$25,000 Road to Kentucky Contest continues Saturday

Even though the Kentucky Derby prep races are complete, Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Contest action continues Saturday, offering weekly cash prizes to the top performers. The contest track will be Keeneland.

Have a look at the previous winners and contest rules here.


Live Racing Returns Friday, May 5

First post on opening day is 4:00 p.m.

Simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks at 4:49 PM followed by more live racing into the evening.

Friday’s during the meet are Minnesota’s Biggest Happy Hour with opening night music provided by Tim Mahoney on the Mystic Lake Music Stage®

Food and Beverage Specials include:

$2: Chili, and Hot Links

$3: Regular Tap Beer Specials and Pizza Slice at Pizza & Pasta

$3.50: Premium Tap Beer Specials

$4: Margaritas Featuring Kimo Sabe Mezcal, Select Craft Bottled Beer, and Chili Cheese Tater Tots

$4.50: House Wine


Kentucky Derby: Full Court Press

J Boys Echo gallops Wednesday at Churchill Downs under Tammy Fox. Photo by Coady Photography

Romans, Loutsch unfazed by downgraded status as J Boys Echo getting final prep in G2 Blue Grass

by Jennie Rees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trainer Dale Romans and owner Albaugh Family Stable would rather that Saturday’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes was designated a Grade 1 race rather than Grade 2, a demotion handed down by the American Graded Stakes Committee in early December.

But that distinction wasn’t going to change their plans for J Boys Echo, who in his last start won New York’s Gotham Stakes and was among seven 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass. Romans is a life-long Louisvillian who ranks second all-time in victories at Churchill Downs. Keeneland is sacred to him as well, the highlight being winning the Blue Grass twice, including last year with Albaugh’s Brody’s Cause.

“You’re talking horse country of the world, and the biggest (pre-Derby) race for 3-year-olds in Kentucky and you’re downgrading it as a Derby prep?” said Jason Loutsch, co-owner and manager for father-in-law Dennis Albaugh’s racing and breeding operation. “I just don’t get it. It was frustrating. I disagree. The Wood Memorial (in New York Saturday, now also a Grade 2) is the same thing. They’re both great races. Everyone has looked at those races for a long time as big prep races for the Kentucky Derby. To me, it doesn’t matter particularly if it’s Grade 1 or 2. It’s still one of the most coveted races for me every year.”

Romans said the Grade 2 label “doesn’t diminish the race in my mind at all.”

“The Blue Grass has been good to me,” he said. “We’ve won it two of the last four years. One ran third back in the Derby. A horse that ran second in the Blue Grass was third in the Derby. Brody ran all right in the Derby (seventh). So it works for me. In its own right, the Blue Grass means a lot to me.”

The Blue Grass and the Florida Derby, which last year produced Kentucky Derby-winner Nyquist, are tied for the 3-year-old prep producing the most winners at 23 apiece, according to Churchill Downs’ online media guide. The Wood is next at 20.

The stripping of Grade 1 status did not seem to deter horsemen. While only seven horses were entered, the reason might be that the Blue Grass is shaping up as perhaps the strongest prep race of the year, including unbeaten Kentucky Derby favorite McCraken. Five of the seven entrants are stakes-winners; four are graded-stakes winners, including Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwrit and two-time Grade 1 winner Practical Joke. The two that haven’t won stakes have been second or third in multiple graded stakes, including Grade 1 races.

Like J Boys Echo, who is ridden by Robby Albarado, McCraken is trained (Ian Wilkes) and ridden (Brian Hernandez Jr.) by Louisvillians.

“I told Dale, ‘This Blue Grass is turning out to be a little mini Derby. You’ve got four of the top six horses,’” said Loutsch, along with Dennis Albaugh lives near Des Moines, Iowa. “I’m like ‘Holy Cow! We don’t have to win this race. If we do, great. If we don’t, I just want to move forward and show that we belong in this group.’ Dale goes, ‘Don’t worry about that. I’ll handle that.’ He sees him train every day, and he’s very confident in the horse. It’s going to be a tough race. Hopefully we’ll have some racing luck again. We don’t have to win it, but I want to have some confidence going forward.”

