Haskin's Derby Trail: Ride the Wild Surf

Can a maiden winner win the Louisiana Derby (gr. II)? If you answer yes then you would naturally turn your attention to Cigar Street. After all, as the ESPN show “Numbers Never Lie” would suggest, Cigar Street’s 13 ¾-length procession, earning a 99 Beyer speed figure, is more than sufficient ammunition to land the $600,000 winner’s prize.

But what about a maiden winner who won by only 2 ½ lengths, earning an 80 Beyer speed figure? Going strictly by the numbers, Windsurfer would appear to have little or no shot. But sometimes, numbers do lie, which is why racing has a steady stream of longshot winners. Sometimes, you have to take into consideration the visual aspects of a race.

We acknowledge that Cigar Street could be special, but like Windsurfer, he has yet to face winners and no doubt is going to be a huge bet-down horse. We’re looking for potential overlays in what looks to be a wide-open race, with Mark Valeski the likely favorite off his nose defeat to El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II).

In Windsurfer’s trouble line in the DRF past performances, it reads “wide trip.” But there is wide and there is wide. Windsurfer actually was forced six wide into the first turn, raced wide down the backstretch and around the far turn, finally was able to ease into the two-path turning for home and drew off to a comfortable victory, with the second horse finishing 6 ½ lengths ahead of the third horse.

Now, this would hardly seem to qualify him to come back and knock off 13 opponents in a grade II stakes. But he has been working brilliantly since that race, including a bullet :59 2/5 breeze, and it is just possible this is a rapidly improving colt who is ready to make this big a leap. In  his previous start, stretching out to two turns for the first time in only his second career start, he finished second to a good colt in Stealcase and finished 8 ¼ lengths ahead of the third horse.

As a son of Speightstown, out of a Malibu Moon mare, his pedigree doesn’t exactly shout out distance, but his last race certainly suggests he can go another sixteenth of a mile effectively.

Now, be aware that Windsurfer was being targeted for the Illinois Derby (gr. II) and only was re-routed to the Louisiana Derby when Discreet Dancer was taken off the Derby trail. So this was not his intended stop. Make of that what you wish. All we’re saying is that Windsurfer should be a decent price and is eligible to run a big race, if not big enough to win then big enough to be part of the exotics. This is the time of the year when 3-year-olds light on experience often turn in bust-out performances, and this colt could be one of them.

Stretch threats

As for the more experienced horses in the Louisiana Derby, under the right pace scenario Rousing Sermon and Shared Property, who gets blinkers, are more than capable of rebounding off poor efforts and making their presence felt, especially with the long Fair Grounds stretch. Both definitely are exotics plays, and a victory by either one wouldn’t come as a surprise.

Finnegan’s Wake, third in the Gotham (gr. III) at 25-1, and Z Dager, second in the Lecomte (gr. III) and third in the Risen Star look like improving colts. And who knows if Lecomte winner Mr. Bowling is capable of bouncing back from a dreadful performance in the Risen Star.

Again, this is an intriguing betting race, with a number of potential overlays if you’re looking to knock off Mark Valeski and Cigar Street or are looking for horses to include in the exactas and trifectas.

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