Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Wizard

Churchill Downs Race 11 - 1 1/4m Grade I 3yo, Purse: $2,000,000. Post Time: 6:24 ET

Experience in life usually counts for something. And I suppose it should. All of us, at one time or another, have strived to attain that so-called ‘dream job’, only to be passed over because we did not have the required ‘experience’. Not so much with the “Run for the Roses”, when twenty applicants will apply for their ‘dream job’ of sorts, as they hope to be crowned the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner. Experience? None required. All you need to be is three-years-of-age, and boast enough graded stakes earning to get to a stall in the starting gate for the final interview. Sure, they all have varying degrees of accomplishments on their resumes. But, none of their previous successes insure that they are capable of carrying out the task at hand. This is a difficult job you see, even though it only lasts for about two minutes, and many of these applicants will be found wanting. Even the job of paring down the list of candidates to a workable number is a job. In previous years it was at least more easily attainable but has now become a monumental task. There was a time when guidelines could be used by looking to the major prep races such as the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial, and the Blue Grass Stakes, for probable winners because those races were fertile ground for producing past Derby winners. That is no longer the case, as two of the last three winners of the “Run for the Roses” made their last start in the Florida Derby.Many handicappers prefer to simply look at the ‘black and white’, the past performance lines of each runner, painfully forgetting, sometimes to their detriment, the ‘human factor’ involved. This area of searching out winners has changed as well. Household trainer names such as Wayne Lukas, Nick Zito, and Bob Baffert are no longer the dominant force that they once were. In fact, last year, Richard Dutrow Jr. gained immediate notoriety by saddling Big Brown to emerge victorious in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, despite bad feet and post twenty. Who’s to say another newcomer will not be successful in 2009 in their initial try at Churchill? In addition, how an applicant will adjust and more importantly perform in his new surroundings is of paramount importance. With the advent of synthetic surfaces, the job has become even more cumbersome to discern who will handle a conventional dirt track, never mind the quirky Churchill Downs surface.

This year’s cast of Kentucky Derby hopefuls is a very talented bunch, and it runs extremely deep when compared to previous years. Not one participant holds a perceived edge over someone else. In fact, the word ‘parity’ could be used to accurately describe this year’s three-year-olds, and I do not mean that in a disparaging way. This is simply an evenly-matched group of sophomores that will assemble for the 2009 Run for the Roses. Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile, have each won two races at their winter home base, in preparation for the Derby. I Want Revenge headed east to make his mark, with such runners as Musket Man, Papa Clem and General Quarters carving out their own niche in the Midwest. That does not even take into account Dunkirk, who ran bang-up efforts in their final prep events. Regardless, all runners will meet at Churchill Downs as they continue their quest for fame and glory. As a result, you can see selecting the right horse for the Derby is not an easy task by any means. There are many factors which must be weighed, and taken into consideration, in order to determine the right applicant for the job. Diligence, concerning this selection process, will not always guarantee success, as there are many factors which cannot be quantified, not the least of which is a ‘gut feel’. Once the gates open, everyone is afforded an equal chance at victory. That said, a little bit of luck can go a long way, and ultimately may be the deciding factor as to who makes history this year. Good luck to all.

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

First Selection: (15) DUNKIRK (Pletcher Todd A/Prado E S)

Does anyone remember The Green Monkey? I certainly do. His owners, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith laid out a cool sixteen million for the colt. Unfortunately, The Green Monkey had trouble outrunning his shadow, and anything else on a racetrack for that matter. These same connections waded once again into the deep end of the yearling pool, doling a mere $3.7 million for Dunkirk, a paltry sum when considering how much they spent for their previous purchase. Only this time, they bought themselves a runner.Dunkirk did not exactly make an immediate splash in the water. He never had a chance to. This well-bred son of Unbridled’s Song never made it to the races as a two-year-old. Minor shin problems placed his racing career on hold. One has to believe that at some juncture as a juvenile, this Todd Pletcher trained runner showed some type of promise. So, Dunkirk was given all the time necessary to put that problem behind.When Dunkirk finally made his belated debut at Gulfstream Park on January 24, he did so with a steady, prolonged and evenly-spaced workout regimen at the Palm Meadows training center. To say he was well-prepared would be understating it. Despite working out away from prying eyes at Gulfstream Park, Dunkirk was bet down to 8-5 favoritism. I guess there are some secrets that are not meant to be kept. Overcoming a bit of a lethargic start that day with jockey Edgar Prado aboard, Dunkirk was forced to subsequently steady around the far turn. Undeterred, when he was finally in the clear, he accelerated nicely in the stretch to gain the lead, eventually winning by 5 3/4 lengths under modest encouragement. Dunkirk had lived up to his advanced notices, and even better things lay ahead for him. Dunkirk returned to the races rather quickly, tackling a field of preliminary Allowance runners around two turns on February 19. In addition, he would stretch out to 1 1/8 miles, and would be saddled with an outside post as well. Dispatched as the 6-5 favorite, Dunkirk was impressive once again in victory. A wide trip while losing valuable ground throughout did nothing to discourage him, as he improved his position heading into the far turn under new jockey Garrett Gomez. Upon entering the stretch, he was kicked into overdrive when asked by Gomez upon entering the stretch, spurting away to a daylight lead and then continued to add to his lead to the wire. Dunkirk had accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time. And yet, even more would be asked of him the following month, as he would make his stakes debut in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.At least to me, the Florida Derby was a two-horse affair between Quality Road and Dunkirk. A sense of urgency was present for Dunkirk to win the Florida Derby as he had not won a penny of graded stakes money. A win would ensure him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. A second-place finish, or worse in the race, would place him on the bubble. Dunkirk not only had to beat six rivals in the Florida Derby, but he had a significant speed bias to overcome as well. His off-the-pace running style would not be flattered by the prevailing bias, and he would be disadvantaged by a lack of pace in the race as well. Also, he had never faced a horse that was even close to the caliber of Quality Road. But, Dunkirk didn’t know all that. When Gomez ‘chirped’ to him halfway down the Gulfstream Park backstretch, almost instantaneously Dunkirk was in full stride. He made up ground so rapidly that jockey John Velasquez, who was aboard Quality Road was caught off guard as Dunkirk gained a brief, but tenuous lead, However, Quality Road was nowhere near done. The eventual winner responded readily when asked to quicken, slowly edging away from Dunkirk in the final furlong to register a 1 3/4 length victory. Dunkirk acquitted himself quite well in defeat. In fact, it was his best effort to date, despite finishing second, because he gave away a huge tactical edge to the winner over a speed-biased track. His sustained bid from the backstretch to the furlong marker virtually sapped all the energy out of him, and he could not complete what he started, despite giving it his all. Of course he was tired ‘pulling up’ after the race. He had just run the race of his life in just his third career effort, and he was playing ‘catch-up’ due to an unscheduled late start.There was a time when a horse needed to possess the proper Dosage Index and be within ten pounds of the Experimental Free Handicap high weight to be considered a viable Kentucky Derby contender. Recent results have dispelled this theory. Last year, many pundits threw out Big Brown because what horse could win from post twenty after having only three career starts. How could Barbaro win the Derby returning from a five week layoff? Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners were throw outs when they ran in the Kentucky Derby, because no one had done it until Street Sense proved that past history cannot always predict future success. Times have changed. Naysayers will state that because Dunkirk never raced at two, so he can’t win. Sure, it is a concern, but horses don’t race nearly as early as often now. Dunkirk will have his detractors because of his trainer, Todd Pletcher, who has never won a Kentucky Derby despite a multitude of starters. But how many trainers with horses in this year Derby have a trainer who has won four Eclipse awards. Remember when Rags To Riches defeated Curlin in the 2007 Belmont Stakes? She was only the third filly to win the Belmont, and the first one in 102 years. Who was the trainer? It was Todd Pletcher. I try to put things into their proper perspective; every runner in this year’s Kentucky Derby has its pluses and minuses. And yet, one of them is going to win. Enough said.

What should we expect from Dunkirk in the Kentucky Derby? Jockey Garrett Gomez moved Dunkirk when he needed to, not when he wanted to. A speed-favoring surface forced his hand much sooner that he would have liked. That will not be the case in the Derby. Also, a more contentious and livelier pace is virtually assured, which will only accentuate his closing kick. The seemingly endless Churchill Downs stretch works in his favor as well. With Gomez electing to ride Pioneerof The Nile, Dunkirk will partner with jockey Edgar Prado once again. Prado was aboard his debut victory, and he absolutely excels with off-the-pace runners. Dunkirk has developed immeasurably since he first set foot on a racetrack in the afternoon last January in Florida. And, in my opinion, the best is yet to come. Whether he ascends to that next level on the first Saturday in May remains to be seen. I do know, that with a clean trip, and a little bit racing luck, this late-developing son of Unbridled’s Song will be heard from. And, it may just be his thunderous late charge that makes the biggest sound of all.

NOTE: I SPOKE WITH TODD PLETCHER ON MONDAY MORNING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS. DUNKIRK HAD NOT ARRIVED FROM PALM MEADOWS TRAINING CENTER IN SOUTH FLORIDA. HE WAS EXPECTED ON TUESDAY. PLETCHER TOLD ME THAT DUNKIRK HAS NOT MISSED A BEAT SINCE MAKING HIS DEBUT IN JANUARY WHICH IS A HUGE PLUS FOR ME.


