Lane's End Stakes Analysis

It's sort of nice to have a quiet weekend of racing after the four big Kentucky Derby preps a week ago, and the Florida Derby on the horizon. We're just six weeks from the big day now, so it's a good time to catch your breath.

The Lane's End Stakes from Turfway Park is the lone prep race on this week's calendar, and historically, it hasn't meant much as far as future Derby winners are concerned. Lil E. Tee is the only horse to win the race and go on to take the roses (1992, when it was called the Jim Beam Stakes), although in recent years Perfect Drift and Hard Spun came out of this event to hit the board on the first Saturday in May. But it's still a fun race to handicap because it usually draws a large field and the Polytrack always adds the element of unknown.

The last favorite to win this race was Event of the Year back in 1998, so an upset is certainly possible. But on paper, two horses stand out well above the rest - West Side Bernie and Bittel Road. They both have huge class edges and get top-notch riders for the first time. The question is, are you going to try to beat them?

1. Hold Me Back: Interesting spot for a colt to make his 3-year-old debut. Even more interesting that he was listed as the third choice on the morning-line. Ran fifth to Old Fashioned in the Remsen after winning the first two starts of his career on synthetic surfaces - both around two turns. Has been training very well in Florida (pair of bullet works this month) and gets Desormeaux back in the irons. Very well bred (by Giant's Causeway, out of a Unbridled's Song mare) and has the winning connections. Notable that he also drew the rail in his allowance win at Keeneland in October when Desormeaux was aboard. Merits consideration based on all of the above, but winning off a nearly four-month layoff is a tall task, even for Mott.

2. Bittel Road: A lot to like about this one, including being one of only two graded stakes winners in the field. Has done his best running on turf, but was competitive in his last two starts on synthetics, running fourth to Pioneerof the Nile in both. In the Bob Lewis last out he finished only a half-length back of I Want Revenge, who went on to dominate in the Gotham. You would have to think he'll improve off that in his second start of the season. Now he adds Gomez for the first time and that's never a bad thing. Pletcher has won this race twice in the last eight years. Should be right in the mix.

3. A.P. Cardinal: Has improved slightly since McLaughlin took over training, but still has been a money-burner. Set the pace last out in the Sam Davis at Tampa before tiring badly. Now tries Poly for the first time and gets Cornelio as a new rider. Should be a bigger price than his previous three tries if you want to take a shot.

4. West Side Bernie: The other graded stakes winner in the field is set up well to run a big one. First thing you have to like is that he won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile on this strip last September. Then turned in a decent effort in the BC Juvenile and closed very well to get second in the Delta Jackpot. His 2009 debut wasn't half bad either, closing strong on a speed biased track at Gulfstream in the Holy Bull. Has the highest speed figures of any contender here and adds Prado, who won this race aboard Adriano last year. Also the highest earner of any horse in the field. The pick.

5. Jack Spratt: Was overmatched in the Fountain of Youth, which was his first try on dirt. Two starts ago won a stakes race on the Gulfstream turf aboard Leparoux, who is back on for this one. Also encouraging is his second-place finish back in September on the Turfway Poly in his second career start. Don't forget that Mike Maker has been the leading trainer at Turfway for the last two years. He knows how to get horses to run on this track. A nice exotics possibility.

6. Parade Clown: Won the WEBN here two starts back. Finished runner-up to Proceed Bee as the favorite last out in the Battaglia. Get a rider upgrade with Coa. Would be a big surprise to see him take top prize or even hit the board.

7. Bruce N Autumn: Not a whole lot to like on paper, other than the addition of Turfway's top rider Lebron. Was way back in the Holy Bull and most recently, fifth in an allowance on turf. Off the board in four of his five starts. Pass.

8. Orthodox: Owner-breeder-trainer John Glenney thought enough of this one to put him in the BC Juvenile Turf, where he actually out-finished Bittel Road by a length. Made a successful 2009 debut on the turf at Fair Grounds in allowance competition and now returns to synthetics, where had two tries as a juvenile over the Del Mar Poly. Will be part of the early pace and might just be alone of the lead. Depending on how far he carries it, has a nice shot to hit the board.

