Road to Kentucky Week 13 Recap – What Did We Learn?

 

“Until last week, he’s drug me around the race track in 59 and change, 59 and change, 59 and change.  Last week he went in 1:02.  He finally turned off, finally let me ride, finally said ‘Aw, okay, you drive.’” – Kent Desormeaux, jockey aboard Exaggerator who won the Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita was the week 13 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest track, featuring the Santa Anita Derby.  The Wood Memorial from Aqueduct and the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland were also bonus races on the slate.

The track was sloppy at Santa Anita, and that played right into the hands of Exaggerator, who had also won the Delta Jackpot over a sloppy track as a 2-year-old.  When Danzing Candy zipped an opening half-mile in a suicidal 45.1 seconds, it set up perfectly for one of the closers to take advantage.  Most thought that Mor Spirit was the best closer in the field, but Exaggerator blew by him with ease and won by six lengths, earning a 103 Beyer speed figure.  The race flow was definitely in his favor so I’m taking the performance with a bit of skepticism, but if the Churchill Downs track comes up sloppy on Kentucky Derby day, Exaggerator deserves a long look.

Brody’s Cause and Outwork exited the Tampa Bay Derby to post victories in the Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial, respectively.  Both victories were not as impressive as Exaggerator from a Beyer Speed Figure perspective, and Brody’s Cause seemed to benefit from a track that favored off the pace runners all day.  Still, both horses have solid positions in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 7.  Based on the results of the Derby preps this weekend, one could argue that top Derby contenders Nyquist and Cupid are sitting in a pretty good position.

The maximum score this week was 3,568 points, which should put the winning score between 1,800 – 2,200 points this week.  (Last week the winner had 79% of the maximum points which has to be some kind of record!)  The key contest horse this week was Trojan Nation, who finished second in the Wood Memorial at odds of 81-1!  That horse was worth 1,068 contest points so you probably need that one for a top five finish.

After having two consecutive good scores and just missing the top five last week, I couldn’t do anything right this week with a score of 48 points.  That’s odds-on to be the worst score of the week.  None of my selections ran well at all, except for Laoban in the Blue Grass, who set the pace to mid-stretch and faded to fourth.  Otherwise, my selections resembled a mail-order diagram of an Acme rocket that sends Wile E. Coyote right over the cliff.  First page in the standings, it was nice knowing you!

There was another contest at Canterbury last Saturday also, the Spring Tune-Up Contest. Buy-in was $100 and players made wagers with a $400 mythical bankroll. Tope prizes were cash and entries to the Dog Days and Ultimate NHC contests.  I saved all my bullets for a 4-1 horse I liked at Tampa Bay Downs and went all-in on a $400 win bet.  My horse faded at the top of the stretch but I didn’t regret the strategy just the outcome.  It’s an interesting format and a fun one to try; there are many different ways to play it.  Congratulations to the top three finishers Ray Davis, Joshua Madison and Dave Handeland!

This Saturday the contest track is Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby and there is also a bonus race at Keeneland, the Lexington Stakes.  Last year, American Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby easily, and this year Baffert has the favorite again with the Rebel winner Cupid.  Hope to see you here!

The Oracle

Wile E Coyote

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