Second Selection: (16) PIONEEROF THE NILE (Baffert Bob/Gomez G K)

Pioneerof The Nile was originally a $290,000 yearling purchase by Zayat Stables, one of the highest-profile owners in the world. This son of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, a young and promising sire, began his career in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. He rallied from off the pace to win a turf route at Saratoga August 25 in his second start, and then was bumped way up in class to try Grade 1 company in his very first race against winners. Dead last, of 11, down the backstretch in that Oct 4 race, he passed eight rivals to finish third. That initial effort over a synthetic track propelled Mott to ship him across the country for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Just three weeks later, he ran over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Pioneerof the Nile had a tough outside post that day and less than ideal trip, but was beaten less than 3 lengths at 32-1.Although he had improved with each of his first four career starts for Mott, Pioneerof the Nile was transferred to Bob Baffert for his 3yo campaign. He came off a two month break on Dec 20 and won the G1 Cash Call Futurity in a very game performance, beating subsequent multiple graded stakes winner I Want Revenge with a determined finish. He won again in the G2 Robert Lewis on Feb 7, this time beating an even better field, which included I Want Revenge, and recent Grade 2 winner Papa Clem. In that race, Pioneerof the Nile rated behind a solid pace, and then exploded in the stretch, to get up late, after circling his field in the stretch. He showed a spectacular late turn of foot in that race, but it may have taken something out of him, as he was a bit dull next time out in the G2 San Felipe. In that race he was a prohibitive odds on favorite. His backers must have been feeling a bit unsettled, when he proceeded to pull jockey Garrett Gomez up to press the pace despite Gomez wanting his mount to rate more. Pioneerof the Nile's premature move that day detracted from his stretch kick, yet he still got the job done. However, there really wasn't much behind him that day.Questions surrounded Pioneerof the Nile as he entered the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 4 off that less than stellar win, but Bob Baffert had him ready for a career-best effort and he did not disappoint as the 4-5 favorite. Once again Pioneerof the Nile pulled Gomez into contention earlier than he wanted, taking the lead about mid-way down the backstretch, but then Gomez finally got him to relax and they then sat in 2nd, just behind the leader. Taking command in upper stretch that day, Pioneerof the Nile held his advantage thru the final furlong while finishing full of run and looking as if the stretch from 1-1/8 miles in the SA Derby to 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby would be well within his grasp.Bob Baffert has won three Kentucky Derbies, and missed a fourth by a nose, so he certainly knows how to get a 3-year-old ready to 'peak' for that race, and that's what I believe he's done with this colt. Pioneerof the Nile is now 4 for 4 under Baffert's care, and 4 for 4 with Garrett Gomez riding. He's talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby, he's bred to handle the distance, and may even prefer it over the shorter races he's been in. His jockey and trainer team are as good as they come in the Derby. What should we expect from Pioneerof The Nile in the Kentucky Derby. I'm sure that Baffert would trade all four of this colt's victories under his care for the win, and thus I don't believe that he has yet brought out the best in Pioneerof the Nile. That best will probably come in the Kentucky Derby. But will it be good enough? That depends on a few factors. First, will he get a fast pace up front, and finally settle down and get back to the rating tactics that led to his scintillating late run in the Call Futurity? The pace is almost assured of being quick, as it is in most Kentucky Derbies, so that should set things up for him. A recent change in equipment might be the key to getting Pioneerof the Nile to finally relax more from start to finish. He changed his bit for his April 15 workout, and the result was "probably the best work since I've had him", Baffert said.The other big factor is whether Pioneerof the Nile can handle this initial race over a dirt track. Pioneerof the Nile has been exceptional over the synthetic surfaces at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, but has never raced on dirt. It's interesting to note that rival I Want Revenge actually improved noticeably when moving from the same synthetic surfaces to dirt and winning the Gotham, and Pioneerof the Nile has similar potential for improvement. The final 'vote of encouragement' for Pioneerof the Nile's chances came when two time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez elected to stay with him for the Derby over Todd Pletcher's Dunkirk, who is also among the favorites. This very tough decision was made on April 19.

NOTE: I VISITED CHURCHILL DOWNS ON MONDAY, TO WITNESS PIONEEROF THE NILE’S FINAL WORKOUT. I SPOKE PERSONALLY WITH BOB BAFFERT, WHO I MET, A FEW YEARS AGO, AT SARATOGA AND OWNER AHMED ZAYAT. I ASKED THEM HOW PIONEER WAS ADAPTING TO THE DIRT SURFACE AT CHURCHILL. THEY BOTH ASSURED ME THAT HE WAS TRAINING SPECTACULARLY OVER THE DIRT TRACK. I WAS ONLY ABLE TO CATCH PIONEEROF THE NILE GALLOPING OUT PAST THE WIRE, THROUGH THE CLUBHOUSE TURN, AND ONTO THE BACKSTRETCH. HE GLIDED OVER THE DIRT WITH POWERFUL STRIDES AND I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT HE WILL HANDLE THE TRANSITION VERY WELL. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I WOULD NOT BE THE LEAST SURPRISED IF HE IMPROVED NOTICEABLY OVER IT. PIONEEROF THE NILE PHYSICALLY LOOKED TREMENDOUS. HIS COAT WAS GLEAMING. BASED ON WHAT I WITNESSED, HE WILL BE A HORSE TO BE RECKONED WITH.


Third Selection: (13) I WANT REVENGE (Mullins Jeff/Talamo Joseph)

I Want Revenge is likely to be the post time favorite for the Kentucky Derby as a result of two powerful victories at Aqueduct, in the Grade 3 Gotham and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Even though he ran very well in southern California over synthetic surfaces, it was a switch to dirt that propelled him to the forefront of Derby contenders. I Want Revenge reeled off three straight third place finishes, all sprinting, since his debut last July at Hollywood Park. He immediately broke his maiden, October 29 when stretched out to two turns for the first time. His connections thought so highly of him, that he was boosted sharply in class into the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity, for his next start. Despite racing wide throughout against a strong speed inside bias, I Want Revenge was beaten by a nose by one of his main rivals in the Derby, Pioneerof The Nile, out finishing Chocolate Candy who is also in the field. In his first start as a three year old, I Want Revenge had to settle for third to Pioneer with blinkers added for the first time. He never settled during the race which obviously took the starch out of him in deep stretch.New York here we come, proclaimed his connections. Even though he handled synthetic surfaces out west, trainer Jeff Mullins wanted him to try his hoofs on dirt. Blinkers were removed for the Grade 3 Gotham over the winterized inner dirt track at Aqueduct. He showed good speed from the outset. On the far turn, I Want Revenge easily disposed of the pacesetter, and then drew off with consummate ease through the stretch, winning by 8 ½ expanding lengths. The dirt experiment obviously worked. Following his Gotham victory, Mullins shipped I Want Revenge back to Hollywood Park to prepare for a return engagement in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial which is run over the Aqueduct main track. In the interim, IEAH Stables paid a pretty penny to buy a minority interest in I Want Revenge. In the last few years, IEAH has purchased several horses who have become top class performers, but none more so than when they bought into last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, in partnership with the original owner Paul Pompa.The Wood has always been a “key” Derby prep. Many horses have used this race successfully as their last stop before heading to Churchill Downs for the Run For The Roses. I Want Revenge was sent off as the overwhelming odds on favorite against seven other rivals. What racing fans witnessed was a one of those rare performances you do not see very often by a race horse. Despite rearing up leaving that gate and spotting the field several lengths, I Want Revenge was able to weave his way through traffic racing behind a wall of horses for most of the far turn. He was steadied and bumped in mid stretch, with nowhere to go. Regular rider Joe Talamo was able to find a seam in deep stretch. Within a split second, I Want Revenge busted on through, and drew clear to a 1 ½ length win. His final time was faster than older horses that ran one race earlier in the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap. Obviously his margin of victory would have been a lot more if he had a clean trip. As impressive as I Want Revenge was, so was his nineteen year old jockey, who never panicked at any point in the race.

What should we expect for I Want Revenge in the Kentucky Derby? Obviously it would be folly to say that he cannot win based on his performance in the Wood Memorial. I Want Revenge will be fancied by many people as a result of the adversity he had to overcome. It takes a very good horse to do this, but put in its proper perspective, I Want Revenge will be overbet which will inflate the prices on the other major contenders. In analyzing his Gotham victory, he overwhelmed a very weak field. I Want Revenge ran fast, but he was also the beneficiary of a strong speed favoring track. The highly touted Imperial Council who was a well beaten second came back in the Wood as the clear second choice, and was awful. West Side Bernie, who was a major disappointment in the Lanes End at Turfway Park as the 2-1 favorite, two weeks earlier, came back to run second. He clunked up late, passing tired horses, and would have been beaten by a lot more by I Want Revenge if that one was clear of trouble. The rest of the field was made up of horses that wanted no part of the distance and were simply way overmatched to contend with the winner. I try to be a contrarian thinker. On first impressions, I felt like everyone else did about I Want Revenge’s performance. In retrospect, the trouble he encountered actual helped him. Here is why. Even though he spotted the field a big head start, Talamo was able to quickly move him into a much closer position in last place. After a quarter mile, he was seven lengths off the leaders. As the pacesetter began to shorten stride midway on the far turn, the stalkers and horses sitting in mid pack converged towards the lead. Even though I Want Revenge had steadied several times during the running, he did not expend the same type of energy as the others. Once he sliced his way between horses late, the rest were finished. It was more an optical illusion than a strong rally, when West Side Bernie passed a very tired Just A Coincidence in the final 50 yards.If my assumptions are correct, then I Want Revenge will be an over bet favorite, who can obviously win, but is more vulnerable than what people might think. Therefore, he will not be my top selection to win the Kentucky Derby, even though he will be included on all my wagers.

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays


Fourth Selection: (6) FRIESAN FIRE (Jones J Larry/Saez Gabriel)

Trainer Larry Jones and his trademark cowboy hat will attempt to win his first Kentucky Derby following two second place finishes with Hard spun in 2007 and last year with the great filly Eight Belles who had to be euthanized on the track seconds after crossing the finish line when she collapsed with two broken front ankles. Both her trainer and rider Gabriel Saez were unfairly criticized for this very unfortunate incident. Saez did everything possible to pull her up after he heard a “pop”, but Eight Belles continued to run on several yards before falling. Jones did everything possible to explain that her life ending injury was one of those unfortunate mishaps that can happen to any horse at anytime during or soon after the race. There were absurd and very hurtful statements made, such as a filly should never run against males in big races (Regret, Winning Colors and Genuine risk, defeated their male counterparts in the Kentucky Derby). It was also said that Jones had run a horse that was a not sound and that Saez had misused his whip in the stretch putting undue pressure on the filly.Larry Jones is the consummate horseman who treats his horses as if they were his own children. His wife Cindy plays a huge part in the training as well. Friesen Fire is a classic example of Jones prowess. He won his debut impressively at Delaware Park. In his next two starts, he was well beaten in graded stakes in New York. Jones elected to ship Friesan Fire to the Fair Grounds to regroup. At the same time, his other more fancied Derby prospect Old Fashioned would ship to Oaklawn to run in their three year old prep races, highlighted by the Arkansas Derby. Jones felt that Friesan Fire was not focused enough in his races, so he decided to add blinkers for his next start on Dec 18. This would be his first start around two turns. Friesan Fire was a good second forcing the pace, but he was a bit too eager early on and never seemed to relax at anytime during the race. Jones knew that if Friesan Fire were to move up to that next level, he would have to get him to relax. With just a maiden victory to his credit, Jones entered him in the Grade 3 Lacomte twenty three days later. With new rider Gabriel Saez aboard, Jones got just what he was looking for. Friesan Fire rated kindly early in the race and responded instantly on the far turn when Saez pushed the button. Friesan Fire took command turning for home and scored by 1 ½ lengths. His next stop would be the Grade 3 Risen Star where he would stretch out from a mile to 1 1/16 miles. Once again Friesan Fire relaxed beautifully and was more impressive in victory than in the Lacomte. There was no doubt following these two performances that Friesan Fire was living up to Jones expectations that he was a top class three year old. He would prove this once again in the Louisiana Derby in his first start over a wet track. From the start, Saez got Friesen Fire to relax. He cruised to the lead approaching the stretch, and steadily drew off from his eight other rivals, winning off by 7 ¼ expanding lengths. It was his best career effort and the fastest he had ever run. The question which must be answered is if he was that much better than the rest, or was it the sloppy surface which he relished and the others did not. Papa Clem, who ran second, came back to win the Arkansas Derby which flatters his performance.