9. Loch Dubh: Won the Turfway Prevue here in January and then stepped up to the Southwest where he ran fifth to Old Fashioned. The former claimer has flashed some nice turn of foot in all three of his career wins. Adds Borel for the first time, which isn't a bad thing in Kentucky. Was well back in his only start over a mile though, so distance limitations are a legitimate concern. Could get a piece, I suppose.

10. Flying Private: The $700,000 yearling purchase has been consistently hitting the board, but only 1-for-8 lifetime. Nice runner-up effort in a minor stakes sprint at Oaklawn in February where he ran a pretty big speed number. Well bred and in the hands of Lukas, but would be a shocker.

11. Dynamite Bob: No thanks

12. Proceed Bee: Won the Battaglia and has four wins in six starts. Also won both of his two-turn efforts, which indicates he might like the added ground. Still, doesn't seem to be fast enough to stay with these.

Selections: Won't be much value on West Side or Bittel, but if you're OK with 2-1 choose between the two and hit one of them heavy. I give the slight edge to West Side, who has been very consistent against good company throughout his short career. He draws a nice post for Prado and should be able to close well off what could be a hot pace set by Orthodox. I also think Bittel will hit the board, so in addition to a small win bet on West Side Bernie, I'll go with a trifecta box that includes those two, Hold Me Back, Jack Spratt and Orthodox.

Best of luck this weekend and don't forget to join me for another live blog chat at noon eastern on Saturday. This week, I'll have professional handicapper Double Deuce from TheWinnersForum.com as my guest. This guy is very good, so don't miss his weekend picks.

42 Comments

Leave a Comment:

marc W

This race is a no-bet because what should be the best horses, West Side or Bittel Road offer no value or the most solid of horses. I thought BR was going to be OK but his stock in my eyes has gone way down. My comment would be never leave the local stars out, thus Proceed Bee would be the selection.

A bet only if you got a huge price. Besides Turfway is a TVG track and I can't bet on XpressBet.

Jason your comment on Loch Dubh, since it is being raced on poly I doubt we will get mud.

19 Mar 2009 12:37 PM
nickie

I'll try goin long ball...the #3 AP Cardinal...just a matter for me in believing in the connections. Hope here is that C.Val can get this colt to rate a little.His works suggests that maybe he needed the Tampa effort[bullet work thereafter] and barn has learned from the "master" Mr.Lukas, how to get a 3 year old ready!

19 Mar 2009 1:03 PM
SSC

Jason - doubt this will not be chalk - so looking ahead who do you think will have the tougher field - the Wood or the Florida Derby? have not seen a decent list of who is running in which one yet - have you?

19 Mar 2009 3:49 PM
zarvona

 Nikki    ?

from the sheik's stable:

A.P. Cardinal: Kty.;

Tr. K. McLaughlin; DI  2.60

A.P. Indy/Smok’n Frolic-Smoke Glacken;

5    1    1   0  

a ** $380,000 $$ ** ADN **

4th Sam F. Davis Gr. III

1  1/16 1:43.54;

19 Mar 2009 4:20 PM
zarvona

  As posted before  ...  “as to a dozen?? right now I see a dozen half empty!! and only a 1/2 dozen that look for real... So I propose again, 'Weak Field'? or 'Strong Field'?”...

 I was looking over trainers today, wondering whose not making ‘the dance’ at this point and why and who they had left with a shot, and etc. Unfortunately, it is looking like we won’t see any of the following, unless they spring a late surprise. N. Zito; S. Asmussen; B. Tagg; M. Matz; R. Violette; R. Dutrow; R. Frankel; D.W. Lukas; K. McPeek; D. Romans; M. Casse; D. O’Neill; M. Mitchell; G. Motion; E. Harty;  and W. Mott; and, etc.; But what struck me as somewhat odd, was first of all, S. Asmussen’s massive pre-Derby stable and now without a hopeful and also that of T. Pletcher’s many still possibilities and his strange  mapping of their pathway to ‘the dance’. Yes, Pletcher is on the make list with “Bittel Road”, but he still has a talented bunch in “Dunkirk”, “Take The Points”, “Affirmatif”, and now “Al Khali” that either have little or no graded earnings up to this point???? What then were his strategy considerations and should his connections demand the plotting of different courses in the future if the Kentucky Derby was in their thinking???

