The Los Alamitos Derby (Grade III)

7/15/2017 Los Alamitos Race Course-Race 7

The Los Alamitos Derby–$200,000 Grade III

1 & 1/8th Miles on Dirt for Three-Year-Olds

Post Time: 4:58 P.M. PST

Analysis by Michael Patricks

Here we sit, just a handful of days from opening day at Del Mar on Wednesday, July 19th and another summer at Saratoga on Friday, July 21st.  Opening day for the Sonoma County Fair is Thursday, August 3rd and there will be eight days of horse racing overlapping with the Fair itself. A bonus weekend of racing with free admission and parking will be offered on August 18, 19, and 20th.  Be sure to tell your friends and make plans to join us for live horse racing at the Sonoma County Fair.

As we prepare to embark upon the plethora of quality events from the thrust of summer racing, let’s wet our beaks with Saturday’s West Coast (pun intended) feature on the weekend slate, the Grade III Los Alamitos Derby from Southern California.

1-Kimbear 4/1 ML- Fairly excited to see him installed as the third choice on the morning line at 4/1 since I’ve already signed the divorce papers with him. He’s 1-for-9 with six minor placings and has developed a real penchant to want to settle in as the best man instead of running off with the bride on wedding day.  Noticing his continuously allergic reaction to the winner’s circle, he’s a play against in my eyes.  His Beyer numbers do stack up to a certain extent, but Kimbear exits a series of sprint races and now stretches out from six to nine furlongs.  Perhaps the added ground will bolster his spirits, but wouldn’t you rather take a dice roll at 8/1 or 10/1 instead of this tidy a price?  I would.  Will try to find another actor to play the leading role in this one; seems a cut below.

2-Cistron 7/2 ML- According to the free dictionary online, Cistron is a section of DNA that contains the genetic code for a single polypeptide and functions as a hereditary unit. It’s essentially equivalent to a gene.  Turning to the equine namesake, you will find a somewhat-accomplished son of The Factor who has been on the ticket in eight of his nine starts, including a victory in the Nothern Spur, a $150,000 stakes race that is run at Oaklawn Park.  Most of Cistron’s races have come on grass but he’s been working well on the Santa Anita main track and his connections probably feel he hits harder in this race than he would waiting to run in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day at Del Mar.  Cistron should be on the engine with B Squared, Kimbear and Klimt close in tow and is your likely pacesetter.  Given that he was all out to hang on in the Northern Spur makes me think today’s longer distance may prove his ultimate undoing, given this grueling run through Doc Allred’s home stretch; prefer others more.

3-Colonist 9/2 ML- Very dangerous, son of Triple Crown-siring Pioneerof the Nile has had a very productive spring for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and shows up on Saturday as a fresh and formidable nemesis to others with higher appraisal in the odds. Off his maiden win, Colonist came right back to clear the first level allowance condition with a solid effort.  Hollendorfer wasted no time at all, bringing him right back three weeks later to try and take down the second level allowance condition and threw him right in with older horses in the process.  Colonist suffered a wide journey and was outkicked to the finish by more experienced rivals on that day.  Now King Jerry puts plenty of air in the tires, including a half dozen workouts spanning the last six weeks and he secures Prat at the controls on game day.  In only his fifth lifetime start, suffice to say the future could be quite bright for this colt and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Colonist settle in nicely before proving to be quite the Patriot through the lane, opposing the rule of the others; Hollendorfer won the inaugural Los Alamitos Derby in 2014 with Shared Belief; very scary indeed.

4-B Squared 12/1 ML- Cal-bred homebred has made most of his hay against state-bred runners and that’s to be noted with this jump into open company. B Squared chased the talented Battle of Midway in the Affirmed last time out, following him around the track in a merry-go-round type of performance.  It sounds like a big deal that B Squared ran second to Battle of Midway but a closer look at the running line reveals that the Affirmed was basically a four-horse race and essentially a public workout where Battle of Midway carved out controlled splits before prevailing facilely through the lane.  In short, don’t read too much into that performance.  B Squared’s only other trip going nine panels led to him giving up the ghost through the lane after solid fractions on sod. Given that O’Neill has a couple other closing types in this cast, you can expect B Squared to “B Handy” early on.  His customary pilot opts for a four hour flight to Indiana to ride Irap in the Indiana Derby, a horse he’s 0-for-7 on; enough said?  Pass.