Romans says the Blue Grass and the Wood should have had perpetual Grade 1 status grandfathered in.

“It doesn’t diminish the race at all,” Romans said of the grading. “I don’t care if it was five years of being weak. For 100 years it’s been strong.”

Here’s a factoid that Romans and Loutsch were glad to hear: The last time the Blue Grass was downgraded from a Grade 1 to 2 — in 1990, the first year that the race was moved from nine days before the Derby to three weeks, since moved to four — it produced Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled and Preakness winner Summer Squall.

“I didn’t know that, but that’s pretty good,” Romans said. “Even if they look at a five-year period (in determining grading), they should take out Keeneland’s five years of being on Polytrack. Even then, you had nice (grass) horses in the race. It’s ridiculous.”

J Boys Echo drew post 3, just outside of McCraken. Said Romans: “Post position can’t be an excuse. The 3 is about as good as you can get in a seven-horse field.”

McCraken is the 7-5 favorite, with Tapwrit 5-2, Practical Joke 7-2 and J Boys Echo 4-1.

“It’s an even group of horses,” Romans said. “I don’t know if we’re fourth-best. It seems like a little high to me, but it doesn’t really matter. We’ll all find out Saturday afternoon.”

J Boys Echo had his final serious training move this past Saturday at Gulfstream Park, working five-eighths of a mile in company in 1:00 3/5. He flew to Louisville from South Florida on Sunday, and trained at Churchill Downs Tuesday for the first time since leaving late last fall. With all the Blue Grass horses required to be at Keeneland by noon Thursday, J Boy will van over the 75 miles to Lexington after training that day.

The Blue Grass is race 10 with a 5:17 p.m. central post.

This is the second installment of “Kentucky Derby: Full Court Press,” which centers on Albaugh Family Stable’s 3-year-old colt J Boys Echo and his team. The series is written by veteran turf journalist Jennie Rees and provided free to media, websites and social media outlets courtesy of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.

Canterbury Park’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest on Saturday will feature the entire Keeneland card plus the Santa Anita Derby.

Also earn double MVP Rewards points each Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the meet. Cash in on Keeneland.

Keeneland opens Friday; Major Derby Preps this Weekend

The 2017 Spring Meet at Keeneland begins Friday, April 7 and runs 15 days through April 28. MVP Rewards members will earn double MVP points on all tracked Keeneland wagers each Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the meet on all races and all wagers.

Opening day features the G3 Transylvania Stakes.

On Saturday the Lexington, KY track will run the $1m Blue Grass Stakes, a major stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby.

Road to Kentucky Contest

The entire Saturday card from Keeneland will be used for the weekly, free-to-enter, Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. The Blue Grass is a double-point race as are two additional bonus races: Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita and The Wood Memorial from Aqueduct.

This past Saturday, Fair Grounds and Gulfstream held their final preps for the Derby, the Louisiana Derby and the Florida Derby.  Girvin was favored at Fair Grounds and prevailed while at Gulfstream Gunnevera was sent to post at 6 to 5 and ran a non-threatening third. Second choice Always Dreaming gave trainer Todd Pletcher another Derby runner by drawing away to win the $1m prep by five lengths.

Gulfstream’s 14-race card was a mix of favorites and some prices. Total available points for the contest were just over 4,000, so the projected winning total for the week is 2,200 to 2,400, yet another big week for contest players hoping to move up in the standings.

