO, I can see him finishing up the track, but if he goes up around 10-1, I'll consider using him.  Nobody is picking him; I could find worse horses to be contrarian about.


REVOLUTIONARY has had a tough road to hoe on his way here but he's turned all the soil.  I've picked him on top before and do not see him out of the money tomorrow.  I picked him on top in the HRN Blogger's Selection sheet when his morning line odds were 10-1, but as the price goes down, so does my interest.  Still, I will leave him off very few tickets - those on which I single the following horse:

ORB.  The only trepidation I had was odds-based, but as he looks to go off at 4- or 5-1, I'm all in.  He's beaten good horses, he's trained well, he's been pointed here, he's won a Grade 1 race, he's bred for the distance, and he has a running style which should take full advantage of every furlong.


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Older Comments about Very Quick Derby Thoughts...

Well analyzed, Alex!
  • head_heart_hooves · I'll put this in a column later in the week, but I was ready to toss Goldencents and Verrazano until their odds started going up and I started talking myself into them. A waste of time, effort, and money. I ended up using Normandy more than I may have alluded to here while tossing IMLD and Overanalyze. Java's War was the one who ran significantly worse than expected, Golden Soul a bit better... Somehow my show bet on him was all I hit. I wheeled Orb over a bunch on a tri; had GS in second and third, but for some reason left Revolutionary out of the third spot (only had him second). I'll be kicking myself over that one for a while. Thanks, though, amino. Hope I helped someone cash. · 1659 days ago
  • head_heart_hooves · Oh, and the lesson a la Goldencents and Verrazano is never listen to anybody. Ever. · 1659 days ago
Me too, Buckpasser!
Never listen to weather apps. Rain now but some clearing between 2 and 3. Rain again at 3 and again around 5 .
Amino I am starting to worry about the company you're keeping.
Bigbill assured me it will be fast :)
According to the Accuweather app. Rain is coming in about three with it continuing through five and longer.
A lot of people like Palace Malice a good deal. We shall see.
Icy. I agree with you about Overanalyze. I think he is being overlooked today and could win or at least get a piece. Orb will always be a sentimental shot for me. I am not a great fan of Oxbow here. I did like Goldencents Santa Anita Derby and have him in today along with Normandy Invasion. PS the constant Kittens reminds me of harness racing with the name Hanover. There are so many Hanovers that we have worked our way to Mudpie Hanover.
I don't like Revolutionary from the #3PP. OVERANALYZE came out of the #11PP at Aqueduct and at 8.5f the starting gate was positioned very close to the first turn which he took 4w and the second turn 3w, that's a toss for me. I like him in the exotics, maybe higher. He ran a 99 beyer in his last race as a 2yo an increase of 6/7 points in his third start back isn't to much to expect. Nice analysis overall.
Best line ever: "CHARMING KITTEN: I am sick of these Ramsey Kittens." That earned a very unlady-like snort of derision coupled with a knowing smile.
Every time I play this race in my head I see something different. Whoever chose the PP's was definitely doing it to make it interesting. That being said, I'm going with Verrazano, Orb & Revolutionary. If I had $2 I had to spend on a show ticket on any other horse I'd put it on Charming Kitten who I think will put up a good race and may surprise.
I like Verrazano in the first or second slot
^Palace Malice.
Clearly, that's why he won right? ... Oh wait he didn't. I think Palica Malice could grow to be a very good horse , but he is STILL very green. The DIfference between Palice Malice, and Revolutionary (the winer) Is that the later can get out of trouble - while PM can't. For the derby, that is an important skill.
  • Capper · Best horse doesn't always win. I'm sure most would agree that Dreaming of Julia was best in the KY Oaks but lost all chance when creamed at the break, but still finished very strong. · 1660 days ago
Palace Malice that is
Better watch that LA Derby again, he was the best horse in that race.
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Meet Alex Fawell 

Unlike many, I did not grow up with horseracing. My first time at the races was the 2008 Kentucky Derby. I bet on Colonel John. That fall, I had the good fortune to go to England, where I visited Ascot and Kempton. When I returned to the U.S., I was hooked. I started reading handicapping books, studying historic sire lines, watching races and going to Portland Meadows regularly. While the purses there were small, I was able to be close to the action and see firsthand the day-to-day operations of an average American racetrack.


Last year I moved home to Chicago. I went to Arlington for the first time this year. In the interim, I have devoted my time to understanding all aspects of horseracing  I hope to provide unique isights on handicapping perspectives and multifaceted analyses on the state of horseracing today. I will strive to write with an open mind and a willingness to learn through the writing process. I will not claim to be an expert, but I will read thoroughly, write carefully, and be honest.


To me, the all-time greats are Kelso, John Henry, Round Table and Yeats. Horses I like because they have won me money include Raven's Pass, Alternation, and I'll Have Another. The greatest horse I have even seen live is Zenyatta. I also enjoy the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, Mexican food, good Bourbon, and old-time music - specifically that played on the 5-string banjo. Thanks for reading!

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