“It’s like being an eyewitness to your kid being beaten up on the playground. He’s got such a fine move. Just go around.” – Trainer Tom Amoss, lamenting another tough trip for his Kentucky Derby hopeful Mo Tom, who finished fourth as the favorite in the Louisiana Derby.
You know it’s going to be a long day when there are more races at the selected contest track than there are spaces on the contest sheet. That was the case last Saturday at Fair Grounds, as they ran a 15-race card as part of their closing weekend festivities. The Road to Kentucky contest used the first 14 races on the day, which seemed like more than enough to decide a weekly winner.
The Fair Grounds rail was golden on Risen Star day last month, but the track last Saturday seemed pretty fair to me. The featured Louisiana Derby was won by Gun Runner, the same horse who emerged victorious from the Risen Star. Mo Tom, the beaten favorite, received his second consecutive rough trip, causing his trainer Tom Amoss to go on the verbal offensive after the race. It appears that Mo Tom will still have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, but Amoss’ displeasure with the finish was impossible to miss.
Putting the race in perspective, Gun Runner received a 91 Beyer speed figure for the win, which is a bit light compared to some of the other prep races at other tracks. Personally, I look at Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita for my Kentucky Derby contenders as it’s been a while since we’ve had a serious contender come out of Louisiana. I guess Revolutionary and Friesen Fire come to mind.
The play of the day for contest purposes was in the Louisiana Derby, as longshot Tom’s Ready finished second at 30-1 odds. That play was worth 728 points due to the double bonus. Listening to the DRF Players Podcast last week, I heard last year’s NHC Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen talk about the wide trip that Tom’s Ready received in the Risen Star, and due to the track bias it really gave him no chance that day. That turned out to be a pretty good 30-1 tout. He was never getting to Gun Runner for the win, but Tom’s Ready was a nice horse to find for the vertical exotics in addition to the contest points it provided.
There’s a big chance of a math error with 14 races to look at, but by my calculations the maximum contest points this week were 4,159. Anything over 2,000 should have a chance at the top five. I had a good week with 1,382 points, which included Tom’s Ready in the feature and the 8-1 winner of Race 1. Other than that I think I had two seconds and a bunch of run-outs, but Tom’s Ready got the blood pumping a little bit at the top of the stretch.
In other horse racing news, California Chrome became the richest North American thoroughbred of all time with his win in the Dubai World Cup last Saturday. He got the perfect outside stalking trip he likes, and he won with authority by about four lengths. I’ve always been a fan so it was a good result in my book. It sounds like two more races for California Chrome, the Pacific Classic and the Breeder’s Cup Classic and then it’s off to the shed.
This Saturday the contest track is Gulfstream Park for the featured Florida Derby. It looks like an early showdown between the top two Derby contenders Mohaymen and Nyquist. There’s also an additional bonus race at Turfway Park, the Spiral Stakes. Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!
The Oracle will be playing in the Horse Player World Series Handicapping Contest this week at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He won his way there in a Canterbury satellite contest along with Todd Loose, Lannette Sheldon, and Pete Milinkovich. Best of luck to the Canterbury contingent.