Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend Picks and Analysis

Lexington Stakes
The Kentucky Derby is on everyones mind this week. This is the last meaningful prep race for the Derby and even the workouts from Derby contenders seem to eclipse the other stakes races being run this weekend in terms of importance. I looked hard but did not find many races to throw my weight behind. It could have to do with the slump I'm in, I'm just not feeling it. Or it could be that there is a lack of good, playable stakes races this weekend. At any rate the only race where I have a strong opinion is the Lexington. Any horse who wins this will likely be sent to the Derby but realistically Atoned and Tomcito are the only horses with a chance at doing the double. Atoned is a play I've been stalking for a while now. He clearly has ability. Four straight second place finishes in stakes races can attest to that. But he's had problems closing out a race, which is another thing that his four second place finishes attest to. He's good enough to win but he's not winning, sounds like something mental. As odd as it sounds a bad race is often just what a horse needs to wake them up. He did not run all that poorly in the Illinois Derby but he was a little flat on a track that was impossible to close into. He came back with a sharp move on this surface and although he has never raced on Polytrack I think his form may be too much for the opposition. This is still a legitimate Derby horse and I think he's Pletchers best. The main danger will come from Tomcito. He was flat footed in the Florida Derby but he needed that race. He worked sharply from the gate and should show more speed. I think he'll still be closing from well back though and he may just run out of ground. That would still set him up well for the Derby. A bit of a longshot that I like to juice up the exotics is St. Joe. His connections took the Blue Grass last year with Dominican and this speedster loves the Polytrack. He got a 97 BSF taking an allowance field wire to wire on a day when no one was winning on the front end. 97 is just about the highest number of the meet. He has failed in all his stretchout attempts but Polytrack may be the key. Use him underneath only though as I don't see him being able to hold off Atoned or Tomcito. Salute the Sarge, Racecar Rhapsody and Riley Tucker are the only other horses I'd really look at. I'm not strongly in favor of any of them but they would not be a shock. Still I think Atoned will sit a nice stalking trip and make a winning move around the far turn and at last have the fortitude to stay in front all the way to the line.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Atoned is my pick also. I am concerned about his coming back in 14 days. In some ways I don't get. If the thinking is, oh well, if he doesn't do anything we can still run him back in the Preakness, I don't like it.

On the positive side, assuming that it is not an ego thing on the part of owners with deep pockets, (I think Atoned was supplemented into the race), I would have to conclude the connections are thinking Atoned has a good chance of winning the Lexington-Coolmore Stakes race.

Also, I was thinking that Pletcher
surely had to be able to make comparisons of the ability of Atoned to take to the Keeneland poly-track, to the workouts and Bluegrass efforts of Monba and Cowboy Cal. In other words, he had the opportunity to observe three nice colts on how well they traveled over the Keeneland poly-track. Surely, if Atoned was not taking well to the track, Pletcher would have noticed this fact, and would have mentioned it to the owner(s) before they put up money to get in the race? Wouldn't he?

Handicapping the Lexington-Coolmore is fraught with some peculiarities. Samba and St. Joe do get some good pace ratings here, that be a factor in the outcome. St Joe , in my opinion mightmake the lead and just keep going. In the end it could also set things up a bit for Tomicito, if he can get going early enough.

From my experience as a handicapper, Racecar Rhapsody has the look of a winner in this race. He has a few good efforts in good company, at the distance, and he has a win and place at Keeneland, so, I fear him a lot.

I also don't get why Salute The Sarge isn't getting more respect. The DRF's Selectons, hardly mention this guy. Although he has had only one race on the new cushion track at SA, colts coming out of there have been doing pretty well, albeit, mainly on the dirt track at Oaklawn. But he had two wins on the Hollywood track and one win on the Del Mar polytrack, so, it is likely he could do well at Keeneland. Further I don't get why his class ratings aren't a little higher as he has come out of several G1 races where he has been competitve.
Perhaps the tote board will show something different on Saturday.

My opinion is, if Atoned takes to the track, and, the race is run as poly-track races are generally run, Atoned should be right there. I hope so and we'll see.


chicago gerry