Keeneland has its opening day today with the Transylvania Stakes (III) among others, then tomorrow it has the big Ashland (I) for sophomore fillies. Then you’ve got the Wood Memorial (I) and three other big stakes in New York, the Santa Anita Derby (I) with a nice $500k pick 4, and the loaded Illinois Derby (III). Recently I was personally able to deflate a little bit about not getting to go to the Wood Memorial because Hansen decided not to go, but oh man I’ll be missing Shackleford!
On the rail and with blinkers off, the connections of the favorite Creative Cause are taking some chances with their dazzling colt, who in my opinion is steeply disregarded as a horse who could win the Kentucky Derby. This race will show again how good he is while giving him a little extra running room at 1 1/8 miles. I have yet to seriously consider I’ll Have Another, who hasn’t raced since his major upset in the Robert B. Lewis (II), as well as Liasion who won the CashCall (I). One won sailing clear of a very messy stretch charge, the other’s took place long ago and I’m not certain his pedigree will win for him at this stage of the game. I do have some favorite underdogs in Midnight Transfer, who is to be ridden by Mike Smith, and Ahmed Zayat’s Paynter, a horse he’s been bullish about supporting in the harsh light of criticism via Twitter:
Calm down, bro. The Sadler colt in question is Holy Candy, a nice Candy Ride [ARG] colt who broke his maiden somewhat recently after a couple good tries. He owes me money at this point, but I think Paynter’s up to snuff more-so than he. Very interested in watching both, but at this level, I’ll cruise with some ponies I already like.
1) Creative Cause 2) Midnight Transfer 3) I’ll Have Another
Last year’s Illinois Derby winner was Joe Vann, a nothing-too-special Zayat horse. The race hasn’t been a huge factor in the Derby preps, but War Emblem did win it in 2002 along with some other nice contenders like Ten Most Wanted. But yeah, I’m not seeing anything really special this year with 14 entries packing the box with 3 also-eligibles waiting in the wings. Currency Swap did not make a case against Gemologist in their last outing at Gulfstream despite some promising works, and I’m not expecting him to bounce right back here, making this a very open race. Honestly I like Done Talking best; he was great last year and appears to be a slow developer with plenty of promise, but I’m not leaving out the spotty, but improving Our Entourage and Morgan’s Guerrilla. Saturday Launch, a McPeek trainee, is also worth a look in what will be a great betting race. This race is really just a wing-it-and-hope-for-the-best kind of fray.
1) Done Talking 2) Our Entourage 3) Morgan’s Guerrilla
I don’t normally go with horses fresh off their Breeders’ Cup wins and after such a long layoff, but given the short field lacking anything too serious, Stephanie’s Kitten looks posed to win Saturday’s Ashland against just 6 others in this Oaks prep. With the Ramseys and Julien Leparoux, she seems almost a no-brainer to use. Lotta Lovin's her biggest threat with 2 stake wins thus far in 2012.
1) Stephanie’s Kitten 2) Lotta Lovin 3) Karlovy Vary