Spring Tune-Up Satellite

Contest players have an opportunity to win an entry to Canterbury’s National Horseplayers Championship qualifiers by winning this Saturday’s Spring Tune-Up Satellite. Entry fee to the contest is $100. Players begin the contest with a $400 mythical bankroll and may wager all day until 5:30 making mythical bets using a tournament account card.  The three players with the largest bankrolls win. First place is a $700 Dog Days of Summer entry plus half the prize pool which will exceed $1,000. Second is a Dog Days entry plus 30 percent of the prize pool, and third wins a $550 Ultimate NHC Qualifier entry and 20 percent of the prize pool.

The 21st annual Dog Days Tournament will be held Sept. 9-10 and will award two entries to the February 2018 NHC. The Dog Days winner also receives a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry. The Ultimate NHC Qualifier will be Friday, Sept. 8.

Gulfstream Park featured in Saturday’s R2K Contest

Gulfstream Park will offer eight graded stakes races on Saturday’s card including the Fountain of Youth, an annual Kentucky Derby prep race. Canterbury’s free-to-enter contest, the $25,000 Road to Kentucky, will feature the entire Gulfstream card with the Fountain of Youth being a double-point race.  Also in the mix as a double pointer is The Gotham from Aqueduct.

Last Saturday R2K players handicapped the 12 races from Fair Grounds including the Risen Star Stakes, a double-point Derby prep won by Girvin at 8 to 1 odds. That race was the high water mark for points with those selecting Girvin earning 652 points. The fourth race was worth 332, otherwise it was a grind to accumulate points, based on a mythical $20 WPS wager, as the races did not produce long shot horses hitting the board. The total points available for the week were 2,679.

The winning score, earning 67 percent of the total available, was 1,799 by the very accurate Steven Johnson. Joe Schoening was second with 1,634 and Bill Ender beat Ted Grevelis by one point for third with a score of 1,578.

Entry deadline for Saturday’s contest is first post at Gulfstream at 11 a.m.

Big Week in Road to Kentucky

Many points were available in week 3 of the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest as the featured track, Gulfstream Park, had a 12-race card and there were two additional double-point Derby prep bonus races.  The unattainable perfect score was 3,811 so the expected winning score was in the 1,900-2,100 point range. There were two races that awarded more than 500 points. The Derby preps produced nothing outrageous. Even though the favorite won the Withers, the second place horse was a bomber for 432 points.

Jane Armstrong came out on top in week three with 1,897, and Mike Gaulrapp, winner of the 2016 R2K contest, was second with 1,860. Cindy Woods finished third with 1,835. They all earn Canterbury Handicapper of the Year points and cash.  Here are the complete standings.

There are still 13 weekly contests remaining. Each player’s lowest three scores are dropped from the overall total so there is still opportunity to get involved in the hunt for cumulative top prize and then of course each week pays the top five best scores.

This Saturday is Tampa Bay Downs with the bonus race being the Sam F. Davis. The undefeated McCraken makes his 3-year-old debut in this 1 1/16 mile, grade 3 event. The son of Ghostbuster is on the Top 5 list of most ‘cappers that go through the process of making such a list.

Tampa begins its 12-race card at 11 a.m. so do not get shut out of R2K. Entry deadline, and entry to R2K is free, is first post.  Arrive early and get ready to enjoy exciting racing, large pools, and the race calls of Richard Grunder, also on several Top 5 lists. In addition to the Derby prep the card also features two additional Grade 3s: Tampa Bay Stakes and Endeavour Stakes.

Horse Player World Series Super Satellites Continue

Local handicappers continue to qualify for the Feb. 25 Horse Player World Series Satellite contest by playing the weekly $10 super satellite feeders. This is an inexpensive way to earn a chance to go to Vegas  at the end of March and play in a prestigious national contest with top prize of $300,000.  Last week five players, led by former Canterbury Handicapper of the Year Kalib Martin, earned entry to the Feb. 25 event.