What should we expect from Friesan Fire in the Kentucky Derby? As much as I respect this horses chances to run well, I also have utmost confidence that Jones will have him as fit as hands can make him and raring to go. Friesan Fire will be successful if Saez can get him to relax in a field of twenty. He will more than likely to face a faster pace scenario than what he chased in his last three victories. If that is the case, Friesan Fire could get leg wary in deep stretch. Each time he has won, he had the lead turning for home. This indicates to me that he refuses to be passed in the stretch which is a plus. The only problem is that there are several other horses with tactical speed that fit a similar stalk and pounce style. Another important factor is that Friesan Fire has not raced in 49 days and has never been beyond 1 1/16 miles. However, he is bred very well on both his sire and dam side to handle the 1 ¼ miles. Obviously, Jones outlined this plan to have him ready for the Derby, but I must admit I am concerned about these two big obstacles. I also question the quality of the fields he has beaten at the Fair Grounds and whether or not he is a “horse for that course”. With the exception of Papa Clem, several horses who have exited those races, have come back to run poorly. Even though I feel he can win, I will be concentrating more on using him underneath in exotic wagers.


Fifth Selection: (11) CHOCOLATE CANDY (Hollendorfer Jerry/Smith M E)

If you feel that Pioneerof The Nile is a major contender to win the Kentucky Derby, than you must consider Chocolate Candy as well. These horses have faced each other twice. Pioneer won both times. They met as 2 year olds in the Cash Call Futurity, a race in which Pioneer defeated Candy by 1 ½ lengths. They met again in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. Candy rallied from off the pace to fall a length short. Despite the defeat, I felt he ran just as well as his rival did. The complexion of the race changed dramatically when speedballs Z Day and The Pamplemousse were both late scratches. They would have ensured fast fractions which would have benefitted a horse like Chocolate Candy who likes to lay back and make one late run. Confronted with a new pace scenario in which the early fractions would be much slower, Candy was faced with a much tougher task in trying to run down the heavy favorite Pioneerof The Nile. As the field approached the stretch, Candy was last of seven. He sustained a strong wide rally, but simply ran out of ground and had to settle for second. His trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who is the perennially “king” of racing in northern California, indicated in the days leading up to the race that Chocolate Candy would not be at his best. He just wanted to get a strong race into Candy to set him up for a peak performance the first Saturday in May. Hollendorfer got just what he wanted. The question being: could Chocolate Candy be considered a major player?
He does have a chance to run a big race in the Derby. It is not likely Candy will win, but an in the money finish is possible. In seven career starts around two turns, he has won four times, placed twice and ran third once. His lone off the board finishes were in his first two starts when he ran sixth. Both those races were sprinting. My main concern is that Chocolate Candy has never raced outside of California and all nine starts have been on synthetic surfaces. It will be a much different experience for him racing on conventional dirt for the first time at Churchill Downs. In his favor is that he will get a lively pace to close into and should enjoy the stretch out to 1 ¼ miles. His sire Candy Ride won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at 1 ¼ miles. His dam traces back to Triple Crown winner Affirmed. His trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, whom I have always had great respect for, has trained several Grade 1 winners such as King Glorious, winner of the 1988 Hollywood Futurity and the 1989 Haskell. Heatseeker won the 2008 Santa Anita Handicap. Hysterical Lady ran a close second in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Hollendorfer has also won two Kentucky Oaks with Lite Lite and Pike Place Dancer. Obviously, he has shown an uncanny knack winning prestigious races with northern California based horses. He has not been as lucky with his Kentucky Derby entrants but Hollendorfer has only started three horses. His best finish was with Eye Of The Tiger who ran fifth in 2003. There may be more talented horses in the Derby field, but there are very few trainers with Derby starters that are as accomplished as Jerry Hollendorfer. Russell Baze, who has won more races than any jockey in the history of the game, and has hooked up to win an astronomical 25 % of all of Hollendorfer’s career starters has been replaced by Hall Of Fame rider Mike Smith. I am not certain why the change in riders, because Baze is two for two aboard Chocolate Candy. There are only two reasons I can come up with. Perhaps, Candy’s high profile owners, Sid and Jenny Craig may have insisted that Smith get the mount, or Hollendorfer feels that he fit’s Candy better because Smith’s strength is with runners who rally from off the pace. I cannot argue with this move.

What should we expect from Chocolate Candy in the Kentucky Derby? Of all the longshots in the race, I would consider him the most interesting. Even though I would be surprised if he were to win, I do consider him a danger to hit the board. I will use him underneath ,in some form, in my exotic tickets.

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

The Remainder of the Field (In order of preference)

(7) PAPA CLEM (Stute Gary/Bejarano R)

Papa Clem began his career in southern California at Hollywood Park over a synthetic surface. His first two starts were sprinting, with a sixth place finish in his debut. He bobbled at the start, and then raced evenly throughout. Trainer Gary Stute added blinkers for his second start. Papa Clem showed more speed, forcing a quick pace from the start. He gave way grudgingly in the late stages, finishing fourth. He continued to show progress when he was stretched out to two turns for the first time on December 29 at Santa Anita. Stute switched riders to Rafael Bejarano, who put him on the lead from the outset. Papa Clem was challenged several times throughout the race, but dug in gamely to win by a half length. It was evident from that effort that distance racing was his calling. Papa Clem’s connections always had Derby aspirations for this homebred. They needed to find out if their assumption was correct so they decided to throw Papa Clem to the wolves for his three year old debut. He was boosted in class from his maiden victory into the Grade 2 Robert Lewis, a race in which he would face Pioneerof The Nile and I Want Revenge. Papa Clem was dismissed at 17-1. With an alert start from the gate, he quickly took up the chase in second place, then challenged for the lead at the top of the stretch. Papa Clem battled gamely to the wire, dropping a half length decision to Pioneerof The Nile, while one length clear of I Want Revenge. It’s ironic that almost three months later, he will be facing those same two rivals, who will be amongst the betting choices on Derby day. Papa Clem had proven to his trainer and owner that he was everything they thought he could be, a legitimate contender for the Run for the Roses.Papa Clem could have been kept in California to compete in the Grade 2 San Felipe and then the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby which would be his final three year old prep race before the Kentucky Derby. Instead Stute decided to ship him to the Fair Grounds to test his mettle on the dirt, which was exactly what the connections of I Want Revenge did. The only difference is that these two colts took different paths towards the same ultimate goal. On March 14, Papa Clem faced off with Friesan Fire who was coming off two straight wins in the Grade 3 Lacomte and the Risen Star, which clearly gave him the home court edge. It had rained heavily during the night, which turned the track into a sea of slop. Not only did Papa Clem have to run over a wet track for the first time, but he had to do out on the dirt and outside the confines of his home base at Santa Anita. As it turned out, Friesan Fire relished the goo. Papa Clem tried his best, but had to settle for second, beaten 7 ¼ lengths. Considering all his obstacles, he ran well, defeating seven other rivals. He showed his usual good early speed, but had no answer when Friesan Fire blew on by. Instead of shipping back home, Papa Clem was sent right to Oaklawn Park to point for the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. He worked three times over the track. His first two works were very good, but it was his final drill six days before the race that pointed out that Papa Clem loved the track and was dead fit to run a big race. He would have to face the very talented and speedy Old Fashioned, who had the advantage of two strong races at Oaklawn. Early speed was both these horses best game. Something would have to give. With Papa Clem breaking inside of Old Fashioned, it was expected that he would go right to the front and let his rival snatch him from behind. As soon as the gate opened, Bejarano unexpectedly took a hold of Papa Clem, allowing Old Fashioned the early lead. It was apparent early on that the game plan was to teach him to relax and then pounce. These tactics work much better in the Kentucky Derby, where there is usually a plethora of early speed and a quick pace. Old Fashioned rationed out his speed beautifully, and with this huge tactical edge over his main rival, it appeared as if he was home free as the odds on favorite. Papa Clem was eased off the inside and swung out wide into the stretch. With a steady grinding rally, he was able to run down Old Fashioned in the shadow of the wire. The following day, Old Fashioned was retired as a result a displaced slab fracture of his right knee. Neither the trainer nor the rider could tell when this happened. It could have occurred during the running or after he galloped out past the wire. Regardless, this should take nothing away from his gallant performance.

What should we expect from Papa Clem in the Kentucky Derby? As an improving horse that has tactical speed and has shown he can rate and attack, I must respect his chances of running a good race. Will it be good enough to win? I prefer others, but I will use him underneath in some form of exotic wagers.


(19) DESERT PARTY (Suroor Saeed Bin/Dominguez R A)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum, the ruler of Dubai, and owner of the elite Godolphin stable, will attempt to win the Kentucky Derby with two top class colts, Desert Party and Regal Ransom. Both horses began their careers in the United States before being privately purchased by Godolphin and switched to the Sheikh’s private trainer Bin Saeed Suroor. It has been his ultimate goal to win the Kentucky Derby, and the Sheikh has spared no expense to accomplish his dream. In the fall of 2008, he purchased Midshipmen, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and the very talented Vineyard Haven who won two Grade 1 stakes before being shipped to Dubai. Both horses were considered to be the ones who had the best chance to win this year’s Derby. Each colt suffered an injury, and now it’s up to Desert Party and Regal Ransom to take over the torch and see if either one is capable of lighting up the board as winners of the “Run for The Roses.”
The Godolphin stable has won Group 1 races in no fewer than twelve countries. Lammtarra, Swain, Dubai Millennium. Daylami, Street Cry (sire of Desert Party), Romonti, Folk Opera, and Ballanchine are just some of their top class performers. Can Desert Party be added to this list? It is possible, but I feel he would have to overcome several obstacles. There is no doubt he is bred to be a top class performer. His sire Street Cry, who also was the father of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, won the 2002 Dubai World Cup easily at the 1 ¼ mile distance as well as the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. His dam Sage Cat is a daughter of Tabasco Cat who was victorious in the 1996 Preakness and Belmont stakes. Despite his stamina, his daughters have produced more speed runners than distance performers.Desert Party was victorious in his first two starts. His debut was over a synthetic surface going 4 ½ furlongs at Arlington. He stepped up from his maiden win to the Grade 2 Sanford run over a muddy track at Saratoga. Desert Party won easily. Third place finisher Vineyard Haven came back to win his next two races, both in stakes company and then was privately purchased by Goldolphin and shipped to Dubai where he would be pointing toward the Kentucky Derby. Desert Party made his next start in the Grade 1 Hopeful, also at Saratoga. He stumbled at the start and pinched back soon after. He checked in a well beaten sixth. Following that race, Desert Party was shipped to Dubai. He was given more than three months off to develop and acclimate himself to the Dubai dirt surface. He reeled off two straight victories, both in sprints. Desert Party easily disposed of his barn mate Regal Ransom on Feb 12. On March 28, the day of the Dubai World Cup, Regal Ransom reversed the decision defeating Desert Party a diminishing half length. His rival jumped out to an early lead and then was all out to hold off his rival. The dirt surface that evening was intensely speed favoring which compromised Desert Party. Despite the bias, he ran very well, stretching out to 1 1/8 miles and two turns for the first time in his career.

