“Coming into this race he was doing much better than he was last time. He’s starting to fill out, getting stronger.” – Bob Baffert, trainer of Dortmund, San Felipe winner.
We have reached the halfway point in the Road to Kentucky contest after last week’s action at Tampa Bay Downs. In addition to the 12-race card at Tampa Bay featuring the Tampa Bay Derby, there were also bonus races at Santa Anita and Aqueduct. In total, 14 races filled the afternoon with contest action. There weren’t any fireworks from a contest standpoint in the double point bonus races, as the heavily favored runners won each of the preps impressively. But the sheer volume of races brought the maximum points available for the week to a gaudy 3,856.
To these eyes, Dortmund was the star of the day at Santa Anita as he improved his record to a perfect 5/5. Dortmund is a large colt by Big Brown, and trainer Bob Baffert believes that longer distances won’t be a problem for the large chestnut. “As long as he stays healthy, the farther they go, he’s just getting cranked up there at the end.”
For contest purposes, the play of the day was in Race 3 when Bellali blew the tote board to Orlando with a shocking 42-1 victory. If you tabbed the 5-year-old mare, you were rewarded with 962 contest points as the win total was capped at 29-1 odds by rule. I looked at Bellali’s past performances after the fact, trying to find any reason to play her in the contest but came up empty. It was a head scratcher to me. But if you played the horse, congratulations and I would love to hear how you came up with her! Bellali was worth 25% of the weekly points, so while it’s possible to win the contest without picking her, you had a great head start if you had it.
I ended up with 926 points this week with one longshot winner and a few other close calls. My selections in the prep races were Great Stuff (5th, 29-1) in the Tampa Bay Derby, Classy Class (3rd, 4-1) in the Gotham, and Sir Samson (9th, 26-1) in the San Felipe. The favorites were too good, although the place finishers in the Gotham and the Tampa Bay Derby were top points in those races.
I’m expecting a winning score in the 2,000 point range this week. You can piece it together with a few of those winning bombs, or a hot streak of double point winners and mid-range prices. This Saturday the contest moves to Oaklawn Park for the featured Rebel. Win Willy won this race back in 2009 at odds of 56-1 for trainer Mac Robertson. He defeated heavily favored Old Fashioned that day. Perhaps another double point shocker is on tap this year. Hope to see you here!