Week 3 of R2K Features Three Derby Preps

Last Saturday Tampa Bay Downs’ 10-race card was used for the $25,000 Road to Kentucky Contest as there were no Kentucky Derby prep races. The situation changes this Saturday as three preps will be run: Holy Bull at Gulfstream, Withers at Aqueduct, and Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. Gulfstream’s entire card will be the feature track with the other preps added as bonus races. All three preps will offer double points so this could be a week to make a major move in the standings

Tampa had competitive racing but there were no extreme long shot winners meaning  the total points available were modest, just 2,100 for a perfect score. The most points available in a single race was 330 in the fourth event of the day. Four more races offered at least 200 points. So, based on history, players that could accumulate anywhere close to 1,300 points would be in the mix for prize money. The top two players performed very well and exceeded that number by quite a bit while the third-place score of 1,325 was indeed in the money.

Rolin Sampson  1,502

James Glynn  1,441

Linda Hernandez   1,325


Entry to R2K is free and selections must be submitted prior to first post at Gulfstream.

R2K Week 1 in the Books, Detour to Tampa for Week 2

The annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Tournament began with a bang when Apache Fog, at 59-1, ran second in the opening race at Fair Grounds, yielding 536 points to those entrants looking for a price. That however turned out to be the high-water mark as far as single race points go, as the remainder of the races were won by short prices, until the finale when Hollywood Handsome prevailed in race 12 for 424 points. The double-point LeComte Stakes was won by favorite Guest Suite for 324 points.

A perfect score was around 2,500 points, so this was not a week where players could separate from the field. Rule of thumb is that winning scores generally earn 50 to 60 percent of the total possible and that held true as the top five all exceeded 1,200 points

Milen Sefcik – 1353

Daniel Ovando – 1334

Douglas Herman – 1328

Jacob Kjos – 1285

Jason Jukulen  – 1243

Complete standings can be found at: http://www.canterburypark.com/Simulcasting/SimulcastingPromotions/RoadtoKentucky2017/tabid/360/Default.aspx

This Saturday, because there are no Kentucky Derby prep races, the R2K contest will make a pit stop at Tampa Bay Downs for its 10-race card that begins at 11:25am. Weekly prize money remains the same and scores are achieved in the same manner expect there is no double-point race.  Those bonus races return in force Feb. 4 with three preps: The Holy Bull, The Withers, and the Robert Lewis.




Derby Futures Pool Opens Friday, Jan. 27 and Concludes Three-Day Run on Sunday, Jan. 29

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 – Indistry Press Release) – John C. Oxley’s Classic Empire (#3), winner of the Sentient Jet
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) and the champion 2-year-old of 2016, is the individual favorite to win the 143rd running
of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), but the Mutuel Field (#24), or “All Others,” is expected to
continue its traditional role as the overall betting choice in Pool 2 of Churchill Downs’ 2017 Kentucky Derby Future
Wager (“KDFW”), which opens its three-day run on Friday, Jan. 27.

The Mutuel Field has been favored in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager of the calendar year since Churchill
Downs created the bet in 1999, and odds maker Mike Battaglia installed the “All Others” as the 8-5 likely bettors’ choice
in his morning line odds for 2017’s Pool 2. Wagering on the three-day pool opens at the home of the Kentucky Derby and
at racetracks, satellite wagering centers and online betting platforms at noon (all times EST) on Friday, Jan. 27. Wagering
on KDFW Pool 2 will conclude at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Battaglia assigned odds of 5-1 to the Mark Casse-trained Classic Empire, the son of Pioneerof the Nile who was
the winner of the Eclipse Award for the champion 2-year-old of 2016 in a unanimous vote. Classic Empire scored four
victories in his five races in 2016 – including a pair of triumphs at Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby will be run
for the 143rd consecutive year on Saturday, May 6. Casse’s colt earned $1,485,920 during his championship campaign and
could make his first start of 2017 in the Holy Bull (GII) on Feb. 4 at Gulfstream Park.