What should we expect from Desert Party in the Derby? There is no doubt that he is a quality colt who has not reached his full potential. His tactical speed will place him in good position from the start. One of the world’s best riders, Frankie Dettori, who has ridden Desert Party in his last three starts, has elected to stay in England and ride in a prestigious race there which is not a vote of confidence by Dettori aboard once again. Dettori has had great success in the US, winning several Grade 1 races. I would be surprised if Desert Party springs the upset, and fulfill the dreams of Sheikh Mohammed to win a Derby. I do prefer others, but it would be folly to think that Desert Party cannot be competitive if new rider Ramon Dominguez can work out a trip from post 19. I will use him underneath in trifectas.


(5) HOLD ME BACK (Mott William I/Desormeaux K J)

Hold Me Back was a deserving favorite in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland because he was undefeated in three prior starts over synthetic surfaces. He also won an allowance race over the track in his second career start going a distance of ground, which indicated he might be a “horse for the course”. Breaking from an outside post, Hold Me Back raced well off the pace racing on to the backstretch. He moved up steadily through the turn, and then was angled out very wide for the stretch run. The winner General Quarters got the jump on him, and as a result, Hold Me Back could not catch him, and had to settle for second, beaten 1 ½ lengths. The race was at 1 1/8 miles, so the assumption could be made that had the race been further, he would have won. In the Kentucky Derby he will get that chance to stretch out to 1 ¼ miles. It is my opinion that there are several reasons to believe that this will not be the case. Like the winner General Quarters, Hold Me Back rallied on the best part of the track. The rail was “dead” all day long. Those racing on the inside were severely compromised, while those racing on the outside had a big advantage. Hold Me Back was one of those horses. He was all out to run down the third place finisher Massone, who raced on the dead rail the entire trip and was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths by Hold Me Back. In addition, I felt this was one of the weakest fields I have seen assembled for this prestigious Grade 1 race.Hold Me Back is bred on both sides to relish a distance of ground. His sire Giant’s Causeway was the 2000 English and Irish champion, winning an unbelievable five Grade 1 races in the summer that year. He was also runner up to Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow which was run at 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs. It is no wonder that Hold Me Back made his debut going two turns, a race in which he won. He has won twice at 1 1/6 miles and has win and a placing at 1 1/8 miles. His lone poor performance was a fifth place finish, beaten fourteen lengths, in the Remson Stakes last fall at Aqueduct. This was his only start over a conventional dirt surface. Hold Me Back did race wide throughout, and was hindered by the slow pace set by the recently retired Old Fashioned. He did try to rally on the turn, but faded badly thereafter. This poor effort does not bode well when he runs for the second time on dirt in the Kentucky Derby. That effort may have been a fluke, but until a horse shows me a good race over dirt, and has other chinks in his armor like Hold Me Back does, I am very skeptical about his chances to win. I have a lot of respect for Hall Of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who has trained many stakes horses, most notably Cigar. His strength is developing horses going a distance of ground.

What should we expect from Hold Me Back in the Derby? There is no doubt he will pass several horses in the stretch and it would not be a shock to me if he were to roll past them all in deep stretch. I feel there are several others in the race who have more upside and a better chance to win. Hold Me Back will be over bet because many people will look at his past performances and feel that if he closed so well to finish second in the Bluegrass, then the Derby distance will suit him better. I will use Hold Me Back underneath in trifectas.


(2) MUSKET MAN (Ryan Derek S/Coa E M)

Musket Man has been a gem of consistency throughout his six race career. He has five wins and a third which came in the Grade 3 Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, in his first start around two turns. The victor was General Quarters, who came back to win the Grade 1 Bluegrasss Stakes at Keeneland two starts later. Musket Man broke his maiden first time out at Belmont Park. He has won at three other race tracks and all six of his starts have been on conventional dirt which bodes well for him handling the Churchill Downs main track. Musket Man has shown great versatility in his running style. He can stalk the pace or take back and rally from behind. He has overcome trouble in two of his wins and had no problem racing between horses as well as racing wide or along the rail.Musket Man has clearly proven himself as an overachiever as well as outrunning his sprint pedigree. His sire Yonaguska, won several graded stakes, all sprinting, highlighted by his win in the 2000 Grade 1Hopeful at Saratoga. His mother, Fortunesque, won several races, but none beyond 6 ½ furlongs. Her sire, Fortunate Prospect was also a sprinter. For Musket Man to have accomplished what he has in several route races, including his impressive victory in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 4, proves this is one special colt that has been expertly handled by trainer Derek Ryan. It is my feeling that Musket Man benefitted by his lengthy stay in Tampa Florida throughout the winter, having several workouts over that deep and tiring track and three races as well. It has been proven in past years that horses who have raced at Tampa, and shipped to other tracks after the meet, do very well.

What should we expect from Musket Man in the Derby? Jockey Eibar Coa who was aboard Musket Man for the first time in the Illinois Derby chose him as his Derby mount over Bluegrass winner General Quarters, who he also rode for the first time. I don’t expect Musket Man to win, but because of his huge heart, consistent form and his affinity for any type of dirt surface, he will be included in my trifectas.


(1) WEST SIDE BERNIE (Breen Kelly J/Elliott S)

If you like I Want Revenge, you might be suckered into believing that West Side Bernie is only 2 ½ lengths behind in ability than that rival. This was the margin of victory by I Want Revenge in the Wood Memorial. If you watched this race with one eye closed, and the other bloodshot, as a result of a severe reaction to pollen in the air, you would have observed the horrific trip I Want Revenge had and the perfect journey West Side Bernie encountered. The truth of the matter is that Bernie would have been beaten by five or more lengths if the winner was able to avoid trouble. His closing rally was also more of an optical illusion, as the others behind him were spend inside the 1/8th pole. Bernie was very disappointing when running sixth, beaten eight lengths, as the 2-1 favorite, in his prior start in the Grade 2 Lanes End at Turfway Park. You might assume that he just wasn’t able to handle the poly track that day, or that something was amiss. West Side Bernie had shown an affinity for that surface when he easily won in his second start as a two year old in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile.

What should we expect from West Side Bernie in the Kentucky Derby? Bernie does all his running from well off the pace. With nineteen other horses, it is a distinct possibility that his one paced running style will cost him a clear journey. Even if he does have a clean trip, I feel he lacks the ability of the other major contenders. Bernie has not progressed as a three year as I was expecting. All his races have been around two turns. This indicates that his connections knew he was a distance runner from the start of his career. The truth of the matter is that both wins have been at 1 mile and 70 yards and 1 1/16 miles. I see no reason, based on his pedigree, and past performances, that his late rally will be effective at the Derby distance. Therefore, I will include him underneath in Trifectas.


(3) MR. HOT STUFF (Harty Eoin/Velazquez J R)

Owner WinStar Farm has three chances to win this year’s Kentucky Derby with Hold Me Back, winner of the Grade 2 Lanes End, Advice, the upset victor of the Grade 2 Lexington, and Mr. Hot Stuff who has only a maiden win to his credit. All three have similar running styles. Take back well off the pace and then launch their late rally. Of the three, Mr. Hot Stuff is the one I like least. He has raced seven times, all in southern California over synthetic surfaces. It took him five starts to break his maiden going a mile at Santa Anita. Since that confidence building win, Mr. Hot Stuff has run third twice, once in the Grade 3 Sham and last time out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. He was beaten only two lengths behind the winner Pioneerof The Nile, and just a length behind Chocolate Candy.

What should we expect from Mr. Hot Stuff in the Kentucky Derby? There is no doubt that he is an improving 3 year old. He must overcome several obstacles that do not appear within his reach. Mr. Hot Stuff’s full brother Colonel John, ran sixth in last year’s Kentucky Derby after winning the Santa Anita Derby. The pedigree is certainly there, but Mr. Hot Stuff would have to “sprout wings” to hit the board. I will use him in trifectas only.

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(12) GENERAL QUARTERS (Mccarthy Thomas R/Leparoux Julien R)

General Quarters sprung a 14-1 upset to win the Bluegrass stakes at Keeneland on April 11. He rated in fifth position, less than two lengths off the leaders into the far turn, then made his move towards the lead approaching the stretch. Turning for home he spurted clear to a two length lead. He was under a stiff drive to the wire as the post time favorite Hold Me Back rallied out in the middle of the track to run second, beaten 1 ½ lengths. On closer inspection I felt General Quarters victory was not as impressive as it may appear on paper. This year’s Bluegrass was one of the weakest renewals in recent years. There was a very strong bias which favored horses racing wide as the rail was clearly not the place to be all afternoon. Not one horse that raced along the inside made an impact at the finish. Several of those runners were major contenders and well bet. The bias clearly aided General Quarters. He did run his final eighth of a mile in a sprightly twelve seconds flat, but that was more a result of the moderate fractions that were set for a good part of the race. You could have made a case for him running well in the Bluegrass if you were willing to forgive his fifth place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. General Quarters did have some trouble in the race, but once clear in the stretch run, he could only pass tired horses. He was well bet that day, following a decisive win over Musket Man, who came back to win the Tampa Bay Derby as well as the Illinois Derby.General Quarters was one of the better claims made last year. His trainer and owner Thomas Mccarthy haltered him for $20,000 in his debut which was a winning effort over the Churchill Downs strip. Since the purchase, he has made more than $600,000. With the exception of a grass race as a two year old, his first seven races on dirt as well as two races over a synthetic surface which were all in sprints. General Quarters had only the maiden win at 4 ½ furlongs. When he arrived at Tampa, he reeled off three sharp and improved efforts as he began stretching out in distance. He really blossomed into a quality runner at two turns. Eibar Coa who was aboard General Quarters in his Bluegrass win, has opted to ride Musket Man who he rode to victory in the Illinois Derby. Coa, who has been a successful jockey for many years, obviously felt that Musket Man stands a better chance to run well in the Derby than General Quarters. Riders and their agents sometimes make an error in judgment on what mount to choose for a big race when they have more than one call. Nevertheless, it is not a sign of confidence for General Quarters.

What can be expected from General Quarters in the Derby? I feel that Coa made the correct decision. In analyzing his pedigree, it seems that 1 1/8 miles is the furthest he wants to go to be effective in stakes company. In both route wins he held a clear lead into the stretch. This scenario is highly unlikely in the Derby. I expect General Quarters to make a mild move on the far turn, but should be no factor when the field turns for home. In my wagers, I will only use General Quarters underneath in trifectas.


