The San Felipe appears to be a walkover for Pioneerof the Nile. With the defections of Papa Cleam (Louisiana Derby), I Want Revenge (monster win in Gotham) and Stardom Bound (just not good enough), it's down to Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse on the Left Coast. Since they won't met until the Santa Anita Derby, the San Felipe goes to Pioneerof the Nile.
While his competition is a bit stiffer at Oaklawn, Old Fashioned looks to keep on track as the pre-Derby favorite with a win in the Rebel Stakes. Trainer Larry Jones could possibly win here and at the Fair Grounds (more on that a bit later in this post) today. Silver City returns and draws outside Old Fashioned along with late comer Poltergeist. Two newcomers could make some noise - two-time, two-turn winner Wise Kid and half brother to Sprint Champion Midnight Lute, Captain Cherokee. Sure the breeding and bro' don't scream nine furlongs, but Bob Baffert maintained that Lute could have covered a route of ground without constant displaced palate problems.
General Quarters tries to prove his Sam Davis win wasn't a fluke in the Tampa Bay Derby. His main rivals look to be, Bears Rocket who held nicely after sitting up on the contested fractions in the Holy Bull and Hello Broadway who stretches out to turn turns off a second place finish in the Hutchenson.
The most intriguing race from both a fan and handicapping perspectives is the Grade II Louisiana Derby. For my money, the largest parade of contenders will go postward, and if I'm right this will end up being a key Derby race. Here's why:
- There are no "distance questions" based on either breeding or experience at two turns
- It would not be a surprise if anyone of six horses has a break out performance and earns a 100 Beyer speed figure or better
- Coast-to-coast it has drawn all the biggest jocks, except Gomez, for a specific reason - a chance to ride a live mount on Derby Day. OK the other graded stakes races on the Fair Grounds card was another draw
- I can't help but feel Friesan Fire is very good, not great and susceptible to being beaten as the chalk
I'm routing for in this order (based upon my Road to the Roses Stable) Patena, Giant Oak and Flying Pegasus. For betting purposes I'll take the same three in Pick 3s and exacta box bets. Enjoy the weekend's racing. I know I will.