This weekend the FOUR! Big Kentucky Derby Preps feature returning favorites and a few “bubble” horses who could jump onto the list in huge ways.
OLD FASHIONED looks to add another easy victory in Hot Springs. Silver City comes back to challenge, but I think he’d be better sticking to sprints. Poltergeist is also back after a lackluster performance in the Southwest, and though I hope he runs better this time, I don’t see him winning. D.Wayne Lukas has Hamazing Destiny, a maiden winner, entered, and savvy players know you shouldn’t ignore a Lukas horse. Old Fashioned’s owner, Rick Porter, chose to be at Oaklawn on Saturday instead of New Orleans, where he has Fresian Fire running in the Louisiana Derby. I think he should make plans to dress for a winners’ circle photo.
This is the best betting race of the entire weekend: a nice field of dangerously good colts. FRESIAN FIRE has dominated the Fair Grounds and is the morning-line favorite. IEAH’s Patena ran a great 2nd in the Risen Star and is the wiseguys’ pick. Giant Oak has run well all winter and could be sitting on a huge race. Then there is Terrain, making his first start of the year. The Cali-shipper Papa Clem hopes to replicate I Want Revenge’s poly-to-dirt powerhousing, and I think he just might be able to do it. He ran 2nd to Pioneerof The Nile in the Bob Lewis Stakes in only his 2nd start; he is by Smart Strike, a triple-threat sire whose get include turf champ English CHannel and repeat HOTY Curlin! My tickets will have Freisan Fire and Papa Clem at the top.
TAMPA BAY DERBY
Street Sense started his 2007 Derby-winning campaign in this race, where he nearly dead-heated with Any Given Saturday. I don’t see anything like that happening this year, but still, this makes for an interesting Florida prep. Hello Broadway is out from under Capt. Candyman Can and Quality Road and up against Sam F. Davis winner General QUarters. Also stopping by is Zito-trained Nowhere To Hide, a son of Vindication who was 4th in the Risen Star. I like Nowhere To Hide and General Quarters for this one.
Many of the horses PNILES has defeated have shipped out for dirt tracks, like I Want Revenge and Papa Clem. Facing the Baffert trainee at Santa Anita are six colts praying for PNiles to have a bad day. Jeranimo looks promising, and I would not ignore this maiden winner sired by Congaree. Also New Bay and Feisty Suances…but really, PNiles is the big horse, hooves and shoulders above this group. I kinda wish Bob had shipped him out to a dirt oval, just for some better competition.
And that’s The Infield March Madness !!