5-West Coast 9/5 ML- Here’s the chalk. He’s never been out of the exacta in five lifetime starts and on paper appears to be the one to deny through the lane.  This will be his fourth rider in as many starts, but it’s noteworthy to see Bob Baffert throwing Drayden Van Dyke a bone here, especially since they are 0-for-3 together over the last couple of years.  Mike Smith made the obvious decision to fly to Delaware to meet up with Songbird on Saturday and so the opportunity opened up for Van Dyke.  A couple things: Baffert has carefully managed this one’s campaign in 2017 and find it quite interesting that the barn has never asked him to run with the big dogs in his class.  Secondly, the 99 Beyer speed figure from Belmont Park definitely jumps off the page as you examine him, but do not forget that Big Sandy was fully souped-up on June 10th, thus leading to some inflated finishing times and resultantly, some disputable speed figures.  If West Coast takes another step forward off his last start then they are running for second.  However, if he regresses to a more realistic mean in the Los Alamitos Derby after leaving his best race on the East Coast, then he’s in for a dog fight through the stretch with a jockey who’s never been aboard him and has yet to win for this outfit.  The favorite, but he arrives with questions; player.

6-Klimt 5/1 ML- He was quite highly regarded as a two-year-old before the wheels came off in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Klimt had it going late last summer, but his form began to belie him once the scene shifted to Santa Anita last fall.  Kaleem Shah and Bob Baffert had a publicized parting of the ways and Art Sherman has had this colt under his supervision since the beginning of 2017.  It’s nice to see the steady number of drills this colt has had over the local surface and a hometown edge is always a good thing at any track.  Sherman put back-to-back one mile drills into Klimt so stamina should not be in any way a hindrance when the gates open.  The overarching questions here are: What kind of a three-year-old will Klimt be in 2017; and, more specifically for our purposes, what will his running style be in the Los Alamitos Derby?  Historically, the son of Quality Road likes to be forwardly placed in is races, but towards the end of last year started seeking more cover around two turns.  Off the layoff, one would think Klimt should be fairly fresh, and perhaps a touch overeager early on.  With the retirement of California Chrome, this could be Art Sherman’s best horse he has in training and undoubtedly he will want to get off on the right foot with Kaleem Shah.  This is a big ask off the bench in his 2017 debut however, and these types are not typically my brand of vodka; taking a wait-and-see approach.

7-Milton Freewater 20/1 ML- Second of three for trainer Doug O’Neill that is apparently named after a city in Oregon, Milton Freewater has made a living by grinding out smaller awards and taking home a paycheck with his hard hat at days end. Whenever his connections have asked him to scale the mountain top by leaving the plush So Cal allowance ranks, he’s had a difficult time getting into the race.  Unfortunately for him, he’s being asked a similar chore once again on Saturday.  The upshot on ‘Milton is that he’s started twice on this surface and on top of breaking his maiden locally, he was able to clear the first level allowance condition back in October and then followed that race up with a nice third at Los Alamitos in the King Glorious behind Cal-bred stable mate, Ann Arbor Eddie.  Colonist got the best of him two starts back when ‘Milton was 7 to 1 and this gray will have to figure out a way to turn the tables on him and others in order to figure in here.  ‘Milton should pick off a couple stragglers through the lane, but I’m afraid he’s in a spot of trouble with the company he’s tackling in this Grade III; his lifetime-high Beyer speed figure of 85 isn’t good enough to get the candy on Saturday, outsider.

8-Term of Art 15/1 ML- The negatives: he doesn’t like to win races. The 2-for-11 ledger speaks loudly and he also shows up on a six-race losing streak.  Term of Art has very little, natural early speed and as a result ends up with too much heavy lifting to do when horses turn for home.  His maiden win came against a suspect lot, including Sonneteer who was an also-ran in the Kentucky Derby and is still trying to break his maiden after 12 starts.  Here are the pluses: Term of Art is by Tiznow and should grow into a solid colt that will two-turn with no problem.  He hails from Doug O’Neill who also sends out B Squared to liven up the pace a little bit.  O’Neill is very tough when he takes the Blinkers off and Term of Art showed up with a six furlong bullet on July 5th on top of this race, working much faster than we are used to seeing.  Term of Art has been facing some of the nation’s best horses and will be overlooked coming off the afternoon exhibition where he followed Battle of Midway on the merry-go-round when he got to set the most leisurely of fractions.  O’Neill and Roman are undefeated together as of the printing of my past performances and he will be a price in this race.  Term of Art should get a true pace to run at, he faces somewhat lesser company in here, and ought to be in the clear to uncork his rally when called upon; like his chances to be a party crasher at a nice price; toss him into your calculations.

Selections: 3-8-5-6

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