   Additionally, I was trying to figure out just how many slots are actually still open to previous or future nominees at this point. IN (if they want to be, and one would assume the owners would want to be,  and that  just to smooze if for no other reason) are: “Pioneerof the Nile”-B. Baffert; “Freisan Fire”-L. Jones; “Terrain”-A. Stall; “I Want Revenge”-J. Mullins; “Desert Party”-S. bin Suroor; “West Side Bernie”-K. Breen; “Chocolate Candy”-J. Hollendorfer; “Bittel Road”-T. Pletcher; “Mafaaz”-J. Gosden; and I will assume via earnings at this stage, “Musket Man”-D. Ryan; “The Pamplemousse”- J. Canani;--thusly subtracting all of the fillies with qualify earnings and “Crowded House”-(G.B.)-B. Meehan,-- and assuming that “Quality Road”-J. Jenkins and “Imperial Council” C. McGaughey will eventually meet the earnings requirements... and that “Papa Clem”-T. Stute looks like he would only need a 4th in some next effort to get in, that only leaves open 6 remaining spots!

   Thusly, O’Neill looses out due to the loss of “Square Eddie”, but is Asmussen’s best hope at this point is really “Omniscient”?? ...Romans’ “Bruce N’ Autumn”?;  ...Dutrow rebounding with “Petena”? ...Matz hopes bundled up in “Rockland”?   ...Mott with “Hold Me Back”? ...Harty with “Hi Flyin’ Indy”? ... Violette with “Cribnote”?... Zito with “They’re Late” and “Nowhere To Hide”? and, etc. At least Mc Peek still has a shot with “Theregoesjojo”, but is he really suited for a 1 ¼ anyway?

 Just where were the 2 yr. Old Campaigns and the better mapped out 3 yr. Old campaigns with these possibilities if their connections were really interested in rubbing shoulders with the élite at Churchill? I mean come on people we really on have 5 weeks to go here!!!  I know Zito at least tried with “Nowhere to Hide” and Dutrow with “Petena”, and McPeek thus far with “Theregoesjojo”, but did they all really think it all through regarding the gaining of the needed earnings that they all knew long ago were required??? And no unlikely newcomers are liable to break through in the Santa Anita Derby this year that we don’t already no about!

  As to the Lane’s End, this then is thusly Mott’s last shot with “Hold Me Back” and Romans with “Bruce N’ Autumn” and of those two, “Hold Me Back” looks the stronger! Yes, “Bittel Road” and “West Side Bernie” look like the more obvious choices here, but as a 2 yr. Old I had a quite high regard for “Orthodox”, and yet must wonder if the layoff will be that devastating as I have no idea what he’s been doing in his off time. Yet, it won’t be surprising to me if either he or “Hold Me Back” shocked a few at good price in this one.

  But no matter who wins, are they really in your Derby top 10????  

19 Mar 2009 4:27 PM
jerry

one comment........Edgar Prado....if he shows up getcha some....Last year Adriano/Prado at 5-1 with ease.....This isnt always a derby prep race....several good jocks/turf horses also entered...

19 Mar 2009 4:45 PM
Jason Shandler

SSC: I havent seen anything on the fields for those two, other than the obvious. We should be hearing shortly.

Matt: Mafaaz was slow - 1:55 annd change. He has no shot in the Derby.

Slew: yes, I am doing the live blog. Check out the last paragraph of my post. It should be a good one.

19 Mar 2009 4:52 PM
Fire Slam

Flying Private. Been following him since last spring meet at Churchill Downs. One of the best built horses I have ever seen. His last race, he should have won!! Very athletic horse, bred to be a star, ships from Oaklawn, Lukas is looking to Cash in. Think he has realized the horse wants to rate and come running.

