Lexington Stakes and Arkansas Derby


Lexington Stakes and Arkansas Derby

Analysis by Michael Patricks


Happy Friday the 13th to one and all.  Even though my handicapping hasn’t quite been a horror show, it’s also been subpar in my estimation, so hopefully I’ll be seeing winners in a crystal clear prism this weekend with the Stonestreet Lexington and Arkansas Derby headlining this weekend’s action.

Last week was fair to midland.  Vino Rosso vindicated his name with a nice score in the Wood memorial after a listless Tampa Bay Derby effort (where I picked him).  Good Magic bounced back with a handy score over a tiring main track at Keeneland in the Toyota Blue Grass after laboring home for third in the Fountain of Youth (where I picked him) in an effort that reminded me of myself as a woebegone weekend warrior limping home after going for a “peppy” run through my neighborhood, all the while biting off more than I could chew while languishing home to the couch in the process.

The upshot to the weekend was cold decking the trifecta and superfecta in the Santa Anita Derby, where Justify performed as advertised, drawing away from Bolt d’Oro in the late stages and stamping himself as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 5th.  The trifecta paid better than 19/1 while the superfecta dividend was just better than 27/1.

There is plenty of speculation as to what Justify’s price will be on the morning line (not sure of this, but it sounds good; and it’s in fact true in my mind) along with the price he will be when gates open in three weeks.  As a morning line maker, I’d make him 3/1 and let the public bet him down from there.  Mendelssohn and Audible are also really nice horses who will without question have their share of fans as well on Derby Day.  Can any of the horses competing on Saturday add their names to the overhead marquis on the first Saturday in May?  Let’s dive into the analysis.

The Stonestreet Lexington

1 and 1/16 Miles on Dirt for 3 Y/O

Purse: $200,000

1-Battle at Sea 8/1 ML– He’s got some speed but has faced Louisiana-breds in the last four starts. Others appear quicker and he needs to step up his game; tough to envision it.

2-Telekinesis 4/1 ML– Came out like gangbusters on debut.  Was bet like Citation in his first try against winners and faded to third.  That was his two-turn debut and came against older horses in only his second race.  Geroux heads to Hot Springs to ride Quip (see below) but he draws real well and could prove tough to reel in.  His backers will be telekinetically moving him to the wire the final 1/8th; he’s also owned by the race sponsor; player.

3-Seven Trumpets 8/1 ML– He’s been just okay as a three-year-old.  He seems to lack any real explosiveness or turn of foot.  He also doesn’t appear to really have much of a running style.  My Boy Jack took it to him just a couple starts back.  He’s not for me.

4-Honor Up 12/1 ML– Since Bill Mott trains this New York-bred, I would expect his price to come down from the morning line.  He was quite impressive back in December, but who was he beating?  He’s a fresh horse who could have matured and that’s worth some consideration in a race that has many question marks attached to it.

5-Magicalmeister 20/1 ML– Upset them at a huge number on synthetic and then was pummeled into complete submission in his encore performance.  He made no imprint in a sprint race yesterday (yes, yesterday!) and now he’s going two turns in a Grade II 48 hours later.  What?!?!

6-Greyvitos 6/1 ML– Won the Bob Hope at Del Mar at a healthy number and took down a stakes race at Remington Park.  Espinoza chooses to go to Oaklawn instead.  He’s got some talent, but I wonder about his final quarter-mile having to ship and go two turns against this caliber off an extended absence.

7-Pony Up 6/1 ML– Ran well on synthetic but his one start on dirt leaves an awful lot to be desired.  He’s 6/1 because of his trainer.  If John Smith trained him, he would be at least 10 or 12/1.  Given that he lacks value and has a swooping style where he comes from the back (if at all), I’d be hesitant about ponying up on ponying up.

8-Gracida 12/1 ML– Unable to make up ground in the lane against Louisiana-breds and now I’m supposed to say “yeah, sure” at 12/1 against open foes in a Grade III?  Blinkers on for a good trainer, but even then… excuse me.

9-Navy Armed Guard 20/1 ML- Would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the men and women of our fine country who serve this country proudly.  You are modern day heroes and I appreciate your efforts.  As for the equine namesake, eight tries to break his maiden over a horse named Yeehaw in his graduation.  Yeehaw would be 99/1 in here.  Enough said.

10-Zanesvile 20/1 ML-Had a spot of trouble over synthetic.  He hails from a good barn and could be better than looks on paper.  He will need plenty of pace to help set up his closing kick.  He could grab a small piece with a clean journey.

11-Arched Feather 20/1 ML- Magicalmeister beat him by 17 lengths last time.  If he goes off at less than 20/1, simply mention this horse’s name and receive free admission at the Jockey Club.

12-My Boy Jack 5/2 ML– He currently sits at 20th on the Kentucky Derby Points standings, so his connections obviously felt compelled to give him one more start before the Kentucky Derby and guarantee his spot in the starting gate.  He’s a deep closer and likely needs a 1-2 finish for his connections to breathe a bit easier.  He hung terribly through the stretch of the Louisiana Derby; no lock but a must-use vertically.

Selections: 2-12-4-10

Arkansas Derby

1 & 1/8 Miles on Dirt for 3 Y/O

Purse $1,000,000

# 8 Quip is a serious race horse and came home in front of Flameaway in the Tampa Bay Derby who then chased Good Magic to the wire while well clear of the balance in last week’s Blue Grass.  China Horse Club owns parts of Justify and Audible, along with Quip (in partnership with WinStar Farm).  Obviously, everything they’ve been touching has been turning to gold.  Florent Geroux is one of Steve Asmussen’s main men, and the sheer fact Asmussen runs three here and yet Geroux stays glued to Quip should speak volumes about Geroux’s belief in his quality.  He’s my choice at a nice price of 9/2.

# 6 Magnum Moon will be my second choice at 8/5.  He’s done nothing wrong from three starts and will be tough to deny with even the slightest step forward.

I’m going to sidestep # 5 Solomini at 2/1 and include # 9 Combatant as my third choice at 6/1.  The fact jockey Santana sticks with him over # 3 Tenfold suggests that he thinks this Scat Daddy colt is better.  Combatant will also get an extra 1/16th of a mile that he will undoubtedly appreciate given his deep closing style.  Tenfold could help set it up for him as well.  # 4 Dream Baby Dream could mop up in your gimmicks for some cheap black type, but he doesn’t appear fast enough to seriously threaten the top two.  The other horses in this race appear to be method actors at best and will likely go uncredited for their collective roles in their various performances at days end.

Selections: 8-6-9-5