(10) REGAL RANSOM (Suroor Saeed Bin/Garcia A)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum, the ruler of Dubai, and owner of the elite Godolphin stable, will attempt to win the Kentucky Derby with two top class colts, Desert Party and Regal Ransom. Both horses began their careers in the United States before being privately purchased by Godolphin and switched to the Sheikh’s private trainer Bin Saeed Suroor. It has been his ultimate goal to win the Kentucky Derby, and the Sheikh has spared no expense to accomplish his dream. In the fall of 2008, he purchased Midshipmen, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and the very talented Vineyard Haven who won two Grade 1 stakes before being shipped to Dubai. Both horses were considered to be the ones who had the best chance to win this year’s Derby. Each colt suffered an injury, and now it’s up to Desert Party and Regal Ransom to take over the torch and see if either one is capable of lighting up the board as winners of the “Run for The Roses.”
The Godolphin stable has won Group 1 races in no fewer than twelve countries. Lammtarra, Swain, Dubai Millennium. Daylami, Street Cry (sire of Desert Party), Romonti, Folk Opera, and Ballanchine are just some of their top class performers. Can Regal Ransom be added to this list? I feel Desert Party is Godolphin’s best chance to win their first Kentucky Derby. His pedigree is better suited to the 1 ¼ mile distance, as well as his stalk and pounce running style. Desert Party defeated Regal Ransom January 22 shipping in from the US for his initial start in Dubai. The two faced off three weeks later. This time Desert Party crushed his barn mate by nearly five lengths. Regal Ransom would turn the tables on Desert Party on March 28, the night of the Dubai World Cup. Regal Ransom was the beneficiary of an intense speed favoring track which prevailed all evening long. Desert Party was forced to catch him from behind. He was cutting into Regal Ransom’s margin in deep stretch, but simply ran out of ground at the 1 1/16 mile distance losing by a diminishing half length.

What should we expect from Regal Ransom in the Kentucky Derby? If he is to upset the field, he will have to do it on the front end. Regal Ransom may get the top, but you can be sure he will be under intense pressure on the far turn. He gives me no impression that he will be able to fend off the onslaught from the stalkers and then those who will be making their move from off the pace. A victory will not be in the cards. If Regal Ransom even runs in the money, I would be surprised. Therefore, I will only be including him underneath when I play trifectas.


(4) ADVICE (Pletcher Todd A/Douglas R R)

Advice is the prototype synthetic surface specialist. He was a very impressive debut winner last July at Arlington going a one turn mile. Advice was quickly boosted in class into the Grade 3 Arlington Futurity. Despite racing wide throughout, he was only beaten a neck, after holding a slim lead in mid stretch. Advice was disqualified from second and placed third after drifting out and bumping a rival just outside of him.
Three weeks later he was shipped to Keeneland, for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, which is always a “key” prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In his first start around two turns, Advice was basically eliminated before the race even began. He was forced to overcome the outside post in a field of eleven. There was no doubt Advice would be “hung out to dry”, as soon as the gate opened. He moved up quickly into striking position, chasing a quick pace, but he had expended too much energy. By the time Advice hit the far turn, he was toast.Advice made his three year old debut nearly five months later in an entry level allowance race over a synthetic surface at Santa Anita. He rebounded with a fast closing third place finish, despite another wide trip. Since breaking his maiden by daylight in his debut, he has shown he loses his focus in the stretch. One month later, in the Sunland Park Derby, Advice made his first start on conventional dirt. Top trainer Todd Pletcher decided it was time to add the blinkers. Advice checked early, quickly finding himself further off the pace than he had ever been. Advice picked up tired horses late, but was a no threat fifth. He seemed very uncomfortable on the dirt and with the blinkers. Twenty one days later, he switched back to a synthetic surface, and the hood was removed for the Grade 2 Lexington back at Keeneland. Advice would be ridden by one of America’s finest riders, Garrett Gomez for the first time. Once again he would be burdened by an outside post, but if there is any jockey in the country who could keep trouble to a minimum, it was Gomez. Right from the start, Advice was navigated quickly to the rail to save ground. He allowed his other ten rivals, to jockey for position. Gomez sat “chilly” waiting in the weeds until it was time to make his move. When the field turned for home, it was time for Gomez to give Advice the cue that it was time to get to business. With giant strides and energetic urging, Advice began picking up tired horses one by one, until he passed the entire field to score a 15-1 upset.

What should we expect from Advice in the Kentucky Derby? He’s another closer in field which is made up of several horses with a running style like his. Advice has shown several times that he does not change leads. He is also a very difficult horse to ride, because he rarely keeps a straight course in the stretch. Switching back to dirt will also not help his cause as well. All I can envision for Advice is his picking up tired horses late. It would not be a surprise to me if he does not even beat half the field. Therefore I will only include him underneath in trifectas.


(14) ATOMIC RAIN (Breen Kelly J/Bravo J)

On Tuesday, there was room for one other horse to get into the Derby field, and that horse was Atomic Rain. He is trained by Kelly Breen, who also has West Side Bernie in the field. Atomic Rain is far less accomplished than his barn mate. Atomic Rain has only one career victory, and that was his maiden win going five furlongs in his second start. He took a dramatic leap in class into the Grade 2 Remson, where he was a well beaten second to Old Fashioned, stretching out to 1 1/8 miles, in his return from a nearly a six month layoff.
Atomic Rain made his first start as a three year old at Gulfstream in an allowance race. For the second straight time he ran second at the same distance, but this time he was defeated by a half length. Atomic Rain added blinkers for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby. He broke slow, but he showed nothing. I am willing to excuse that race, as many horses cannot handle the Tampa dirt surface. Atomic Rain rebounded with another second place finish back at Gulfstream. Since he had run well in the Remson, Breen elected to ship Atomic Rain back to New York, for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He was an entry with West Side Bernie. Atomic Rain was boxed in on the turn, but once free of trouble at the top of the stretch, he had no response. I would consider this to be his best career race, but with the exception of I Want Revenge, this one of the weakest Wood Memorial’s I had ever seen.

What should we expect from Atomic Rain in the Kentucky Derby? He is one of several runners in the field who will be stalking the pace. He has proven to be a “hanger”. Even blinkers have not helped. As the Derby field approaches the stretch, Atomic Rain will be asked to rally, but it is expected he will come up empty.


(17) SUMMER BIRD (Ice Tim A/Rosier C R)

If you contrast Summer Bird’s past performances to that of Dunkirk, they appear a mirror image of each other. Both never started as two year olds. Each of them has run just three times, all at the same track where they began their racing careers. Dunkirk at Gulfstream, and Summer Bird at Oaklawn. The only difference between the two is that Summer Bird, will be making his fourth start in only two months when he enters the gate for the Kentucky Derby. Dunkirk’s races are much better spaced out, which helps Dunkirk and hinders Summer Bird.Trainer Tim Ice does not start many horses, but he wins a high percentage of races. Both Ice and his owners, could never envision, that Summer Bird would accomplishing as much as he has in such a short period of time. It took him two races to break his maiden. Twenty two days later, Summer Bird was asked to take a huge leap in faith into the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby, facing the likes of Papa Clem and Old Fashioned, who ended up running 1-2. There were others who had more racing experience as well. Summer Bird, who was sent off at 26-1, was a fast closing third, closing from dead last, while racing very wide throughout. If the race was a bit longer, he probably would have sprung the upset. “If dreams come true” and “miracles happen”, then Summer Bird was the poster child for both. It is now onto the Kentucky Derby.

What should we expect from Summer Bird in the “Run for the Roses”. If you fancy Papa Clem, who defeated him by 1 ¼ diminishing lengths, then you must consider Summer Bird as a huge longshot that is not too far behind in ability, and could even be better. He even is better suited to the Derby distance then Papa Clem. Summer Bird’s sire is Birdstone, who upset Smarty Jones quest for racing’s Triple Crown, in the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Birdstone’s father, Grindstone, won the 1996 Kentucky Derby. Summer Bird’s mother, Hong Kong Squall, was winless in nine starts, but her dad Summer Squall ran second in the 1990 Kentucky Derby as well as winning several Graded stakes going a distance of ground. What concerns me is that Summer Bird is making his fourth start in two months, and running over a new surface. He did not work very well on April 24 at Churchill Downs, which could mean he does not care for the track, or he could be a tired horse.

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(18) NOWHERE TO HIDE (Zito Nicholas P/Bridgmohan S X)

Talk about sneaking in the back door, Nowhere To Hide, was afforded a spot in this year’s Kentucky Derby with the late defection of Win Willy. A $250,000 yearling purchase, Nowhere To Hide failed to break his maiden in four starts in New York, as a two-year-old. Finally, he took the measure of a non-descript field of maidens on December 13 at Calder, with the addition of blinkers, winning by a desperate neck to close out his 2008 campaign.Since that winning effort in Miami, Nowhere To Hide, in three subsequent starts, has finished fourth on each occasion. He raced evenly behind Friesan Fire at the Fair Grounds, beaten 3 3/4 lengths in the Risen Star Stakes, on February 7. He was defeated by a similar margin at Tampa Bay Downs, in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, on March 14, and then barely lifted his feet in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Derby, beaten more than 11 lengths with blinkers off.

What should we expect from Nowhere To Hide in the Kentucky Derby? He will be competing against the likes of such runners as Pioneerof The Nile, Dunkirk, I Want Revenge, Friesan Fire and others. I really cannot fathom why. At times, the Kentucky Derby starting gate is comprised of runners who could be ‘labeled’ as survivors, or with horses whose owners hope to achieve the notoriety that comes with owning a Kentucky Derby starter. Nowhere To Hide meets both requirements.


(9) JOIN IN THE DANCE (Pletcher Todd A/Decarlo C P)

If you feel that there is not enough speed in this year’s Derby field to insure a quick pace, think again. With Quality Road sidelined, because of an injury, the Todd Pletcher trainee Join In The Dance, gets into the race. He has only a maiden win to his credit at 5 ½ furlongs, but ran well in the Tampa Bay Derby, losing by a half length to Musket Man, who returned to win the Illinois Derby in his next start. Join The Dance shipped to Keeneland for his final Derby prep in the Grade 1 Bluegrass. He set a moderate pace from his inside post. Join The Dance was eased off a “dead rail” to race wide into the first turn. He was easily passed on the far turn, dropping back to fifth. He actually held his ground and finished in that same position, beaten by five lengths. This was his first start over a synthetic surface, and will return to a conventional dirt course in the Derby. He has run at Churchill Downs before, and that was in his debut where he ran second in the slop.

What should we expect from Join In The Dance in the Kentucky Derby? He will no doubt be on or near the lead from the start. When he hits the far turn, Join The Dance will face intense pressure. There are no indications from his past performances that he has enough ability to withstand the heat from better horses. At that point he will drop back, and I could safely say, that if he holds on to beat half the field, it would be a major accomplishment.