The only question now is "Does he like the poly?"

19 Mar 2009 5:09 PM
The Rock

Jason,

IMO, I don't think its wise to judge a horse from overseas that's been running on poly by how fast he/she runs. Remember, they plod in the early going over there. They go by the motto of "It's not how you start, it's how you finish". I'd be more interested in the Racing Post rating they give him. Nonetheless, I'm with you about his chances. Very, very, very slim to none.

19 Mar 2009 5:16 PM
marc W

Point of Interest off topic Win Willy 50-1 on Bodog first site I found him listed on---booking at that number? I would bet $10 with you just to prove a point. I find it a little low to what I expected in odds. I was thinking more 100-1 but I would be happy with 5 or 6 in the AR  Derby

FF a generous 7 1/2 but I still find early bets a very bad bet.

19 Mar 2009 5:16 PM
The Rock

Jason,

Oh yea, the Lane's End does look like the two obvious horses. The pace should favor them as well. Just way too much class. I don't know how much of an impact this race will have on the derby trail as far as strength, but I would keep a close eye on West Side Bernie if he were to run a big one here. At least he's shown some kind of decent form on dirt. On the flip side, he needs to improve big time on the dirt as well.

19 Mar 2009 5:19 PM
DONNA

Parade Clown seems to be an interesting one here. Just wondering why his connections took Billy Troillo off him. He was the jockey on Clowns last two races and is a regular rider at Turfway now they are going with Coa.

My picks will be West Side Bernie, Parade Clown and Jack Spratt.

19 Mar 2009 7:16 PM
TonyC

Have to weigh in on the Lane's End! By and large this is a pretty soft derby prep, if that's what you want to call it! To me it comes down to Orthodox based purely on pedigree. He has yet to run to the Strawberry Road underbelly of his breeding, but he has a shot Saturday to run a big one. Of course the ones to watch are Bittel Road and Bernie. It also won't surprise me too much if Proceed Bee doesn't bust up the exotics either.

19 Mar 2009 8:38 PM
MRO

A.P. Cardinal - I just want to see that gorgeous, gorgeous horse in person. A win would be even better.

19 Mar 2009 9:17 PM
op fan

flying private will win!!!!!  has had tough luck all year op. jock cost him last. race before that he ran into good group of 3yo. draynay, all other losers, lets look at the BEST bred 3yo in the country!!!!!

19 Mar 2009 9:23 PM
Ranagulzion

Zarvona:  Todd Pleatcher is a good trainer but it seems that he is yet to get a hang of what it takes to bring a horse "cherry ripe" to the Derby.  Another problem for him has been that in the past his stable has been loaded with expensive Storm Cat sons and grandsons which are fashionably bred but not for the Derby.  A couple years ago he had the chance to make Circular Quay an unbeaten champion 2YO and a real live Derby horse (Street Sense, Hard Spun, Curlin and Rags To Riches crop) but made some wrong placements in my opinion.  The rest is history as they say.  I wish him success nevertheless with Dunkirk, Munings and Affirmatif this season.

19 Mar 2009 9:28 PM
Draynay

Julien is back on Jack Spratt on he knows how to get this horse to the wire.  I expect him to win here but does it really matter?  Lanes End winners don't win the Derby.  Yes... I am aware it has happend before back nearly 20 years ago but if you have to dig that far back don't count on it happening again any time soon. The Wood and Florida Derby are really all that matter.  The rest is just filling in the gates.

19 Mar 2009 9:34 PM
Skyfire

Dray, you discount Larry Jones at your peril!!

19 Mar 2009 11:25 PM
Householder

Candy Ride's are doing well.  $2 to Win on Jack Spratt.