Classic Empire was the 6-1 individual choice for the opening pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager
conducted over four days in November, but the “All Others” bet was a strong 6-5 overall favorite at the conclusion of that

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager provides racing fans with the opportunity to wager on contenders for the
Kentucky Derby at odds that could be more attractive than those available on the day of America’s greatest race.
The Future Wager offers $2 minimum win wagering on 24 betting interests that include 23 individual horses and
the Mutuel Field, which includes all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the individual wagering interests in a respective
pool. Each pool also offers $2 exacta wagering on the 24 wagering interests, with the latter also available in $1 minimum
increments in boxes and other multiple number configurations.
Payouts in the win and exacta wagering in Pool 2 will be determined by the odds that are in place at Sunday’s
conclusion of wagering.

The official rules of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager do not permit scratches of betting interests or refunds of
wagers placed during any of its four pools. Wagering will be suspended on a betting interest in any of the respective pools
if Churchill Downs determines that an individual horse will not be able to participate in the Kentucky Derby because of
injury, illness or other circumstance.

While Classic Empire is a solid individual choice in the morning line odds for the second Kentucky Derby Future
Wager pool, there are plenty Derby candidates with attractive odds among the remaining 22 individuals in the pool. The
latter group includes 10 horses that were not a part of November’s opening pool.
Rated closely behind Classic Empire among individual 3-year-olds are Cheyenne Stables LLC’s unbeaten
Mastery (#12, 6-1) and Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s McCraken (#13, 10-1), whose record remains perfect after
three races.

Mastery, a son of Candy Ride (ARG) trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Fame conditioner
Bob Baffert, closed at odds of 10-1 in November’s opening pool and has since won the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) for his
third triumph in as many starts. Baffert also trains Pool 2 wagering interest American Anthem (#1, 15-1), the runner-up in
the recent Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita for owners WinStar Farm LLC and S F Bloodstock LLC.
McCraken, a homebred son of Ghostzapper trained by Ian Wilkes, closed his 2016 campaign with a triumph in
the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) at Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby and the site of all of the colt’s three
career victories. Wilkes is seeking his first Kentucky Derby triumph after working as an assistant to Hall of Famer Carl
Nafzger when the latter saddled Kentucky Derby winners Unbridled (1990) and Street Sense (2007).

Other accomplished horses among Pool 2’s 23 individual betting interests include Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S.
Moss’s Gormley (#7, 15-1), winner of the recent Sham (GIII) and the FrontRunner (GI) at Santa Anita for trainer John
Shirreffs, who teamed with the owners to win the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 longshot Giacomo; Klaravich Stables
and William H. Lawrence’s Practical Joke (#18, 20-1), winner of the Champagne (GI) and Hopeful (GI) and third in
the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Team D’s Mo Town (#14, 20-1),
a son of Uncle Mo who won the Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct in November; Robert V. LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum’s
Uncontested (#21, 20-1), a front-running winner of the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park for trainer Wayne Catalano; and
L and N Racing’s Lookin At Lee (#11, 30-1), runner-up to Classic Empire in Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
(GI), fourth to that rival in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the winner of the Ellis Park Juvenile.

Pool 2 of the 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wager includes 10 horses that were not among the wagering interests
in November’s opening pool. That group includes American Anthem; St. Elias Stable’s Battalion Runner (#2, 20-1), an
easy 8 ¾-length winner of a Gulfstream Park maiden race in his New Year’s Eve debut; M M G Stables LLC’s El Areeb
(#4, 50-1), a runaway 11 ½-length winner of the Jerome (GIII) at Aqueduct on a muddy track on Jan. 2; Harrell Ventures
LLC’s Faja (#6, 50-1), an 8 ¾-length winner in his career debut at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 17; William S. Farish and
Lora Jean Kilroy’s Guest Suite (#8, 50-1), a gelded son of Quality Road who took last week’s Lecomte (GIII) at Fair
Grounds in his 2017 debut for trainer Neil Howard; Rialto Racing Stables and Southern Springs Stables’ Petrov
(#17, 50-1), runner-up in the Smarty Jones; Mont Saint Legame (JPN) (#16, 50-1), a Japan-based son of Came Home
whose two wins in as many starts include the Cattleya Sho at Tokyo Racecourse for trainer Koji Maki; Sonic Mule (#19,
50-1), winner of the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park for owner Calumet Farm, which holds a record eight
victories in the Kentucky Derby; Conrad Farm’s State of Honor (#20, 50-1), the runner-up in the Mucho Macho Man;
and Michael Langford’s Lecomte runner-up Untrapped (#22, 50-1).

