“Trainer Wesley Ward confirmed to Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman that The Great War will no longer pursue the May 2 Kentucky Derby.” – Churchill Downs
The Road to Kentucky contest continued at Turfway Park last Saturday for a nine-race contest card, featuring the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. There were no Kentucky Derby points awarded for the Battaglia, but it served as a prep race for the March 21 Spiral Stakes which is worth 50 Derby points to the winner.
The maximum score last week was 2,077 points. I don’t see a path to victory if you didn’t select the Battaglia winner, Royal Son, who was the 9-1 winner for trainer Todd Pletcher. He was worth 772 points or 37% of the total points available for the week. Pletcher has a knack for winning these prep races at a square price, and I keep overlooking his runners. In this case, I was expecting Royal Son to be about 7/2 on the board so I looked for a higher priced contender. It was beyond my wildest imagination that The Great War would be so heavily bet in the race. As the chart indicates, The Great War finished last at odds of 1/5 after bleeding during the race. Turfway Park has been on my short list of tracks to play this year, and I’m confident in saying that any horse bet below even money is taking too much action. The track is quirky, a synthetic surface that was favoring speed for this contest night, but often favors stone closers making 8-wide bids as they turn for home.
I scored around 500 points this week with a 6-1 winner and some minor placings. My Battaglia selection was Task Force Glory (13-1) who was trained by Michael Maker and had done well in previous races running on the turf. He was a closer who never threatened as the track was favorable to front runners last Saturday. I expect the winning score to be in the 1,200-1,300 range for the week. Congratulations if you selected Royal Son in the contest!
This Saturday the contest track is Tampa Bay Downs for the featured Tampa Bay Derby. There are also bonus races at Aqueduct and Santa Anita so plenty of points will be available! Hope to see you here! Early Tampa post time of 11:00a.m. Entry cards will be available at the third level MVP Rewards booth beginning at 10.