20 Mar 2009 1:42 AM
Coldfacts

Jason, I was hoping Jack Spratt would have made a competitive transition from turf to dirt in the FY but his effort was dismal. I would not conclude like you have that he was over matched. Daniabeach victory was achieved in 1:35 2/5. The FY was run in 1:35 flat.. I am aware that both races were contested on different surfaces but he obviously did not take to the dirt. If you are high on Bittel Road, then Jack Spratt will be the winner. His record might not reflect it but he has more ability than Bittel Road. Both horses made their 3rd start on 5th Oct at Keeneland in the Bourbon (G3). Bittel Road entered the race undefeated with an $80K stakes win to his credit. Jack Spratt entered the race still a maiden. Bittel Road would go on to record his third victory. The maiden Jack Spratt who was running against winner in a graded race was beaten 41/2L. A maiden in a G3 against winners should have been blown away. Bittel Road went on to be the loosing favorite in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. Jack Sprat a May foal after being subjected to 5 races in 97 days was rested for 49 days and returned to win the one mile Daniabeach in1:35 2/5. Bittel Road’s was beaten by 1 1/2L in the one mile Generous (G3) run in 1:35 flat.

Bittel Road has started in some tough races in CA i.e., The Cashcall Futurity and The Robert Lewis and had to run hard on both occasions. Jack Sprat on the other hand has had an easy schedule and should be the fresher of the two. In both the Cashcall Futurity and Robert Lewis Bittel Road appeared to be one pace. In Jack Spratt’s only attempt on the fake stuff he closed. I hope the betting public make Bittel Road 1-5 as I believe in betting small amount for large returns.

20 Mar 2009 6:48 AM
marc w.

I think the Land's End, IL, Ohio, Iowa, Penn.,WV, Texas, and Super Derbies are all races where if someone is realistic and have a nice horse can win a lot of money without breaking their horses heart chasing the best. Woody did it years ago with some 2nd stringers, and Steve A. did it with Z. a few years ago. He realized the path with Pyro a touch late, although I certainly wouldn't blame him after his LA races, he had lost his confidence by then to really benefit.

20 Mar 2009 10:43 AM
MATT H.

has anybody looked west side bernies start in the last 3 races he is alright but if you look down the list he has been kind of inconsistant but the whole entire race doesnt light my hair on fire bittle road i wish you all the best but doubt to see you at church hill downs on may second i hope dont lose all my money on west side bernie here is a hint if i bet any money i wouldnt take the 2 favorites and hope for a long shot  

20 Mar 2009 10:55 AM
Nick

Parade Clown should hit the board at a price.

20 Mar 2009 11:54 AM
Curlin

    Although I don't think we're looking at a blazing pace by any means, I do think there will be enough speed in here to set it up for Bittel Road.  He'll probably get 1st jump on West Side Bernie and it will just be a question of if he has enough to hold WSB off at the wire.  Bittel Road's 2 worst lifetime races (at least by # of lengths finished behind the winner) have been when he draws an outside post in a 2 turn race.  Well, he draws inside today so he should be able to save enough ground going into the 1st turn.  I'll play Parade Clown, Jack Spratt and Flying Private in the 3rd spot.  On top of that, I'll play a straight tri of Bittel Road-West Side Bernie-Parade Clown.

    I like the Lane's End because Turfway usually puts on a pretty good day for the race, but as far as Derby impact, I expect the only horse who will be running in the Derby this year will be WSB.  I look for Bittel Road to run in the Crown Royal Turf on Oaks Day not the Derby.  The only other horse that might even run in the Derby IMO would be Flying Private if he can somehow pull the upset or finish 2nd.  Lukas loves the Derby and will run anything in there that has enough graded earnings.  If FP finishing 2nd, look for Lukas to bring him back in the Lexington to try and earn a little more graded money to guarantee him a spot in the starting gate on Derby Day.  Good luck to all.

20 Mar 2009 12:53 PM
op fan

draynay, you make it sound like horses that run in anything but the wood or florida derby don't count. maybe someday you will realize good horses run at tracks all over the country.

20 Mar 2009 1:13 PM
Keith - TripleDeadHeat

Some pace in here to be run at for sure...I'm a fan of Prado and think West Side Bernie did well from post 13 in a very tough BC Juvenile. It won't pay much but it's a likely winner. Good test for WSB to win in a crowd.