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, trains four
KDFW Pool 2 betting interests. Pletcher’s quartet includes Tabor, Magnier and Smith’s Fact Finding (#5, 30-1), whose
three wins in as many races include the Smooth Air at Gulfstream Park, Battalion Runner, Faja and Sonic Mule.
Other trainers with more than one Pool 2 wagering interest include Baffert; Casse, who also trains State of Honor;
and Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and Untrapped.

Real time odds on the Kentucky Derby Future Wager and more information on the 143rd running of the Kentucky
Derby is available online at http://www.KentuckyDerby.com.

2017 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest begins Saturday


The 20th annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, with $25,000 in total prize money, begins Saturday. While much has changed in racing and handicapping over the past two decades, the basic focus of this free-to-enter contest has remained sharp. The emphasis is on 3-year-olds prepping for the Kentucky Derby and players getting rewarded for handicapping prowess.

Each week the races from one featured track, plus any additional Derby prep races from other tracks, are offered as contest races.  For example, this week is the 12-race card from Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Entrants select one horse in each race and submit a completed entry card before first post, which in this case is 12:30 p.m. Points are awarded based on the pari-mutuel payouts of those selections. The bigger the odds, the better the points.  When there are Derby preps, like this Saturday’s Le Comte Stakes, the points are doubled for the race. And for the Kentucky Derby itself, the points are tripled.

Each week a total of $1,125 in prize money is paid to the five entrants with the best scores.  The contest runs 16 weeks, and points accumulate over that period with additional prize money awarded to those that garner the biggest total scores. Keep in mind that the three lowest scores are dropped from the total score so if a player lays an egg or can’t make it to the contest and receives a zero, that result is somewhat neutralized.

It’s free, it’s fun, its pays, and you’re going to be at the track anyway.  Have a look at the complete RULES and the schedule of contest tracks and prep races.

To win any individual week, you need to find some large-priced winners.  You cannot just ‘chalk’ it out unless it is the rare day where the MOTOs rule.

“Every horse in every race will be selected by somebody,” Bruce Meyer, reigning Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year said. “Favorites winning don’t hurt that much. Longshot winners are page jumpers.”

And if the overall prize structure is your goal, the weekly approach could be somewhat more conservative but still requires winners that are not all favored. An average score of around 1,000 per week is often the norm for the overall winner.  Of course, if you are in touch with the field and find a bomber to win the Derby you leap everyone and win it all.

So it all begins with Fair Grounds and its 12 races Saturday, and then next Saturday Tampa Bay Downs will be the contest track but there are no prep races that week the way the schedule unfolds, however the prize money for the contest stays the same.

Plan to make as many of these contests as you can as we gear up for Kentucky Derby and live racing at Canterbury Park.

Rubber Meets The Road

illustration by Ralph Steadman

illustration by Ralph Steadman

“….we were both half-crazy from too much whiskey, sun fatigue, culture shock, lack of sleep and general dissolution.” – Hunter S. Thompson

We are firmly in deep stretch of the 2016 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. There is nothing like Derby week.  The Kentucky Derby hopefuls are making their final preparations at Churchill Downs, but we still had contest action at Gulfstream Park last Saturday.  With no double point bonus race, the maximum score last week was only 1,907, so something in the 1,200 point range should contend for top honors.  There were two horses that were separators last week, Marshall Eddy (408 points) and Key the Storm (548 points).  Key the Storm was a the top point horse of the week, but still a heart breaker if you used him as he led every step of the way and got beat a nose in the final jump.  I was in the 300-point range once again, as this year’s contest has been more bitter than sweet for me.

