Let’s take a closer look at one of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby prep races, and see if we can find some Value in this field of seven runners.
TAX [ML 4-1] Trainer: Dan Gargan Jockey: Junior Alvarado. He is one of two in the race that already has KD qualifying points. TAX has been training at Belmont Park. The trainer likes to be aggressive with his horses, and have them forwardly placed, but he’ll find plenty of company contending the pace in here.
SIR WINSTON [ML 6-1] Trainer: Mark Casse Jockey: Dylan Davis. Casse is always willing to take a shot with his runners, and this one shows three nice starts on the synthetic at Woodbine. For what it’s worth, his first two races on the dirt and then the turf were poor. In his defense, Casse claims, “He’s a horse that has gotten better as he’s gotten older.”
MORETTI [ML 9-5] Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Manny Franco. This colt was bet down to be an odds-on favorite in his second start and was an impressive winner going the mile and an eighth distance. He raced a bit greenly down the stretch that day feeling the stick a couple of times. He stayed in Pletcher’s Belmont Park barn since that win in December to target this race.
ADMIRE [ML 8-1] Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Eric Cancel. This guy broke his maiden in a race that was meant for the turf at Churchill Downs going a mile and an eighth in November. Since then, Romans sent him to train at his Gulfstream Park winter base. The trainer has had luck in the past on the New York trail to the Kentucky Derby.
LUCKY LEE [ML 8-1] Trainer: John Servis Jockey: Frankie Pennington. This horse won his two most recent starts, which came in October and November of last year. Those wins were at Parx Racing and both ran around a two-turn mile. The racing surface at Parx is also deep, so LUCKY LEE should transition to Aqueduct very well. His running style says that he is likely to be pushing the early pace here.
OUR BRAINTRUST [ML 5-2] Trainer: Mark Casse Jockey: Jose Lezcano. The second of two Casse runners in the field, OB finished second in the Jerome just a length behind MIND CONTROL and four lengths in front of the rest of the field. He is the other horse here already in possession of KD qualifying points.
NOT THAT BRADY [ML 15-1] Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez. This New York-bred broke his maiden by more than 11 lengths and then won a Stakes Race by three. Both of those victories were in state-bred races, and were won on the front end in one-turn miles at Aqueduct. At the very least he will help ensure a quick early pace.
Summary: The Withers looks like a race that has plenty of horses that prefer to run on or near the early lead. Traveling nine-furlongs on the front end at Aqueduct in a competitive field is a daunting task this time of year.
That said, the Daily Racing Blog will give a nod to off-the-pace runners such as ADMIRE, and OUR BRAINTRUST. Mind you, MORETTI is in that category as well, but he will get bet down from his 9-5 Morning Line, so DRB will pass on him as the top pick. We’ll wager like this: A Trifecta Key, 4 with All. As well as a three horse Exacta Box using 4-5-6, and Win Bets on the 4 and 5. Best of luck no matter how you play it.