Cheers

20 Mar 2009 2:08 PM
Draynay

op fan... you're right... when the winner of the Derby starts coming out of races other than the Wood and the FD I will change my handicapping but for  the last decade the winner has been coming from the Wood or FD.

20 Mar 2009 7:10 PM
Fire Slam

Flying Private. Take it to the bank. Also, Eddie Martin in the fourth at Oaklawn, and No Inflation for Tom Proctor in the Rushway.

21 Mar 2009 12:43 AM
Curlin

WOW Jason!  I think the lack of comments thus far shows just how people feel about this race as a Derby prep, don't you?

21 Mar 2009 10:18 AM
m palmer

Bruce N Autum is bred to easily get nine furlongs. He is by Steven Got Even out of a Stop The Music broodmare. In the last 100 meters he will be the only one that is not one pace. At 20-1 this is  a blessing from above.

21 Mar 2009 10:35 AM
Tiznowbaby

Well that was quite the interesting result. As you said, probably won't have any bearing on KD results, but it gets Hold Me Back in the starting gate if they wish.

21 Mar 2009 6:08 PM
The Mouse

Zarvona, right on, you had the Lanes End on top, good show, and also congrats to MRO and JS for their faith in Flying Private, great exacta guys, hope one of you had it? I was just along for the ride.

21 Mar 2009 6:45 PM
Householder

Houston we have a problem.  Bittel Road and West Side Bernie off the board.  I'm hearing Mott's name a lot...something about Pioneer of the...

21 Mar 2009 7:28 PM
Fire Slam

Flying Private did not handle the poly track. You could tell going into the turn, the jock had to start riding him hard. He did not make the lead on his own. The two horses in front of him, died off, he recieved the lead, and Bill Motts horse ran by him.

Would be interesting to see what would have happened if it was on dirt, and FP would have been able to dig in and accelerate.

Hats off to winner though!! He came and was game on a big day. Hope to see Flying Private in Derby. Still cashed at 24-1!!!

21 Mar 2009 9:29 PM
Matthew W

The winner is now 3 for 3 on synthetic tracks...Wayne's horse showed marked improvement last out--a real telling sign about D Wayne perhaps many have forgot? That his 3yolds improve quickly---D Wayne Lukas has a nice horse there... exacta close to three hundy for a buck--that wasn't too hard to find/include vs such an unnacomplished field....

22 Mar 2009 5:32 AM
Matthew W

Fire Slam:....Flying Private was URGED by the jock...but that wasn't the jock making that big stretch move--that was the horse! Lots of horses need to be urged--as for not hand'ling the track, To the unbiased eye--(mine) he loomed bold/hung in there--I like him, I just think he's way up against it...

22 Mar 2009 5:38 AM
Matthew W

BTW Fire Slam nice call on Flying Private....D Wayne when the Beyers go up....CA-CHING!!

22 Mar 2009 5:39 AM
Fire Slam

Matthew W--I agree with ya. The horse made a huge move. What I am excited about is, if you watch the replay, this horse stayed in perfect position down the backside, about 4th or fifth, and eased into contention. He was very professional.

Going into the turn, you could tell the jock began to shake his hands some, encouraging him. I dont think he was going as easy as he would have on a normal/real tack. He was sliding over it, just like Street Sense did in his race before the Derby.

Glad to see CA-CHING, that means you cashed. Hopefully we can a get a fair price on him when he gets back on dirt.