So now it’s Kentucky Derby week.  The previous two contest weeks didn’t result in much movement in the overall standings, but Kentucky Derby day has the potential to be extremely volatile as the Derby winner could be worth over 3,000 contest points.  There are plenty of longshots to choose from, but here are a few random thoughts on this year’s Derby:

Nyquist:  The Derby favorite, and the horse the wise guys have been unsuccessfully trying to beat since last fall.  He is one of the most accomplished, yet least respected Kentucky Derby favorites I can remember.  Those who have been playing against him will certainly try to beat him again, but with a moderate pace projected for this year’s Derby he figures to work a very nice trip near the lead.  My biggest concern with him is that he may regress off his Florida Derby win, where I believe he was fully cranked to win the $1 million dollar bonus he was eligible for in that race.  His detractors say he won’t get the Derby distance, but this crop hasn’t been as fast as other years, and he has run his race every single time.  I put his fair odds around 4-1, and I believe he is a must-use horse, at least defensively, in horizontals.

Danzing Candy is a horse that interests me quite a bit.  He was quite good in his front-running victories in California prior to his Santa Anita Derby debacle.  I’m willing to excuse that race as a combination of the off-track and the fact that he had a pre-race meltdown in the starting gate.  Whatever the reason for his Santa Anita Derby race, he reminds me of Palace Malice in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, where he ran off on the lead over a sloppy track and was well beaten.  Palace Malice came back to win the Belmont Stakes as a 15-1 longshot.  Danzing Candy should be a playable price with a favorable pace scenario and with Mike Smith aboard I’m willing to gamble on him as my Derby longshot.

The contest begins at 9:30 a.m. Half the battle is showing up on time!

Enjoy the mint juleps and the Kentucky Derby at Canterbury Park!

Farewell and Good Luck to Angela Hermann

When opportunity knocks, some just look through the peephole while others throw the door wide open.  Angela was offered the job of calling the races at Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area for the remainder of their meet, beginning Thursday.

She will be missed at Canterbury for certain. Read more on Midwest Paddock Report.

No rumors yet regarding her replacement at Canterbury but with the meet just two weeks away something should break soon. Stay tuned…..

The Oracle

Road to Kentucky Contest Week 15 Recap – Waiting for Derby Day

Let's Get Small

“Let’s get small.” – Steve Martin

The contest track for Week 15 in the Road to Kentucky contest was Keeneland, but there was no double point bonus race as all the final prep races for the Kentucky Derby are complete.  Scores will reflect this, as the maximum points available of 1,799 should translate to a winning score in the 1,200 – 1,300 range.

There weren’t any “must-have” horses this week.  The top scoring horse was in Race 1, as Cheray prevailed as a 10-1 longshot and was worth 338 contest points.  Other than that, most of the top point horses fell in the 150-250 point range per week.  No fireworks anywhere, just a steady stream of logic.  That’s no fun. Give me chaos and volatility!

I got really small this week with a score of 52, a seriously awful effort.  The only real chance I had to hit anything of consequence was in the featured Race 9 when A Red Tie Day led into the stretch on a soft pace at 17-1, but he faded to fourth.  Everything else was a Michael Jackson moonwalk impression.  I wouldn’t expect much movement near the top of the leaderboard with so few points available, but the weekly prizes are still paying the same!

This Saturday the contest track is Gulfstream Park.  Once again, no bonus race as all the Derby hopefuls are registering their final workouts and getting their bath photos taken.  Never underestimate the power of a good bath photo!

Hope to see you Saturday at Canterbury Park! Kentucky Derby, May 7, is moving day for contest players as the Derby itself offers triple points. In 2005, Ron White selected longshot Giacomo and jumped from page 18 to the top of the leaderboard to win it all. It ain’t over ’til it’s over!

The Oracle