This is not an extremely complex affair. I'm hoping to get 5/2 on Researcher before people remember what a top class horse this is. His performances sometimes look less impressive because he's a waiter. He never seems to want to put his competition away, that will cost him at higher levels but this race should be no problem at all. He's got a great target to aim for in the speed of Barcola. Brilliant Son, Judiths Wild Rush and Barrier Reef ought to decide the minor places between them. Researcher could be set for much bigger and better things after this one.
Fountain of Youth Stakes
This is definitely the best Derby prep to date. It features a confluence of brilliantly fast sprinters like Notonthesamepage, This Ones for Phil and Taqarub against established middle distance stakes horses such as Beethoven, Break Water Edison and Capt. Candyman Can and then we also have the brilliant but unproven allowance class horses like Theregoesjojo and Quality Road. Throw in the turf horse Jack Spratt and it's hard not to get excited about seeing this race unfold. It's a flat mile so the sprinters have a decent shot of pulling it off but I'm not a big fan of any of those 6f horses aside from Taqarub. I think the big Beyer pair of Notonthesamepage and This Ones for Phil will be overbet and heavily overworked at the finish. I'm going to stand against Taqarub just because there is so much speed in here and he is likely to get caught up in the middle of things. Quality Road also has to be suspect because of the other speed. It's too bad because Quality Road seems like a very talented individual. I'd very much like to see him succeed this year but a mile is probably his limit and he hasn't shown the ability to rate. I have to wonder who made the morning line odds because it seems to me like the horse they all have to beat is Capt. Candyman Can yet he is 5/1. He is deliciously appealing at anything close to that price. He is a horse who has only lost once on the dirt and that day it was because he failed to rate and used up all his energy in the early going. He only lost by half a length that day. He has since learned to conserve energy and every other horse is fighting an uphill battle against him. It's kind of a shame that he looks so solid because I'd be quite excited to play Theregoesjojo and Beethoven on another day. Theregoesjojo ran what I consider to be one of the best allowances by a 3yo this season. He is bred to love more ground and the pace setup seems to fall into his lap here. I know McPeek's string hasn't panned out but this was always his best horse. He should be able to save ground and come with one run which is a very effective style for long one turn races like this. Beethoven is also a great candidate to pull off the upset. I don't blame him for the loss last time. He had very little chance that day but now with an inside draw and one race under his belt he should be set for a best performance. The only thing that worries me about him is that on his best day he was only a half length better than Capt. Candyman Can was on his worst day. I think Beethoven will run big but the Candyman will outclass him. Theregoesjojo is the late storming wildcard. It should be a great race and we might even see a legitimate Derby horse or two.
Capt. Candyman Can
I'm generally unenthusiastic about this race as a Derby prep. I'm not sure if there are any true Derby horses entered here. The Pamplemousse has become all the rage since his win in the San Rafael but I am personally skeptical of his chances in any race going beyond the mile. Class may just cause him to see out the distance because he certainly seems to hold a class edge but I can't help but feel that his ultimate home will be on the Turf. For now he's a huge good looking son of a gun who has been working excellently for this race and should be bet down. The other horses who will get some play are Mr. Hot Stuff, Smart Bid and Take The Points. I'm not a big fan of any of them. Mr. Hot Stuff ran what I'd consider to be an anomaly last time out. He'll find facing winners much more difficult. Take The Points exits a Gulfstream allowance with a newly upgraded Beyer Speed figure. I think it flatters him, his tactical speed will be hard to properly deploy from that outside post plus he's a totally unknown quantity on synthetics. So far this year not many 3yo's have had success exiting Gulfstream route allowances. Smart Bid is a solid challenger but I just don't see him as fast enough to beat a horse like The Pamplemousse. I get the feeling he'll be chasing him all the way around unable to pass him. The horse I've settled on as an alternative to the favorite is Unbridled Roman. His career up to this point has been very interesting. He was quite impressive in a state-bred maiden, so much so that connections took him to stakes company next time out and the public showed decent support for him. A slow break ended his chances that day but connections saw that he didn't quite have the speed necessary for success at sprints. In his only race around two turns he looked fantastic. He did get caught at the wire by a horse on the far outside but I thought he looked excellent when putting away all his other rivals in the final furlong. He should enjoy every step of this journey and he should be getting to The Pamplemousse in the final furlong. From there it'll be a battle of wills. I think my heart will be rooting for The Pamplemousse but I'd love to see a price horse get home.