People who read this space know that I think highly of Imperial Council's chances of becoming a good horse, a horse capable of winning the Kentucky Derby. The Gotham is his first real chance to strut his stuff. His sprint races have been impressive from a visual standpoint but little more than useful according to the numbers. Once upon a time this horses sire looked the same but in early March he really came out of his shell and looked like a monster. I don't know if this horse can be as good as Empire Maker but I do know that it's time to come out of his shell. The Gotham is a good race to get a class test. There are some decent horses in here but most likely none of them are killers. I'm not sold on Mr. Fantasy or Haynesfield I think both are overrated and they won't appreciate this invasion into their comfortable winter haven. Life is pretty good when you're the best on the grounds but the easy ride stops here. The main danger to Imperial Council and the rest of the field is I Want Revenge. He's a very solid horse who may just prove to be much better on dirt than he was on synthetics. We saw it a bit last year in the Derby preps where Californians prospered in their first try on dirt and there is no reason to think we won't see the same here. Imperial Council and I Want Revenge ought to be aiming for similar stalking trips and likely they'll be fighting it out to the finish.
Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap
Unfortunately I don't have any free Past Performances to link for this race. It seems like BRISnet is cracking down on third party links to Past Performances, they want you to visit the host site which is fair. It's just a bit unfortunate for places like this. Anyway onto the race. Some people like to make a big deal about a girl facing the boys I think it generally isn't a big deal but it is in this race. Ventura is the horse to beat without question and every other horse in this race better bring their Nike's. Despite believing her to be the class I do think I'll go against her. She has a poor post and the one weakness she might have is going two turns. I think she prefers one turn. Gio Ponti is a definite favorite of mine. I've been waiting to play him in a two turn mile on the grass for ages. Connections have been busy experimenting and trying to make him into something else but I really feel like he'll take to these conditions perfectly and prove to be a revelation as a specialist. Global Hunter is already a specialist but I think he's likely a better bet for underneath. He might not be quite good enough to beat this type of field but don't disregard a horse competing in his niche. I think Artiste Royal is classy enough to win this race but I think he leaves himself with too much to do at a mile. He needs 9f in my opinion but that doesn't mean he can't be second or third. Gio Ponti, Ventura, Global Hunter and Artiste Royal are the only horses I'd use in any capacity for this race but I'll likely just stick with Gio Ponti for the win.
Santa Anita Handicap
A race like this is a horse players dream. No matter who you like you're bound to get at least 4/1 on them. The trick is finding a horse you like. The Big Cap is one of those unique events in racing in that it's definitely a spot that trainers circle on the calender and work backwards from. Some of the field is entered as a last minute whim but the majority of the starters have been working towards this race since their winter break. As many of you know I like to play around with stats and numbers. Given the high profile of this race it's easier to see some trends emerge among the winners. I threw a few factors together based on the historical profile of this race and came up with the horse I liked to begin with along with a few others. It gave me a bit of confidence in a race where confidence is hard to come by. I think the horses to beat are Court Vision, Cowboy Cal and Einstein in that order. Court Vision has come a long way from the horse who only looked capable of clunking up for third. Once connections put him on the grass things really clicked and he looked like the horse who promised so much as a two year old. This race takes him away from his best surface but he's actually got a decent record on synthetics having finished first and second at Keeneland and Turfway in two tries. Handling two different synthetic courses as well as grass is enough to convince me that Santa Anita's Pro Ride shouldn't be his undoing. Court Vision will appreciate every yard of this race and he's already bested one of the classiest horses in the race, Cowboy Cal. Cowboy Cal might be the benchmark of class despite his low speed figures. He waits on horses which is what makes him susceptible to late runs but he is capable of more than he appears to be. He's run two bad races his entire life and both of those were on real dirt. I think it would be folly to discount him here. I think this race could easily end up resembling the Hollywood Derby. Cowboy Cal will stalk the pace of Matto Mondo (whom I don't think will stay) and grind his way to the front by the 1/8th pole. Court Vision will gather himself late and get to Cowboy Cal in the last few yards. Einstein also has a great shot although I don't have as strong a feeling about him. I always thought he should have made a bid for last year's Classic and this race is a much easier one. He's fast enough, has good tactical speed and seems to go fairly well on most surfaces. We also know he can handle the distance. He might be too good to leave off your ticket. Dasant is an interesting longshot in that he surprisingly ticked off all the right boxes except for the speed measurements which I obviously couldn't calculate for him. I might just throw him in the mix. For a real longshot I like Stream Cat. He is very effective at this distance on the grass and his synthetic form is very good aside from that one debacle at Turfway. I think Biancone gets better results from him than Arnold did and the San Marcos was a deceptively good prep for this one. In a wide open race like this you can maybe afford to spread over a few more horses. So in summary I like Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, Einstein, Dasant and Stream Cat in that order. I'll have to wait and see which spots I use them in.