(8) MINE THAT BIRD (Woolley Bennie L Jr/Borel C H)

Mind That Bird just barely qualifies for a spot in the gate for the Derby, based on his earnings in Graded stakes. He figures to vie with Flying Private, as the two longest shots in the field at 50-1 or higher. He deserves to be. Mind That Bird has simply run much too slowly in all eight races to think that he can compete against this type of opposition. He won the Grade 3 Grey Cup at Woodbine in Canada last fall for trainer David Cotey. He was shipped to southern California to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, making his first start for top trainer Richard Mandella. Mind That Bird raced wide throughout, finishing last of twelve. He would get his third trainer change to low % horseman L Woolley, whom I had never heard of. He is based out of New Mexico at Sunland Park. Sunland offers very high purses as a result of slot revenue, but the competition is much weaker than many other major tracks from around the country. Mind That Bird was entered in a $100,000, in his first start for his new mentor. Wearing front bandages for the first time, Mind That Bird was beaten by a neck, in a very slow time. One month later, he would have his final race in hope he would make the Derby and that was in the $900,000 Sunland Park Derby, in which he would face several quality southern California candidates, with the hope of reaching the Kentucky Derby (These three year olds are the second tier of the Derby candidates). Mind That Bird was a no threat fourth, running his last 1/8th of a mile in a pathetically slow: 13 4/5 seconds.

What should we expect from Mind That Bird in the Kentucky Derby? Absolutely nothing.


(20) FLYING PRIVATE (Lukas D Wayne/Albarado R J)

When it comes to trainers who have had tremendous success winning the Kentucky Derby, only two trainers come to my mind. Bob Baffert has saddled three, and the mighty Wayne Lukas has won an astronomical four Derby’s. He scored with the great filly Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charasmatic (1999). Both horsemen will square off in this year’s “Run for the Roses”. Baffert has Pioneerof The Nile, who will be one of the favorites, and Lukas has Flying Private, who is going to be a huge longshot. Flying Private has only a maiden win to his credit in ten starts, and that lone victory was at six furlongs. His best career effort was in the Grade 2 Lanes End, when he was second to Hold Me Back at 24-1 over a synthetic surface. Flying Private is eligible to run in the Derby, because he accumulated enough money in that graded stake. Flying Private was sired by Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. His dam’s sire, is Unbridled, who was also a Kentucky Derby winner. You would think that he would relish a distance of ground, but that is not the case.

What should we expect from Flying Private in the Kentucky Derby? He sometimes breaks slowly. If he breaks cleanly, you will see him on or near the lead. This will be the first and last time you will see a close up of him, because I expect him to see him quickly drop back on the far turn. It has been ten years since Lukas won his last Kentucky Derby. Make it eleven.

Wagering Strategy
I feel the winner of this year's Kentucky Derby will be one of the top four horses I have selected. After Quality Road was scratched on Monday, I never wavered from choosing Dunkirk on top. Once I saw Pioneerof The Nile's workout on Monday, I felt he handled conventional dirt just fine. That was enough for me to pick him second. I would not be surprised if I Want Revenge wins, but as the expected favorite, there were several reasons I wanted to take two shots against him. Friesan Fire is another who would not shock me if he were to win, but at no point in handicapping and writing up the race, did I feel he was as good as the top three. The way I am playing the race is to make two win bets. I will wager more money on Dunkirk then Pioneer (example: $10 Dunkirk, $6.00 Pioneer. I will then box my top three selections and then press with an equal box of my top two. My final exacta wager will be to put my top two selections over my third and fourth picks. My final play will be the Trifecta. I am "keying" my top two over the top four selections over the horses I feel can run third. The third slot will also include all four of my picks. I have eliminated five horses from the tri who I feel strongly will not run in the top three. This also keeps the cost of the ticket at $78.00, for a $1.00 play. I did not want you to invest more, if you decide to play the tri's. Remember, you do not have to play all the wagers I am suggesting. It is important that you bet what you can afford. ALWAYS STAY WITHIN YOUR COMFORT LEVEL!!
Win bet on (15) DUNKIRK

Smaller win bet on (16) PIONEEROF THE NILE

Exacta box: 13-15-16.

Exacta Box: 15-16.

Exacta Part Wheel: 15-16 over 6-13

$1.00 Trifecta Box: 6-13-15-16 = $24.00

$1.00 Trifecta Part Wheel: 15-16 / 6-13-15-16 / 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-10-11-12-13-15-16-17-19 = $78.00

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Craig Trapp

Every year the first Saturday in May all the sports world sits on the edge of their seat waiting to see who will wear the bed of roses. With a rough economy this years Kentucky Derby has not been hyped as most of the recent races. But Craig is very excited as he thinks he has nailed the top three finishers in this years Kentucky Derby. The 2009 Derby trifecta play for Craig is below for all of your sports gamblers to enjoy.

Pioneerof the Nile: Trainer Bob Baffert is no stranger to winning the Kentucky Derby and he seems to think NILE is up to give him another win. Another very positive is that jockey Garrett Gomez had his choice to ride one of two favorites and chose NILE over DUNKIRK. NILE has is currently listed as 2nd favorite at 4-1. After a very nice Santa Anita Derby win Baffert is trying to keep this colt improving going into the biggest race. NILE will most likely sit just off the pace and take over down the stretch. Will be a very good WIN wager if you get in at post time at 4-1 or higher odds.

Dunkirk: The odd horse out of the Garrett Gomez sweep stakes is looking to prove him wrong. Lucky for trainer Todd Pletcher he was able to recruit other top jockey Edgar Prado to pilot Dunkirk in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher has not had good success in the derby but he has been the hottest trainer the last 4 years otherwise. Not a large colt but very tenacious and a late charging kick always give him a chance. Currently 4-1 co 2nd favorite will most likely go off at around 6-1 or so. Not sure this colt can win but definitely a 2nd or 3rd place is attainable.

General Quarters: To get value into any trifecta box you have to find the value in one or two longshots. Craig has found the diamond in the rough and this longshot can not only hit the board but if things go right could definitely win. Trainer Tom MCarthy is 75 years old and is making his first and he says only Kentucky Derby starter. Also the best jockey in the Kentucky circuits the last few years is Julian Leparoux. General Quarters most recently won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keenland and is definitely heading in the right direction. If this horse is over 20-1 definitely need to place a small wager on him to win also. Would be surprised if he runs poorly hitting the board is a definite possibility.

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Prospectus

Kentucky Derby

#1 West Side Bernie 106 3/4; If you go ahead and draw a line through his poly races he has a forward moving vibrant line, goes third off the layoff and was helped by the draw. The rail still has produced more Derby Winners than any other post. Since the rule changes thirteen years ago the good horses stopped getting the rail because the connections had the ability to choose there post based on the results of the pill draw. This guy is better than people think on numbers and can suck around the rail for a big position in this race

#2 Musket Man 102 3/4; Is tough as nails and if you have not seen the Tampa Bay Derby you should watch it. Yonaguska is about six lengths slower routing and does not sire faster horses like this often. The line is excellent, he was helped by the draw, Coa is a true ground saving jockey and he is an exotics contender.

#3 Mr. Hot Stuff 91 3/4; is slow in here by a poly neutral sire which makes a jump poly to dirt less likely, the overall breeding is not classic distance by any means but we have seen a large number of poly to dirt jumps and this guy has drawn very well. longshote for the exotics

#4 Advice 87 3/4: just won the Lexington with a great ride, he is slow in here and on two weeks is back to fast. Non Contender

#5 Hold Me Back 107 3/4; Here he is a  value horsein this years Derby. His race in the Blue Grass was a monster, he has never, ever taken a step back, his sire gets very fast runners on both poly and dirt, he goes third off. Mott does not get afflicted with Derby fever so you know this guy is here because he likes him. Hold Me Back was helped tremendously by the draw. Very Strong Contender at a big price has to avoid bouncing off double tops in a short amount of time

#6 Friesan Fire 106 3/4; This a son of AP Indy a fast solid sire who usually sires horses who achieve a figure level and remain there, only the best of his advance. Friesan Fire has moved forward his last three, is working well and is fresh. The works have been great, we put up a lot about this horse this Spring and frankly I made the LA Derby faster than some very respected figure makers. Is coming into this race very well.  I love this horse but what looked like low double digits two weeks ago, with the scratch of Quality Road this guy is the wise guy horse and he is at 5-1. A must use and a very strong contender. Our Derby Key

#7 Papa Clem 101 1/2; I have liked this colt all Spring as he has a nice forward moving line. I really did not like the 7f move and it says to me he is not likely to move forward again which he would need to. Non Contender

#8 Mine That Bird 88 3/4; Is slow and hopeless in the Derby but keep an eye open for later as he is solid by a good long distance sire who sires horses who develop late. Non Contender

#9 Join In The Dance 90 3/4; actually has a nice pattern but is far to slow to compete and is not bred for this. Non Contender

#10 Regal Ransom 102; I think he paired his top in his last, hard to have as much certainty with my Dubai figs. Godolphin horses actually have faired well in the Derby on Figures despite the general perception. Exotics Contender who should trip well.

#11 Chocolate candy 97 1/4; I think this is your poly to dirt jumper based on breeding, the negative is the likelyhood of a wide trip for jockey who tends to go very wide. Exotics contender at a price

#12 General Quarters 105 3/4; this guy is a real challenge to handicap; marched forward all spring before bouncing and then ran a monster in the Blue Grass on poly; Fast enough to compete and his sire is a little poly negative so he figures to be able to replicate his big race on Dirt. At 5-1 we would call him bouncy. At 20-1 he looks good and is a must use.

#13 I Want Revenge 112: By far the fastest horse in the race and two of the last three times a horse has had a figure edge like this coming into the Derby he has won. Smarty Jones and Big Brown, Sinister Minister being the loser. The negative read we have is this. The testing procedures in place now at Churchill figure to hurt his trainer worst than any one in the race. The last represent a small regression and our studies of progression and regression indicate that this often leads to a bounce in spring three year olds. Many of the horses jumping going poly to dirt have never gotten back to the big number and it has over the last year been a knockout race for many horses. The draw hurt him badly and with his style he is certain to lose ground. A strong stand against for us.

#14 Atomic Rain 96 3/4; is slow in here and has not progressed the way we thought he would at the start of the year. plus he drew wide. Non contender

#15 Dunkirk 105 1/4; Has a very good pattern, is fast enough and a strong contender. The negatives are that he had no foundation as a two year old and he will be wide in here all around. Must use

#16 Pioneer Of The Nile 96 3/4: A lot of you will get angry about this but I give this horse very little chance to even get a check. Slow, Wide and I have it on very good authority that even Baffert knows he is a poly turf horse that is why he did not prep on Dirt. A big stand against

#17 Summer Bird 100 3/4; This horse has gotten fast very quickly, has great long term breeding and will be running late. A must use at a huge price in the exotics and he looks really good for the Belmont

#18 Nowheretohide 86; Slow, no progression and wide. other than that he has a great chance. No trainer has dipped into my pocket like Nick and if he does it here I will just hail the King of New York. Non contender

#19 Desert Party 105; is one of the fastest horses in here but the last was a small regression, like I said however Godolphin horses actually have performed well on figs. As one of the fast ones I would hate him at 5-1 from this post but have to use him under at a big price.

