Delta Jackpot Stakes
This is probably the best field ever assembled for the Delta Jackpot. Although Cave's Valley is listed at 6/1 on the morning line I think there is a good chance that he'll be the post time favorite. He seems to be the wise guy selection. I don't blame anyone for selecting him. He is one of my top 10 Derby hopes and I do expect him to run at least first or second in here. Anything less may see his reputation severely downgraded in my mind. But Cave's Valley, unlike the morning line favorite Z Humor, has all the right tools to beat this field on this track. It's a 6f bullring so a one paced plodder like Z Humor might be up against it. While the quick and agile Cave's Valley should have no trouble with the turns and short stretch at all. The pace should be solid so I expect that Cave's Valley will be rated. Another horse I like in here is Racecar Rhapsody. I think he'll turn into a very good one but my feeling is that Cave's Valley is simply better. I don't really like taking Cave's Valley if he dips below 3/1 but he is the horse that I consider to be the most likely winner.
Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes
This is a much more open race than I was expecting. Sunriver and Champs Elysees have been getting all the attention but this race could be won by several different horses. Spring House has to be respected as he has really improved since coming to Canani. I think they took a race or two to figure him out but the Carleton Burke was a coming of age for him and I expect him to build off that performance. They found that the best way to ride him is relatively close but don't move him early. Soft ground should not be a problem for him and he should get a nice pace to track. Sudan is a wild card in this race but you have to think that his best form could be good enough. He gave Rail Link and Red Rocks a few good contests as a 3yo but has never really been on track as an older horse. I'm inclined to go against him but I do respect his chances. Sunriver is likely to be undone by the ground and the presence of Cheif Running Bear and Heroi Do Bafra. I think both of those horses might show speed and although Sunriver's is classier than both of them their pressure should take it's toll. Champs Elysees is definitely the horse to beat. He should get a good pace to run at, he's got the super patient Leparoux on board. His breeding is second to none and the distance and ground she be no problem. What I don't like is that he might be even money unless the bettors really come in for Sunriver. I think perhaps that Spring House could get the jump on Champs Elysees and just maybe he'll have enough to hold him off, but I'd use both just in case.
Native Diver Handicap
I was not going to even look at this race. It seemed like a spot tailor made for Ravel but when I did decide to give it a cursory glance I noticed a few interesting alternatives to Pletcher's super horse in waiting. There is no question that Ravel has looked phenomenal in his career to date and likely he should cream this field and go on to be one of the top older horses in the nation. But so far in his career he has not yet had that huge breakout performance, essentially if he only runs back to his career best then he's beatable. It's possible that he could improve on his career best but he's a 3yo against stakes quality older males for the first time and he's drawn the rail. I was mildly interested in Bold Chieftain but I think he's reached his peak and third place would be a good result for him. Racketeer is a very good horse on his day, he even managed to beat Awesome Gem who later ran third in the BC Classic. But I don't love the layoff against a group that is mostly fresh but has the advantage of recency. I'm intrigued by Isipingo, I always like to figure out why horses are entered in the races they end up in. Isipingo has never run on any surface but Turf and he's been competing well against some of the principles in the Hollywood Turf Cup, yet they elected to go on the all weather surface instead. I think one of the main factor's behind that decision is the distance. Isipingo will do far better at 9f than he will at 12f. His breeding is curious as it definitely suggests turf however his sire did win his only North American dirt start in dominant fashion. They are still trying to figure this horse out but if his Turf form translates directly to Cushion Track he will be right in there. He likes to stalk the pace and make a move once the real running begins, basically identical to what Ravel will be hoping to do except Isipingo has a better draw in post 5. This is a horse who is still learning after 10 career starts but he has already run well enough to nearly beat The Tin Man. Another real positive factor for him is that he seems to be coming into his own physically. I was very impressed with how his coat looked and how well muscled he was in the Carleton Burke as compared to what he looked like in the summer.