The scratch of Fort Bragg from the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby did nothing to change the pace scenario of the Kentucky Derby prep race on Sunday at Sunland Park, as all six of the remaining expected runners show a proclivity to be on or near the lead.
That leaves Hard to Figure as a clear choice for me, as the Bob Baffert trainee has Brisnet pace ratings that have him near the lead while late pace figures that stand out among this group. Couple that with a healthy Ragozin Sheet pattern in which he ran a slight top last out, and I see him as the horse to beat. In fact, he's the lowest price of any horse I've done fair odds for so far.
Why do I like him that much more than No. 4 Henry Q, who got an even faster figure when winning the local prep for this? That Ragozin pattern I referenced is a big reason why. Henry Q's number was so big relative to his other performances that I have concern of him running back to that less than four weeks later.
But the beauty of fair odds is we can make a case for Hard to Figure being the more likely winner while recognizing that Henry Q is the better bet. For example, if Hard to Figure is even money and Henry Q is 5-2 then the latter is a better bet given my fair odds.
What about the rest of the field? With only four other foes beyond my top two choices, I envision that one of my top two will offer the needed value while the rest will be underlays.