#20 Flying Private 101; we were actually considering this guy for the bottom of exotics until he drew this post. Non Contender

Conclusion

Horses run new tops only about 5 % of the time in the Derby. On our figures 8 horses can win without running a new top. #1 West Side Bernie, #2 Musket Man (because of the draw), #5 Hold Me Back, #6 Friesan Fire, #12 General Quarters, #13 I Want Revenge, #15 Dunkirk, #19 Desert Party. #3 Mr Hot Stuff, #11 Chocolate Candy, #17 Summer Bird are longshots who can jump up and fill out some huge tickets.

#6 Friesan Fire has been our Derby Horse and is the most likely to run big on Saturday, We cannot seperate the value contenders as you see it is a blanket so to build a box to beat the vulnerable I Want Revenge and Pioneer of The Nile is beyond a mathematical possibility. We make Friesan Fire 20% to win this years Derby so the point where you maintain overcoming the takeout is 5-1. He is in the market place as of this writing at 6-1 and I suspect using a formula based on an 18 % takeout that he will be about that at post time.

Here is a guess at the post time odds that will be pretty close

I Want Revenge 3-1

Dunkirk 5-1

Pioneer of The Nile 5-1

Friesan Fire 6-1

What do We like about this race that makes it a good betting race?

One of these horses is far more likely to run big and is allready fast enough to win and will be around the fourth favorite.

Two of the three favorites are vulnerable in our opinion at a short price in a 20 horse field

The Bet exactly as we will be making it.

Position One

3 units

#6 Friesan Fire Win/Place

Position Two

1 Unit

Exacta    #6 / 1-2-3-5-10-11-12-15-17-19

Exacta      1-2-3-5-10-11-12 15-17-19 / #6

total 20 combinations

Position Three

1/2 unit

Trifecta 6 / 1-2-3-5-10-11-12-15-17-19

Trifecta 1-2-3-5-10-11-12-15-17-19 / 6 /1-2-3-5-10-11-12-15-17-19

180 combinations

This sets us up for a big score if our guy Friesan Fire Gets it done or runs second to one of our value horses and the chance at a monster if we hit the X and the Triple.

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ATS

6 Friesian Fire
15 Dunkirk
5 Hold Me Back
13 I Want Revenge
16 Pioneer Of The Nile

How To Bet The Derby...
Bet Top Horese To Win And Play

Exacta Box On Top 3
Exacta Box On Top 4
Tri Box On Top 3
Superfecta Box Top5

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

The Professor

Kentucky Derby-G1
Selections are listed in order of preference
The Prof's personal odds-line follows each runner

15-Dunkirk 4-1 - Lightly raced colt makes only his 4th career start. Finished second to the highly-regarded Quality Road in Florida Derby-G1 his last time out. Was impressed by his explosive move entering the turn to take the lead before flattening out on an inside-speed biased surface. His pedigree is impeccable for this distance having been sired by Unbridled’s Song out of 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status. His lack of early speed in this large field will be a disadvantage, but is capable of upsetting at decent odds with a picture-perfect ride from experienced Derby rider, Edgar Prado.

6-Friesan Fire 4-1 - Improving son of A.P. Indy was an easy winner on a sloppy Fair Grounds surface in the Louisiana Derby-G2 in his last start. Hasn’t raced since March 14th but has been training forwardly for Larry Jones. His 5 furlong work in 57:4 on Monday wowed the clockers, but may have been too fast this close to the race. His proven ability on an off-track is a strong asset if the track is wet. Should save ground from his 6 post position. Good chance to take all the marbles come rain or shine. Regular rider Gabriel Saez rides.
13-I Want Revenge 5-1 - Morning line favorite was visually impressive winning the Wood Memorial-G1 after a nightmarish trip when he was left at the gate at the break. Prior to the Wood he crushed 8 rivals in the Gotham-G3, earning an eye-popping sheet fig. If he can duplicate either of his last two races, he’ll be a strong threat but may have peaked one race too soon. 19 yr old rider, Joe Talamo hops back aboard for trainer Jeff Mullins who will begin serving a 7 day suspension on Sunday.

16-Pioneerof the Nile 10-1 - Won 4 straight races including the Santa Anita Derby-G1 in his last. He’s beaten many of his rivals in this field, including I Want Revenge twice. Under normal circumstances, he would be a top contender but it is uncertain if he can handle a dirt surface since all his races were run on turf or an artificial surface. Can’t toss but prefer others. Garrett Gomez opts to stay aboard for trainer Bob Baffert.
10-Regal Ransom 20-1 - Son of Distorted Humor won the UAE Derby-G2 defeating stablemate Desert Party in last race. Has the speed to save valuable ground from a decent post in this field lacking pace. May hit the board at huge odds with a dream trip from rider Alan Garcia who rides for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
1-West Side Bernie 25-1 - Was runner-up to I want Revenge in Wood Memorial-G1 in last race. Closer should be able to save valuable ground from his rail post. May hit the board at long odds if rider Stewart Elliott works out a trouble-free trip.

Wagering Strategy
$1 Exacta: 6-15 with 1-6-10-13-15 = $8
$1 Trifecta wheel: 6-15 / 6-13-15 / 1-6-10-13-15-16 = $16
$1 Superfecta wheel: 15 / 6-13 / 1-6-10-13 / 1-6-10-13-16 = $18

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Bob Neumeier

BETTING STRATEGY ($100)

$12 Trifecta Part-Wheel DUNKIRK with PIONEEROF THE NILE with I WANT REVENGE, WEST SIDE BERNIE, CHOCOLATE CANDY and SUMMER BIRD (you’ll need a Pinkerton guard for this one). ($48)

$10 Trifecta Part-Wheel DUNKIRK with I WANT REVENGE, WEST SIDE BERNIE, CHOCOLATE CANDY and SUMMER BIRD with PIONEEROF THE NILE. ($48)

SELECTIONS:

1. DUNKIRK 2. PIONEEROF THE NILE 3. I WANT REVENGE 4. WEST SIDE BERNIE

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JOHN PIESEN RACING

Horses are in order of preference by program number
Play the Top Horse To Win
Box all horses in exacta & trifectas

THE KENTUCKY DERBY
#6 Friesan Fire 5-1
#15 Dunkirk 4-1
#11 Chocolate Candy 20-1
#4 Advice 30-1

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BIG AL

Our selection is on the #6 horse, Friesan Fire, and we recommend an "across the board" wager -- that is, three separate wagers on him to Win, Place and Show. The 135th running of the Kentucky Derby is probably being talked about as much for who ISN'T here as who will be running. Notably absent from the 2009 version of the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports" is the best 2-Year-Old of 2008, Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman, as well as the winner of the Florida Derby, Quality Road, and a superstar filly named Rachel Alexandra, who has opted for the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. The latter is skipping the Derby even though many experts think that she may well be the best 3-year-old in the world (of any sex), and we can still remember that it was only one year ago that many people felt the same way about a filly named Eight Belles. But that horse met with a tragic end in the Derby when she broke both ankles after finishing second, and she had to be euthanized on the track. Larry Jones was the trainer of Eight Belles, and he is giving himself one final chance in 2009 to win the Derby with a colt named Friesan Fire. The Kentucky-based Jones, who does most of his racing out of the mid-Atlantic, has decided that he will be ending his horse operation, or at least as we have come to know it, after this season, and he will attempt to go out with a bang on the back of this impressive 3-year-old colt by AP Indy. Jones doesn't want to be best remembered for the Eight Belles tragedy -- after all, he did finish second to Street Sense in 2007 with a colt named Hard Spun -- so he's giving it one last shot with Friesan Fire and regular rider Gabriel Saez. Jones and Friesan Fire have one thing that the ill-fated Eight Belles and Hard Spun did not have: a relatively easy field with which to contend. Friesan Fire has done absolutely nothing wrong, having won three races in a row -- all graded stakes, and all on natural dirt -- and each one an improvement over the last. His most recent victory was the impressive seven-length runaway over a tough field in the Louisiana Derby. The only problem with that performance is that it came seven weeks ago and that is what most of his detractors have pointed to. But a 49-day layoff before the Derby is not a problem if the trainer knows how to condition his horse up to the first Saturday in May, and Jones has shown that he absolutely knows how to do this. He is following the same regimen with Friesan Fire that he undertook with Hard Spun and Eight Belles, and in this version of the Run for the Roses there is definitely no Street Sense or Big Brown to contend with at Churchill Downs. Friesan Fire was selected to start from the 6 hole, and this would appear to be a perfect spot for this stalking type of runner. He has enough tactical speed to stay close to the early pace (and there isn't a ton of early foot in this field), but also shows an explosive kick that should serve him well turning for home. He has been assigned morning line odds of 5-1, but with the layoff and the presence of horses trained by Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Bill Mott, and a few other big-name conditioners, don't be surprised if Friesan Fire floats up to 8-1 by post time. Regardless, this is one of the better bargains we've seen in a Derby, and the best since Giacomo won it at 50-1 odds. Take Friesan Fire "across the board."

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RICHARD ENG

Friesen Fire heads Derby ticket

From 1980 to 1999, the Kentucky Derby favorite lost 20 straight times. In this decade, four favorites have won, including three over the last five years. So the question begs: Who is getting smarter, the handicappers or the horsemen? Both are.

Horseplayers have access to more and better handicapping information than ever. And horsemen are preparing their Derby hopefuls with the "less is more" theory, pinpointing the first Saturday in May with surgical precision. The trend now is deserving favorites who are running better races.

Last year, Big Brown crushed the Derby field as a solid 2-1 choice. The public was spot on, and trainer Rick Dutrow made all the right moves.

This year, the race is much more wide open with Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge (3-1) the morning-line favorite.

Do I like I Want Revenge to win? I'll try to beat him with two colts I've coveted all spring: Friesen Fire and Pioneerof the Nile. I fully expected each horse to be around 8-1 to 10-1 odds. That's a pipe dream now because of the scratch of Quality Road, who would have been a strong second choice behind I Want Revenge.

My top Kentucky Derby horse is Friesen Fire (5-1), whose last start was a win in the Louisiana Derby seven weeks ago. The layoff is trainer Larry Jones' strategy. Many have questioned his wisdom. I don't. Jones has run second in the last two Derbies with Eight Belles (2007) and Hard Spun (2006), so he knows how to prepare a Derby runner.

I suspect Jones has confidence in Friesen Fire and faith in himself to get his colt to peak Saturday off workouts alone.

Before I Want Revenge exploded to big wins in the Gotham and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, there were two losses this winter to Pioneerof the Nile in Southern California. Most horseplayers have since jumped on his bandwagon and off Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile.

I think those folks are selling short trainer Bob Baffert, who has three Kentucky Derby wins, and Garrett Gomez, who chose to ride Pioneerof the Nile over Dunkirk. Baffert has quietly told others he is confident that Pioneerof the Nile (4-1) will run big Saturday.

I Want Revenge is my third choice. If he runs back to his speed figures in the Gotham and Wood Memorial, he's going to be right there. Joe Talamo overcame a horrendous trip on I Want Revenge in the Wood, breaking slowly and then having traffic trouble the length of the stretch. Talamo had better not repeat that performance in the Derby.