22 Mar 2009 10:14 PM
GunBow

Putting aside their chances in the Kentucky Derby, the top two finishers in the Lane's End appear to have very bright futures. Hold Me Back is a $400,000 yearling by Giants Causeway out of an Unbridled's Song mare, and Flying Private is a $700,000 yearling by Fusaichi Pegasus out of an Unbridled mare; you will find few better bred Derby prospects than these two. HMB and FP finished 4 lengths clear of the game but overmatched locals, Proceed Bee and Parade Clown, the fractions for the Lane's End were solid (no quarters under 25), the finishing splits were strong, and the final time was about 10 lengths faster than the Rushaway (winner Cliffy's Future).  Hold Me Back, in particular, looks very promising, showing the ability to rate, accelerate on command, and finish up well. This was only his 4th career start, and his first start in 4 months, so we are talking about real talent. He figures to only get better from this, and Mott had thought enough of him to run him in the Remsen in his 3rd start. He has excellent connections being owned by Win Star, trained by Bill Mott, and ridden by 3-time Kentucky Derby champ Desormeaux. It looks like 10 furlongs will be no problem for HMB, as he closed very well in the Lane's End at 9 furlongs, and had won at 8.5 fulongs twice before.

Having said this, I really don't like his chances in the Kentucky Derby. While he does have tremendous potential, he just doesnt have the foundation that is needed to win the Derby. The only chance he would have is if he was given another start in either the Blue Grass or Lexington, and I pray his connection do not go straight to the Derby. Even with another start before the Derby, he will only have 5 lifetime starts, and only 2 this year. Then, there is the question of whether he can transfer his form to dirt. All 3 of his wins have come on a synthetic track, winning on the Arlington poly, Keeneland poly, and now the Turfway poly. In his only start on dirt, he ran 5th, 18 lengths behind Old Fashioned in the Remsen. However, I am not ready to write-off his chances on dirt because of that one race.  Evidently, HMB was still very immature at the time of the Remsen and very underdeveloped, and has since grown physically and mentally. His breeding suggests dirt should be possible, but it is hard to know for sure. And even if he proves not to be a Triple Crown type, I think he can have a lucrative career, even if only on synthetics or turf.

Flying Private is more of a proven commodity on dirt, having run 4 times at Oaklawn, twice at Churchill, and twice at Saratoga. He also has experience at distances at a mile and over, but before his last start he just had not run particularly fast, with a top Beyer of 79.  In his last before the Lane's End, however, Lukas shortened him up to 6 furlongs, and, as Fire Slam and OP Fan pointed out, he ran very well, finishing an unlucky 2nd w/ a 87 Beyer. I thought before the Lane's End that the improved Beyer could have been the result of the turnback in distance, but his performance in the Lane's End demonstrated that he is just getting better; and he is getting better at the right time. Although he doesnt have as much career upside as HMB, having run in twice as many races, this foundation may make him a better Triple Crown contender. Lukas certainly knows how to win the Derby, and you know he loves to run in that race, so expect him to point FP to Churchill. The horse will probably need more graded earnings, so expect to see him in the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby. At best, FP is most likely a Derby longshot, but Lukas has gotten hot at the right time before (Charismatic 99').

As for the pre-race favorites, West Side Bernie and Bittel Road, neither really picked up his feet. It is hard to image the two camps proceeding forward to Churchill, but the two horses can certainly run better and still might prove themselves down the road. If the connections of Bernie' and Bittel' are still thinking Derby, it is hard to imagine that either horse got much from the Lane's End; so, I would think both would need another start before the Derby. In fairness, both probably do deserve another shot, but this is awfully late to be throwing clunkers.

23 Mar 2009 1:57 AM
GunBow

I want to make sure to thank Jason for taking time out of a busy day to talk with me Satuday at Turfway. We talked for a good ten minutes after race 6 and then again after the Lane's End.  He has a demanding job w/ Bloodhorse, having to write articles for the magazine some weekends (like this one), while on the other weekends  he has to write the recap articles on the webpage for the Triple Crown preps. Then, he has to read all of OUR comments......

23 Mar 2009 2:56 AM
slyder

draynay: You aren't even half right when you say for the last decade the winners of the Ky. Derby have come out of the Wood or Fla. Derby's. 6 of the last 10 winners came out of something OTHER than the Wood or Fla. Derby.

Get a grip on yourself, you are losing touch with reality.

23 Mar 2009 7:27 PM
gw_bushwacker

slyder,

You crack me up. Thanks for the laugh at nay nay's expense.

24 Mar 2009 5:07 PM

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