Another horse I will try to beat is Dunkirk (4-1). He'll have a tough task trying to pass 12 to 15 horses from the half-mile pole with his lack of experience. He is talented, but he's being asked to do a lot in only his fourth career start.

Finally, the Derby finish would not be complete without a nice long shot running late to complete your exotic wagers. A horse I'll be using liberally underneath my top choices is Hold Me Back (15-1).

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Mark the Magician

WELCOME to THE KENTUCKY DERBY $$ WINNERS $$ CIRCLE WITH MARK THE MAGICIAN!! MAY 2nd, 2009.

FRIESAN FIRE IS THE REAL DEAL AS IS PIONEER OF THE NILE!! MAKE YOUR PLAYS ACCORDINGLY!!!$$$$
RACE 1 PLAY # 3 RAPOSA to WIN, PLACE and SHOW.
EXACTA BOX 3-1-4 and 3-1-5. TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 3 1 / 3 1 4 5 / 1 4 5 8 7. $22.00 PLAY!!
DAILY DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 3 1 / 3 4. USE # 3 and # 1 on PICK 3’S $12.00 PLAY!!

RACE 2 PLAY # 3 HEAVENLY CHORUS to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. STRONG PLAY!!$$ EXACTA BOX 3-4-1 and 3-4-7. EXACTA KEY 3 4 / 3 4 1 7. USE # 3 and # 4 on PICK 3’S. $18.00.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 3 4 / 3 4 1 7 / 4 1 7 8 5. $22.00 PLAY. BEGIN PICK 4 $72.00.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 3 4 / 5 7. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 3 4 / 5 2.

RACE 3 PLAY # 5 LUV GOV to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. EXACTA and TRIFECTA Partwheel 5 7 / 5 7 2 10 8.
EXACTA BOX 5-7-2 and 5-7-10. USE # 5, # 7 and # 2 on your PICK 3.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 5 7 2 / 5 7 2 / 7 2 10 8 6 3. $28.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 5 7 / 1 3 6. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 5 2 / 1 3 6.

RACE 4 PLAY # 1 NORTHERN PRINCE to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. VERY STRONG PLAY!!
EXACTA BOX 1-3-6 and 1-3-5.EXACTA and TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 1 3 / 1 3 6 5 2.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 1 3 / 1 3 6 5 / 3 6 5 2 7. $22.00 PLAY.
USE # 1, # 3 and # 6 on PICK THREES. $18.00 PLAY!!!!$$$ BEGIN PICK 4 $54.00.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 1 3 / 7 1. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 1 6 / 7 1.

RACE 5 PLAY # 7 PICK SIX to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. STRONG PLAY!
EXACTA BOX 7-1-9 and 7-1-4. $1.00 TRI PARTWHEEL 7 1 / 7 1 9 4 2 / 1 9 4 2 5 11 8. $45.00.
USE # 7, # 1, # 9 and # 4 on PICK 3‘S. $24.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 7 1 / 3 9. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 7 9 4 / 3 9.

RACE 6 PLAY # 3 KODIAK KOWBOY to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. BOX 3-9-6 and 3-9-1.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 3 9 6 / 3 9 6 1 / 9 6 1 4 5 7. $41.00 PLAY.
STRONG EXACTA KEY 3 9 / 3 9 6 1. USE # 3 and # 9 on YOUR PICK 3‘S. $18.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 3 / 10 4. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 3 9 / 10 4 1.

RACE 7 PLAY # 10 AUSPICIOUS to WIN, PLACE and SHOW.
EXACTA BOX 10-4-8 and 10-4-1.EXACTA and TRIFECTA Partwheel 10 4 / 10 4 8 1 5.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 10 4 / 10 4 8 1 5 / 10 4 8 1 5 3 7. $40.00 PLAY.
USE # 10, # 4 & # 8 on Your PICK 3‘S $27.00. STRONG WITH # 10 and # 4!!!!!
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 10 4 / 2 6. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 10 4 1 / 2 6 9.

RACE 8 PLAY # 2 VISIT to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. VISIT THE $$ WINNERS $$ CIRCLE!!$$$
EXACTA, TRIFECTA and SUPERFECTA PARTWHEEL 2 6 / 2 6 9 5 3. BOX 2-6-9 and 2-6-5.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 2 6 / 2 6 9 5 3 / 6 9 5 3 1 11. $37.00 PLAY.
USE # 2, # 6 and # 9 on PICK 3’S.ONLY A $27.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 2 6 / 9 5. Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 2 9 5 / 9 5 7.

RACE 9 PLAY # 9 GAME FACE to WIN, PLACE and SHOW.
EXACTA BOX 9-5-7 and 9-5-3. EXACTA and TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 9 5 / 9 5 7 3 4.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 9 5 7 / 9 5 7 3 4 / 5 7 3 4 2 1. $54.00 PLAY.
USE # 9, # 5 and # 7 on YOUR PICK 3’S. $54.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 9 5 / 6 4 3.Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 9 7 / 6 4 1.

RACE 10 PLAY # 6 EINSTEIN to WIN, PLACE and SHOW. VERY STRONG PLAY!!!$$$$
EXACTA BOX 6-4-3 and 6-4-1. EXACTA and TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 4 / 6 4 3 1 8.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 4 3 / 6 4 3 1 / 4 3 1 8 2 9. $41.00 PLAY.
USE # 6, # 4 and # 3 on YOUR PICK 3’S. $54.00 PLAY.BEGIN YOUR PICK 4 HERE!!!!$162.00 PLAY.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 6 4 3 / 6 13 16.Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 6 4 3 / 6 15 7.

RACE 11 PLAY # 6 FRIESAN FIRE to WIN, PLACE and SHOW!! EXTREMELY STRONG!!$$$
EXACTA and TRIFECTA BOX 6-13-7-16, 6-13-15-16, 6-13-17-16, 6-13-12-16 AND 13-16-6-12-20!!!!
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 13 16 15 / 6 13 16 15 7 12 / 6 13 16 15 7 12 17. $100.00 PLAY.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 13 16 15 7 12 / 6 13 16 15 / 6 13 16 15 7 12 17 9. $156.00 PLAY.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 13 / 6 13 16 15 9 5 7 12 / 6 16 15 9 5 7 12 19 20. $90.00 PLAY.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 13 / 6 13 19 20 3 15 / 6 19 20 3 15 5 7 12 17. $76.00 PLAY.
$1.00 SUPERFECTA PARTWHEEL 6 13 / 6 13 16 15 7 12. $120.00 Play.
$1.00 SUPERFECTA KEY 13 / 6 16 15 7 12 17 5 9 20. $504.00 PLAY!!
$1.00 SUPER HIGH FIVE PARTWHEEL 6 13/ 6 13 16 15 7/13 16 15 7 12 17/6 13 16 15 7 12 9/6 16 15 7 12 9 5 3 19 20.
USE # 6, # 13, # 16, # 15,# 7 and # 12 on your PICK 3’S.$54.00 PLAY. # 6 and # 13 STRONG.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE Partwheel 6 13 / 1 7 8.Small DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 6 13 16 15 7 / 1 7 8.

RACE 12 PLAY # 1 LUSTER to WIN, PLACE and SHOW!!
EXACTA BOX 1-7-8 and 1-7-4.USE # 1, # 7 and # 8 on your PICK 3’S.
TRIFECTA and SUPERFECTA PARTWHEEL 1 7 8 / 1 7 8 4 3 / 7 8 4 3 5 9.
STRONG DAILY DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 1 7 8 / 3 6. SMALL DOUBLE PARTWHEEL 1 4 / 3 6 9.

RACE 13 PLAY # 3 CULLINAN to WIN, PLACE and SHOW!! EXACTA and TRIFECTA BOX 3-6-9 and 3-6-4.
EXACTA and TRIFECTA KEY 3 6 / 3 6 9 4 11. USE # 3, # 6 and # 9 on your PICK 3’S.
$1.00 TRIFECTA PARTWHEEL 3 6 9 / 3 6 9 4 11 / 6 9 4 11 7 8 10. $66.00 PLAY!!!!$$$$$$
SUPERFECTA PARTWHEEL 3 6 / 3 6 9 4 / 6 9 4 11 7 / 6 9 411 7 8 10 5.
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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Savannah Sports

Kentucky Derby Plays

13..I Want Revenge
15..Dunkirk
10..Regal Ranson
7..Papa Clem

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Jeff Siegel

With the injury to Quality Road and the possibility of a wet track combined with a favorable pace scenario, Friesan Fire becomes one of our major contenders and we'll substitute the Larry Jones-trained colt for the non-starting Florida Derby winner. Drawn comfortably inside, Friesan Fire should enjoy an ideal pace prompting trip and has worked well enough to expect a top effort despite a less-than-ideal layoff of seven weeks. We'll stick with Dunkirk as our top pick and continue to use I Want Revenge and long shot Mr. Hot Stuff in our exotics, along with Friesan Fire.

Therefore, our updated wagering strategy is as follows:

$20 Win Dunkirk ($20)
$5 Trifecta Key Dunkirk over Friesan Fire, I Want Revenge, Mr. Hot Stuff ($30)
$10 Exacta Box Dunkirk, I Want Revenge ($20)
$1 Trifecta Box Dunkirk, Friesan Fire, I Want Revenge, Mr. Hot Stuff ($24)
$3 Exacta Box Dunkirk, Mr. Hot Stuff ($6)
SELECTIONS:
1. DUNKIRK 2. I WANT REVENGE 3. MR. HOT STUFF 4. FRIESAN FIRE

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Horseplayerpro

The late defections of Quality Road and Square Eddie provided enough drama over the past few days, so Derby 135 did not need to have any more hijinx in the post position draw. Luckily for the main contenders, that was exactly the case.

None of the heavy hitters appears tremendously compromised by the 20-horse lineup as it shook out from the pill-pull and selection process. If anyone might be compromised, it could be Desert Party, who leaves from post 19 and is not a push-button type horse like Big Brown, who was much the best to overcome the 20-hole last year.

The speed of the race figures to come from posts 6-10, where Friesan Fire, Papa Clem, Join in the Dance and Regal Ransom take up residence. Horses like Chocolate Candy, General Quarters and I Want Revenge, who leave from the 11-13 slots, figure to benefit from space opening up to their inside as the speed horses open up early.

Trainer Bob Baffert opted to go outside with Pioneerof The Nile in the No. 16. Part of the reason was to keep the horse, who has never raced on dirt, on the outside and free of the majority of kick-back that he’s never experienced. Sounds like a shrewd move and could pay dividends.

Dunkirk breaks just to Pioneerof The Nile’s inside in the 15-hole, meaning he’s first in the auxiliary starting gate and will have a bit of extra breathing room to his immediately left.

All in all, this was a non-news event from a handicapper’s standpoint.

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Mighty Quinn

Saturday it's Dunkirk in the Derby ($25 win and place).

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Re: Kentucky Derby Service Plays

Hondo

Today, His Red-Hot Aitchness will back Friesen Fire in the Derby with a five-unit win wager

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